Day 8. After a restful nights sleep for Ethan (not me), we were a bit slow in getting ready to leave the bike hostel. We were still able to get out the door by 7:10 though, so we hoped we’d be able to make it to our destination a bit earlier than we had the day before
Getting out of Colville was hilly and we knew we were going up and over another big hill, but it wasn’t going to be nearly as steep as the mountain passes we had dealt with before. As we ascended we went through more pretty scenery in the Colville National Forest. At one point, we both said how it reminded us of the UP.
Up and up we went and eventually we needed a snack stop. I was just about at the point where I couldn’t go any farther without a break when I noticed a sign that said Crystal Falls. It was just one of those little brown National Forest signs and that was it. No other signage or anything. We pulled over thinking “it must not be that cool if there’s only one little sign.” We lucked out though because it was awesome! The falls were much bigger than we expected and really pretty. The viewing area was pretty high above it, so we sat on a big rock right on the edge (which was a little scary and I didn’t want to stand on). There, we ate bagels and peanut butter and enjoyed the beauty of the falls.
We still had to get up this hill though, so we couldn’t stay that long unfortunately. We headed back out and up and stopped a few more times to give our butts a break. Eventually we made it to the top and by looking at the elevation chart we were going down a very steep decline. And it was right. I don’t know what grade the hill was but it was steep and had some 15mph, hair pin turns that I’d be scared to do in a car, let alone on a bike. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic so we didn’t have to worry about that.
At the bottom of the hill, we came to a teeny tiny town called Tiger. We stopped at the “rest area” to decide where we wanted to go from there. We knew we were going to be following the Pend Orielle River (pronounced Pond O’Ray) for a few days, and at that point we had to decide which side we wanted to ride down for the rest of the day. If we stayed on the west side we would stop to camp in 29 miles, making our next day a little shorter. If we went down the east side, we’d have to go north to Ione to cross the river then bike 22 miles to camp. We deliberated and decided that since it would mostly be flat along the river that we could go an extra 7 miles to Cusick.
The road was pretty flat which was nice because we can go faster, but we had to deal with a slight headwind (reference last post to hear how frustrating this is). We made good time though and rolled into to the small town of Cusick at 4. Ethan had looked up an RV park at which we were hoping we could pitch our tent. We checked the map then headed to the park. We wound up in a neighborhood and in my head I was thinking “this is an odd place for an RV park.” When we pulled up I think both of our faces must have had the same look of bewilderment. This “RV Park” was pretty much someone’s yard with 5 or 6 spots for RVs. It was gross and small and in the middle of neighborhood that had seen better days. Ethan immediately got on his phone to find other places. He didn’t even have to ask me, he knew I’d never stay there in 100 years.
As we’re sitting there a guy (with a beer in hand and another in his jeans pocket) comes walking up. He asks what we’re up to so we tell him we’re trying to find a place to stay. Then he proceeds to tell us that we can camp at the fairgrounds, which we passed when we got to the town. He also told us they had showers and that he would know because he lived there for a few months. We took his word for it and decided to check it out. We’re really glad he decided to check on us because we definitely both judged him too quickly and would not have asked him for help. We wrote that down in our book of Lessons Learned along with “Drink More Water”.
We headed over to the fairground and sure enough you could camp there (there was a sign on the fence, but it was kind of covered by a bush). We pulled in a paid the “caretaker” for a spot. We had our pick since there were only two other people there and I think the person in the camper was living there. We had lots of time so we walked back to the main road and across the street to the Panther Pit “Stop” (not sure why they put stop in quotations…), where we got a giant bag of popcorn, I got an Arnold Palmer and Ethan got a beer.
We spent the rest of the evening eating dinner and drinking (beer and Iced Tea) tons of water. This was the first night that was actually really, really cold and we were not prepared when we went to bed. I ended up putting on socks and a sweatshirt in the middle of the night. It was freezing!