Monday July 27, 2009, 70 miles (113 km) – Total so far: 3,813 miles (6,136 km)
Longer day than we’ve had lately today, but what ya gonna do? Virginia says we can do this every day; I say, “Uh.”
We started out of Eureka with a modest breakfast (really, not much more than I’d eat at home to go sit in a cubicle all day!). One last look towards Canada, then we started west, then south.
The 9-mile ride over to Rexford was through dry hills, until we came to the Tobacco River and rode down to Rexford. I was hoping to get something substantial for breakfast; everything but the post office was closed. Oh, well. We got back on the main road and headed south towards Koocanusa Lake.
It’s a beautiful lake. Bluish-green water, surrounded by mountains rising 3,000 feet above the lake. Decent road, very little traffic. Now repeat for 45 miles!
It’s a man-made lake with a man-made name. “Koo” from Kootenai River, “can” for Canada, and can you guess where the “usa” comes from? Anyway, Montana built a bridge across the lake five miles down from where we hit it. It’s supposed to be the highest and longest bridge in the state.
The road on our side of the lake was not as smooth as I expected. It was a series of hills, each 1-2 miles long. Nothing too bad, but I guess they didn’t want a typical mountain road, and didn’t want to spend the money for large cuts. As a result, we climbed over part of each protruding ridge, then coasted down to the next creek, and repeated. All the while in beautiful surroundings, mind you!
There was a bit of wildlife. I startled a deer below the road when I stopped to take a picture, and one bounded across the road right in front of Virginia. She also spotted a coyote that I missed. There were at least three bald eagle nests along the road, spaced well apart.
We felt fortunate to find Koocanusa Resort about 7 miles up from the dam. That and the bridge were the only things we passed, except for a couple of National Forest roads going up the mountain. 45 mile, no campsites, no bars, picnic areas, just more road. It was lunch, and we’d been munching energy bars and leftover ham and pineapple pizza from yesterday’s lunch. Real food tasted good, and we ate it in the shade. Did I mention it was getting hot? Up to 90, anyways. And the sun had long since cleared the eastern ridges that kept us in shadow for the first 20 miles down the lake. This was our first chance for extra water, but we’d come prepared with 1 and 2.5 liters of extra water. (I drank all mine shortly after getting into Libby!)
Finally we passed Libby Dam and hit some solid downhill. When you pass a dam headed downstream, naturally you have to drop to the level of the river below, right? Then it was time to follow the Kootenai River down to town, another 13 miles. The river had a pretty good current, but just didn’t smell right. I think they need to oxygenate the water they’re pulling out of the bottom of the lake. Scenery was superb, of course!
We’ll likely pull another long day tomorrow, although I think we have a few more options than today. We’re getting close enough to Anacortes that we can calculate how far we have to go. Quite a change from two months ago, when we barely wanted to look at how far we’d gone!