Temperatures reached the low 70’s on this partially cloudy day. Winds were gusty at times, mostly on the Montana side.
Day’s distance: 228 miles
Total trip distance: 1,082 miles
The goal of this day was to ride Hwy 12 across Lolo Pass for the first time this year. Lolo Pass is one of my favorite roads in this area and this makes my third time traveling from Missoula to Lewiston along the Lochsa River.
Originally, I thought I would continue south from Lewiston and camp at Wallowa Lake State Park, but the temperatures overnight there were going to be almost 20 degrees colder than in Lewiston. Because the change in plans would make this a shorter day, I didn’t leave the motel until about 10am and proceeded directly to a local Starbucks for a relaxing latte.
As mentioned in the past, the speed limits on the Montana side of Hwy 12 are 70mph and are 50mph on the Idaho side. During my visit last July, I met a Montana couple who ride BMWs. They indicated that the speed limit on the Idaho side is strictly enforced by police. I have not seen law enforcement vehicles on the route and, from the speed that others travel, I can’t really get a sense of the levels of enforcement, but I kept it at or near the posted limits. For large portions of this ride, I simply set the cruise control for 50, cover the front brake with two fingers and enjoy the zen-like pleasures of motorcycling on a slow windy road on a dry day with perfect temperatures.
The forests in this area looked less impacted by the pine beetle as other areas I’ve been through on this trip. It is really sad when I travel through forests devastated by either fire or pests.
Even with the late start to the day, I arrived at Hells Gate SP before 4pm. The park wasn’t crowded and it was easy to get a tent site even though I didn’t have a reservation.
I had long conversations with two other riders while staying at the park. Al, a local resident and long-time rider with a background in dirt bike racing and I talked at length about all kinds of bike related topics, from trail riding to maps. Al seems to be a big fan of KTMs for the trail.
Ned, who lives in Tacoma, rides a BMW GS with a sidecar and travels with his dog. Both were featured in a SidecarDogs.com production called ‘Sit Stay Ride: The Story of America’s Sidecar Dogs’ available for rent on Vimeo.
Meeting both these folks was a treat. I feel like I can learn so much about enjoying life and motorcycling by meeting guys like Al and Ned.
I hit the sleeping bag early looking forward to riding the Rattlesnake Highway in the morning before heading back to Seattle.