After a warm night at Heyburn State Park, we were back on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in the morning. This trail gets our blue ribbon of excellence because of its beauty, its pavement and because it winds across and next to multiple waterways. It crosses most of Idaho’s Panhandle, travels through the Coeur d’ Alene Indian Reservation and the Silver Valley and crosses a 3,100-foot bridge trestle on the Coeur d’Alene Lake that is also specifically designed for individuals in wheelchairs. Pat, the engineer, fell in love with the bridge’s design and indicated that he wished he could have had a part in its construction.
We learned that this 72-mile trail is paved because it is a superfund site. The asphalt on the trail serves as a barrier to the contaminants caused by mine waste rock and tailings (from early mining activity) containing heavy metals.Eight miles up the trail, we stopped in Harrison and chatted with two ladies sitting outside the town’s library selling crafts and huckleberry products. According to them, it was once very easy to find huckleberries as they grew after forested lands had been clear cut. Clearcutting, however, is no longer supported as a means of forest management. By a bit later that afternoon, we reached the By the Way campground, small yet equipped with hot showers and a fabulous gazebo.
That evening, we walked down Pinehurst’s thoroughfare in search of dinner. Prospector’s Pizzeria drew us in and sure enough, it wasn’t long before Prospector Bob, dressed in his plaid flannel shirt, red suspenders, jeans and a prospector’s hat appeared. Prospector Bob, (aged 75) entertained us while we ate, sharing stories about how as a teenager he was friends with all the miners and then after a stint in the service, he became an IBM software developer for several years. He and his family opened the restaurant and indoor mini-golf room last fall because they saw a need for more recreational activities needed for children. After a hilarious evening, we made it back to the campground in time to meet Linda, a woman in her mid-50’s who is presently living out of her Honda Element as she travels the country. Linda is from St. Augustine FL and deemed it time to quit her job as a software developer a few months ago, to discover the country and do lots of hiking. “Who knows,” she said. “Perhaps my next career move will be raising llamas.”
On Sunday, we continued on the paved trail, cycling through Kellogg, where we noticed a gondola shuttling mountain bikers and tourists up to the top of the local mountain. And from there, we cycled up to Wallace, a town designated as an historic district, which kept it intact when the interstate was built.
Upon our arrival, we went straight to the refurbished railroad depot, where we met John Turner, who plays the part of Colonel Wallace, the town’s founder. According to Turner, Colonel Wallace, was a shyster from Kentucky, who laid claim to the land with fake money. The Wallace depot was once home to the employees who worked either for the Northern Pacific rail line or the Union Pacific rail line.
Women had their own waiting area, to avoid the rough language and the spittoons, used by men. We learned that President Teddy Roosevelt once came to town for fundraising purposes, traveling to Wallace on the Northern Pacific rail line and leaving on the Union Pacific rail line. Within the depot is the only remaining US flag from his visit and a framed map of what the United States and its territories looked like in 1908.