SEA TO SHINING SEA: From Hells Canyon to Council

One of the new pieces of firefighting equipment used by the Forest Service crew at Payette National Forest is parked behind headquarters. BY DENNIS FORNEY
June 4, 2013

DAY 21 - A Sisyphean task across America.  In the morning we ride up the hills.  Then we come back down.  Then we start over again.  It's like life.  Each new day has its ups and downs.  Each new day a new day. Today we rode 48 miles bringing our total to 739 miles. We ended in Council, a small town of less than1,000 people.  We averaged 8.6 miles per hour and ascended a total of 4,003 feet. I saw a small potato field outside of town.  Idaho is known for potatoes but the history teacher at Shy Simon's Pizza said most of the potatoes are grown in another part of the state.

We're bedding down tonight in the Starlite Motel on the northern edge of Council.  Neat. Clean.  Good shower.  Comfortable bed. Grass mown. Water tastes good.  Free wi-fi. $48.60 with tax.  Life's good. Shy Simon's just around the corner.  The long-bearded hitchhiker from Tennessee stopped for pizza too.  Rolling luggage and two more bags.  I think he has a long night ahead.  He told one of Shy Simon's customers he was hitchhiking.

"You better check in with the sheriff right up around the bend," said the man.  "I don't think hitchhiking's legal in Idaho."

"But this isn't an interstate or anything."

"Don't think it matters.  But you might want to check.  Hate to see you get in trouble."

My guess is the long-bearded one wasn't about to check with anyone.

The Starlite's 12 rooms are across the street from the Payette National Forest headquarters.  I wandered over to take a look and to take a couple of pictures since I didn't have anything else for today's blog.  Information board there. Get this:  Payette is 2.3 million acres of forest and jagged peaks, mountain lakes and rushing rivers.  2.3 million acres! Lots of Delawares could fit in Payette.

Forest fires are a constant concern here.  Signs along the highways, showing blazing flames against the outline of a house, pose the question: Do You Have A Defensible Space?

Smokey the Bear means real business here.

Tomorrow we'll be up early and out by 0630 making our way to New Meadows where I'll take a work and rest day. As usual, people everywhere - including at Shy Simons where they make great pizza - tell us how many big hills we have to climb the next day.

We get it, we got it, we're gonna get it more. Lots of big hills in this here US of A.

Here are a few images from Council.  Sleep tight.

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