Priest Lake & Ironman Training

This was a rather spontaneous trip as it was dependent on Jack’s baseball team finishing their tournament on Friday instead of Saturday, and if we got David’s tree cut down by Saturday morning. We chose to camp up here for just the night, because there was a bike on sale on Craigslist outside of Priest River that I was considering buying. David just this same week signed up for the Coeur d’Alene Ironman that would be taking place June 2014, so we were going to spend a lot of time swimming, biking and running, and I wanted to make a good effort to try to keep up.

There was a driving rain almost the entire drive up, which made it impossible to take the bike in Priest River out for a ride, but we did stop and look at it. It was a very nice bike, and we decided to stop back on the way back down to take for a ride. However it was looking like David was probably going to buy it instead of me, since he needed a nice bike more than I did.

Arriving at Luby Campground, we drove into what was the middle loop without knowing there were 3 loops, and we were told there was only 1 site left. We grabbed it and were pleasantly surprised. Being the last site available, you’d expect it to be not so great, but it was very acceptable. As it turned out the upper loop was way more private with a lot of available sites, and the the lower loop wasn’t private at all yet was full. A few of the sites in the lower loop were practically right on the water, so it might be worth it to forgo the privacy for the easy access and the view, depending on the season.

Miraculously the rain stopped as soon as we drove into the campground. As soon as we pull up and start popping up the trailer, David’s neighbors from Spokane Valley stopped by, as we had arranged to meet them there. It was decided that we’d head up to their site after we got situated and David went for a swim in the lake. Incidentally David signed up for this Ironman when he really didn’t know how to swim. The swim portion was his biggest worry, so it was fairly important that he spend time in his newly purchased wetsuit swimming in Priest Lake. Unfortunately his first swim in a lake in his new wetsuit didn’t go so well. He swam 9 minutes, and it was a struggle. He was disappointed with his first lake swimming experience but would try again tomorrow.

Changing into dry clothes, we hopped on our mountain bikes and biked down a trail under the utility poles to Hills Resort, which was south of the campground. What a cool place this was! They had a marina, beach, restaurant, cabins, ping pong table, live music, and some cool outdoor tennis/ping pong court that was very unique but looked like a lot of fun. If it was too cold to camp, I’d love to stay there sometime. We tried to bike back on the lakeshore trail, but it was closed to bikers, so we went back on the trail under the utility poles, which was pretty cool also.

We grabbed our steaks and beer at our campsite and headed up to Dave and Sara’s campsite. We hung around with them enjoying the most amazing setting that was less than 2 hours away from David’s house! I was very quickly falling in love with the place and was thinking we needed to come back every weekend if not move there. It is bear country, which is unfortunate, and mosquitoes were a little issue, but it had just been raining, and they were worse than usual but they were still tolerable. We headed back to our site early, so we could get an early start on the next day, which was going to be our only day.

We woke up to much warmer and drier weather and headed out for our run early before it got too warm. We found a trail on the lakeshore that looked like it might continue for quite some time, but it only lasted 20 minutes. We found ourselves on a road that didn’t look too inviting to run on, so we turned around and headed back running around the campground loops to get more mileage in.

After our run, it was time for David to try his 2nd attempt at lake swimming in his wetsuit. This time he swam for 7 minutes. After yet anther disappointing swim, it was time to pack up and leave our site, since checkout was 11 or so.

Hanging out at Elkins Resort

We decided to head north up the lake and checkout the northernmost campground on the west side of the lake, where there is a portage for canoers and kayakers who want to paddle up to the upper Priest Lake through the “thorofare”, which was on our list of things to do later in the summer. We drove north, checking out the 2 other private lodges on the lake that were not nearly as nice as Hills, and also checked out the campgrounds, which weren’t as nice as Luby, and eventually parked and were on our portage trail. It was a very cool portage and a very long one as well and would definitely be best if we had a 2nd set of wheels for our 2nd kayak. We will use Lionshead for a couple of reasons for that future trip, but we were glad to have scouted it out. Hanging out at the end the portage, which brought us to the thorofare, we saw a few kayakers and motorboaters that we were able to talk to as they passed by. That will be an amazing trip, and I am very much looking forward to it someday.

Thorofare connecting Upper and Lower Priest Lakes

On the drive back home, David bought the bicycle in Priest River.

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