It had been a couple of months in the planning stage, and the time was finally here. Today was the day we were to head off for 3 weeks of mountain bike touring on the Adventure Cycling Association's newest ride, the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route! My co-worker of almost 20 years and touring partner, Boo, was riding his older Specialized FSR mountain bike and pulling an overloaded B.O.B. trailer, a combination we immediately nicknamed Old Yeller. I was riding my Surly Pugsley, well known as The Beast, in bikepacking mode. To say I was anxious would be a huge understatement. We were old, undertrained, and overoptimistic, a combination that would lead to a significant alteration to our route, as you will soon see...
Two old fools on bikes
My dear friend Lee has a house in Boise, and we were fortunate enough to have access to it for our staging point. Lee was kind enough to offer to drop us off anywhere along the route we wanted, which was fantastic, and would help to shave off some of the unfavorable part of the route known as the Boise Spur, a miserable section of terrible washboard after the long, boring road climb out of Boise, and over Lucky Peak. After the ten hour drive from Seattle to Boise the previous day, the shortcut was a welcome way to "get on with it!"
Lee dropped us off on Arrowrock Reservoir, and after much fuss and muss with getting our gear organized, we were finally on our way!
How the hell do I get all this crap on my bike?
And here we go! Nice finger, Lee.
Almost immediately we were hit with not only oppressive heat, but the most spectacular scenery. The reservoir is just amazing, with lush greenery on either side of the beautiful water, and amazing rock formations all around us. It was very hot, and the washboard really sucked, but nothing was going to stop us from enjoying ourselves...the first day.
Five miles in, of course I am smiling!
What a view
Are you still with me, Boo?
The "Boise River delta"
A couple of hours in we arrived at Twin Springs Resort. To call it a "resort" is stretching things a bit, but I admire them for aiming high. For whatever reason, we didn't end up going inside to check out the wares, and decided to push on.
We doubled the population as we rode through
The scenery just got more and more spectacular the farther along we rode, but the washboard was really frustrating. I was very glad to have my fat bike tires, and Boo was comfy on his full suspension bike, but it was exhausting to ride such a rough surface.
The view from our lunch spot
Mind-blowing needle-sharp rock formations
It was so hot that soaking my hat in an ice-cold stream provided much-needed relief
We finally discovered our first hot spring, Sheep Creek Bridge Hotspring, after passing over an unmarked bridge (I am assuming it was Sheep Creek Bridge). Unfortunately, the spring was filled with the nastiest looking algae, and since it was almost 90 degrees outside, we decided to pass.
We missed about five springs before this one. Maybe we should have payed more attention to the map. Not the last time I would say that! :-/
By this time we were pretty tired, it being our first day, so we started looking for a place to camp. We had been passing nice, undeveloped campsites all day, but of course when we finally wanted to find one to stay at, it took a couple of tries before we found the one we liked. After riding 24 miles on the first day, Troutdale campsite would be our home for the evening, and we were very ready to call it a day!
Arrived at camp and a quick update for the first day
We quickly set up our tents, and I went down to the river to filter some water for the evening. Once I got to the river, the cutest little bat I have ever seen was flitting around, right at eye level! I love bats, so I considered it a good omen. Turns out it wasn't...stupid little bat. :-(
After about a half hour of pumping my MSR water filter it was back to the campsite with a full load of water, and finally...dinnertime! Boo dug into his seven year old freeze dried food and I had my favorite veggie lasagna. Boo's dinner was met with disdain, but mine was delicious, as always!
By this time the sun was down, and I said, "Hey, Boo, do you notice? It's getting really f-ing cold!" We both started putting on layers, of which I had fewer than I would have liked, being limited by the capacity of my bikepacking gear. I also started looking skeptically at my ultralight 32 degree sleeping bag, wondering how the night was going to go. Too tired to even read, and with all my clothes on, I crawled into my bag and tried to get some sleep...
Click here for day two!