Last Ride on the Coeur d’Alene – Day 7


Coeur d’Alene River

Joyce and I started riding from our condo after breakfast, and Ron & Ed met us in Enaville (about 7 miles west of Kellogg). The four of us rode together from Enaville to Harrison, which is about 32 miles. This portion of the Coeur d’Alene alternated between views of the river and views of marshland. I kinda liked the variety because the landscape was different around each bend.


Osprey Nest

Along the trail, we saw an osprey nest perched on a wooden platform, a Llama farm, several cranes, coots, small rodents (mice, chipmunks, and squirrels), cattle, and a garter snake. I literally ran over the snake because I was looking at the water and not the trail. Ed saw me run over it, and Joyce & Ron confirmed that it slithered away into the grass (hopefully it wasn’t hurt too badly). We didn’t see any moose, but we saw lots of moose droppings (with berries) along the trail.

Unfortunately, the Ride Idaho was scheduled during the same week as our trip. Until today, we only saw a few of them at the local tourist areas. However, today their route coincided with our ride, and we probably encountered 50 or more of them whizzing past us at about 20 mph saying “on your left.” I actually kept pace with one group for awhile; I enjoyed hearing about their trip, but I’m not sure that I could ride 450 miles in a week nor sleep in tents with 300 other people!


Wild Flowers

I enjoyed the variety of trees along this portion of the trail. Not only did we see beautiful evergreens, we also saw Aspen, cottonwood, and cedar trees. As other days, different varieties of wild flowers lined both sides of the trail.


Marsh View

As it approached lunchtime, we tried to find a picnic table in the shade. The sun was hot today, and I felt the back of my neck getting sunburned. Finally, after riding about five miles past when we really wanted to stop for lunch, we gave up and sat on the ground along the river bank. Later, we read trail signs which warned against eating on the ground due to the possibility of heavy metal contamination from the mining operations in the area. This warning made me regret eating my sandwich after dropping it on the ground.

The last third of today’s ride flew by quickly as we anticipated eating an ice cream cone in Harrison, assuming the bikers hadn’t eaten all of it before we arrived. We were not disappointed; the creamery was well-stocked in anticipation of the crowds. After finishing our ice cream, we met our shuttle driver, Lou, at the Pedal Pushers bike shop. Lou skillfully loaded our bikes on his trailer and drove us back to Enaville. We appreciated his flexibility with our changing schedule and were grateful for his reasonable price.

We returned our bikes to the rental shop in Kellogg and drove back to our condo to take showers before dinner. The Silver Mountain Lodge offers a Gondola ride and barbecue on Friday nights during the summer.


Silver Mtn Gondola

The gondola is the longest single expansion ride in the world; the trip to the top of the mountain took 20 minutes. Since the gondola goes 1,000 feet per minute, that means we rode 20,000 feet, which is approximately 4 miles. We enjoyed the barbecue dinner and view at the top of the mountain. We took a short hike and admired the layout of their ski slopes before returning to the base of the mountain.

Joyce and I wanted to see the resort’s indoor water park so we all took a quick walk through the different attractions (wave surfing, lazy river, slides, obstacle courses, etc.). Finally, we printed our boarding passes and returned to our condo.

Tomorrow, we fly back to Atlanta from Spokane. Because we’re out of groceries, we plan to eat breakfast in Coeur d’Alene. We also need to find a place to mail our hiking poles home since we can’t carry them on the plane.


View from Ski Resort

We’ve had a wonderful trip! I’m leaving a part of my soul on the trails in Idaho and in the mountains at Olympic National Park. Soon it will be time to start planning our next bike trip… perhaps the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota …


Kellogg to Harrison, Day 7


Joyce along Coeur d’Alene

Since we did the Mullan to Wallace and Wallace to Kellog sections yesterday late afternoon and evening, all we had left for the rest of the Coeur d’Alenes Trail was from Kellog to Harrison. Each section has been so different, and today was no exception. Martha and I started right after breakfast and rode to the Enaville Trailhead, where we met Ron and Ed, who had driven the distance in the truck to meet us there. Our ride without them was 6.7 miles, and together the four of us did 32.4 miles, totaling 39.1 for today.


Water Lilies

Much of this ride followed along the Coeur d’Alene River and through the valley formed by it, and a good part of the trip was through a swampy area filled with wetland grasses, water lilies, and other wetland plants. We saw an osprey nest on a thick pole in the water and some ducks, but no moose feeding anywhere along the way. We had high mountains on each side of us, reminding me of being in the Sawtooth Mountain Range in lower Idaho, around Sun Valley and Ketchum, from years ago when I would go there with Pam Circuit. It was really pretty scenery.


Our Picnic Spot

The only problem with the trip was that it was hot and when we were ready to eat we couldn’t find a picnic table in the shade. Finally we settled for the ground beside the trail, but at least it was in the shade. The Ride Idaho group (which we were told numbered in the hundreds) rode swiftly past us in various packs of people, so we were consistently hearing “passing on your left.” I would guess we were passed by about fifty people during the ride, most of them going about eight miles faster than us and wearing their bright colored bicycle outfits. It looked fun, but it didn’t sound fun to be with so many people at night eating dinner and in the mornings when nature calls us to the toilet. Maybe we’ll do a bike ride across Georgia sometime, but we both agreed our first priority is the Hall of Fame Rails to Trails because they are flat and scenic and because we can do them whenever we decide, with whomever we decide.


River View

Lou McCarty (recommend by Pedal Pushers* bike shop) picked us up in Harrison and drove us and our bikes back to the truck parked at Enaville. We were fortunate that he was as flexible as he was, because we changed our itinerary twice on him. The first change came last night when we decided to reverse our direction for today’s ride so that instead of him picking us up in Enaville and taking us to Harrison, we opted for a little more downhill slope and had him return us to Enaville from Harrison, which meant we changed his time from morning to afternoon. Then along the way we decided that we didn’t have time for another ice cream at the Creamery (this time I got the Huckleberry, which was delicious) if he met us at 2 p.m., so we called and asked if we could change to 2:30 p.m. Again he graciously agreed to our change in plans. He shared interesting information with us on the ride back, and we give him a thumbs up for anyone looking for a shuttle driver in this area: prompt, flexible, reasonable in price, friendly, and a good driver. What more do we want? *Just for the record, we gave our blog this title before we knew about this bike shop.)
So we turned our bikes in at Excelsior Bike Shop (to which we also give a thumbs up for good, friendly, and reasonably priced service.

Came back to the hot tub for another little water massage on the feet and legs and then on to our dinner excursion of riding up the gondola at the ski resort mountain and having a steak huckleberry barbeque dinner and a short walk on the nature walk in the woods up there. Nice and peaceful, and we got an excellent view of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges as we rode the gondola. It was a good closing to a good day, ending a trip we will not forget. It was almost a dream come true trip.

Harrison to Plummer and back to Harrison, Day 5

When I texted Tommy tonight about today’s bike ride, he said he had read in an Outdoors magazine that Idaho and Utah were the top two favorite states for outdoor enthusiasts. Of course I would agree about Utah, and after today I can certainly see why Idaho is tops, though I am speaking only about the northern section of Idaho right now. (And I believe Oregon places a close third, as the area we were in yesterday was so picturesque.) I have always wanted to visit the Couer d’Alene area in the panhandle, so when Martha and Anne McCallum first mentioned rails to trails in this area, I was ready and eager to go. It’s almost hard to believe that this trip is actually taking place, because I have anticipated it for so long.


Ron & Ed Eating Picnic Lunch

After sleeping in until 8 a.m. due to arriving at 12:30 a.m. last night at the motel, we had our motel breakfast while Ed and Martha went to pick up the rental truck that Martha had reserved. They picked us up at 9:30, and we were on our way from Spokane to Harrison, Idaho. Even though we were traveling along Interstate 90, the scenery was still beautiful. Large mountains loomed in the distance most of the way, and for much of that part of the drive we had large lakes on the south side. Then when we turned down the scenic highway that follows the shore line of Couer d’Alene (pronounced “dilane” with a “short I” sound), the views were even better. It’s a huge glacial created lake that extends for miles and has smooth, high mountains surrounding it. We arrived in Harrison, bought sandwiches for our picnic lunch (and I bought a disposable camera so that I could take some pictures, though the ones posted here on the blog are all from Martha’s camera), and rented our bikes.


Joyce & Ron on Bridge

Then we took off for one of the greatest rides we have done. It was like we were in heaven: the blue lake and mountains were on each side of us for the first 7.5 miles, we rode across a bridge for several hundred yards, and then went slightly up hill (4 percent grade incline) for another 7.5 miles through a thickly forested area and had a fair sized gorge on our left, which had been carved from Plummer Creek. This whole path is paved, so the ride wasn’t too bad, just steady slowly uphill.


Trail near Plummer

Ron and I and Martha did this part of the trip; Ed wanted to forego the climb and headed back to Harrison at his leisurely pace, taking pictures at his whim. At Plummer, it was almost like a large plateau on top of the mountain, with some trees but a lot of grain fields on our right side.


Coeur d’Alene Indian Sculpture

There was a neat metal statue of an Indian warrior on his horse, which was dedicated to the sacrifices of the Couer d’Alene tribe and to the Indians from that tribe who fought in the world wars. So after a short break, the three of us headed back down the mountain, going between 13 and 20 miles an hour—Ron and I stayed below 15, but Martha still has her daredevil spirit in her and said she approached 20 miles an hour an times. I guess our age difference is showing.

We met Ed when we turned our bikes in, rewarded ourselves with a large Moose Tracks ice cream cone and headed for Kellog, Idaho, where we are spending the night. Settled into our condo for three nights (that will be nice to be in one place, as it was getting difficult to picture how to find the nighttime bathroom and the hallway exits in so many different motels). The hour drive from Harrison to Kellog was another scenic drive, with more lake area and mountain views. Our dinner was at the Moose Creek Grill; I had a salmon salad which was delicious, but I continue to gain weight when we ordered a “brownie sandwich with ice cream” for dessert. Then we shopped for breakfast and lunch items to use here at the condo for three days.

Now we’re set for two more great days along the Couer d’Alene Trail and the Trail of the Hiawatha. I’m really looking forward to them and am so glad that Ron and Ed are joining us on these trails so that they can experience the beauty and joy of seeing nature so close up and getting exercise at the same time.

Coeur d’Alene – Day 5

I’ve anticipated today’s bike ride on the Coeur d’Alene for several weeks. I awoke early and eager to get to Idaho.

I called Thrifty Car Rental for a pickup at the Travelodge, and they were very prompt. Ed and I rented a Ford F-150 truck so that we could easily haul four bikes for the remainder of our trip. We circled back to pick up Joyce and Ron at the hotel, and then headed toward the Coeur d’Alene.

After about 30 minutes on the interstate, we turned south on Hwy 27 and drove along the Coeur d’Alene Lake for about 30 miles down to Harrison. Although the road was twisty and treacherously close to the cliff overhanging the lake, the scenery was breathtaking! This must be why Cheryl’s husband loves Idaho:)


Pedal Pushers

Once we arrived in Harrison (population 247?), we stopped at the Trading Post to purchase sandwiches to eat on our bike ride. Then, we went next door to the Pedal Pushers bike shop to rent our bikes.


Martha on Trail

Ed and Ron rode with us today, and we decided to let them set the pace. The trail ran adjacent to the edge of the lake for the first 7 1/2 miles. I cannot find the words to describe the scenery on this portion of the trail. Imagine the sun gleaming off the lake against a background of mountains on all sides! The Wildflowers were in full bloom, and we passed by several boggy areas covered with pink water lillies. Ed spotted a large crane strutting among the cattails to our left, but no moose:(


Ed on Bridge

At the lower end of the lake, the trail actually crossed the water on a narrow isthmus. Riding across this portion of the trail felt like we were gliding across the lake. We rode across a steel bridge and then down to Hayden State Park where we found a nice picnic table underneath a shade tree along the water – what a perfect spot for our lunch!


Joyce & Ron

After lunch, Ed decided to head back to Harrison while Joyce, Ron, and I rode 7 miles uphill (4% grade) to Plummer, the western terminus of the Coeur d’Alene Trail. We climbed 1500 feet from the lake through a magnificent evergreen forest to the wheat-covered meadows in Plummer. Although the trail was fairly steep, we knew the ride back down would be worth it.


Coeur d’Alene Sculpture

At the Plummer trailhead, there was a magnificent metal sculpture depicting an Indian riding horseback in full headdress. There was also a monument listing the names of those who had lost their lives serving in the U.S. Armed Services. This portion of the land still belongs to the Coeur d’Alene tribe.


Common Tansy & Wheat Grass

The 7 mile ride downhill to the lake took less than 30 minutes; my average speed was about 15 mph, but I reached speeds in excess of 18 mph. What a thrill to feel the breeze against my face, breathe in the scent of cedar trees, and see the colorful flowers lining both sides of the trail. We crossed back over the bridge and rode back to Harrison to meet Ed.

Joyce suggested that we reward ourselves by eating an ice cream cone at the local creamery before driving on to Kellogg. The drive to our condo took about an hour, but the scenery made the time fly by quickly. The vacation rental company in Kellogg decided to bump us up to the penthouse at Alpine Village, and we were pleasantly surprised by the size and amenities of our condo, especially at $175/night ($87.50 per couple).


Moose Creek Grill

We ate dinner at the Moose Creek Grill, which definitely lived up to its reviews. After dinner, we bought some groceries at Yoke’s Foods and drove back to the condo for the night.

As I fell asleep, I thought if I don’t make it to Heaven, I would definitely settle for Idaho:) My heart is full and I feel truly blessed for the opportunity to ride along the Coeur d’Alene.