top of page
  • Writer's pictureMitch Metzger

Day 17 to 28 of Mitch's Trans America

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

  • Day off in Baker City, OR

  • Halfway City, OR

  • Border Crossing in Brownhill Dam, ID

  • Council, ID

  • Riggins, ID

  • Grangeville, ID

  • Lowell, ID Three Rivers

  • Lochsa Lodge, ID

  • Missoula, MT

  • Day off in Missoula, MT

  • Darby, MT

Baker City, OR

Day 17, as mentioned in the last blog was a day off in Baker City. I had wonderful continental breakfast at the place I was staying and made a long walk, after laundry, to a farming supply store to purchase a better sleeping pad that would last me until Missoula, MT in which I would replace it again. I found the Under Armour base layer clothing I so desperately needed for the cold weather I have been having.

I also found some rubber boots to cover my shoes so I can stay warmer and dryer until I can get to Missoula to find some official biking booties for windbreak and waterproofing.

Baker City restaurant

I gave my card to multiple people and a bible to the waitress across the street from where I was staying. The place I was staying had a cashier named Wyatt.

BAKER CITY: Wyatt, the cashier at motel who is interested in a YWAM DTS someday.

He knew some of his church mates that had been through YWAM training before. His pastor was encouraging him to do a Discipleship Training School. Meeting me was a type of "reminder" from the LORD, I told him.

BAKER CITY: Leaving a bible with my tip for the waitress

After leaving Baker City on Day 18, I started heading to get to a city called Halfway City, OR. I saw a cat today, that had caught a gopher. Good job! I saw many bulls and a dead skunk, dead rabbit. I ate a late lunch in a small town, named Richland, where the waitress, I noticed, had many tattoos and the sandwich was great. We chit chatted and I left her my card and tip.

My sandwich and barley soup in Richland, OR

I traveled well today because I had proper clothing now for the cold weather. It was a big day having to travel up and over two passes: Flagstaff Hill at 3,684 feet, just after Baker City and another Pass after Richland at 3,653 feet. It was on this day, a lady was pulled over on the side of the road and shouted over to me warning me to be careful cause she saw a rattlesnake go across the highway earlier.

RICHLAND, OR: This Pass came after Richland

Halfway City, on Day 18, was interesting. It was named after a Post Office that was placed "halfway between" two various "Pine Family brothers (?). The word "Pine" is seen everywhere. It appears that the pioneering "Pine Family" claimed lots of land in this area.

I stayed at RV campsite for $10 in Halfway City, OR. They had warm showers and, of course, I was the only biker camper at this time.

HALFWAY, OR: This entire family was participating in transferring the cows

The next morning, on Day 19, I was most blessed by hearing the sound of many cows mooing. I wasn't sure what was going on until I saw nearly an entire family on horses, even the kids had a horse each. They were all "shooing and moving" the cattle from one end of the city to another - changing pastures probably. I was inspired watching these, mostly women and girls, on the horses - real cow girls!

IDAHO BORDER: Brownhill Dam

Again, on Day 19, as I pointed towards crossing the Idaho border, I had to cross the river at Brownhill Dam. I was impressed by the massive engineering and power station happening here. This day had rain, no rain, rain, no rain. It was so on and off and on and off.

Upon approaching the small hill leading to the Brownhill Dam, I saw two beaver near the intersection in the rock piles leading down to the water's edge. I got some video shots of them. This is a rare sight to see beaver. It was great!

OREGON-IDAHO CROSSING: Brownhill Dam area.

The cold, rainy, weather kept demoralizing me so I stopped at a restaurant and ordered a late lunch - must of been 3:00PM already. Sitting there and eating made me comfortable and I decided to stay in their simple cabin for the night. I would save the mountain climb up to Pine Creek Pass at 4,131 feet for the next day. I talked to the cook, the waitress, gave them my card and left a Bible in the drawer of my cabin room.

AFTER IDAHO Border: Late lunch and overnight

Between Idaho border and Cambridge is 4,131 feet Pass

It was on the next day, Day 20, that I saw at least six deer at very close range. After getting over that Pass of 4,131 feet, which took me 13 miles to get there, I had an amazing 15 entire miles of downhill to Cambridge, ID. Note: This has been the longest, obvious, downhill on my trip as of Day 29.

CAMBRIDGE, ID snack at gas station

As I took a break at the gas station/store, I met a former Army Ranger, who said he biked from Idaho to Florida once, many years ago, on an old Schwinn bike. I gave him my card, finished my lunch and started heading towards Council, ID

COUNCIL, ID: $10 camping for bikers

When I arrived in Council, ID, I discovered that there is actually a long 90 miles bicycle trail from even before Cambridge all the way to Tamarack, ID. It is a converted Rail Road track. Although I could of been using it, it is highly mostly gravel. It is not paved so it would of been nearly impossible for my bike anyhow. It was called Weiser River Trail.

I made a video of this day here:

The campsite at Council, ID was only $10 for bikers and had warm showers and laundry area. It was just right for me.

On this morning, of Day 21, I left a couple of Bibles on the book shelf in the laundry room of the campsite. As I started departing the city it started raining.

I met a retired fireman at the SHELL gas station while buying my snacks for the day. He started six days after me on May 12th +/- and was now already caught up to me. He was a faster rider. His name was Will. I will see him various times in the days to come, actually.

COUNCIL, ID: Will, the retired firefighter doing Trans America also.

Today turned out to to be the most rainy day of my trip so far. It was also about 59 degrees F. So it was cold and rainy but I was dressed for it now and was well covered since my upgrade purchases back in Baker City, OR.

I finally arrived in Riggins, ID on Day 21 after 1/2 of the day being all uphill but the last 30 miles was mostly a gradual downhill following the route of the river. Idaho was a lot of following rivers either going up or following rivers going down. I call Idaho, "The State of Rivers."

IDAHO: The State of Rivers

The beginning of the day going to Riggins was so uphill terrible, I stopped to have a late lunch at a hilltop cafe. I ordered a Patty Melt and fries, which I could not finish. I also had a "peach ice tea" which really seemed to revive me. My waitress was very local. She didn't even know the name of the city just 30 miles from her! She was very interested in ny journey and I gave her my card. I was able to push out those 30 miles following the river with a better "kick and attitude" - mostly from the tea.

In Riggins, I did my laundry in my motel room shower and hung it up around the room. I left a Bible in my room and put one in a "Library FREE Book shelf" in a park earlier that day - New Meadows, I think it was.

New Meadows FREE Library in the park

On Day 22, I would depart Riggins, ID and move onto Grangeville, ID. This was a long day with lots of winding roads uphill on Old Hwy 95 after White Bird, ID.

Between White Bird and Grangeville is this Pass.

It was on this Old Hwy 95, that Will, the fireman, caught up to me again. We stayed together for this entire section of the day. IT was also on this hwy that I spotted a rattlesnake in the shoulder where we were passing! In my movement to back away and going around the wider lane, I tipped over my bike and one of my panniers came off. It's good the snake didn't take this opportunity to come after me.

Will, the fireman, caught up to me going on this Old Hwy 95. We split on the downhill after this Pass to Grangeville, ID.

I wih you could see better the snake hiding behind this simple grass bush

A few minutes later, we would see another "bull snake" (this time) cross the road. I encourage taking the Old Hwy 95 for the first part but take the new 95 for the second part cause it is mostly straight downhill into Grangeville, ID anyhow.

I found a campsite entering Grangeville, at the end of Day 22, that I liked a lot. They had hot showers, laundry area, and common space where you could do internet, cooking, use their dishes, stove etc. It was only $16 for bikers for tent space.

Great campsite facilities at Grangeville, ID

I talked to many of the regulars at this campsite. One lady let me have her left over spaghetti that she said she cooked the night before. Nice.

When I went to bed, on this night in Grangeville, I had a sore rib from when my bike fell over during the snake encounter. My bike weighs 134 lbs so when I have to lift it or if it is tipping over, I need to have the right leverage or I might strain myself.

On Day 23, it would be time to travel from Grangeville, ID to a place called Lowell, ID or Three Rivers Resort in Lowell.

Terry, the fireman from Orlando, FL doing the Trans Am also.

After arriving in Lowell, ID, Will, the fireman, as also here. Same place. While eating in the front office area, another guy arrived with a terribly damaged rear tire. His name was Terry. He was also a fireman from Orlando, FL. He was traveling with his 30 yr old son. Terry planned to stay here at Three Rivers for an extra day fixing his tire while waiting for his son to arrive the next day.

On the morning of Day 24, at 0411, I was awakened to the sound of a mountain lion mating with a very small female about six to ten meters from my tent. This is a long story. I got my flashlight, and camera and knife. I did some filming but you can't see anything. All my cameras are garbage at night time and I was too nervous to figure out if I should be filming, laying quiet, or getting dressed and getting out of there.

I decided to try all of them. I got my shoes on and got out of the tent for a better escape plan and to get a better filming view of the "couple" cougars. I found out later my finger is covering a lot of the lens of the camera. I still have to go through my footage and see what is redeemable.

While filming them, with my finger cover 1/2 of the lens, I had to go to the bathroom. So I decided to leave the lions and go to the bathroom - mostly for safety reasons also. It was too risky anyhow - kinda.

By the time I got out of the bathroom, they were both gone. I seen over five deer at this same campsite the night before, by the way, when I was cooking. Lots of wildlife around here!

These are the deer the night before the lion experience

On Day 24, Will, the fireman left early, wanting to get to Lochsa Lodge. Terry, the fireman, was taking the day off. As I finished my breakfast, I told him my story. He said he heard or read my story somewhere. It sounded familiar. Probably from all my internet stuff.

Anyhow, I left Three Rivers and headed to Lochsa Lodge myself too. It was a gradual uphill most the day following the river. I met two guys from Minnesota also traveling partially the same route as us. We biked together for the last three miles to the Lochsa Lodge.

The Lodge charges $5 for shower but tent camping is FREE.

Lochsa Lodge right before Lolo Pass

On Day 25, I would be going up to Lolo Pass and crossing the border in Montana. Although I had coffee at my campsite, I still went into the lodge and had coffee again. The internet was terrible. I could never login. I was tempted to complain in my heart but, honestly, we are deep in the forest with no towns for many miles. What can I expect. I'm sure the discoverers, Louis and Clark, in the early 1800's had no internet also.

As I headed down the highway, I saw a few chipmonks, picked up a lost quarter, was sure I heard an Elk bellow near where I saw the chipmonks.

Can you spot at least one chipmonk?

Here is at least one of the five chipmonks I saw.

I stopped at a memorial place where the ashes of the author of the Louis and Clark Journals were scattered. I saw deer again, and actually happened upon a hawk that had a fish in his claws. He was trying to lift off and fly with the fish but I scared him and he dropped the fish. He worked hard to catch that fish and my arrival caused him to lose his meal, temporarily at least.

Bird that had fish earlier

As I finally reached Lolo Pass which includes a Ranger Station and Visitors Welcome area, I went inside to warm up, had some coffee by donation and watched a little bit of their historical video playing, talked to a man inside, and gave him my card. They had internet so I quickly uploaded some photos and crossed the Montana border. This all happened on my 25th day.

Signing the Guest Book at Lolo Pass Ranger Station

After crossing the border, it was downhill from there to Missoula. I had to dawn my rain gear on the downhill since it was raining at the same time as going down. I ended up staying at a KOA campground on the opposite end of Missoula. The cost was high for a campsite: $39 but it included shower, restaurant, store, laundry area, and lots of organization.

I simply could not find anything else in the city at a lower price. I even had one cheaper motel refuse me because I wanted to bring my bike into the room. It was a bad part of town and I did not want my bike to be chained up outside. No way.

My Day 26, was a day off in Missoula. I took my bike to REI for tuneups and arts replacements. I had my chain replaced, rear tire changed, bottom bracket bearings replaced, brakes adjusted and later, I found another place, to purchase two new pedals.

Changing tire in REI in Missoula

REI Bike tuneups in Missoula, MT

It was also at REI that I found some waterproof, and windproof booties for my shoes.

I visited the Adventure Cycling Association's office in Missoula in the afternoon. I took their normal tour along with a Belgium team of guys. I submitted some corrections to the Map Department, made a few purchases and got a water bottle that they still owed me from a botched up order last May. It is a must stop place to stop and visit. They get over 1,200 visitors a year.

Adventure Cycling Association Tour in Missoula, MT

Adventure Cycling Association Tour

Since I was somewhat homeless in Missoula, I went back to the KOA for camping tent space once again. I couldn't get any admin or internet done in this place. Inside I waited until a better place where I could find better privacy while typing in Darby, MT.

On Day 27th, I rode over 60 miles from Missoula to Darby, MT. The road was a gradual uphill that you could hardly notice. I stayed at the first campsite I could find. They are called Traveler's Rest. They just opened for the season last week and I was the first biker that they have had.

Darby, MT Resort, Parking, and Tent Camping

It was private and I used the laundry room for plugging in my gadgets for recharging and where I could sit and do this blog update. The cost was $16 and the manager gave me a cold drink also. Great place. Showers, laundry area, plenty of plugs and tent space.

On Day 28th, I met two guys in Darby, MT going the same direction across the country. They are also Trans Amer'ers. We bicyled over 60 miles together the whole day to Wisdom, MT. This is the day I have to climb the big pass of Chief Joseph Pass of 7,241 feet. This will be the highest pass of my trip this far. Their names were: Bob the Land Title Insurance guy from Washington and Ken, the Fireman from Washington - 68 and 63 years old. Amazing!

Riding with Ken and Bob all day over the two passes after Darby, MT

Finishing up Day 28 coming into Wisdom, MT

Chief Joseph Pass at 7,241 feet going to Wisdom, MT

On Day 29, which is June 3rd, I will be progressing about 66 miles to Dillion, MT. Dillion is a larger city of over 4,000.

On the Move,

Brother Mitch

44 views0 comments


bottom of page