I ride north from the sweltering heat to attend Troy Days and ride with my brother Jesse around the forested mountains.
Last weekend I took the highway up from Boise to Moscow, Idaho to ride with my youngest brother (his first motorcycle) and hang out with various family who tend to congregate annually at Troy Days.¹ The first place Jesse brought me was to our namesake (but no actual relation) road.
After filling up with pancakes, coffee, sausage, and uncle stories, we headed over Moscow Mountain to ride on trails Jesse discovered above Potlatch. I was sad to see on the way that many of the peaceful areas I rode as a kid have become a maze of dusty logging roads.
We made a tiny detour to take in the view from the old lookout atop Moscow Mountain, a place I’ve been many, many times. Jesse remembered the spot but hadn’t been able to figure out how to get there. This was my mountain destination for many years.
I grew up in a house just up the hill from the small reservoir we could see in the distance, Spring Valley. Jesse often fishes there.
Near the lookout outcrop was an apparent memorial for someone fond of the spot. The photo was no longer discernable. We wondered if the grey fragments were the remains of an urn.
We could see our mountainous destination as we headed down the backside of Moscow Mountain.
After hitting the highway and riding over to Potlatch for gas, Jesse led us north toward the OHV trails. We were hoping for something better than logging roads.
After reaching a dead end, my brother suggested we shortcut through brambles he recognized to reach better trails. He assured it me it would be worth it.
... after all. For a while I thought we were just riding through the brush.
Jesse was right about the better trails.
While not so great through brush, the wide motorcycle does make a nice coffee table. We stopped to celebrate with a strange drink my brother had in his fridge.
After a break, we set up to make a small water crossing look as dramatic as possible before heading up to purported mines.
At a fork in the trail, we planned to go upwards after first exploring to the left. There weren’t any signs to suggest one way or the other. A few miles down the left trail, though, a guy with some homebrew gold panning equipment told us we had to turn around, that we shouldn’t have disregarded the sign. What sign? He insisted there was one.
We rode up over the gold hills then down to gravel and across Highway 6 for a little rest at Laird Park.
The two track behind Laird was easy-going but sometimes had ruts to be mindful of. A scary bug flew into my helmet and after a flailing moment I felt the tire catch before hitting the ground — first time down on the GS.
We found proper single track a few miles down the gravel road from Laird.
Trail 330 was a blast. It was a little more technical but less dusty and whoopty than the four-wheeler or jeep trails.
There were some switchbacks followed by stair step roots that were interesting with the high GS gearing. Otherwise, it was fun to stand on the pegs and see what the pig could do.
Sadly, the single track only lasted about four miles then merged with a dusty, whoopty ATV trail. We stopped in a clearing to check in with the women. Jesse went hunting for good toiletry leaves which, as usual, signaled everyone in the vicinity to converge.
A tall fellow on an ATV rolled into the clearing first. We shot the bull while waiting for his buddies. He was griping about having to ride an ATV instead of his motorcycle. It sounded like his friends talked him into it. He was a little surprised to see the GS there. “Katoom” is his preferred ride.
It was about fifteen minutes before we saw those friends of his — almost worrisome. The one in shorts had gone off the trail after losing visibility in the dust. He said he knew he would be rescued since he had the beer.
Back into the woods, the trail started all friendly and nice and then turned to loose rock on steep hills, eventually landing us on a logging road. The Palouse OHV map omits most all the roads and trails so it was hard to figure out the best way. We just kept choosing the downward option.
A momma bear suddenly ran across the road in front of us. We killed our engines to see if we could spot her and then noticed her cubs scurrying up a tree to our right.
They were already well beyond our reach but continued to scurry upwards.
The momma watched anxiously, something of a mutual feeling. She was making huffing sounds while we looked at her cubs. I figured Jesse was closer to her so I would have time to get away if she got violent.
A mile or so down the road, we saw a mother moose and two babies running into the brush. When I lived in this area, moose came around our house somewhat regularly.
After what seemed a mind numbing distance on dreadfully dusty gravel roads, we had the highway in sight. Then to our great dismay, we saw a metal gate with a large chain and padlocks across the road we’d endured so long.
On closer inspection (praise the motorcycle gods), the chain was only hung on a nail, not wrapped around the post. We opened the fence and went through, then noticed the “Keep Out” sign. It seemed a bit weird since we didn’t encounter a gate or signs coming from the other side.
We were glad to see blacktop and headed back to Troy Days for drinking and dancing in the street.
We didn’t see our uncles again but found our cousin Bill in the Abbotts’ favorite watering hole.
We didn’t see our uncles show up this time but a couple cousins did.
It was a nice first ride for Jesse and I. Before heading back to Boise, we had breakfast with our mom at the traditional location, The Pantry.
With full gear, including tall black boots, I was glad for cooler temperatures in McCall. I’d seen 104°F over the last hour. It remained above the century mark for the last two hours home. I felt well done but also well pleased with my first grown-up brother ride.