Spokane Valley Rockhopper

Spokane Police Range

Spokane Police Range

Well here we go again.  Another summer of training gunfighters from all over the state of Washington.  I say summer, even though it is early May, because the temperatures over here in the Spokane Valley have been in the mid 80’s (high 20’s C) all week.

The Weather Map

The Weather Map

Looking for a little weekend mountain bike ride, I checked in with the local experts at Wheelsport Cycle shop near my hotel.  The owner, John Abernathy, basically dropped everything and took the time to outline several of his favorite local trails.  I did a little research of his top 3, and chose the Saltese Uplands for my first mountain bike sortie.

Saltese Uplands

Saltese Uplands

Before I type another word can I just take a second to say thanks to John, and all those other local bike shop folks, who always seem willing to do whatever they can to help out a traveler, and fellow rider, with whatever they need.  They are the true ambassadors of the sport!

So, on to the ride.  I rolled out at about 0530 and was on the trail by 0600 hours.  I had the place to myself and the cool 50’ish temperatures were just about right for this coasty boy.  As John had described, there was plenty of climbing.  I clawed my way up single track switchbacks all the way to the top.  The rolling grassy hills were covered with wildflowers and teeming with birds.  The sun was up and trying to burn a hole through the early morning low clouds.  I had wonderful views of Liberty Lake and the mountains of Idaho, just above the lake.

Arrowroot Balsamroot

Arrowroot Balsamroot

Sunrise on the trail

Sunrise on the trail

When I wasn’t stopping to film or take photos I was hauling a$$ down this trail.  I got back down to the base of the hill just about the time I was thinking ‘breakfast’…

Movie time

Movie time

Once again my magnetic GorillaPod did the job.  Here is a picture of the mini tripod clinging to some fence wires.

The last half mile of the trail runs fairly flat along a rural road.  As I was blasting along I heard the distinctive squeaking of a marmot somewhere atop a giant granite boulder.  As soon as I located him… I realized he was a “her” because she had a little baby marmot following along right with her.

Yellow-bellied marmots

Yellow-bellied marmots

In case you’re wondering that photo was taken with my video camera.  Much better than I would have expected, if I do say so myself.  I’ll have a little movie mash-up at the end for the story.  Stay tuned for that.

Evening along the Spokane River

Evening along the Spokane River

The next Rockhopper excursion entailed waiting until after sunset. Primarily to to miss the oppressive mid-day heat, but also just to enjoy a little night ops.  The 60 mile long Spokane Centennial Trail was conveniently located right outside my hotel, tracking along the Spokane River.  I wanted to head west on the trail to Mirabeau Park for some photos.  I was interested to see if the “water feature” would have any cool accent lighting for night shooting.

Mirabeau Falls

Mirabeau Falls

Well, as you can see, no accent lighting but still pretty cool.  Actually it was two kinds of cool because there was a nice refreshing mist blowing off the waterfall as well.

Night Ops

Night Ops

Finally a little slow speed photography as the very last rays of sunlight faded into the western sky.

Sunday morning found me back in the saddle, headed east to Idaho.  The weather had cooled slightly and, for the moment the wind was down.

Wildflowers along the trail

Wildflowers along the trail

Jamming down the trail was joy.  The bunnies and quail out numbered the people about 50-1.  However, when I did encounter other cyclist they were, more often than not, flying.  Before I slowed, or turned, or stopped, or did anything I made a very careful 360 scan to make sure I wasn’t going to get a 10 bike enema.  It was common to see a whole pack of lycra princesses, all kitted out with their triathlon bars, flat out hauling freight.  Caution was the word of the day.

Smell the lilacs

Smell the lilacs

As for me, well I had plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers.  When I rolled up on this bunch of lilacs the fragrance was heavenly.

800 indian horses

800 indian horses

Reluctantly I rode away form the ‘lilac break’ and continued east.  Just about a mile short of the state line I stopped to read a granite marker at the side of the trail.  I was looking at site where, in 1858 the US Army, in their quest to suppress any further battles with the local native americans, killed 800 of their captured horses.  Well I guess if roadside historical markers are put in place to make one stop and think… This one has done it’s job fairly well.  With my ‘faithful steed’ leaning on the marker, I read the chiseled inscription and decided I needed to watch the movie, Man From Snowy River again.

Back in the saddle, I rode on as far as the Cabelas store in Post Falls, ID.  After a little shopping spree, and some photos, I was heading back west.

Idaho Moose

Idaho Moose

I guess I didn’t notice the wind starting to develop from the west.  Insidious at first, coming from behind me.  Then relentless, once I turned around in Post Falls, Idaho and headed back to Washington.  There is a reason that all those Coast to Coast cyclists start on the pacific coast and to the atlantic coast.  Bicycle tourists agree, the wind is like a never-ending hill.

As promised here is a little movie of my Spokane Valley Rockhopper adventure:

Ok, that’s a wrap!  Thanks for watching – reading – following.  Until next time.  Kat

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About Jeff Katzer

Welcome friends. I'm a cyclist, hiker, motorbike rider, kayaker, photographer, videographer, ukulele player, snowshoer, XC skier, and BEST of all - a grandpa. Somewhere in that list above you'll find the theme of the Adventure Journal.
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6 Responses to Spokane Valley Rockhopper

  1. Tim B says:

    I was in that area of Cabella’s on Friday riding in the BMR. It was warm during the day. Nice report.

  2. MrsBoardwell says:

    I like how you casually throw in that the temperatures at your end of the world are already in their mid twenties!? We’re still struggling. In fact, you could think we are back in Autumn as strong winds and the rain are battering our little island. And sorry to hear on the news about yet another shooting incident in the US, luckily nobody killed but what a sad day, particularly as this happened on Mother’s Day. Maybe if these people had been introduced to camping, hiking & the outdoors they wouldn’t be the horrible people they are today. Just a thought.
    Until soon,
    Babs B

    • Jeff Katzer says:

      Well gee Mrs.B, I think you’re on to something about how to raise a polite and respectful society. As for the weather; I’m with you. Washington State has the Cascade mountain range running down the middle, splitting the cool, wet western side (where I live) from the often scorching temperatures found on the east side. Spokane is at the far eastern border of the state. That city’s name was taken from the Spokan native Americans who called themselves, “Children of the Sun”… Bye for now, Kat

  3. Bruce Bosman says:

    Very nice Jeff. I always enjoy reading your stories. Thanks.

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