Adventure 02 – Lolo Trail, Idaho pt. 1

Life as a teacher is spooling up rapidly.  In the last few days before going back to work, Nathan & I planned an impromptu trip to the Nez Perce National Forest to drive the historic Lolo Motorway.  Nathan had done quite a bit of research on the trip before we ever decided to go.  I have read all about the Lolo trail for years because part of the trail was used by Lewis & Clark during their trans-American journey of discovery & it was used 60+ years later by the Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce when trying to escape the American military by fleeing to Canada.

Parts of the modern trail were improved or established in the 1930s thanks to the work of President Franklin D. Roosevelt & his commissioning of the Civilian Civil Service Corp.

The trail is also featured in one of my favorite off-road guides for the state of Idaho (see it here) – although this book only features part of the drive that we did.  Our journey was approximately 25 miles of gravel, dirt, & large loose rocks.  It is also the first off-road experience for the jPod.

This is the first of three blog entries on this journey.  They are divided by day since it is easier to read in shorter segments & to see the photos of each day.  There are three days total and this is the very first.

Day 1

Lolo Trail Map
Lolo Trail Map

Our traveling party consisted of Nathan & his wife (in their black Jeep with a roof-top tent), Carl -a mutual friend (in his white 4×4 truck), and the jPod crew -Senior Management & I + our two little dogs -Zoe & Ella  (i.e. Cougar Bait).

We left Spokane, Wa and traveled south to Lewiston, Idaho (named for Meriwether Lewis).  The road into Lewiston is a steep grade into a river valley.  Appropriately enough, Lewiston is across the river from Clarkston, Washington (Named for William Clark).  Lewis & Clark passed through the same valley they now occupy.  I’ll bet they were surprised to find two towns already in the valley which were named after them (he he he…).

We fueled up in Lewiston and pulled out the maps to decide which route we wanted to take to the Lolo Motorway.  Once decided, we left Lewiston & made for the dirt.  If you reference the map (above), we took the route from Greer to Weippe and then the dashed line to road 500 (the Lolo Motorway).

Once on the trail, I started watching the jPod’s ability to handle the bumpy rock filled road.  As I suspected, it was bouncing around quite a bit.  I do have plans to install shocks on the jPod but haven’t done it yet.  This trip confirmed my need for them when off road.  It seems that general road driving is not a problem but the springs really push back when off-road.  Carl was driving behind us and radioed to tell us that the jPod was leaving the ground from time to time. Too exciting for me so I slowed up a bit.

In the late afternoon of day one, it began to sprinkle a little bit.  I was excited about the prospects of sleeping in the jPod with the rain pounding on the roof.  My wishes were met that night & I slept like a log.

On our way up to Rocky Ridge Lake -the camp site we had chosen off of the map, we stopped to find huckleberries along side the road.  Not only were they there but they were large & ripe.  Out of the vehicles we all came & picked some huckleberries.  Upon arriving at Rocky Ridge Lake, we found the huckleberries to be more plentiful than on the road & larger (about the size of the end of a finger).  Breakfast plans were immediate & obvious.  No matter what we made, we would make food with huckleberries.

As far as meals are concerned, Senior Management turned out some spectacular zucchini patties with marinara sauce & Havarti cheese.  It was too dark to take a picture of it once it was done.  Plus, it really didn’t stay on my plate too long anyhow.

Before the sun set that night, I had two tasks to complete while Senior Management made supper.  First, I had to level the trailer.  Nathan, Carl, and I managed to do this in short order (see the photos below).  Then I needed to make light.

I quickly wired up the jPod to the Jeep.  My long-term plan is to be able to charge the jPod battery off of the Jeep while in transit.  However, I have neither a battery for the jPod nor the wiring installed in the Jeep.  My solution was quick & dirty.  I ran the wiring harness, which I plan to permanently install in the Jeep, from the battery of the Jeep, around the Jeep, to the tongue of the jPod.  Thus, we had light on our first night.  It was great to have that much light.  Although we did have to turn out the lights to change because we still don’t have any curtains.  I may be a teacher but I feel no need to educate everyone that much.

The next morning when we awoke, Carl’s truck was still in camp but Carl was missing…

Read Part 2 Here