Skating: Idaho 2004

Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
Article from Skate Journeys (Seattle) website by Doug Persons

Nine skaters and two cyclists from Seattle and Vancouver gathered in Bellevue Friday morning July 9th, 2004 for the start of the (First Annual?) Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes Skate Journey.

The skaters from Seattle consisted of Trish Alexander, Doug Persons, Klaus Kerl, Terry Schmidbauer, Josh Adler, Tom Dalton, and Lawrence Wichman. The group from Vancouver, BC was Barb Radlgruber, Lisa Maclean, Ty Nielson, and Peter Braune. Ty was cycling, and Peter split time between his bike and skates.

First order of business was to buy three days worth of goodies and groceries for the whole group – we cooked and ate all our meals together in one large group. While there were lots of new faces and names to learn, everyone pitched in to load up one of the huge carts at the Cash & Carry. We left in a well-packed van, truck and two cars for our base in Kellogg, Idaho. The trip took a little over seven hours with plenty of rest stops and a lunch break along the way.

Grocery shopping for the multitudes

We had reservations for three cabins at the Mountain View Cabins in Kellogg, Idaho. With a bit of difficulty, we located the “cabins” in downtown Kellogg behind a parking lot. While the accommodations were nice and comfortable, they would more aptly be called apartments in a couple of large sub-divided log buildings. Never quite figured out where the mountain view was, either. But they were nice and roomy, with large kitchens and cabin 3 became the central hang out and main meal prep area.

It didn’t take long to choose bedrooms and unload the cars. Soon skates and bicycles began to appear from the piles of luggage, as we were eager to loosen up from the drive. The trail was conveniently located in town, less than half a mile down hill from the Mountain View.

Josh and Terry tried out their skates on the trail while Trish and Doug explored downtown Kellogg, the gondola base and the local cemetery on skates. The road to the cemetery was pretty long and steep, and when asked if he was glad to make it to top, Doug replied, “I’ll tell you after I get back down”

Ty, Lisa, Barb, Peter, Lawrence, Klaus and Tom headed up the trail to the east. Upon reaching the town of Wallace eleven miles away, it seemed appropriate to sample the local flavors. After getting re-hydrated, they cruised back downhill to Kellogg, just a quick 22-mile warm-up.

Terry made us a great dinner of soft tacos Friday night. We all tried out the hot tub, and later that evening, the Portland skaters Sanchez and Mike Kuchler arrived by rental car after flying into Spokane.

Hot tubbin'

Saturday morning we awoke to wet pavement after an overnight thunderstorm. As we were discussing alternate plans, Trish made buckwheat pancakes with blueberries for everyone. Yum. Two coffee makers were barely able to keep up with the demand. By the time breakfast was over, the sun was out and everything was drying up nicely.

The plan for the day was to drive everyone to the west end of the trail and start skating back toward Kellogg. Since we had a variety of skills and ambitions, the general idea was that everyone could skate as far as they wanted, and then wait at a trailhead for pickup. Terry volunteered to drive by himself to a mid point along the trail to have a car stationed with extra water and an ice chest, and be positioned for a shuttle back to the start.

Everyone else piled into Lawrence’s van and Peter’s truck for the hour and a half drive to Plummer, Idaho. Getting to the west end of the trail is the most difficult as there is no road along the trail – you have to drive well to the north or south around Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The gang

The trail is just about a perfect as can be for skating. Wide and very smooth asphalt, with very little traffic. Maybe the only drawback is a bit too much gravel scattered on the trail. Doug was reminded the hard way that you can’t stand up and relax, or you’ll return home with a little less skin.

The first 50 or so miles of the trial are fairly remote, being well away from roads and following the Coeur d’Alene lakeshore and the marshes and lakes along the Coeur d’Alene river. There are rest stops and restrooms every few miles along the trial, but no drinking water anywhere – you must bring your own. There are just a few road crossings with trailhead parking.

Starting from the west, the first six miles of the trail out of Plummer descend down to the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Our group split into those racing ahead down the hill and those trying to keep everyone else together. Trish had a problem with her skate, but fortunately Barb and Peter were there to help out. Peter re-thought his decision to skate and returned to the truck for his bicycle.

At the bottom of the initial hill, the trail follows the west shore of the lake for a mile until it crosses the lake. The old railway bridge used to be a swing-arm drawbridge, but has been rebuilt as a fixed elevated structure. A series of rolling steps lead up to the old draw span and make for an exciting ride down the other side. Arriving on the east shore of the lake, the trail follows the shoreline for eight miles to the small town of Harrison. From the marina at Harrison, the trail turns and follows a very gentle incline along the Coeur d’Alene river for 40 miles to Kellogg. It sure didn’t hurt that we had a tail wind all the way east, a beautiful sunny day, in the high 70s.

Chatcolet bridge

We have to really appreciate the efforts of Trish, Terry and Josh who volunteered to cut their skating day short and drive shuttle. Not only did they have to make the long drive back to Plummer to pick up the van and truck, but then retrace their route back to Kellogg, locating and picking up the skaters along the trail. That made sitting and waiting for a pickup seem like a luxury – they put way too many hours in the car.

By the end of the day Saturday, Ty and Lisa did 35 miles, and Doug did 42 miles. Sanchez, Mike, Klaus, Barb, Tom, Lawrence and Peter did the full 55 miles back to Kellogg. Too bad that Sanchez could not talk Mike or Klaus into finishing the remaining 18 miles to the east end of the trail – he was just getting warmed up!

Saturday dinner of barbecued chicken and hot dogs with coleslaw put together by Trish, with a little ‘help’ from Doug. The gas barbecue matched just about everything else at Mountain View. We topped that off with chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert and made Smores, too.

Breakfast Sunday morning was bacon, eggs, and oatmeal made by Trish, Sanchez, Josh and Doug. Everyone was great about pitching in to help out with cleaning up or making lunches.

Sunday was cloudy and around 65 degrees, pretty much perfect for skating and cycling. The group split for two activities on Sunday, skating and mountain biking.

Peter, Ty, Lisa, Barb, Tom, Josh and Klaus went out to mountain bike the Route of the Hiawatha. Lawrence volunteered to drive the van shuttle. They all raved about the Route of the Hiawatha, and even saw a moose. But rather than just do the easy 15 mile Hiawatha, this group chose to peddle the logging roads back out over Moon Pass, down into Silver Valley to the trail and finally Kellogg – one long ride. Half way up the climb to Moon Pass, Lawrence showed up with the van to ferry the group to the top. Everyone jumped in except Klaus and Peter, who were determined to do it on their own. Try as he might, there is no way Peter could keep up with the 62 year-old dynamo Klaus.

This bum's for you - Trail of the Hiawatha

Terry drove up to Wallace for a skate in that area. Sanchez, Mike, Trish and Doug skated from Kellogg up the 18 miles to the end of the trial at Mullan. After pausing for lunch on the trail in Mullan, we got to fly down the trail. Sanchez and Mike did almost fly in the draft of a couple cyclists determined (but unsuccessful) to shake them. Trish and Doug were happy with the 36-mile day, especially with the head wind over the last six miles. But Sanchez and Mike doubled back for 45 miles so they would have a cool 100 miles for the weekend.

Sanchez, Mike and Trish headed out the Spokane airport Sunday afternoon for the return flight home. The cyclists rolled back into Kellogg at about 4:30 after a 4 to 5 hour ride. Barb made us a great Thai curry chicken & vegetables Sunday night. We had a lot of stories and laughs around the kitchen table once again that night. What a great and interesting group of people to hang out with…

Peter and Terry were up bright and early Monday morning for one last skate from Kellogg down to the espresso stand in Smelterville. Everyone else enjoyed the sun on our “patio” with a cup of coffee. Barb made quesadillas with apples and ham, and Doug made pancakes with raspberries for breakfast. By 9:30 everyone was packed and ready for departure.

It was a really great weekend, with a really fun group of people. It sounds like everyone is already thinking about doing the trip again next year.

See Lisa’s pictures here.

See Lisa’s pictures for the 2006 trip here.