In the Footsteps of Lewis & Clark

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October 2nd 2006
Published: October 6th 2006
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In the Footsteps of Lewis & Clark

Points of Interest for Day Twenty Five – October 2, 2006

After two nights in a hotel room we are thinking that we could get used to this! We just haven’t had any luck finding a campsite that has powered sites (we have to charge up the computer somehow), hot showers and most importantly is not right next to the main road!! Today was another clear morning - we got started a little late as we were working on catching up with the blog! Still traveling North and West along the roads less traveled…


Starting Destination: Ketchum, Idaho
Ending Destination: Orofino, Idaho
Ending Destination GPS: N: 46° 28.843’ W: 116° 15.237’ Elev: 1086’
Miles Driven: 297.7
Most Interesting Business Sign: The Right to Bare Arms Gym
Most Interesting Ranch Name: Slavin’ Away Ranch
Cumulative crossings of the Continental Divide: 11

Finishing off the Salmon

Salmon Idaho claims to be the hometown of Sacagawea, whether this is true or not we are not sure… What we are sure of is that Lewis & Clark traveled through this area on their expedition. What we didn’t know is that the route of Lewis & Clark gets a little murky in this area of Idaho and Montana - the expedition was having difficulty finding a way across the mountains to a navigable waterway… We continued following the Salmon River Byway (aka route 93) through the Salmon River valley - just like Lewis & Clark. However, we didn’t take the detour to Shoup - Lewis & Clark did trying to follow the river, but they got stuck and had to retrace their steps. This is where the story gets really interesting… The exact trail taken by Lewis & Clark is very well established, except in this area of Idaho/Montana where there are at least 3 campsites that are unaccounted for…
One of the historical information boards indicated that at one point a group of 5 scholars was put together to try and make a decision as to the route/campsites - unfortunately they couldn’t agree… We passed back into Montana via the Lost Trail Pass(left), in honor of the fact that the route taken by Lewis & Clark is unknown in that area… From our perspective, it certainly was a little daunting thinking about how difficult travel must have been without maps and GPS! Over the pass and back in Montana we followed the road along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River valley - the valley was wider and the soil better so there was significantly more agriculture and economic development, we lost count of the number of log home manufacturing facilities we passed!

The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Almost to Missoula we turned off onto Highway 12 at LoLo, again following the footsteps of Lewis & Clark. Only this time they appeared to have wised up and employed a guide from the local Native American population to take them across the mountains. Maria’s brother had suggested we take this highway as he thought it would be a great road for a century bike ride - we have to agree… Once you get to the pass it is almost continually downhill for 100 miles!
Again this road was interesting… (1) The Lochsa River valley is very steep sided in places and was slated to become a lake until congress passed a bill preserving “Wild & Scenic River Corridors.” (2) The road was not completed until the early 1960’s because of technical difficulties during construction and (3) Lewis and Clark didn’t actually take this path—the path they followed was along the ridge line of the mountains. This was because there wasn’t always a flat area on the valley floor to ride a horse! Because of earlier fires we could actually see the route they took—there is a 4-wheel drive trail along the mountain crest that more accurately approximates the route taken by the expedition.
We stopped along the way to stretch our legs at several spots… A cedar grove (left) frequented by author and historian Bernard DeVoto (whose works include a compilation of the journals of Lewis and Clark) and dedicated to his name - there were trees growing in the grove that would have stood there when DeVoto frequented the grove in the early 1900’s, some of them are 4-500 years old.
One of the three footbridges to “nowhere,” well actually they do go somewhere - they are access to the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness… we walked across one of the bridges only to find a very rough trail - you would definitely need a topo-map and compass to travel in this area. Perhaps we will put that on the list with driving the jeep trail, if we ever get back to this area?... Further down the valley the Selway River joins the Lochsa and there was more evidence of human habitation. Both Maria and Carl were interested to see that in several places there were “flying foxes” across the river as there was no vehicle access to houses - now just how did those houses get constructed in the first place?

The Nez Perce

Off-and-on we have been traveling roads that are also historically important for another reason—in Montana, in Yellowstone and today. The Nez Perce followed some of these roads in their bid to escape the US Army and confinement on a reservation in the late 1800’s. In fact it was some of the Nez Perce who guided Lewis & Clark across the Bitterroot Mountains. We briefly visited the Nez Perce National Historic Park, the site of one of their creation stories (The Heart of the Monster), in Kamiah. We also crossed over (and back) the Continental Divide via Chief Joseph Pass - Chief Joseph was the last remaining Chief when the Nez Perce were finally defeated. We also walked a little way along the Continental Divide Trail - both Carl and Maria were surprised to find out that it was only completed in this area in 1989! After all this travel and reading historical markers - by the end of the day, we were both “Lewis & Clark” and “Nez Perce” ’d out…

Why is That Road There?

Have you ever wondered why a particular road is located in a specific spot? Probably not, I guess we hadn’t either until the last couple of days traveling roads that seemingly have little purpose - until you look beneath the surface… For example, Route 93 and particularly Lost Trail Pass: While part of this route was used by Lewis & Clark, it was not a route used by the local Native American Populations and there is currently little economic activity… When you look beneath the surface you find that the road initially a track that used as trade and transportation access to mining concerns in the early 1900’s - we are guessing that this opened up the area for agriculture and ultimately tourism (there are ski-runs and cross country trails at Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Passes and many white water rafting and back country hiking support businesses) and with that the need for better roads... I guess, new roads were constructed where the old ones were… Certainly this was not something that Maria learned in her road design class in College (University)!!

Carl’s Travel Trivia

Yesterday’s Answer: A type of Salmon
Today’s Question: What were Lewis & Clark’s first names?


6th October 2006

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
6th October 2006

What were Lewis & Clark’s first names?
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Do I win a prize or something?
6th October 2006

lewis and clark
Captian Meriwether Lewis and Second Lt. William Clark.
6th October 2006

Yes, you win 300 points... They are not good for anything, but they are 300 points!!

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