Between Hell & High Water

Just east of the middle of nowhere, on the tri-state corner of Idaho, Nevada and Oregon, is a land so vastly remote that it’s populated by more antelope than people. From the lazy byway that roles across the sage, it could be mistaken as unremarkable or perhaps even boring. But to me, it represents potential; the potential to see as far as you can see, the potential to spin your wheels over sweeping landscapes, the potential to ride with history.

Look closer and you may catch glimpses of the potential that lies below: a black crease in the surface, a cut in the terrain. This is Idaho’s canyonlands country.

Snow fed, the 150-plus miles of rivers run every year for a short window in spring, flooding the canyons with upwards of 8,000cfs. The peak flow may plummet overnight, or taper over a month. But sooner than later, desert heat bakes hotter than hades forcing the creeks dry until the following spring. But during a sliver of time, between the rage and furnace, the desert blooms with opportunity for fun hogs.

Back to the maps, I divined a route mixing a reasonable drive, long backcountry ranch roads, and a remote corner of the upper Owyhee river. Get in, get out, in four days time.

We tested some new bike-friendly gear for Gear Junkie. In tow, I used and will be reporting on a Sea To Summit’s ultralight Spark Sp II 35-degree sleeping bag, Big Agnes Super Scout UL2 tent, Smith’s Chromapop lens, and Eddie Bauer’s guide-inspired Sorcerer pack. Plus, we dined on gourmet dehydrated food supplied by Good To-Go foods. You can look for these stories on

Last year the Oregon Coast wildly blew my expectations for wallowing in fun, but there was a lot of pushing. The desert offered more time in the saddle but with a splash of canyon rivers. Still, we left room for some suffering, because adventure starts with the potential for new experiences.



Steve Graepel is an art director, medical illustrator, husband, father of two, and a thief—stealing any free time he finds to explore his backyard in the greater Pacific Northwest.


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Sean Parchem | October 26th, 2014

More please. I can sort of see where this is going:-) This area reminds me a little of Big Bend Texas. Just an amazing place to visit. If you haven’t been I’d recommend a jaunt though this amazing landscape. Waiting for your next article…..

Steve Graepel | October 28th, 2014

Sean - More to come for sure. I’m working on a full story for Gear Junkie, with pics, map and video. Best -

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