Day 1 – Monday, June 14th
Smithfield, Utah to Downata Hot Springs, Idaho
It feels strange. You load the bicycles, say goodbye, and start pedaling. Are we really going to end up near Canada? It seemed far-fetched. Nevertheless, we started out, full of hope, and confident from several other similar cross-country trips. If anybody can do it, we can do it.
Starting out in Smithfield, Utah, at my daughter's house
We asked their kids if they wanted to get on their bicycles and come with us, but no takers. Soon we were pedaling north.
While still in town, a bicyclist overtook us and asked (noting our fully loaded bicycles) where we were headed. We told him we were going to Glacier National Park, though it seemed a bit presumptuous at this early stage of the trip. We gave him a card with the web-address where this account would later appear, and went on our way.
It was a pleasant day, with comfortable temperatures, and a tail-wind, so the miles ticked by with little difficulty.
At the Idaho border
Years ago, when we did the length of Utah bicycle trip, we lost our victory-photos because the people processing the film from the disposable camera simply opened up the camera, exposing the last few photos. So on this trip, we made an effort to re-take those lost photos on this new trip.
Where our length-of-Utah trip ended, we're back, and thirsty for more!
Again the miles ticked by, and we stopped at a Subway Sandwiches place in Preston, Idaho, for something to eat. There we talked to some young men who seemed impressed at our ambitious undertaking, and gave them a card with the web-site. The concept of anybody doing what we were trying seemed a surprising, neat idea to them.
From here, we followed highway 91, so we were now on new territory from any of our prior trips. The road heads west from Preston for several miles, then turns north again, crossing the Bear River drainage.
At the Bear River crossing
Near there, we passed the place where many Native-American men, women, and children were massacred by the U.S. Army in the past. There were dream-catchers and other Native-American artifacts hanging in the nearby tree, attesting that people still remember the awful tragedy that befell their people so many years ago.
Climbing out of the Bear River channel was of significant difficulty, but really no big deal. Easy compared to Mill Creek Canyon.
As an amateur geologist, it was a treat for me to bicycle this route, since it goes through Red Rock Pass, where ancient Lake Bonneville broke through its banks and flooded into the Snake and Columbia Rivers. I had driven this route before, but only at night. This time I got to see it, and read the signs.
At Red Rock Pass, the site of a prehistoric flood of great magnitude
Though this was indeed a pass, we didn't seem to be climbing to reach it. Whatever slope there was is gentle, and the tail-wind more than made up for it.
As we continued, we passed wetlands where waterfowl were vocalizing to the point where they made quite a racket, and we wondered what was being debated in bird-language.
We reached the small town of Swan Lake, where there was a convenience store for a cool, refreshing break, and we talked awhile with the owner.
It was getting late in the day as we pedaled onward, finally reaching our goal of Downata Hot Springs, just as an AMTrack passenger train went by.
We could get rooms here, but it was a lot cheaper to camp, which we arranged to do. After eating in the restaurant, I discovered that my rear tire (it's always the rear tire) was very low, and on getting to our campsite, had to fix my one flat of the trip.
We set up our shelter, observing a nearby game of pickup basketball, played heartily with no sore tempers, and finally turned-in for the night, listening to the sounds of waterfowl discoursing in the distance, and the call of some bird that sounded amazingly like the wailing sound some fireworks make.
On this partial-day, we cycled 46.5 miles at an average speed of 9.6 miles per hour.
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