Dinner Upriver

We are celebrating my birthday at Trenchermen in Chicago. They are having a “Dinner Upriver” special event with three guest chefs from Memphis.

Excellent dishes and wines. Cathie is going to have to drive home.

RAGBRAI Day 6.

What a day. I started at 7 AM when the overnight rains stopped. It didn’t take long for them to start again though. By 9 AM I was in the little town of Tripoli about 27 miles along when a lightning bolt hit close enough that there was no gap between the flash and the bang. I decided it was a good time to join the crowds in the halls of the high school. Some people even ran into hail in the storm.

By 10 AM the rain was stopping, although the wind was not. Then the next 10 miles was some of the worst pavement we’ve seen. After a brief stop in Sumner, we turned south into a 25+ mph headwind that lasted the next 35 miles.

So rain, thunder and lightning, hail, bad roads and headwinds. The only thing we were missing to make it truly epic was a plague of frogs.

Tomorrow is our last day and we will be starting before dawn in order to get home tomorrow night.

RAGBRAI Day 3

It was a hot and muggy night. I was dripping sweat just packing up. In addition today was the long day, 80 miles. The forecast was for highs in the 90’s so I started at 6:00 am. As we rode out of town the sun rose out of the steam and above the corn.

In the 90 degree heat I decided that the basic 80 miles were enough and skipped the extra loop to add 28 miles. The wind was out of the northwest so it was more of a help than a hindrance most of the day. But at the end of the day, five miles from town we turned north into the wind and a series of long hills. Most people found the sign saying “5 miles and 5 hills to go” discouraging at that point.

I skipped most of the food and just concentrated on liquids, having emptied the water bottles pretty quickly.

RAGBRAI Day 2

Today was a short day, 42 miles. So I started a little later and made several stops at the roadside stands to take on ballast: the Pork Chop Guy, the Iowa Craft Beer and Beekman’s homemade ice cream. The stops allowed me to slow down the day and not arrive at our camp site until 1:00.

RAGBRAI Day 1

I started at 6:30 this morning when they opened the road. It was a nice setup with the road lined with flags.

It was a 72 mile day, but I got to the finish line at 12:30 and our team didn’t have the signs for the camp location out yet. So I rode too far and ended up having to come back, finish with 100 miles, which was OK, but it was too much time in the sun.

The towns really do things up, with the hay bales decorated and signs hung from farm equipment.

The church ladies sell pies and such in the day time and spaghetti dinners in the evening.

RAGBRAI

Early this morning 67 of us gathered at a school north of Chicago to load gear and bikes on a truck and board a bus for a ride across Iowa to the Missouri River.

Tomorrow morning we start the ride across the state to the Mississippi. It’s about 420 miles, so it averages 60 miles a day.

There will be 8,000+ people riding, so it should be a crazy scene.

Gathering for the bus ride

Hike to Sawtooth Lake

Today was our last Sawtooth Mountains hike. We saved Sawtooth lake to the end because we heard it was still frozen and because with 1,700 feet of climb and a 10 mile hike it was going to be at the limit of Cathie’s ability.

The hike is in another beautiful valley with sharp granite peaks on either side, wild flowers all around and great alpine lakes along the way. The reason these are called the Sawtooths is very clear.

I have to say that the Sawtooth Mountains are a hiker’s dream. There are great day hikes and doubtless even better multi-day backpacking trips. There are few people besides serious hikers. The locals seem to want it under the radar to keep out the bus tours, etc. and it seems to be working. The local town, Stanley, has a population of 63, several small hotels and restaurants and outfitters. You could easily miss the town, especially if you are gawking at the mountains.

Tomorrow morning we drive to Boise and take a plane home, our summer adventure is done.

4th of July Creek

Today we decided to do a short hike up 4th of July Creek to Washington Lake. The idea was a half day, 5 mile hike. But Cathie quickly discovered that the area was full of wildflowers. So the hike took a little longer as we admired, photographed and identified all the various flowers, but for Cathie it was a good exchange for a longer time on the trail.

We did get to both 4th of July Lake

and Washington Lake.

I’m sitting on the deck outside our room overlooking the Salmon River, which we listen to all night, and watching the light fade at 9:30 PM. A lovely way to spend an evening.

Hike to Alpine Lake (South)

There are two Alpine lakes in this mountain range, just a few miles apart. It does cause confusion when discussing hikes and directions.

We took a ferry across Redfish Lake to the trail head on the other side, it saves several miles each way and certainly made the hike more doable. With the ferry the hike was about 13 miles round trip and 1,900 feet of differential according to my GPS.

The mountains started at the far shore of the lake.

We hiked several miles up the valley between granite peaks on either side.

There was a snow covered circ at the end of the valley.

But before we got there we headed up a long series of switchbacks on the north side.

All along the way the hillsides were covered with flowers.

Alpine Lake had thawed but was still surrounded by snow.

The Sawtooth Range

The Sawtooth Mountains as seen from Stanley Idaho.

I am amazed that these mountains aren’t better known. But they aren’t in a park and to get close to them requires hiking.