Adventure is dead. Long live adventure.
Adventure is a word that has become so ubiquitous as to almost destroy its meaning. I mean, when Microsoft is using the word to try to sell laptops and Mixed Reality headsets, you know that the popular significance has a reached a point that the word is mute. With that said, I think the meaning of adventure is probably a perfect example of where were are as a species.
Everyone loves the idea of adventuring. They see the ‘grams of beautiful water falls only accessible to those willing to make the trek. They here stories of folks selling everything they own to vagabond around the world by bike or van or whatever and there is a deep set desire in humans to give the bossman the middle finger and go. The reason we aren’t all just out adventuring incessantly is that it isn’t easy. Once that waterfall becomes a reality only by trekking through the woods and over that mountain pass for several days (the actual adventure), does the whole idea start to come apart. If we as a species did what we truly wanted instead of what was easy, well, things would be significantly different than they are today. We have spent the past several millennia in an effort to be comfortable. And here we are.
The Tourdaho was born out of that desire to see the things that were making their way to the ‘grams. In reality, it’s a loop born out of the idea of the above dichotomy. It’s pitched as a route that has 50 hot springs for your soaking pleasure, the ‘grams. Fortunately, there’s a whole bunch of pedaling to get to those steamy holes and whole lot of terrain for things to go south (And by south, I mean bad. I’m not sure why that is the saying, it just is. I personally tend to enjoy when I head south, especially this time of year.). Which is where adventure really happens. If your journey is sure, there is nothing new and you are guaranteed success, it is not an adventure. There has to be a decent possibility of failure due to the amount of unknowns for an adventure to happen. And that was just what we set out to find.
For those uninitiated in the nomenclature that became our summer trip, Tourdaho refers to the Adventure Cycling’s Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route or more accurately our trip around said route. The loop starts in Idaho City and makes a 560 mile jaunt through the backroads of Idaho passing through Featherville, Ketchum, Stanley and McCall. The main route is almost entirely on dirt with a little bit of pavement when accessing some of the towns. There are also singletrack options for those with a little more time on their hands.
While the IHSMBR technically starts in Idaho City, it’s a loop, so you can kind of, you know, start anywhere you want. We chose Ketchum as it was the quickest spot on the route we could access from St. George and we had heard it was a cool spot to hang out. There were also rumors that there were certain places one could park a car for a longer duration (this last rumor was not true).
The plan for Tourdaho was hatched sometime in the winter when I spontaneously bought the maps and gpx files from Adventure Cycling and told Kathleen Ann that we would be doing the trip, at some point. It wasn’t until sometime in the spring that I put some dates on a calendar and said, hey, we are doing this and procured the time off for such a trip. At that point, we were pretty much ready or at least we didn’t do a whole lot more.
Route planning consisted of pulling the map and cue sheets out every couple of weeks and saying something along the lines of, “We need to plan this trip.” And then the maps would sit on the table for a few days before they got put away. To be honest, it wasn’t until about 3-4 weeks prior that I had any idea where the loop went. That’s kind of how I roll…
We did do some “training.” This consisted of riding the Snow Canyon Loop with West Canyon extension a couple of times a week and a few longer rides like the Anti-Gunlock Loop and the Dirty Gunlock Loop. While this wasn’t too extensive it also constitutes the first time I have ever done any training, ever. I usually just figure it out when I get there.
As far as gear goes, we do this kind of thing on a fairly regular basis, so we had that mostly figured out. KB had decided that she wanted to do panniers instead of bikepacking bags, but other than that it was our typical setup. The only adjustments we made along the course were sending a bunch of KB’s stuff home and replacing certain items that may have bounce out of a bag on a bumpy descent.
Obviously, this trip took place a few months ago and while it may seem odd to just be writing it up now, well, the big ones take some time. One has to step back from the experience and let thing marinate in the spaces of memory before the story can be properly and completely told. Plus, I’m lazy and it’s now dark outside at 5.
In all honesty, it has taken me the past few months to decide how exactly I wanted to document this trip. It was a big one, at least for us, and I wasn’t sure where or how it would fit. I think I have that figured out and you will be seeing installments for the next few weeks until I get this thing done.
P. L. and R.