Summer temperatures exceeding the century mark were a good reason to get out of town to find cooler altitudes. I reviewed maps and decided Jessica and I could make our way across the Danskin riding area, around Danskin Peak and up to the Trinity Lakes area where we could have a panoramic picnic out of the heat.
A proper adventure begins with a foamy latte so we stopped at Tully’s by Columbia Village on our way to the Oregon Trail.
East Columbia Road ends at a small lot where we continued on dirt past Bonneville Point over to Blacks Creek Road.
It was already getting hot and hazy as we made our way out of town.
Arriving at the trail system by the same route as before, I thought it would be fun to let the new motorcycle show us what it could do with the two of us on the half-pipe. It was fun!
Trail 500 was a bit technical here and there. I cursed the deep sand stretches and I cursed the layer of sand that made the hard pack hills so slippery, but we were counting on refreshing alpine vistas ahead.
The whoopty-whoops did start making me crazy after a while. Slow down, up, down, slow down, up, down, again and again, on and on. I began to conclude this wasn’t the best route for a ride of any distance.
We were glad to stop when something interesting presented itself along the trail: climbing rocks.
Our last Danskin ride had been in the spring. Then we enjoyed vistas of yellow, green and blue. By mid-summer, it’s all just shades of brown.
In spite of unobstructed views of hills all around, we never saw another soul. I suppose they were home with their air conditioners on high.
Although not comfortable conditions for stopping or camping much, I thought there was a kind of clean beauty to the arid hills, to see them without their colorful spring makeup.
After our rest at the rocks, the ride turned frustrating, at least for me. The whoopty-whoops seemed to punish us endlessly. And when we finally came out on a dirt road, as expected, I couldn’t figure out how to line up what we were seeing with the map. And it was hot. Very hot.
We ended up having to back track a long distance when what I thought was the right trail faded out. I finally settled on a trail that by process of elimination I figured should be the right way. We couldn’t tell at the time, but it was trail 317. After a long time on that trail we could tell it wasn’t bringing us around Danskin Peak but decided to stick it out, see where it led and call it a day. We’d have to get to the Trinity area another time.
The trail zig-zagged down to a meadow bordering the Boise River. Nice. Undoubtedly much prettier in the spring, we were nonetheless happy to see an end that might make the ride worthwhile.
As much as we usually enjoy exploring, the heat was so brutal that even stripped down to the shorts under my riding pants, it was still miserable. We just stood sweating. With the river so close, we hoped to reach it to cool off but cliffs prevented every reasonable approach.
When no respite from the heat could be found, we agreed it was time to get the hell out of there. We would eat our lunch under a small stand of trees we’d passed. Already feeling a little light-headed from having our heads baked, we decided to leave jackets and helmets off while we slowly zig-zagged up to where the trail would allow enough speed for a slight breeze.
We began the climb, then eager to have some lunch and cool down regardless of what direction we had to go. As we ascended the rutted switchback, the usual layer of sand on hard pack trail required tentative speeds. It may have been that lack of centrifugal force around one sharp switchback, deeply rutted on the inside, that allowed the rear to slide down toward the rut. In the blink of an eye, with no way my foot could reach the low ground, we were down.
As the bike fell, I was able to hop off unscathed. Lots of practice, I guess. Our speed was little more than zero so my first thought was only irritation at the hassle of it. I asked Jess, “ya okay?” expecting an impertinent “yeah.”
Instead, “No! My eye, my eye” was her answer.
My mind froze as I saw her sit up, blood beginning to run from between the fingers cupping her eye. At that moment I had no idea how bad it was. Within a few long seconds, I realized that although there was a lot of blood, there wasn’t a life threatening amount. I didn’t know how her eye would fare but I knew she’d survive if we could get out.
We used all our remaining water to clean the injury. She applied an ice pack from our cooler while I cut a pack of hand towels intro strips to fashion a bandage to wrap around her head, and fit under her helmet.
A big concern turned out to be the heat. Getting the bike back on its wheels and then riding up the grade, running back down to her, and helping her up the hill, left us both exhausted, now without water. We both felt queasy. And we still had a lot of hard trail to ride to get back to a road.
It took an hour-and-a-half of pushing as much as I safely could to get us back to the road, then another half hour at pretty high speeds (no traffic in sight) to get to the emergency room. All while she couldn’t really hold on and seemed to be getting weaker.
The final verdict was a bruised eyeball, lacerations that were deep but could be glued closed, and a broken elbow. Our attitude about riding is unchanged but we did learn some lessons.