The only 3 people who have hiked the IBT (Mike O’brien, Yeti, & Melanie Simmerman) arrived at the start/end in Clarkston, WA today at 1:40 pm. What a thrill this is!!
We got up early from our cozy camp on the Wahl’s land and headed out using the alternate road we were on. It was still pretty dark…5:30am start. As yesterday, today’s hike would be all roads (gravel and asphalt) except for the Lewiston/Clarkston bike path.
More farmers fields planted with either wheat or garbanzo beans. It’s a golden sea of seemingly endless plantings. We watched one or two farmers out on huge machines tilling under the bits of wheat left from the harvest. They were preparing for the next planting.
Clouds were lifting, though most of the morning remained a bit overcast. Sun broke out late morning. Gradually, we could see the beginning of the Clearwater River Valley – at first because of a huge cover of fog. We came to canyons and then big electric power lines. We followed a paved road that finally went steeply down and that led to our pathway to Lewiston.
As we got down to the highway (95), we crossed first the southbound lanes, got into a truck weigh station, then crossed the northbound lanes to access the Lewiston bike path. It followed the Clearwater River, very industrial mostly, passed a paper plant and along the highway. Not to much landscaping here and no shade, but at least they have this path on the water. We got some relief by buying cold drinks at a convenience store which you pass after a couple of miles. Shortly after, we crossed over the river and started to anticipate the end. Once the Blue Bridge which crossed into Clarkston came into view, we were almost there! Poor Yeti, his pack was causing problems today — he had to take most of the weight on his shoulders and his back was hurting. He was ready to be at the end.
Mike, Yeti and I got to the Blue Bridge and took pictures at the end. Then, Yeti and I joined hands and followed the short trail down to the sign that marks the beginning and end of the IBT. We were so grateful to be there – it had been a tough haul, especially for Yeti. By hook or by crook we had been determined that he and I would finish no matter what—and we did. Hallelujah!
After a short rest and picture taking session, we stumbled on to the Motel 6 which is very close by and got our rooms. We cleaned up and had our celebration dinner at the Italian restaurant, Tomato Bros., right next to the motel. They have very good food.
The end of these journeys always seems a bit rushed and we all scatter: Mike had a morning bus back to Boise and we had planned to go by bus back to Bozeman (a lengthy and disjointed trip with transfers and many stops). I felt a little dazed. This is the first long distance trail where I was totally relieved for the end. It had been kind of stressful, wondering if Yeti’s health would hold up. He had to rely on pills to help stave off water retention which would bring on congestive heart failure, and he did have to take a nitroglycerin on several occasions. But, we finished this trail and it is a huge accomplishment for us and I’m happy that Yeti and I did the final 900 miles together…it meant a lot to both of us.
Yeti and Mike should be very proud to have put together this route that takes you through so many different landscapes and small Idaho Towns. Piecing it all together was no small feat. Bravo to both you guys! And, many thanks to the trail angels, towns people, people who gave us rides or helped in the medical emergencies, and the trail studs from Goose Lake who helped us along the way! We could not have done it without you. You made our trip unique and special. Thank you all. Yeti and I both feel rejuvenated by the kindness and goodness we experienced along the way.