Canyon Run 2007 – Day 3

A mere 220 miles today, and we ended up in yet another ski town.

We were actually ready to roll by 9:30 but first we had to seek out a replacement pair of headphones for Willo and a small dry bag (too much stuff for the saddlebags). The first 20 or 30 miles heading south from McCall were pleasant enough – green and a lot of straight, with occasional curves. This part of Idaho is a broad valley at about 5000 feet between two mountain ridges. In spring the valley is lush with grass, and very satisfying to look at.

After the town of Smith’s Ferry the road gets a lot twistier as it follows the tumbling Payette River, with corners rated as slow as 30 mph (“rated” I said – not that we went 30). 60 miles from McCall we turned east at Banks (home of the Banks Store, where signs complain about the number of non-customers using the bathroom – Willo bought a V-8 so I didn’t feel so bad, but they definitely have bathroom issues in Banks).

The Banks Store

Riding east from Banks, the road follows an even steeper valley with another plunging river in the bottom. Last year on this section we ran into many small rockslides on the road. This year there were only a couple. We stopped in well-named Garden Valley at another traditional lunch spot – the Runaway Bear (according to the restaurant sign, the bear is being chased by bees – that’s why he’s running). The food was mostly interchangeable with any other roadside joint, but the Hungry Bear does offer something unique in the form of tater tots – delicious!

This got me wondering about how tater tots are made. It’s too much to expect they are individually hand formed, and they seem too naturally rough to have been extruded from a tube and sliced. Note to self: research tater tot manufacture.

After lunch we rode another 75 miles to Stanley, the last stop before Sun Valley. Last year we didn’t come through this section until well after dark (with temperatures in the 30s). This year it was warm and sunny. The Stanley area features the dramatic Sawtooth Mountains – similar to the Tetons in that they poke straight up with few intervening foothills.

Outside Stanley

Sawtooth Mountains

Another 30 miles brought us to the twisting climb up to Galena Summit, at 8700 feet. Two years ago on the way south there was snow on Galena and we had to detour 200 miles (in pouring rain). Today it was… sunny and warm (this is a theme). The road over Galena is a lot of fun, though we got stuck behind an SUV for most of the twisty part on the way down. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t just be better to pull over and wait – let them get ahead and then play until we catch up again. Rinse and repeat. Maybe someday.

Another 20 miles brought us to Sun Valley, playground of – whoever plays here. That would include swans – the Sun Valley lodge has a small herd of swans they use to threaten the children of guests. Here is one of the boot-eating swans working on Willo:

Boot-eating swan

We’re now basking in the sun, sipping espresso and listening to DeBarge on the ice rink sound system. What more could you ask for?

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