Day Eight – Missoula MT to Stanley ID
Miles: 428
Elapsed Time: 11:20

We went back to the Pressbox Restaurant and Casino for breakfast and met our friend from the Big Sky Brewery. We didn’t tell him about our mishap and fortunately we could walk top the restaurant so it went undiscussed. No worse for the wear we were back out in the road just before 8:00. Everything seemed to be ok with the bikes. We were a little more cautious at first, but before long we were riding normal. We were on US12 riding southwest and the road scenery were perfect. This is an area where Lewis and Clark clearly treaded following the Lochsa River after spending several days at their camp called Traveller’s Rest. There is a park there now just south of the US12 turnoff and can be reached off of US95. We didn’t stop as we were too eager to ride. US12 did not disappoint. We quickly reached the Lolo Summit at roughly 5,000 feet and we pulled into the rest area that was a ghost town and looked around for good scenic spot but nothing was really there so we continued on. We made two stops along the route; the first one took us to the river’s edge and an old Iron Truss bridge, and the second was also a bridge but a wooden foot bridge across the river. Both were nice and almost no one around. At the first one we came upon a lady ranger who was tagging fish, but we didn’t talk long. The 133 miles on US12 was absolutely perfect, and this is a can’t miss ride for any serious tourer. We gassed up in Kooksia and broke away from US12 picking up ID13 on our way down to Grangerville. ID13 hugs the Clearwater River which was named by the Lewis and Clark expedition in their quest to find a Northwest Passage to the Pacific. Just south Harpster ID13 separates from the Clearwater and climbs the Plateau up to Grangerville and allows ID14 to continue following the Clearwater. In Grangerville we connected with US95 but only for a short time before we took the old road known as Whitebird Road. There are two section of Whitebird; upper and lower. You can skip the upper without missing much, but the lower portion is fun and scenic. The road was built by prisoners in 1938 and was considered an engineering feat at the time for climbing 4,429 feet in elevation over a short 14 miles. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. There was nobody on the road but it was not as good as the Spiral Highway in terms of road condition. The upper portion was notably worse than the lower portion, but we made stops in both areas. The lower portion really has some zigging and zagging while we went through 8 switchbacks and our speed was increased, but going downhill always slows one down to some degree, and I would have preferred going up, but some concessions have to be made. We got down to Whitebird and had planned to stay on the old highway but it was under construction. We were now following the Salmon River and the riding was still perfect. The lush green mountains had given way to the more sandstone looking ones but my eyes were probably more on the river. We buzzed through the towns of Lucile, Riggins, Pollock, and New Meadows before turning onto ID55 and heading due east towards McCall. We were back in the 4,000 foot range and the lush green had returned. Shortly we were in McCall looking for the Salmon River Brewery and a quick bite of late lunch or was it early dinner. The Brewery was not open at that time so we had to find the other Brewpub in town; McCall Brewing Company. Anyway, the Asian Chicken Wrap and Painted Sky Pale Ale really hit the spot. After McCall we began following the Payette River and began to climb our way up to Stanley in the heart of the Sawtooths. We stopped along the Payette to take some pics of the old stone bridge. It was difficult to keep my eyes on the road as I wanted to take as many glimpses of the river as possible. It seems at every turn there was a set of rapids. Just north of Banks we turned onto Banks-Lowman Road through Garden Valley where we gassed up our final time of the day. Once we hit Lowman we were doing a little backtracking from Saturday but on this road who cares, it was even more enjoyable the second time through. We hit Stanley right around 8:00 and just the start of the Reds game. We grabbed some pizza and Bent Nail IPAs at Papa Brunees restaurant before retiring back to the Sawtooth Inn. There they let us hang out in the lobby/bar as long as we wanted, so we ordered a couple of extras and enjoyed the game. Drew Stubbs had been struggling but tonight he tagged Francisco Cordero, in his first Astros save chance, with a decisive homer in the ninth. Xavier Paul had three hits in his first Reds start to back Mike Leake. I liked Cordero when he was a Red but it was kind of nice to be on the other side of one of his blown saves. Six in a row!