Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

As mentioned yesterday, my inconspicuous camping spot was just up and over Teton Pass - on top of a mountain at just over 8400 feet! I certainly didn't have any issues getting too warm, and my sleeping bag in the back of the Jeep was mighty cozy. And because I didn't have windows cracked for ventilation, I didn't have to contend with mosquitoes!  I call that a win all the way around.

Up and early once again, I headed down the other side of the mountain into Victor, Idaho. I stopped to get my bearings and decide which direction I would take next. I decided that scenic US Hwy 26 through the Tarhee National Forest was the way to go - it would dump me into Idaho Falls at a good time for breakfast.

In previous treks across Idaho, I had always taken US Highway 20. This route traverses the Idaho National Laboratory, a relatively long and barren stretch of land, riddled with no trespassing signs, that tends to be a little eerie and creepy. While it's the most direct route to Boise, there's not much to look at. So, once finished with breakfast in Idaho Falls, I decided I would route this trip a little differently.

I took a far less direct route up Highway 28 into the Salmon National Forest, also known as the Sacajawea Scenic Byway. This straight route beelined northwest to the town of Salmon, between two small, yet significant mountain ranges. But, in typical fashion, I didn't take the direct route. I saw a sign noting the presence of a gravel road leading up to something called the Charcoal Kilns. I took the 5-mile road back towards the mountains to see the Kilns. Once there, I noticed a park service road which (after confirming with my GPS mapping app) ended up being an unpaved, two track trail which ran parallel to the main highway. So instead of going back out to the highway to continue on, I took the next 12 miles worth of service roads. Those 12 miles took me about an hour and a half to complete, so once I got back onto Highway 28, I then chose to stay on the paved surface because I was putting myself a lot farther behind than I had originally intended.

Once I arrived into the town Salmon, I turned in a southern direction onto Highway 93. This highway was a little more winding than the previous, but not overly so, and it kept the same elevation throughout. From there, it was west on Highway 75... which was a little more winding still. When I came into the town of Stanley, I stopped to refuel and get some snacks before heading into to the Boise National Forest by way of Highway 21. This was the final highway between me and Boise. And oh my, was it different! So many hairpin turns, elevation changes, speed limit changes, and it was well over 100 miles between the start of the Highway and Boise. This segment alone probably took me over two hours to complete. So needless to say, by the time I got into Boise, I was pretty wiped out. I am always about staying off of the interstate in favor of traveling the two lane highways, however, after that particular road, I was more than happy to get on Interstate 84 from Boise, set my cruise control and drive a relatively straight road for awhile. Haha!

I drove Interstate 84 into Oregon, dodging the intermittent rain storms, and stopping in Baker City to refuel. I had remembered previously that Oregon was a full-service fuel state, but had forgotten to remember by the time I reached the gas station. So I'm sure I appeared to be a complete doofus to the pump attendant as I was getting out of my vehicle to pump my own gas. In addition to that, I also remembered that Oregon is a sales tax free state as well. Good to know.

I drove a couple more hours in the rain, mildly hoping for a break in the clouds and some semblance of a pretty sunset sky... to no avail. Instead, I called quits for the evening near Deadman's Pass.