Exiting our unofficial campground on (most likely) BLM land lining the Salmon, we continued our journey following this river upstream. High rocky cliffs with sparse vegetation- Ponderosa and Juniper with footholds near the peaks, sagebrush spilling down the loose, gravelly sides - bordered the road. The road cut itself seemed unnatural and difficult to maintain. Creation of the road bed, a uniquely flat space in this sharply angled land, must have removed the footing of many the steep hills lining the road. Vast slides of bare soil and rock extended up the hills from the road, vegetation only stabilizing the dry, rocky soil after hundreds of vertical feet. Metal netting covered other areas to prevent rocks from hurtling onto the road, and "Watch for Rock" signs are common.
Within the steep-walled Salmon River valley, not only does the water flow downhill, but the wind as well. As the Salmon work their way against water current to the spawning ground they remember, we labored against air current to gain distance.
Many hard-won miles later, brightly colored flapping flags drew us on. Nummyz, the only Korean-esque food within at least a 200 mile radius, is housed in a hand-built, airy structure. After good food and writing our blog address on their walls reminiscent of Dazzo's in Arizona, we gritted our teeth to finish the last ten miles to Challis.
We rode up the main street of Challis, Kevin casting extreme doubt on Laura's hope of finding self-serve frozen yogurt. With mostly bars and saloons lining the wide, empty street, this doubt seemed well-founded. But near the top of the long hill, just before the pavement turned to gravel, sat a new, fancy building advertising itself as the Teacup Cafe. Maybe too much investment for one small town... but the frozen yogurt was delicious. Refreshed, and with instructions that Bayhorse was the last place to stay before a long campground-less stretch, we headed out.
After a long day fighting headwind and gradual elevation gain, we were glad to pull into Bayhorse, despite it being a feed campsite ($10/night). The whole day had been overcast (and to our relief, cool), but we wondered if it might rain in the night. Talking with the camp hosts assured us it would not. Preparing our dinner, we met several other camp residents who, interested in our journey, came over to introduce themselves. Mike was from Blackfoot, and Becky and Jerry were from, unbelievably, Fallon, NV, with which we were only familiar because of our Portland to Phoenix trip. We shared their campfire and stories of epic motorcycle trips, adobe houses and their dog Sally.
Snug in our down bags, sleep nearly had us, when the still air suddenly kicked into ~50 mph winds. Securing our gear and throwing a tarp over ourselves, we went back to sleep. Sometime deep in the night, awakened by full bladder, the sky had cleared revealing a brilliant milky way shining through the still air.