Day 12 Thursday, July 21 Ten Mile Campground to Stanley, ID 83 miles
After my rest day on Tuesday my legs finally had some snap to them. I almost wondered if someone had pumped my tires up. In the previous days I kept looking back at my rear tire to see if it was going flat. Seeing that it hadn’t I repeatedly came to the conclusion that my legs were just heavy. I trained fairly well for this pilgrimage putting in a number of 50 miles plus rides in the six weeks prior to leaving. But, it is hard to duplicate how the body will respond to rides of 50-75 miles day after day. I was doing it, but I could tell my legs were missing a certain freshness and snap.
Yesterday I rode a fairly easy and short 53 miles. I woke up determined today to put my legs to the test. Stanley was over 80 miles away and crosses three passes enroute. The highest, Banner Summit, would be the highest pass I have climbed at 7200 feet since leaving sea level 12 days ago. I felt that this was about 15 to 20 miles more than I should reasonably be doing, but I was itching to get to the little town of Stanley. I decided that when I hit Sourdough Lodge at 36 miles I would make a decision whether to buy supplies there for another night of camping along a crisply rushing stream or load up with just enough to get me over Banner Summit before rolling into Stanley 25 miles later.
By the time I reached Sourdough Lodge I had already powered over two passes and my legs were beginning to feel the effects of it. But, as I sat eating a wonderful lunch someone hollered across the room, “You know Stanley is having live music out in the street tonight.” That was all I needed to hear. I was still concerned about hitting a wall before reaching the summit so I compromised on my plans. I bought the usual Cliff Bars and Gatorade to keep me fueled for the climb. But, just in case I didn’t make it I also threw in some dried “Noodles in a Cup” and Trail Mix that could sustain me through the night before finishing the last leg in the morning.
Long story short. It was one hell of a climb to Banner Summit pushing me almost to my absolute limit a number of times. I reached the summit, roped a nice guy into taking my picture just to prove that I really did do it, and then prayed that the last 25 miles had a minimum amount of small ascents (I could not have climbed another mile).
I titled this blog “Beauty and the Beast”. The whole ride was stunningly beautiful. For the first half of the ride I followed a number of creeks and the Payette River for a short time. Most of the time the rivers cascaded therapeutically through the gorge only to enter steep gorges where it violently erupted. I went by numerous hot springs and am disappointed that my goal to reach Stanley kept me from taking the time for a good soak. I have a few more along the way and I will certainly have to make up for missing one today. After cresting Banner Summit the views became spectacular. The Sawtooth Mountains are a marvel–jagged, rugged, and set against the backdrop of lush green meadows parted by winding, quiet streams. It is nothing less than a Western paradise.
I am in Stanley now, sore legs and all. I am glad that I made it. The lodges were all full tonight as a wedding party has taken over much of the town. So they pointed me up to the park just about a half mile above the town. Here I sit on a picnic table with the Sawtooth’s directly in my view with the last visages of light disappearing behind the silhouette of peaks. No houses, no trees, no cars between me and the inviting, threatening mountains.
Tomorrow I will ride as far as my legs will take me depending how they recover from today. I really overdid it, but I got to where I wanted to go. Next town is Clayton 33 miles away and Challis is another 22 miles
north of there. Challis seems like a reasonable destination, but the amount of services along the way and the condition of these sore legs will determine what is actually reasonable.
An absolutely stunningly beautiful day today. And this old man was just a beast!