The Ur-a- Gonner Trail
The Oregon Trail starred in Missouri and eventually ended in Oregon. It took a few decades to lay out the route and make the trail passable by horse and wagon. But the parts that remain today, at least the parts that we saw, those seem to be mosty for horseback riding, or today, mountain biking. How do we know this? Because today our Google Maps and Bikemaps both took us on that trail. And while we were on it, I thought that if we didn't get the hell out of there, the buzzards would soon start circling us, like I'm sure they did when someone passed back in the 1800's.
The day started our fine, Google maps took us to a filling but less that tasty breakfast in Boise. Then it lead us out of town on a very beautiful bike path. Shade was plenty, the sounds of the Boise river provided a natural soundscape, families like us (except not biking across the US) were out cruising up and down the path. Everything seemed idyllic. Our GPS was happily guiding us and we were mindlessly following, like sheep, baahhhh.
Once the bike path ended, we were dumped onto a fairly busy highway. But only for a short while as instructions said "in 600 feet, make a left, then continue onto The Oregon Trail." So we did! Then at the end of that parking lot, was the trail. I was a little worried to see that it was a dirt path, it wasn't wide, but it was packed dirt. And we were only supposed to be on it for about a mile. Then we would be dumped onto E Columbia Rd. So we thought, "how bad could it be?"
We should have turned around after about 600 feet when the trail pointed up and became more rocky than pecked dirt. But East Columbia Rd beckoned and we followed, baahhhh. We were determined to see it through. So we pushed our very heavy bikes, rode on raised single track, and held on for dear life when the trail headed slightly down again. But we weren't sure of the way. We asked a few mountain bikers to direct us to the promised Columbia, and finally, someone knew of it. Only, we had to needle through a fence that looked like barbwire. We could step on the lowest cable and pull up the other two and someone else could gingerly walk the bikes through.
Finally, we were back on smooth, beautiful pavement--but our jubilation only lasted for about a mile. Again our GPS started pointing us onto the historic path. But this time we said "no mas!" So we got on another app. I heard from a friend that Bikemaps was really good. We fired it up, and asked it to show us the way using one of the map features "road bike only." I'm not sure what type of road bike the developers of this app ride, but it sure ain't like my trusty road machine back home. This route also wanted us to trek where no roady should be, let alone two fully-loaded tandems.
So we headed back to the trail head, back towards where it all started, and we met a nice set of brothers having a day out with their families. They basically told us the old Mainer saying, "you can't get there from here." After having wasted precious energy and a few hours, perhaps they read the look of dejection on our faces, and they helped us out by putting our bikes on the back of their nice pick up, and driving us to the I-84, where we knew we could bike on, according to Idaho law. So we rode on there until we reached a section that had a frontage road leading us to our next layover, Mountain Home, ID.
After this adventure, we only added about 5 miles from the projected amount. But we added hours to our day. And, as we were cycling after our bail out saviors, I could envision the Oregon Trail to our left. I could imagine the old timers trekking for a promise land of sorts. But to me, the trail's name just morphed from The Oregon Trail to the Ur a Gonner Trail.