White Bird Hill sounds fairly innocent. Certainly, it doesn't sounds like anything implying 8-or-so miles of 7% grade. The truly steep side was on the west, and thus a descent for me. A long, severely twisting downhill rush in the last hour of faint daylight on a cold October evening... Fortunately, I found a very well-placed camp, under the shelter of a historical marker kiosk. After a while, the sounds of trucks labouring up the steep incline faded away and I fell asleep to the sounds of coyotes far below.
I should mention, of course, that the west face of White Bird Hill is stunning. After weeks and weeks of climbing mountains and pedaling through valleys, this is something different. The dry, pale green-and-gold grasses carpet undulated waves of land far below. The wide, airy canyon is mostly open and empty. Maybe that is because it's the site of a staggering example of early American stupidity and thus must be preserved. Today, though, it was a beautiful, heart-lifting place to wake up in.
The rest of the day was fantastic, for the most part(I'll get to the exception later). It was warm. Warm enough to ride in shorts and sleeveless. Feeling the sun again on my skin, after so much cloudy, rainy weather... I'll never take sunny days for granted again! For most of the day, the road stuck to the bank of the Salmon River. Just about every 5 miles I'd come upon some pleasant place to stop - Tidy little BLM recreation areas, overgrown Fish and Game campgrounds, sandy boat launches. All along the river where quiet little spots to camp, many well used but clean. I stopped at one of these, sat on a sunny rock and read until Michelle and Ryan came down the road at last. We caught up for a bit, and then they moved on. Hopefully we'll synch up our route again soon.
Not everything went well, however, today. In Riggins, a cheerful little whitewater town, I stopped at a thrift store to see what was on offer. This was the first time since early in the morning I'd gone for my purse, and I couldn't find it. I decided to withhold panic until I could get to camp and thoroughly search all my gear for it, and left feeling unhappy and concerned. After Riggins, all those nice campsites I'd been seeing vanished. Private property, no trespassing land. Some landowners allowed access, but with a long list of restrictions and there was just no way to get a bike down there. Eventually I found a free fish and game camping area. Unremarkable, not very clean, but a place to sleep. I never did find my purse...