Hell’s Canyon

Neither of us has ever been to Hell’s Canyon and since we are close it seemed like a good time to take a quick look before we head into the Palouse.

As it happens, we met a couple in Central America who live in Clarkston WA, just across the Snake River from where we intend to camp, and we thoroughly enjoyed their company while south of the border so I contacted them before leaving home to see if we could get together for a drink or dinner. Our timing was good, they were in town, available and graciously invited us to dinner at their house even though they were busy getting ready to leave on an extended family trip to Africa in a few days.

It was such a fun evening, lots of reminiscing, lots of laughing, good wine and a fantastic meal.  It’s too bad they live on the other side of the state but we are hoping that they will stop by this summer en route to Mt. Rainier.

We camped at Hell’s Gate State Park in Lewiston Idaho, literally right across the river from Patty and Tom’s house. It is a nice park that runs along the river and connects with a nice 9-mile bike trail that runs back towards Lewiston. It felt good to get out of the van and pedal a bit more although my derriere needs more conditioning before I can sit for a long ride on a bicycle seat; I was a tad sore after the ride.

Hell's Gate State Park ID

Hell’s Gate State Park ID

Bike Trail

Bike Trail

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In camp we listened to the roar of the jet boats heading up into the canyon for the day and then their return in the late afternoon and early evening. We had decided to pass on the boat trip this visit but will likely do it if we come back; I am sure it is worth the money and the time at least once. I was ambivalent about it this time and have ridden up the Rogue River in years passed; the idea of sitting in a boat all day just didn’t appeal to me this time.

Osprey

Osprey

On our bike ride we stopped at the Visitor Center near the campground and noticed a large nest and two occupants so we returned with the tripod to see who was home.  There wasn’t much in and out activity so we think the eggs have not yet hatched but both parents were very attentive.

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Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s

I have been so eager to travel since my surgery and today we are back on the road, heading to Idaho for a few days of fu in the sun and my first bike ride since hip replacement.   George’s cousin and wife generously offered to share their condo on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene with us so Idaho here we come! It is a long drive through the monotonous landscape of eastern Washington, mostly brown this time of year and ended up taking us about 7 hours as we stop every couple of hours to walk around a bit and stretch.

Dust Devil Eastern Washington

Dust Devil Eastern Washington

Approaching Spokane we again begin to see trees, a pleasant change from the miles and miles of barren fields.  Pine trees line the highway bring a refreshing green color back into the landscape.   It doesn’t take long once we cross the border before the lake comes into view and we know we are almost there. Happy to finally be out of the car our friends meet us and help haul our gear up to the condo. We take a walk around to stretch our legs  and then settle in – good friends, a glass of wine, a great dinner and gorgeous sunset, all is right with the world.

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Soft evening light

The condo is lovely and the setting perfect with views to the lake, a nice covered porch and located about half way between the Harrison trailhead and Coeur d’Alene.

Sunset over Lake Coeur d'Alene

Sunset over Lake Coeur d’Alene

Next morning rain with the promise of clearing later but no so; it rained all day but we did manage a short walk in the afternoon. Gray skies gone, rain gone,  sunshine, cool temperatures and blue skies with a few puffy white clouds,  in other words a picture perfect day.  After breakfast we drove to the Harrison trailhead of the beautiful Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s bike trail for our ride. The paved trail begins in the shadows passing lakes, fields, marshes and following the Coeur d’Alene River; it is a railroad grade, virtually flat and an easy ride, running more than 70 miles through Idaho.  We peddled a 21 mile segment today, I turned at 19 miles and probably should have retreated sooner but it was such a beautiful day and such a beautiful ride.  It was a painful ride back into Harrison but I made it and got some great shots of the river.

P1200791 We had rewarded ourselves with a late lunch at One Shot Charlie’s, good food!

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George & Smitty