Our time again in Idaho was supposed to be short and straight forward but as the day panned out it had other ideas for us – but more to come on that. The border between Montana and Idaho is marked by the summit of Lolo Pass. This was an area where Lewis and Clark trekked in 1803 when trying to cross the continental USA. We stopped at the National Forest Visitor Site at Lolo Pass and studied up some of the history, learnt up about the Lewis and Clark trek through the area, and loaded ourselves up with maps for the coming states. It’s a good long decline down the pass on the Idaho side before you link up with what I think was the Clearwater River which then runs into the Snake River – the I12 follows the winding contours of the river for 100 miles before you come to a little junction town of Kooskia. There we turned south and got onto the I13. The day was hot and fuel was down to quarter of a tank – plan was to fill up in the next town of Grangeville which was around 25 miles away – easy. Emm, no.
About 10 miles north of Grangeville there is a solid climb as you come out of an area called Harpster. We had just about got to the top when Romin decided enough was enough and started coughing and spluttering and then just stopped – on the main road (which fortunately for us was still a fairly quiet road). That said we were parked in the middle of the road and decide our best efforts, Romin just wouldn’t fire. A volunteer fireman by the name of Matt was kind enough to stop to assist us. First thing he did was call the sheriff to report our vehicle stuck in the road and then he marshalled traffic around us as I worked on getting a tow from our Good Sam provider. I was still busy on the phone trying to convince the operator of our position when the local sheriff turned up. To my surprise he was very good with the situation and effectively told the Good Sam operator to get a tow truck out to us or he would – and he did. Eventually and some $200 later we were towed the lowly 5 miles into Grangeville to an auto repair shop where we were told they could replace the fuel pump for us but it would be the following day. They allowed us to park up on site for the night (irony is that once Romin had been towed into Grangeville to the shop, she fired up – funny how things work out like that sometimes).
We had a wander into Grangeville – quiet town of several thousand, picked up some groceries and headed back to the camper for a cold one – plan had been to cover Idaho in one day – 170 miles into it was were going to be staying put for the time being. The following morning whilst we waited for the repairs to be carried out we wandered back up town and had a look around some of the nice homes and gardens in the area – had a good chat to a builder doing some recladding on a home – he was able to tell us a bit about the area and building techniques used etc. Back to the auto shop and with a new fuel pump installed and some more $’s parted we pushed on. We weren’t taking the most direct route across to Oregon – we have found a nice central by-way we wanted to explore so that meant taking us further south in Idaho before we could cut back up to head across the border.
Just after leaving Grangeville you have a bit of a climb and then a long 8 mile drop down to Hell’s Canyon where you cross the Salmon River. We would then follow the Salmon through the base of the canyon to a little place called Riggins which appears to have its livelihood based on rafting excursions on the river – there were rafts everywhere. We pushed further south to a junction town of New Meadows where we branched off to head down to a town called Cambridge – on the way we went through a couple of state forests – nice countryside. At Cambridge we made our final move out of Idaho – we headed back up the I24 to Brownlee Dam. At that point you cross the dam and you are then in Oregon – our eventful Idaho experience was behind us. I may have been a bit bullish in thinking we would be able to skirt Idaho in one day and may good inroads into Oregon – didn’t look that far on the map.