Yonder Journal: Idaho

In this installment of Yonder Journal, the gang heads to the hot springs of Idaho. By the sound of things, it got pretty esoteric, but hey, that's what happens when you spend more time tearing down the zeitgeist's fences than putting 'em up.



You might have caught a hint of this had you been following along with Yonder Journal as we rode, camped, slept, hiked, joked, suffered, failed, succeeded, and rejoiced our way through two years of Dead Reckoning: By this point, we've found some clarity as to what this whole thing is about. This thing being "adventure by bicycle." Call it bikepacking, call it adventure biking, call it human-powered, two-wheeled multi-day natural experience recreation—call it what you will. What we’ve found is that there is no specific form, box, or template that we could hand off to you and say, “Here's this, you just do this.”

But, perhaps, then we can postulate two rules:

  1. You’ll need to have and ride a bicycle.
  2. You’ll need to experience the world.

“But where’s the adventure?” comes the call from the masses, “How is this different from smashing out a couple hours on a training ride or just rolling with some pals to the local craft brew fest?” At a base level, it’s not. You’ve satisfied our two stipulated elements. We have no desire to be the Simon Cowells of adventure cycling, so if you want to call those adventures, please, by all means—it could be argued that one of adventure’s best virtues is its scalability. But if you’re being honest with yourself, and we’re being honest with ourselves, then maybe your training loop isn’t quite up to adventure standards, and maybe the craft brew thing doesn’t qualify either—unless, of course, you're gluten-intolerant and you indulge in a battery of hefeweizens—but isn’t that something different altogether?

So what else needs to be included on our list? It seems that the element of the unexpected plays a pivotal role in the making of an adventure, and by including the unexpected, we can fit in all sorts of things: obstacles, challenges, wayfinding, foreign cultures, uncomfortable meetings, dead ends, unsavory characters, twists, turns, surprises, et cetera, et cetera. Therefore, I'm going to go ahead and add it to our list. To recap, we now have:

  1. You’ll need to have and ride a bicycle.
  2. You’ll need to experience the world.
  3. You’ll need to encounter the unexpected.

Now, this list isn’t codified, there might be more to add. But for our current purposes, we don’t need them, so let’s consider these the three tenets of bike adventure.

With this in mind, our group descended on the great state of Idaho, and more specifically, Sun Valley. We were on a quest for hot springs and buffed trails. Our plan was loose. We knew we were going to hub and spoke out of the area near Frenchman's Bend hot springs. We knew we were going to ride some trails. And we knew we would we do our best to fish, soak, cook, eat, hike, loiter, and take any other opportunities that arose.

Upon reflection, we accomplished our goals. To help give you an idea, we’ve created a list of 10 notable moments that refer to one, if not all three, of our established tenets. Of course, this isn’t the full story, it’s more of a whistle-wetting introduction for your "mind whistle."

  1. The ride to our campsite near Frenchman's Bend hot springs from Sun Valley through a corridor of trees in the midst of their annual fall leaf immolation.
  2. Our initial Frenchman's Bend soak. First we tried the upper pools, because the lower pools were packed with individuals not known to our group. We moved to the lower pools, however, because A) the upper pools were too hot and slimy B) the lower pools were spacious with soft rock bottoms and maintained the perfect temperature C) we had to face those of the unknown, and as it turns out, these unknowns weren’t so bad (plus nobody wants to ruin the vibe of a good soak, no matter the current political climate).
  3. Riding mountain bike trails unloaded. On our first day, we left camp intact and spent our time crisscrossing trails whose names seemed to be pulled straight out of an Isaac Asimov novel. The story of our ride could have been called Creatures of Gravity at the Boundary of the Sun.
  4. In this part of Idaho, the trails are mixed-use, meaning that motorcycles, horses, bikes, and hikers share and respect each other’s access. Foreign and illogical to our minds as this seemed, when we ran into some motorcyclists, they were nothing but courteous and patient. Had we actually ridden into an Asimovian alternate reality?
  5. Hahn rode the river crossing at the end of the descent on a Sequoia with slick tires, the same slick tires he used to ride all the MTB trails we had spent the day on. Could it be that Hahn is the embodiment of the three tenets? Some say yes. Of course, he thoroughly soaked his shoes during the crossing, but such is the price of adventure.
  6. Later, while we soaked in Frenchman's Bend, Hahn used the hot springs as a makeshift sous vide for his pouch of food. The group wondered do we have a deity on our hands?
  7. We witnessed Sun Valley’s annual Trailing of the Sheep while picking up our vans for the final night.
  8. Alex paddled his canoe down the tiny river behind our campsite. We didn’t say that it moved, we just said that he paddled it.
  9. Liquor-informed fire tricks.
  10. The Frenchman's Bend hot springs access road was smooth and groomed, ideal conditions for the YJ Croc Stop.

We acknowledge that this wasn’t a traditional point-to-point, pack-up-everything-and-schlep-it-over-a-mountain bikepacking adventure. We knew that going into the thing, but then again, if the point was to explore the space and boundaries of this kind of adventure, then that’s exactly what we did. That was the point, and it was marvelous. Head over to Yonder Journal for a more immersive whistle-wetting experience.