The New Frontier
While the mining activity was and is an undeniable part of the region, we were there to explore the future of northern Idaho’s recreational offerings. Places like the Gold Creek Lodge and Silver Mountain Bike Park, in Kellogg are prime examples of the area’s transition from resource extraction to tourist importation.
Much like the miners a century before, as we prepared for our trip, we hoped that our hunches would be fruitful. It seemed however that our hopes for hitting pay dirt were in jeopardy as a nasty viral infection had me knocked out 2 weeks before we left! Rather than studying the maps, confirming local info or getting our new Kenda tires mounted up on all eight bikes, four motos and four BMC trail bikes, I slept and bounced between hospital room to doctor’s office to couch. Luckily the rest of the crew was able to help out and our friends at 6 Volt Cycles got the moto tires mounted. Sammy, Matt and Nic packed my gear back and sorted through the last minute shipments and we accepted the fact we were just gonna wing it and use the motos to scout the first couple of days.
Our first stop was Lakeview, Idaho. It was a small mining camp on the far eastern shore of Lake Pend Oreille, but is now an eerie feeling movie set town where a few people vacation in their summer homes. The beautiful lakeside “town” once had a thousand people, but is now home to less than 30 people. Supplies, and mail are brought over by boat. The only other way in is a rough, seasonal Forest Service road. That should give you an idea of the remoteness of the area.
After an hour of dirt road driving and crossed fingers, we arrived at our campsite just after the sun had set. The deep canyon and tall trees meant we were quickly going to lose light, so we got right to setting up. Being that I was just two days into my aggressive anti-biotic treatment program, I was wiped out and after nearly crushing Matt by throwing a dirt bike at him, I crawled into my tent and slept. Since I was in no shape to ride I spent the first two days of the trip being very unhelpful as “director” or idea creator. Instead we put the photo and video collection on hold while the rest of the guys went out in search of mountain bike trails and shooting locations.
It turns out mountains can be too steep for mountain biking. We spent three days exploring this zone and the moto trails were some of the most challenging any of us had ever been on. The miles and miles of logging and forest roads carved around the mountains endlessly, we would turn off to hit singletrack any chance we could, but 9 our of 10 resulted in us having to turn around due to downed trees or the trail just ending abruptly.
After some frustrated scouting missions we would cruise the bikes down to Lake Pend Oreille for a refreshing dip. As we sat on the shore we really got to look out and see how steep, expansive and desolate the region is. It’s tough to explain just how small a person feels out in wilderness like that. We enjoyed the sun and water accepting that we’d struck out on our first stop. There was no way we’d be able to pedal to the good sections of trail with the limited intel we had on the ground. We made the best of it with some killer dirt biking, swimming and epic sunsets, but we knew it was time to move on.