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  • Writer's pictureAlex Wright

IDAHO - Beauty and Battles

After spending about a week in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada, I decided to head North up to Idaho. I'd only passed through once before while on tour with Kiev. If you stick to the interstate, you miss all the magic, as we did for the most part, until we ventured into City of Rocks National Preserve and got our minds blown.

Look at all those handsome hippies

A few months ago, I learned that Idaho ranks 3rd in the US for the most wilderness. I had to check it out. First stop was the Sawtooth National Forest.

The first night I decided to stay the night in Sun Valley, ID. It was already getting dark as I rolled through and I didn't want to miss any of the scenery. I turned off on some random dirt road that said, "National Forest Access" and found a place to camp.

I woke up the next day and pushed on. To my surprise, there were signs like this every few miles on this highway - "Forest Access" here, "Dispersed Camping" there - a outdoorsman's dream.

I stopped off at a ranger station to inquire about some long routes to run and was told to check out Toxaway Lake. It did not disappoint.

The loop was just shy of 19 miles with around 3,500' of gain. I ran it in just over 3 hours but took an additional hour to look around and soak it in. It could easily be compared it to the Sierra's of California, only less populated. There were about 7 creek crossings - most about shin high - a good amount of snow over the pass, and some pretty technical terrain. I had a blast.

I made it off the mountain and found a random, free place to camp off the highway. Woke up the next day and did the loop again. It was THAT good. I also wanted to see if I could do it faster and better as training for some upcoming races.

After the run, I decided to head down the highway to Salmon, ID to check out the course of my next race, the Beaverhead 100k. It follows along the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) for the majority of the race - a trail 3,000+ miles in length that runs the continental divide from Mexico to Canada.

I camped that night just outside of town along the Salmon river, woke up in the morning and found a local cafe before heading to the trail. I was surprised that my server knew about gluten intolerance (wow!) and mentioned they had gluten free toast. I was thrilled.

I got my food, scarfed it down and headed to the trailhead where the race starts, about an hour and a half south of there. As I drove, I began to get really tired.

I stopped off at a general store to buy a coke as a lil' pick-me-up. Chatted with the clerk about all the CDT hikers that come through there. I told her that one day I'd tackle that trail and come through and say hi.

Pushing onward up the pass, I was getting really, really tired. So tired, I could barely keep my eyes open. It was only 11am and I knew in that moment the glorious pieces of cinnamon-raisin toast were NOT gluten-free.

I made it to the trailhead and stood on the divide looking into Montana, a state I'd never been to. I thought, "well I drove all the way out here, I may as well run." Got out my contacts, and promptly dropped one on the gravel. Looked for it for 30 mins and gave up. By that point, I was so tired I knew I just needed to lay down and take a nap. I sat in my car staring off into space deciding what to do.

Running with my glasses on is a major bummer because they don't stay on my face and constantly slide down. I almost always trip trying to wipe the sweat off of them. Not fun. Combining that with the gluten-fog I decided to bail on the run. It was a bummer. I snapped a photo of the CDT sign and headed back to Salmon with my tail between my legs.

I may actually have celiac disease and not just an intolerance. When I get gluten in my system I become a zombie - brain function goes down to about 12%, and all I want to do is lay down. Running, or any physical activity for that matter, is so difficult to do it's painful - there's just no energy in the tank. This lasts for at least a few days, the first two days being the worst.

I realize there will be good days and bad days on this journey. Eating healthy is a difficult thing on the road - especially when I'm so sensitive to gluten. It's a bummer that I wasn't able to run and that I burned a bunch of time and dead dinosaurs driving down to Salmon. But life on the road won't always easy and exploring the unknown isn't always pretty. Just gotta roll with the punches.

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