Finding Trail Magic in Idaho

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About 300 miles have passed since my last blog post. This one is a little long in the teeth, the next will be in a few days and much shorter. Things remain good. I’m still having fun and wanting to run. Idaho has been beautiful and there has been a lot of trail magic. I should be in Wyoming in a few days, almost exactly a month after starting. The 1000 mile mark is around the corner as well. All of my toe nails remain intact although two are threatening mutiny. I’m in both the best, and the worst, shape of my life. I just finished mapping out my stops in Wyoming (see route page) and would love to hear from anyone with good beta about the route.

The days leading up to Boise were scorchers for me but I finally found my shade as the farms turned in suburbia, running on nice sidewalks with trees and getting misted by irrigation sprinklers.

Sprinklers and a bike path – my oh my

Boise was my first rest day after 585 miles and it felt great to relax a little. I stayed near REI and made too many visits there. A huge thanks to Chris from the bike shop for finding a way to attach a bike stem to the handlebar of the jogger. This new handle is the perfect thing for me to hold onto when I am running on a shoulder – using my right hand I can run almost side by side with the jogger and have a higher hand position. Nice! I also picked up some bear spray, more for dogs than bears but Grizzlies do freak me out a little.

Chris at REI and the rolling snack cart

I woke up the next day and it was pouring rain. Flags were snapping in the wind and the skies were angry. Google maps had me taking the dirt ‘foothill’ road for ~ 60 miles, before joining up with two lane Rt 20. It would be 90 miles total to the first town. And ~300 miles to the first real traffic light. When I studied the satellite images I could see a few spots with water, but who knew whether the water would still be there? I texted Glenn Caffery who ran from Seaside to Westerly, RI last year (congrats!) and asked if he had some time to talk on the phone. This wasn’t the first time I hit him up for advice. We were soon chatting and Glenn reassured me about access to water and encouraged me to use the interstate for a handful of miles before cutting up to the Foothill Road. He also mentioned for a second time what a great trail running community Boise supports, and how he had run with a guy named Seth and a woman named Marian for a bit, and also how Dennis Ahern would be a good contact. A few minutes later I was talking to Dennis who correctly scolded me for not getting in contact sooner. Dennis echoed Glenn’s advice and added me to the Boise Trail Running Facebook Group along with posting a link to my blog on the groups’ wall. Dennis was in the middle of packing to go run the Salt Flats 100 mile endurance run in Utah (well done in 22:18!). Over the next few days I would receive many messages of support and offers to help from members of the group, thanks!

The rain kept coming down and I found a lot of reasons to procrastinate before finally deciding I had to man up. I left at 2pm and only made it a few blocks before taking refuge in a fast food place. So the boy drank a milk shake and watched the rain. By 3pm the rain had slowed to a sprinkle and I managed to get 12 miles in before the deluge started again. I was on a secondary road that paralled the interstate and would soon be forced onto the on-ramp (or in my case, the exit ramp since I run against traffic) for hopefully my last ~5 miles of running on an interstate. In the distance I could see lightning. The idea of running on the shoulder with pouring rain, lightning, and big trucks seemed pretty unappetizing. I was passing by Micron, which is a large semiconductor company,  and I made it to an awning before getting completely soaked. To make a long story short, Rick Malgren who was leaving work convinced me to throw the jogger into the back of his pickup and a short while later I was back in Boise eating a great dinner made by his wife Suzanne and talking Everest with their three younger kids Olivia, Kate, and Cody (four more kids have left the nest I think). We even did a little slide show with my pictures from the run so far and also from Everest. 
Suzanne, Olivia, Kate, and Rick- Thanks!

The next morning Rick dropped me back off at the awning and I started cruising. The five miles on the Interstate were actually a breeze. After a few miles of pavement on Black Creek road, I hit dirt on the Foothill road.  The sky was filled with rain clouds and I actually ended up getting hailed, snowed, and rained on; sometimes I tried to outrun the rain curtains.

Crazy skies
Around mile 30 the weather had improved but I was fading, staring at the bike computer showing my progress to the hundredth of a mile (27 steps) and seeing how far I could spit sunflower seeds into the wind. Suddenly a car crept up beside me and a window rolled down. This was the first car to pass me in 4 hours. The driver leaned over and said ‘Seth?’  I was pretty startled, especially because the guy looked really familiar. The fact that he knew my name didn’t register. I said, “Yeah, I’m Seth, I know you – don’t I?” When it finally soaked in that his name was also Seth, I decided I didn’t know him because that was too improbable , plus I would remember another Seth. It also finally soaked in that this was trail magic. Seth had seen the facebook post, found my location via the satellite tracker, guessed where I would be in about an hour, packed the car with his bike and lots of food, ice, and ventured out to find me! And he did. Leaving me with a bunch of yummy strawberries and string cheese, Seth drove 8 miles up the road, stashed his bike, and then drove back and parked his car. It was great to have someone else to run with after ~600+ miles and there was no traffic so we just ran side by side and talked. A super nice guy! Seth had also run with Glenn Caffery last year and it was neat to think about that connection and to hear some of the stories. I was also finally able to get some pictures taken without using a timer.

We finally reached his bike which was hidden in the bushes and started to say goodbye. I encouraged him to come to Washington sometime for our great trail ultras, especially Rainshadow Running, and he mentioned that he had run Orcas 50k and also the Chuckanut 50k recently. I ran both of those too, I told him. As we talked bout the two runs, Seth mentioned how the waterfall near the end of Chuckanut was so nice he had stopped and swapped cameras with another runner to take his picture. I think we both realized at the same time that we had taken each others pictures that day. Small world!

ok – so the camera was a little off,
or maybe we are just really good at jumping!
Bye Seth, Thanks!
A few miles after saying goodbye to Seth, I camped on the prairie

The next day had about 4 miles of dirt and then I was hoping to make it another ~45 to Fairfield. But the dirt road became almost impassible. A herd of cattle had been driven down it and their hooves whipped up the mud which then dried. I had to pull the jogger backwards, forcing me to take 2 hours to cover 3 miles.

Slow progress

I saw a lot of other neat things that day, including famous spots where stage coaches were commonly held up and the ‘post office of the west’ where emigrants on the wagon trains would paint their names on rocks using axle grease. Thanks Idaho for the historical markers. Eventually I climbed up to the Camas Prairie a little over 5,000ft.

Best Propane Tank Disguise

Please drive slow
If you enlarge this you can see the bike stem

Air mail

By mid-day, I knew I would not make it into Fairfield (pop ~413) before dark. I had a reservation at the one motel there and really didn’t want to dirt-bag it again. Marian Lane was also on the Boise Trail Runners facebook group, lived in Fairfield and had offered dinner via text messages. I sent a text and asked if a shuttle into Fairfield around 7pm would work. I managed to get about 36 miles in by seven but I was walking and grumbling a lot at the end. Marian’s son Cody found me on the highway, loaded my jogger into the SUV and 14 miles later I was tucking into an amazing dinner with Marian, her husband Don, Cody, and daughter Rachel.  I learned that Marian is a Cardiac ICU Nurse and that Cody, who is a senior is also planning on studying Nursing. Cody’s class size is 12 at the local school. And I thought my hometown was small! The next morning Cody drove us back to where he had picked me up the evening before and Marian and I ran together for about 7 miles. We talked about her run with Glenn and quite a bit about the Camas Prairie and what it is like to live in a small community. Thanks Marian and family for the shuttles, great hospitality, dinner, and stocking me up with cheese, chocolate, and hard-boiled eggs. Marian ran the Catalina Marathon and is thinking of running the Cle Elum Ridge 50k run as her first 50k. I’m sure she will ace it.

Marian and son Cody

That day I managed a little over 40 miles across the Camas prairie with nary a single turn in the road. Hawks soared on thermals and moved from telephone to telephone pole looking for lunch. Around mile 20 an elderly gentleman pulled over in his pickup, asked me what I was doing, and promptly gave me $20. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and said he didn’t want his name mentioned. I’ll pass it on to Dana Farber (see how to help page).

I camped at the Stanton Crossing campground where I was the only person. The following day took me through the small towns of Picabo and Carey where I filled up on slurpees and after 32m I dirt-bagged it again before the lava fields started because tents and lava rock don’t mix. The first of May found me hoofing it 36m across ‘Crater of the Moon National Monument’ – a very weird landscape with a great visitor center.

A perfect, shaded tree amidst the lava

I found a great little motel in Arco (pop 900?). After three days of running and two days of camping, I was ready for a shower!

First city powered by Atomic Power

Leaving Arco the next day I was blasted by strong winds. I found a rest stop by the side of the highway and took shelter for a while. There was actually a nice weather station there that put the wind into numbers. Luckily it was mostly a tail-wind, but it still knocked me around all day.

33mph winds!

And this day had to be at least 35 miles because I would be passing through ‘Idaho National Laboratories‘ which is really a test bed for nuclear research, home to 50 reactors. Each side of the highway was alarmed, fenced, and patrolled. I was so happy to be clear of the place, I decided to add a few more miles and packed in 43 for the day before crashing in my tent as the sun went down. That was yesterday – Wednesday.

Camp here and the black helicopters will come

These buttes were major landmarks for people on the Oregon Trail

Today was 24m into Idaho Falls. And I’m still smiling. Thank you Idaho!

Still having fun

6 Responses to “Finding Trail Magic in Idaho

  • Great job, Seth. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun and adventure. Keep it up!

  • Incredible story, several times over. People are amazing. Keep going, keep posting!
    David Lewellen

  • Sending you love and hugs, Seth! Very proud to know you. XOXO Becca

  • YAY SETH!!!

  • We miss you already Seth! Keep on padding away. Stop in again sometime!

    Justin
    DK Motel
    Arco, ID

  • Keep the posts comming. I love to hear about your adventure and I keep going to work to early in the morning.
    Take care of you body so you can finish this. I am rooting for you every step on the way.

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