What a Rush (USA Day 85)
We tried something today that we haven’t done since Dayton, and it didn’t work so well that time: morning activity; afternoon cycle. The main problem is that I get all anxious if there are miles to cover and diminishing hours to do them in. But I need to get over that, especially when there are hot springs in which to soak, beaches on which to lounge and wildernesses with which to mingle.
Once you’ve found a beach as good as ours, you don’t want to leave. We had a nut-themed breakfast by the river, finished off with a coffee-flavoured energy gel, to simulate real coffee. It didn’t work, but then the only coffee-flavoured thing that does the job of coffee is called ‘coffee’. Amy chose her favourite tree and photographed it for a good hour. The tree seemed pleased by all the attention. I decided to extend our stay by losing my keys, intentionally of course, which meant we’d either have to steal our own bikes or stay at the beach forever. Thirty minutes later, having emptied and re-packed every bag and now deep in the grass on my hands and knees, swearing profusely between every breath, Amy decided to check inside my sleeping bag. To cut a long story short, we left shortly after.
The Weir Creek Hot Springs were cute but unremarkable compared to our hot elk soup experience in Yellowstone. We trekked up an earthy path until the forest opened out and we came across a jacuzzi-sized pool at that point populated by five fun kids from a foster home.
“Woah,” said one, “Do you have an accent?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer. “To me, you have an accent,” I said.
“Oh yeah…I’d never thought about it that way.” She seemed really satisfied by that, then sunk into a deep think.
By the time we’d changed into our cycling gear, trekked back down to the road and gulped down masses of trail mix to make up for our lack of coffee and our calorie shortfall, it was time for lunch and therefore time for more trail mix. After this, we had seventy miles to cover, all slightly downhill, but we’d promised to contact our WarmShowers host early today in order to get picked up from town later. Unfortunately, there’d been no service since Missoula. If we wanted to have a bed for the night, we needed to get into Kooskia before Jim (host) decided to give up on waiting for us. So we set a pace and kept to it, sprinting in twenty mile chunks down the river road. At around the forty mile mark, we passed four thousand for the entire trip. We screeched, we yelped, we kept our eyes safely on the road, Mum.
Downhills are supposed to be easy. Today was quick, but we didn’t make it easy. By the time we’d reached Kooskia, we were hot, sticky and after seventy miles of keeping it above, our average pace had dropped below 15mph for the first time. Thank goodness, we’d made it just in time. As we rolled into the forecourt of his car wash, Jim was packing up his van to leave. We greeted him, hopped in, and swallowed hard as we realised quite how hard the ride out of town to his place would have been. Seven miles of straight climbing later, we arrived at Jim’s place: a rural house of extensions and outhouses, with elk Bolognese on the stove, puppies wiggling at our feet and a warm bed into which we leapt (after plenty of elk).