Day Five – Whitefish MT to Winthrop WA
Miles: 497
Elapsed Time: 12:29

Once again we decided to forego a formal breakfast and instead grabbing a quick breakfast at the Hampton. We knew today was going to be one of the signature days and we wanted to get as early of a start as possible. Once we got to US 2 in Kalispell we began to hit it pretty hard. It's always nice to get the adrenaline flowing right out of the chute. The first 50 miles were uphill and the next 50 were downhill taking us to Libby where we gassed up on the South side of town. It was a short ride to Kootenai Falls where we stopped to view the falls. The walk down to the falls is rather lengthy. We had to cross railroad tracks; going up and over them by a foot bridge that forced us to walk two flights up and two flights down. The walk down to the falls is long and mostly downhill. It is very worth the walk and we spent a good deal of time there walking around and taking pictures. We also walked down to the swinging foot bridge across the river. On the way back we could see where people had strayed from the path and gone underneath a chain link fence where the hill had allowed passage. This was a more strenuous path but far shorter, and after climbing up two steep banks of rocks we were back in the parking lot and panting as if we just run a 5k. We were there for an hour.

Back on the bikes we continued riding on US 2 along the Kootenai River and really enjoying the scenery. As we crossed over the river and entered Bonner's Ferry we bid farewell to the river and skirted down the East side of the Selkirk Mountain Range. Soon we were in Sandpoint which sits on Lake Pend Oreille. The lake was formed by Glaciers and is one of the deeper lakes in the nation and is used to test submarines to this day, and was the second largest naval base during WWII. We stopped at Albani Dam to eat a snack and take in the view of the dam from high on the ridge where the park sits. We crossed over the Pend Oreille River and into Washington breaking away from US 2 and moving north on WA20. We stayed on WA 20 until we reached the Olympic Peninsula; it made the directions and routing very easy. We began riding along the Pend Oreille River and really were right on the water once we reached Ruby Mountain. Short of Ione WA, 20 takes a due west course through Coleville National Forest and into Little Oreille National Wildlife Refuge. The road from the turn (at Tiger WA) to Coleville and Kettle Falls was great. The forest kept the views close in, and when our speed dropped below 70mph, which wasn't often, we could smell the pine. We pulled into Kettle Falls and stopped at Northern Ales for a cold one and some lunch. This was a great find, and one we were not certain about, but it turned out great. Friendly staff, good food, and good beer. We gassed up and we were on our way. We didn't get far due to an old bridge we wanted to see on the other side of the Columbia River. The Old Mellenberger Bridge lies just off WA20 and spans Sherman Creek. There is not much information about the bridge, but it looked interesting to us, and we parked and walked around on it. It has a nice view of the creek below and the surrounding mountains. We didn't stay long and were soon back on WA20 heading towards our final destination. We quickly traversed Sherman Pass that allows passage over the Kettle River Range and is the highest pass in WA that is open year around. We thought about stopping on Sherman Pass but there wasn't much to see. The riding was great and we were enjoying the great road conditions and great scenery. WA20 and US 97 run together for several miles from Tonasket down to Okanogan where we exited to stay on WA20. Unfortunately there was construction on WA 20 and the road was closed making the 40 miles to Winthrop an 80 mile trip with inferior conditions. It wasn't bad but we arrived to Winthrop a little later than we thought. We also had some trouble getting into our rental in Winthrop but we figured it out without too much issue and we were at the Old Schoolhouse Brewery before dark. We walked to downtown stopping at the bridge over the Method River for a look around. Winthrop is a bit of a tourist town but we really liked it. The brewery was great and the town had a nice friendly feel to it. We didn't know it at the time, but this day was one of the top two of three of the trip.