Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lookout Pass, bike trails and a birthday celebration

Following Coeur d'Alene, I headed back east towards Montana, stopping at Lookout Pass, Mile Marker 0, I-90, Montana.  But actually, Lookout Pass is located in Idaho.  One of the original  U.S. ski areas, Lookout Pass was first used by the local Scandanavians who hopped off the Northern Pacific freight cars to enjoy a day of alpine skiing.  A tow rope was installed in 1936, but it was officially opened as Lookout Pass Ski area on February 24, 1938.  A maintenance shed, nicknamed "Buzzards Roost", was used as a warming hut with a pot belly stove and soup and sandwiches.  In 1941, the CCC constructed a lodge, which has since been added on to, but the original is still in use today.  Since it is located on the Montana-Idaho state line, it is one of three ski area where you can ski in two states.
During the summer, the lodge becomes the headquarters for those planning on biking the Hiawatha Trail.  You can rent bikes, helmets, flashlights and obtain your Hiawatha Trail Pass and shuttle ticket all right here.  The lodge was kind enough to allow the WINs to park and have a gathering in their parking lot.  We took up a collection and made a donation to their ski school, which is provided free to a group of students every year.
In addition to biking the Hiawatha Trail, some of us wanted to bike the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene from Mullen down to Caltaldo, about a 30 mile ride.  The first 15 miles was pretty much all downhill, then it leveled out from Kellogg to Caltaldo.
At the trailhead in Mullen.

The early part of the trail was shaded and in the pines.  It was close to I-90, but you really didn't notice.  The day before we spotted a bear on the bike trail, but no one saw it today.

From Mullen to Wallace found us riding alongside this creek.

Traveling through the silver valley, as this area is called, it's easy to spot signs of the mining which was so prevalent in past years.  But, mining in this area isn't done, mining is still one of the predominant employers for the silver valley.

The area where the Zinc Plant once was is now an industrial area outside of Kellogg.

I remembered seeing highway signs advertising the Snake Pit, but it looks like hard times have claimed the place.
It was a great ride, even if it was 30 miles.  I have found if I wear two sets of padded bike shorts, I don't get sore and I don't mind the longer rides.  

A couple days later the group biked the Hiawatha Trail.  Since there were almost 20 of us, Carolyn negotiated a group rate for the price of our trail passes and shuttle tickets.  The Hiawatha Trail is a 14.4 mile trail, starting off mile marker 5 in Montana.  Although most people simply ride down and take the shuttle back to the top, some bike it both ways.  It is a 1000 foot descent down, but never more than a 3% grade.  All of us opted to take the shuttle.  The trail starts with a 1.7 mile tunnel.  Yes, it is required that you have good flashlights.  Six of us decided to start at the end of the tunnel, skipping the first tunnel.  I don't like enclosed spaces, and even though it really wasn't enclosed, the dark made it feel that way.  I'm glad I opted out of the first tunnel.  But no worries, there were nine more tunnel which I did travel, the longest being over 1200 foot, another 900 foot, one 700 foot, the rest from 200 foot to 600 foot.
The Hiawatha Trail was the route identified in 1905 for the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway to wind it's way over the Bitterroot Mountains.

Even though you can see the 'light at the end of the tunnel', this is one of the longer, over 1500 feet.
Just above this tunnel was the Roland Trailhead, where I started.  Roland, with nothing of the orginal town left, started in 1906 as a construction camp, in 1909 a two-story depot and railroad community built up, and by 1918 the town had 300 people.  The last of the residents moved away in 1960.

One of the nine trestles you cross on the ride.


You can't even tell you are riding on a trestle.  When the railroad was built over the bitterroot mountains, their were 29 temporary trestles built for over 10,000 feet.  They used the wooden trestles to get the railroad going, but almost as soon as the rails starting moving, they started the process of replacing the wooden trestles with steel due to the fire danger.
One of the many stories of heroics during the fire of 1910, engineer Johnnie Mackedon found the Falcon siding on fire.  He found over 100 men, women and children were gathered on the side of the smoldering depot.  Johnnie coupled a flat car to his engine and everyone scrambled on board for the ride to tunnel 27.  One passenger panicked and jumped off before reaching the tunnel and he was the only casualty, everyone else reached safety from the fire.

We made it to the bottom and here is our shuttle driver.  What is that in her pocket?  She puts nuts in her pocket and the chipmonks climb up and into the pocket to get the nut.

After he gets the nut, he sits and enjoys it, I'm sure, hoping he'll get more.

It wasn't just my birthday this week, but also Pat Ackley's.  In fact, our birthdays are the same day.  So we had a double celebration.

Yep, we each got our own cake.  

And hey, don't ask us our age!

On the actual day of our birthday, we went to Wallace and celebrated at the Fainting Goat Wine Bar with a few friends.  What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In and Around Coeur d'Alene

Some of the things around town I didn't get any pictures, but I attended the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Street Fair, with over 250 vendors.  They block off Sherman Street downtown for about 5 blocks.  The city park is also full of vendors and close by the college campus has an art fair.  The street fair lasts for 3 days and if you wanted to see everything, you would need 3 days.  But I only spent 1 day and had enough.  What was nice was the food.  There was not just the normal fair food, but many of the local restaurants had booths too.   Marion, Carolyn and I had sushi as we wandered through the fair.
Coeur d'Alene also has a wonderful farmers market, but I've been impressed all over Montana and Idaho with the local farmers markets.  I bought fresh leaf lettuce and a week later it was still good.  I love the summertime fresh veggies.
There were the sightseeing trips as well, such as the Caltado Mission.
Also known as the Mission of the Sacred Heart, it is the oldest standing building in Idaho, finished in 1853.
The mission came to the area after the Coeur d'Alene Indians went to St. Louis in the early 1900s asking for those powerful "medicine men" in their black robes and with a book.  Father Pierre-Jean De Smet arrived in 1842 and the Jesuit's started their mission with the Indians.  The church is now used for special events and masses only.

This parrish house was rebuilt in 1886 after the first burned down.  Inside is a nice museum of how the Jesuit's lived over a 100 years ago and the history of the last 100 years.

The inside of the church looks today much as it did back in the 1860s.

There was not much money to use for ornamentation, so they hammered out tin cans in the shape of chandeliers.

They didn't have money for wallpaper, so they covered the walls with newspaper and painted designs.  Some of the original wall coverings can still be seen.   Here they have uncovered several layers, back to the original designs.

The original construction was 'wattle and daub', which is simply 'straw and mud'.  Huge log timbers were used for supports and then the walls were constructed by weaving vines and twigs and covering it with straw and mud.  When the church was completed, not one nail had been used.  The walls today still consist of the original wattle and daub, but has been covered inside and out with siding and plaster.

This statute of Mary looks like it was chiseled out of marble, but it was carved out of wood and now has a crack running down the right side.

Looking behind the church you see the river.  Because of the mission's location it became an important stop for traders, settlers and miners, taking on the role of hospitality and supply station.

And what is Gene doing?

Picking cherries, evidently.  Next to the church are several cherry trees that were just ripening.  Yum...

North of Coeur d'Alene, on Lake Pend Oreille, is Farragut State Park, once home of Farragut Naval Training Station.  Here is where my father spent several months training before heading to the Pacific in WWII on the USS Maryland.  

In front of the museum is this large statue of a seaman, honoring all the boys who trained here.

Not much is left of the training facilities or barracks, but the Brig is still standing, so guess where they put the museum?  Yep, it's the Brig Museum.  How do we associate the word 'brig' with prison?  Well, the fast sailing ships used by pirates were called brigantines after the word brigand, which means robber.  Lord Nelson used a 'brig' to offload prisoners from his ships during battle and ever since, sailors have called a prison anywhere a brig.

The museum was pretty small, but there was a lot of info about knots.  I guess knots where pretty important to sailors.  They say during training the sailors had to tie everything up in knots, even when hanging out their laundry.  If their trainer didn't like the look of the knot, he would undo the knot, let the laundry fall to the ground and stomp on the it.  The sailor would then have to rewash his laundry and hang it up again.  I guess that's incentive enough to learn how to tie it properly.
I was hoping to get some information about my father while at the museum, but suprisingly, the only info they have about the men who trained here are from the families of the men.  A fire destroyed many records from the years Farragut was a training base, so they don't even have names of all the seaman who trained here.  My fathers name was not among those listed, so I asked for the paperwork to submit his name and sent it in along with copies of his military records showing when he was assigned here.  Maybe next time I go his name will finally be listed and I can find the picture of his graduating class.

Some of our group went kayaking on Lake Pend Oreille.

The lake is 43 miles long, but less than a mile wide in most places and 6 miles at its widest.  A glacier lake, it is the 5th deepest lake in the U.S., being appx 1,350 feet deep.

At the north end of the lake is Sandpoint, a popular tourist destination.  The city has wonderful beaches and the lake for summer recreation, and just outside of town is Idaho's largest ski area.  The building in the background is the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market.

Lunch was on the patio overlooking the river.

We stayed at the Eagles Lodge in Hayden, Idaho, and got a look at the new Pappy Boyington Museum, which is located in the old Eagles Lodge building. 

Pappy Boyington, being a local boy, has quite a following in the area, even the local airport is named after him.  The museum is not yet open to the public, but we got an advance showing and tour.  I would highly recommend everyone go see this museum if you get to the area.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Coeur d'Alene Scenic Byway

From Glacier National Park, I headed west to Coeur d'Alene to meet back up with the WINs.

The scenic byway is 36 miles along the SE side of the Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Our first stop was Mineral Ridge for a 3.3 mile RT hike to the top of the ridge.

Much of the hike was in dense pine forests.

At least until we reached the top.

It was a magnificent view of the lake.

Although the 2010 census population for Harrison is only 210, on any day during the spring summer or fall, you will find 5x that number of people visiting daily.  Being on the trail of the scenic byway, it is the perfect stop for a picnic, lunch or ice cream.

The original building, built in 1898, burnt in the 1917 fire.  They rebuilt on the same spot and the church is still in use today.  The stain glass is original to the church and over 80 years old.  The only thing saved out of the original church from the fire was the piano, which is still in use today.

Carved in 2012, this Family of Eagles stands in the local park.

It was a perfect spot to stop for lunch.

The new section of the Mullan Road, running on the north side of the lake, was the route used when constructing I-90, a hundred plus years later.

Along the scenic byway are many small lakes and ponds, called the Chain of Lakes, and a wildlife area.


We saw this large herd of female elk with their young and were excited until we realized this was an elk farm and they were fenced in.

There is also a bike trail, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene, which runs 73 miles from Lake Coeur d'Alene to Mullen, ID.  We set out to bike the first 26 miles.

We started on the west side of the lake and quickly crossed over the Chacolet bridge to the east side.

This strange mechanical creature along the bike trail tried to get me.  Oh no!

Harrison again became the perfect spot to stop for lunch, or ice cream.  

The area is full of ospreys and their young.

The ride was great, running along side the lake or the river most of the way.  It is a rail to trail, following the old Union Pacific railroad bed.  The railroad was established to support the mining in the area and the ground was quite contaminated.  The thick asphalt of the trail and the gravel barriers on the side of the trail serve as a permanent cap to isolate contaminants from the surrounding area.  Even now there are signs along the trail reminding everyone of the contamination and to be sure and wash your hands and not to drink any water in the area.