Jessica and I thread our way on the motorcycle along dirt roads by a buzz of wildfire activity on our way to find the next night’s lodging in view of the Sawtooth Mountains.
Packing up a tent and campsite to stow on a motorcycle while it’s still raining is unpleasant business. Thankfully, the rain that had come in the night had also ended in the night. The glistening droplets that remained wouldn’t last long under a blue sky and rising sun. I started a fire and began a pot of coffee while Jessica slept a little longer.
I wanted to add some air to the tires after they’d felt squishy on the highway. This provided the opportunity to learn that the twelve volt socket I installed is basically inaccessible while the luggage is mounted. Darn. Who planned that? Simply adding air to the tires turned into a multi-faceted operation tantamount to capping a deep water oil well.
I kept the fire burning long enough to dry out our canvas chairs then those too were folded, rolled and strapped into place on the motorcycle. I promised Jessica grander sights ahead as we made our way back onto Forest Service roads.
We backtracked along the creek until reaching the turn to detour. The day began to warm up as we sped in the new direction through trees, by occasional meadow, finally arriving at the next major intersection where we might choose Warm Lake to the left or Stanley to the right. Several firefighters milled about in matching outfits, ready for action but not in it.
A sign to the right warned of fire activity but didn’t say “no.” As we rode along, we marveled at the growing number of state and federal employees — BLM, Forest Service and Fish & Game — working along the road at often inscrutable tasks. We waved and they waved back.
The charred and scattered bones of old trees, stacked like matches, told us these forests were no strangers to fire. The new fires seemed minor next to expansive tracts that had burned before.
The detour eventually looped back to our original route and soon after we rejoined Highway 21 as it bends eastward to Stanley. It was Saturday and people were on the move, including many of the Stanley Stomp¹ crowd. It was a little strange to us that we had to get around several riders going ten under the limit and holding up cars. Maybe coming off a hard night at the Stomp ...
As the Sawtooth Range came into view, we started looking for a place to pull off, stretch our legs and have a look.
After skipping breakfast, we were both hungry. Rather than heading north to Pinyon Peak and over to Challis, as planned, we decided to go straight to Stanley for lunch.
“No, I don’t want pizza,” Jessica intoned as we circled around the first restaurant we came to in Stanley. As we sought alternatives, we noticed the Mountain Village Resort¹ had an almost empty parking lot. It was notable because of all the “no vacancy” replies I’d had when checking on Stanley lodging.
“Can we get a room for tonight?” we asked at the lobby counter. It seems they had plenty. Go figure. We didn’t hesitate. We unloaded the luggage and cleaned ourselves up before resuming our restaurant search. The chance to shower was most welcome.
The Mountain Village has it’s own “restaurant” but I have to put it in quotes because it’s more of a cafeteria. It took some walking around to find a satisfactory eating establishment. I reminded Jessica we still had our second dinner, the pasta, we could prepare but I couldn’t hear what she answered under her breath.
With satisfied tummies, we returned to our room, and its view across town to the Sawtooths, for a little nap before venturing on. It was later in the afternoon, clouds beginning to build, before we were motivated to roll out of bed with intention to ride. I wasn’t sure how far it was to Chinese Wall or what the weather was supposed to do. I refilled our water and packed in our rain gear. We would find out.