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Idaho Part 3: Rodeos and Mountain Bikes

After escaping the RV Park, we cruised along to our next destination: Hailee, ID.

This was a Jake request – we would be staying at a trailhead just outside this small town and then waking up early to mountain bike.

We cruised through the desert and into a tiny old west town with a big sign that said “RODEO” overhead as we came in. Like a lot of western towns, the main strip was lined with historic buildings that had been updated to be shops, restaurants, and yoga studios.

After driving through to get the general overview of the town, we turned ourselves right around and found somewhere to park. This place was definitely worth some exploring.

We headed down to the outdoor arena that was basically a dirt ring with bleachers around it.

The old west version of Friday night lights, I’d imagine. We had Miska and didn’t want to pay for a ticket, so we stood just outside and watched the cowboys and cowgirls and their horses make their way into the ring for the competition. Miska perked up as the horses walked by, upset that we didn’t understand that he NEEDED to herd them. But the sun was going down, so we made our way back to the car.

After grabbing what turned out to be the best burritos we have ever had, we made our way down the dirt road to our trailhead.

Since it was on BLM land (public land), we assumed it would be pretty much in the middle of nowhere with no one around.

We were wrong.

There were some gorgeous, large houses tucked into the rolling hills surrounding the trails, and when we arrived at the parking lot, there were a few other cars of people who were still out riding. And bonus – there was a bathroom. Well… a pit toilet… but still so much better than pooping in the woods.

We stuffed our faces with the burritos and got our set up ready. We imagined what we looked like to the others as they packed up and drove away, and honestly felt a little bad ass. I mean, a couple and their dog with an out of state plate rolling into a trailhead and setting up a bed in their car to sleep so they can mountain bike in the morning? We may be lame but we’re bad ass lame.

Just before we were about to go to bed, Miska created a scene. He had been laying in some tall grass, and we even took pictures because it looked so adorable. However, we quickly realized that he had gotten himself into a mess.

This desert grass had what we in Western PA call jaggers. They were tiny seedlings that burrowed into his fur and caused a good amount of discomfort, which could turn into damage if left unattended.

Miska in a mess

As the sun went down, instead of sitting around a fire, we sat around Miska like little monkeys picking bugs out of his fur.

The sun was behind the hills, but it was far from darkness when we crawled into the car. We passed out quickly.

Around 1am, I woke slightly as Jake got out of the car to pee. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard him whisper intensely, “Wake up right now. You need to see these stars, they’re incredible.”

“No. Let me sleep,” was all I said before I passed right back out.

He stayed standing out in the night, looking at a sky filled with what seemed like more stars than darkness until the coyote howls shuffled him back into the car for the rest of the night.

The temperature had dropped significantly by the time the alarm went off. We looked at each other to see who would be the first to rip the bandaid off and get out into the cold.

Of course, it was Jake.

I jumped out quickly after and after a heating my clothes in the sun and a lightning fast change, we were ready to bike.

I was a little nervous. I’ve only mountain biked a few times before, and it hasn’t been pretty. I mean, I do have a child size bike with narrow handle bars, small tires, and a rusty chain that doesn’t shift very well… so we can pretend that’s why I struggle, and not my lack of experience or fitness. Regardless, it’s still fun and I keep getting better, so we jumped on the trail before I could change my mind.

What. A. Ride.

The trail wound around and up the rolling desert hills with lots of switch backs. The first part of the trail was almost entirely uphill, and, lucky for me, even Jake was feeling the altitude as well.

We reached the highest point on the trail and took in the insane views from every angle. You could even see snow peaks off in one direction.

We decided that instead of trying to finish the loop, we would go back the way we came so that Jake could do some Difficult level trail and I could go back to the car.

“Want to trade bikes?” he said.

I did not hesitate to jump off and grab his bikes handlebars while I offered him my own to him, grinning. This would be fun.

And let me tell you – that ride back down was one of the best things ever.

His bike has front suspension, big fat tires, and some kind of really fancy hydraulic brakes or something. I flew down the hills and around turns. I didn’t get shaken so hard going over the rocks that I accidentally shifted gears. My back tire didn’t slide out on the dirt. I laughed and laughed the whole way down. No wonder Jake loved mountain biking so much.

I was having so much fun that I almost didn’t notice that at one point, he was no longer following me. I stop and call out his name a few times until I finally hear a response.


“You okay?”

“Yeah. I wiped out.”

Someone had been having a little too much fun sliding out on turns with the tiny tires of my bike.

Once we got to the split off, I had a very hard time trading back bikes. I sighed as I handed it over and hopped back onto mine. He headed off on his own adventure, and Miska and I cruised down the last part of the trail and back to the car, cold wind still hanging on from the night before cutting through the sun that was starting to beat down.

Once at the car, I poured some food and water into Miska’s bowls and started setting up for breakfast.

By the time Jake was back from his solo ride, there were egg burritos getting browned on the cast iron pan over our gas stove. We stood in the sun, covered in sweat and the good kind of exhaustion, pouring a little salsa onto our burritos before each bite.


Within half an hour, we had cleaned and packed up and were back on the road, leaving the desert and heading back up into the mountains.