This road report begins by sending all of you the good vibe,
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
and will ultimately end in Missoula, Montana by way of Hwy 12.
The Nez Perce, named by French Settlers, carried out their lives in the area now known as the States of Idaho and Montana. To no ones surprise, they were hunted and chased out of it by the United States Calvary for refusing to re-locate to a United States designated reservation.
Chief Joseph led what was left of his tribe, (1000 men, women, children, and their horses), through the canyon, along what is now US Hwy 12, in attempting to escape from the Calvary chasing them. They were caught 30 miles from freedom, and the Canadian border. It was here where Chief Joseph declared, “I will fight no more forever” in his speech of surrender to the United Stated Calvary.
I Will Fight No More Forever
“I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohulhulsoteis dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead.
It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are–perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.
Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
I picked up Hwy 12 in Lewiston, WA and rode it east to Missoula, Montana, approximately 200 miles. There is only one road in this area. Hwy 12 is it. Seriously, you will not find another road intersecting with Hwy 12 untill your well into Montana
I stopped and got some gas in Orofino where an old-timer, (who had been in my rear-view mirror for the last 50 miles), walked over to me as I fueled the scooter, and asked me why I was riding so fast. After explaining the Motorcycle Endurance Challenge I was participating in, he reported that it was too bad I had to rush through such beautiful country. He was absolutely right, it really was too bad.
The two-lane ribbon of black top winds through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the 3rd largest wilderness in the lower 48, and follows the Lochsa and Middle Fork of the Clearwater rivers for miles, and miles, and miles.
While pulling onto the shoulder to put on some warmer gear, I could see fish holding in the rocks of the river bottom, and a moose strolling along the bank on the opposite side. I imagined Chief Joseph and his people living their lives here in abundance, and peace. You can hear their spirit in the winds that cut through the canyon, and more than one person shared this same feeling. One rider, reported feeling the presence of spirits who seemed to be lost, or searching. She was so overcome with fear and sadness, she came to tears alongside the river, and rode as fast as she could to its end.
Hwy 12 is in excellent condition, and as I rode through, there was very little traffic to be seen or heard. You can not get lost as there are no other roads built into this pristine wilderness. You can connect with Hwy 12 via another beautiful section of road, following the Columbia River Gorge, along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
I can think of few roads ridden, throughout all of the Americas , that equalled the sheer joy and exhilaration felt as I moved along Hwy 12. The scenery is incredible, the land pristine, and there is a richness of spirit unlike I have ever felt before.
For more information, check out this link, Hwy to Heaven