My Friend Scott has talked a lot of a long ride he used to do in the Lolo / Weitas creek area of Idaho. He promised much suffering as elevation gain was in the realm of 10k and the route was 70+ miles in length with 20 miles of that being single track. What more could one want? So, that is where we headed Saturday night. Scott, Jen, and I loaded up the “Beast” and left town at 5pm. Three plus hours later over long stretches of dirt road we arrived at our start point next to Weitas Creek. We quickly pitched our tents and hit the sack. We were woken around 1am to very loud thunder and frequent lightening bolts. Then the rain started pouring down on us. Luckily no wind accompanied the rain and soon all settled down. We woke bright and early at 5:30 am and quickly consumed some coffee and oatmeal. We packed our bikes and headed out.
The ride began by climbing straight out of the Weitas creek drainage through lush forest on a nice dirt road. The climb was about 3000 ft and gave us several nice views down into the Weitas creek drainage. The first hour saw us cover only 4 miles and that should have given us some clue as to what the day would hold for us.
The next section put us on our only gravel road of the day as we rode generally upwards to the Beaver dam Saddle intersection. The wildflowers were profuse through this area with the red paintbrush flowers really standing out. When we arrived at the saddle we took a few minutes to read up on the Lewis and Clark expedition on some sign boards posted there.
At Beaver dam Saddle....
Once again back on nice dirt roads we continued to climb through dense forest. This road is known as the Lolo Motorway and has several signposts detailing this portion of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Occasionally the trees would part and reveal vistas of the surrounding mountains. We took two short side trips, one to an overlook above Rocky Ridge Lake then another down to the lake itself.
We finally arrived at the beginning of the final section our ride, the 20 mile single track trail that Scott had ridden 10 years prior. It was about 5pm and that left us only about 4 hrs to cover 20 miles of trail before it got dark. Unfortunately, the trail had taken a turn for the worse since Scott last rode it. There were more branches on the trail and the biggest issue being that it had become quite overgrown with brush in many sections. We became adept at using our helmets as battering rams to plow through the branches. The trail also had numerous creek crossings. To make things even better the weather picked that time to start raining again. At 8:30 we found ourselves still 6 miles out from camp and the light fading quickly.
The start of the trail to Weitas Creek...
Liz Creek Cabin along the trail....
At this point Jen and Scott decided to walk most of the rest of the way due to low light conditions. Scott gave me the keys to the truck and asked if I would ride out and pack the camp gear and meet them at the trail head. By now I had become pretty comfortable with the trail riding so even though the light was not good I was able to make it out just before the last of the light was gone.
I hurriedly stuffed some food in my mouth and set about tossing all our camping gear in the truck. I then drove back to the trail head to try to find the two stragglers. I started walking up the trail letting out a loud whistle every few minutes to see if I would get a response. Finally about ½ mile from the trail head I heard a return whistle. Luckily, Jen had packed a couple of flashlights so they had been able to see while hiking out. We soon made it back to the truck and quickly headed home to Lewiston with an arrival time of 2am. We ended the day with aprox 15hrs saddle time, 71 miles, and 9100ft of climbing.
At the end of the ride we were all fuzzy.
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Thread: Lolo Loopiness