August 20 thru 21, 2018 Had a good night sleep overall. Swept tent and loaded up, then had coffee while reviewing my route. A good deal of my travels had actually followed Lewis and Clark’s trek, which I found pretty damn cool. I needed to get ice for my food.
The smoke was definitely thicker and it was muggy as shit. According to the news, there were more fires in WA and others in OR and CA intensified. Horrible! The wind was blowing the smoke across surrounding states. These are photos of the swim area I drove through before leaving the park.
95S to check out the Nez Perce National Historical Park, less than 30 minutes away. The cemetary is the resting place for three generations of Bredells, where they lived from 1861 to 1927, long before the area became a park. The last surviving family member raised racehorses and owned stables used for stagecoach mail deliveries with the US Postal Service in the upper Clearwater valley.
I highly recommend a stop at the Lenore Rest Area. I climbed down the embankment and walked along Clearwater River where I hung-out. There was no one else around for a long time. I was alone but far from lonely. Gorgeous!
Continued on the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway with a stop at the site of Canoe Camp, named by Lewis and Clark. According to the markers, the Corps of Discovery built 5 canoes in 1805 for journey to the Pacific, in the company of Nez Perce; sadly, the Indians’ connection to this area changed drastically afterward. The weather was so overcast that the dam was barely visible.
The drive along 12E was incredibly gorgeous! I was continuously pulling over and walking around to absorb it. In retrospect, I wish I’d taken more time. In Kooskia, I stopped at the Ranger office to get a list of campsites, fee and free. Drove along the Selway River Corridor and WOW!
Pulled into free site on list, Johnson Bar, and set up camp in the rain. Walked around area and wanted so badly to snag a few river rocks, but didn’t. They were everywhere and gorgeous! Signs about a black bear siting on the 18th in this area were posted.
Explored outside the site and made a stop at the Moose Creek Ranger’s Office on my way to check out Selway Falls. Come to find out, Johnson Bar wasn’t a free site. Showed them my list and discovered the districts do not communicate; reminded me of government departments. Johnson Bar was only $6, but it was the principal and I wanted to recap some hotel costs. Back to my site, packed up wet gear and moved down the road, asphalt to dirt, smooth to pothole-hell, driving 10-15 mph for miles. It was raining again. Checked out a few freebies along the way, but they were full or not for me. ALL THE WAY TO THE END, I landed the perfect site at #12; free, in backwoods, insane views and all to myself! I was in the midst of bear country, alone, surrounded by gorgeous.
Set up camp, boiled water for the red beans and rice MRE bought in Colorado, and coffee with the fixings. Took a walk on the wild side through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness for more than an hour, with bear spray in hand. I talked, laughed and sang out loud to alert all critters of my presence, but actually enjoyed it a lot! Climbed over fallen trees, down to the water, got muddy as hell and loved every moment. Headed back to camp after dark, stopped in the vault toilet on my way up, then zipped for the night. The fear that hovered every now and then, about meeting a bear during a pee-walk or my tent torn apart by one in the middle of the night, didn’t last long. I was exhausted and the sounds from the river and nearby creek were soothing. I loved it there!
Woke to the most excellent morning feeling invinsible. Just me, birds, the sound of water in the babbling creek and sunrise. Made coffee and stretched with a walk; sports bra great for key storage. I’ll definitely come back here for at least a week in the same spot. Seriously, it’s f*ing incredible!
On the way out, made lots of stops along the way, at the old metal bridge and along Selway Falls that had fantastic boulders. The number of times I told myself to stay at least two more days should have been my sign, but I didn’t listen. I’ll be back!!
Back on 12E, I stopped along the Lochsa River and dropped the tailgate to eat a salad with an awesome view. Figured drivers hauling ass might actually be on a schedule to get somewhere, like work maybe. Hahaha! I’ll rejoin them soon enough. Until then, I’ll stick with slower pace. The drive through the Colgate Licks in the Clearwater National Forest was incredible. Crossed Lolo Pass into Montana. Stopped several times to walk a couple trails and soak-in the view.
Lolo, just outside of Missoula, had a little Western-style town of fun, touristy shit. The parking lot was full of water-filled potholes. There were signs for trail rides and hot springs. I grabbed a coke and potty break in the saloon-restaurant. Why do I feel the need to purchase something when I use a business’ toilet?? Anyway, talked to the older gentlemen at Hidalgo Trail Rides quite a while. He was pissed-off about the son of the business owner using his dad’s horses, often, to entertain girlfriends, leaving horses for tourists sparse. I know he was serious, but laughed my ass off about the situation, which he was sharing with a total stranger. He eventually laughed too, after we talked about ways he attempted to impress at same age. Great convo – cool man!
Gassed up at the Traveler’s Rest Store ($3/gal) and picked up Tabasco Slim Jims and nuts. The rest area around there was fantastic, with a creek, clean toilet and Lewis and Clark markers.
Swung off 12 and followed signs to check out the Lochsa Lodge. Beautiful property with cabins, country store, gas station and main restaurant. I got a coffee and few gallons gas. Went to Walmart in Missoula that I heard was an awesome, artsy, kind of hippie place, but it was to busy, busy for me – I wasn’t feeling it! Picked up seaweed snacks and mushrooms, then hit 90. Drove a bunch and ate lots of yummy crap food. Gassed up every chance, at every potty stop. Speed limit 80 MPH, with slower speeds in single lane construction areas. Due to poor planning and passing a shit-load of awesome camp spots, ended up at a rest stop in Drummon, MT, attempting to sleep in my truck. UGH!
Covered all windows with sunshades and more or less napped. Even though I was wrapped in a blanket, felt like I was f*ing freezing and crazy restless. Woke at 1a and drove about an hour to another rest stop in Anaconda, MT, where I was able to catch few hours shut-eye due to straight-up exhaustion. Realized I’d definitely need to refigure layout for better truck sleeping, just in case last resort again. Memorable to say the least!