Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

August 5, 2018

Backcountry Mountain Biking & Hot Springs in Idaho with Western Spirit Guides, July 2018

Bikepacking is hard.  You have to carry all your gear, and food, and water, and tools, and tent, etc.   Hills really suck.  That, in a nutshell, is why we don't do it.  LOL.

We went with a lazier but more fun idea, and took a guided tour of the Idaho backcountry with Western Spirit. They are a guiding company based out of Moab, and run trips all around the western states.


In a nutshell, they carry all your gear, follow along on the rides, provide all the water and snacks that you want during the ride, and cook amazing meals in camp.   Just bring your bike, tent, and camping gear your need, and enjoy the ride!

There were a ton of options for tours with Western Spirit, everything from getting lost in the high desert to technical trails in the deep forests.   We picked this trip, because the lure of hot springs to soak in seemed better than anything else in the world.   Indeed each campsite on this trip was carefully selected to have an amazing hot spring within walking distance.  There are a lot of these springs in Idaho, but they are often hard to find, and we visited a few that were definitely off the beaten path.   I could often be found soaking in them both morning and night....

Our 5 day bike tour started in Sun Valley, Idaho near Ketchum.   We then meandered east along gravel roads, along wide, gentle valleys with clear streams next to us almost all the time.  We did cross a couple of passes, but the riding wasn't too strenuous.   Or at least, I figured the guides (who were amazing by the way) would be feeding us amazing meals each night so I needed to work off some calories on the ride, so bring on the uphill sections!

Our ride on the second day was on a gravel road that had been blocked off on both ends by the river flooding and eating away at the road bank.  So we rode this deserted stretch of road, a beautiful river flowing right alongside, and a blue sky glowing overhead.

The weather for our trip was absolutely delightful, sunny, mostly not too hot, not too cold, and no rain.  Couldn't have asked for a better time to go, on what was their first trip of the year along this route.  We got really lucky and our raincoats stayed stuffed in the bottom of our packs.

After 3 days of riding, we ended up in the town of Atlanta, Idaho, although calling it a town is a stretch.  I think there are about 20 full time residents and a small airstrip, tucked deep into the mountains.   We had a layover day in the campground there, over the 4th of July, and even then the campground was mostly empty.  We had two different hot springs and a warm swimming hole almost all to ourselves.  When we got too hot, the river near our campsite had a really amazing swimming hole too.   It was heavenly.

Our favorite cold soak spot near Atlanta
After a day off in Atlanta, on our final morning we loaded our bikes and gear on the truck, sent it off back to Ketchum.  Then we took a leisurely stroll down to the airstrip, with a stop to soak one last time in the hot springs along the way.  Our ride home was going to be two small planes, which fit the 7 of us comfortably, and gave us the birds eye view of the route we had followed on our ride.

Aside from our sit bones being a bit sore (we didn't really ride enough to prepare for this!) we had a great time and hope to go our with Western Spirit again sometime!

Our ride back from Atlanta!

Frost on our bikes on the first morning in camp

First night's hot springs had multiple pools with different water temperatures
A closed road due to mudslides let us have the whole place to ourselves....
This stream was NOT warm.   Brrr 

All flagged up for our 4th of July riding
This swimming hole was fed by a hot spring, and was warm!

One of a few hot springs near Atlanta, this one had a hot  waterfall!

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