It was a day of contrasts, but the one constant was the Clark Fork River. We cycled along its east bank for the entire day. That kept us nestled between the Cabinet and Coeur d'Alene mountains, surrounded by tall pines and and frequently within sight of the ever changing river.
Returning to our preferred routine we were off early, shortly after sunrise. We love the early morning hours, when the sun casts a golden glow and the rest of the world has yet to surface. The road was blessedly deserted despite being a state highway, and it was flat easy traveling. Even the river was quiet, reflecting the mountain scenery.
There was a downside, though. With the sun so low, it was a chilly 42 degrees and I'd underestimated the amount of warm clothes I needed. I kept adding layers as we went along, but could hardly wait to reach our breakfast stop to hug a hot mug of coffee.
By the time we emerged from the breakfast cafe, it was warming quickly. Once again the day was transforming from cold to hot. There seems to be no in between. With half our mileage already completed and plenty of day left, we took a leisurely ride through the park in Thompson Falls to see the dams and waterfalls.
For the remainder of the route, we followed the advice of last night's motel owner. We would never have found Blue Slide Road without his directions, and it took us off the highway on a beautiful country road all the way to our destination. We saw nary a car along the way, and reveled in the peaceful and beautiful mountainside scenery.
Of course we did know that venturing off the main road would entail more ups and downs, and this route had some doozies. They weren't as long as yesterday's climbs, but were much steeper and twisty. I managed to cycle up them, but even I needed some rest stops. One look at Rich's face will tell you the toll they took on him!
Even with the hills, we didn't realize just how high above the river we had climbed until the trees opened up to give us a view of the river – way down below.
Near the end of our ride, the river widened out into a huge reservoir, which is a popular recreation area. It makes for a lovely place to sit and relax after the day's travels. Here the breeze helps keep the heat at bay, and I feel I earned this nice rest. Somehow it even makes enduring the morning chill worth while.
I don't know what tomorrow will bring for cycling and weather, but I do know we have another day following the Clark Fork River.