In the Shadow of Lewis and Clark

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General Information
Begin your trip planning by checking out information on Clearwater National Forest. The Clearwater Web site of the National Forest Service (click here) also provides general maps of the region and details about the territory you'll be traversing. Keep in mind important information available about the Lewis and Clark Trail.

You can purchase a Clearwater National Forest map and obtain other information by writing to:

Supervisor's Office
Clearwater National Forest
12730 Highway 12
Orofino, Idaho 83544
(208) 476-4541

The phone number of the Powell Ranger Station is (208) 942-3113.

Travel Restrictions
Pay particular attention to information about the upcoming restrictions of travel along the Lolo. I first heard of this last year while talking with another ranger in the area. While I hate the thought that come 2003 there will be a lottery to decide who is allowed to bike or drive the route, the attempt to preserve the natural beauty is of course admirable. The lottery will be implemented sooner if the numbers wishing to see this piece of the trail grow faster than expected.

In better times out on the plains, Captain Lewis had penned:

. . . we eat an emensity of meat; it requires 4 deer, and Elk and a deer, or one buffaloe, to supply us plentifully 24 hours.

By contrast, high in the Bitterroots, where deep snow and dense forests required tremendous physical effort just to travel through, entire days passed during which the party killed only a single grouse. Horses were butchered, the supply of "portable soup" was used up, and the men ate and were thankful for a coyote, a crow, and the few crayfish they could catch.

A final journal passage, this time from William Clark, will serve to remind you to pack rainwear, and warm clothing, and plenty of food.

Sept. 16th, 1805 began to Snow about 3 hours before Day and continued all day. At 12 Oclock we halted on the top of the mountain to worm & dry our Selves a little. I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life, indeed I was at one time fearful my feet would freeze in the thin Mockirsons which I wore, we Encamped in a thickly timbered bottom which was scurcely large enough for us to lie leavil, men all wet cold and hungary. Killed a Second Colt.

There is of course no way that you'll be able to pack all the water you'll need for the entire journey. Remember that a biker working hard in summer heat requires some 10 quarts of fluids every day. Ten quarts. That's two and a half gallons: 12 large water bottles, or 16 small ones. And with water weighing in at approximately eight pounds per gallon, a one-day supply comes to a whopping 20 pounds. So haul along a purifier, and ask Elliott or another ranger if its been a particularly dry year. I had no trouble locating water during my rides, but it's still wise to ask.

You might run into some on the Lolo, so remember what the International Mountain Bicycling Association suggests about encounters with the furry world:

Never spook animals.

All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can be dangerous for you, for others, and for the animals. Give animals extra room and time to adjust to you. In passing, use special care and follow the directions of horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wild animals is a serious offense.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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