I can’t shake the impression that these mountains know what’s coming and that they are preparing for it. The water in the Payette River between upper and lower Payette Lake is far below the high water marks, and the surface is smooth and unhurried. Waiting. The leaves on the trees and the “needles” on the Tamaracks are turning, preparing to drop. It rains off and on throughout the day, heavier towards evening, soaking the ground so that when the temperature drops, the first snows will stick.
Every piece works towards the same goal, the same vital task: Storing water for the long hot dry summer in the high desert cities 100 miles downstream. The rain will turn to snow within the next few weeks, uncountable individual flakes of snow filling in every crack, crevice, nook and cranny accumulating until there is an unbroken floor several feet above the ground, but with a cosmology only generally resembling the underlying surface. The streams and rivers and lakes will freeze solid. Waiting.
When the earth tilts back into a more sun-favorable position in six months or so, the snow and rivers and streams and lakes will begin to melt, delivering their collection to the reservoirs, slowly at first and then in a crazy, violent torrent, until it’s all gone and the country begins it’s preparations all over again.
These are the thoughts that go through my mind as we work our way from McCall, up to Burgdorf, Idaho, 30 miles away.
Chris and Christine have invited us to ride from their home in McCall up to the resort at Burgdorf, which consists of a natural hot springs pool and some “scrappy” cabins, one of which we have reserved for the night. We are only carrying extra riding clothes and a little bit of food since Stacy (who has a broken foot and is unable to ride) is driving the sag wagon. It’s a gradual uphill grade to Upper Payette Lake which is also the half way point. We stop to commune with nature and eat and I comment on the fact that we have covered fifteen miles already in a little over one hour. Chris points out that the climbing to Secesh Summit really starts now.
As we start out again the clouds which have been building all afternoon begin to spit rain on us. At the summit we regroup and begin the descent. We turn off Warren Wagon road onto the gravel road leading to Burgdorf as Warren Wagon Road continues on to Warren, before tying into a spiderweb network of forest service roads, some of which peter out in the wilderness near the Montana border. There is a way to loop back to McCall past Warm Lake on forest service roads. Years worth of adventure touring out here!
There are no showers at Burgdorf and we soak in the hot springs pool, which is replenished at 150 or so gallons per minute by the natural springs. The pool itself is lined with logs and has a decomposed granite bottom, which is not unpleasant on the feet, and has a uniform depth of about five feet.
The cabins are primitive; only a wood stove, a couple of tables and beds, but with all our supplies carried up in the sag wagon, ours feels luxurious. The rain comes down heavily throughout the late afternoon and into the evening and we feel cozy and smug in our hideaway.
Getting out of town to make this trip was easy and relaxing and just as memorable as the longer tours we have done, and it all fit inside a weekend- we left home Friday afternoon and returned Sunday. Short trips like this can be fantastic stress reducers, especially for someone who might be intimidated by the planning and logistics involved in taking longer tours, or who may simply not have the time. Being easy to plan and execute, with no need to take time off from work, a bike overnight can be a good introduction to touring or just another excuse to get out on the bike.