Day 257 – Salmon – Bitterroot Country

Day 257 – Salmon Bitterroot Country, August 30, 2011

Today ended up being a lot of driving and a lot of road
construction.  I tried visiting Bonanza
and Custer, two ghost towns from the mining days, but the road to the towns was
closed for two hours at a time.  When the
flagger heard me say, “Ok, I’ll skip it then”, he let out a sigh of
relief!  Instead, I snapped a quick photo
of a dam that was erected in 1910 and blown up in 1934 as it was prohibiting
salmon from swimming upstream to spawn.

We followed the river, passed by multi-colored cliffs, and
golden hills for miles before climbing Lost Trail Pass, a place where Lewis and
Clark camped, and eventually stopping for a hike around Lake Como.  The partially paved and dirt trail wound
though the forest and provided intermittent views of the lake.

After strolling the edges of Lake Como, we took another walk
through Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.
Almost dusk, we followed a trail along the river where deer stopped for
a nightly drink.  As the sun set, we
continued on to Missoula for the night.
ETB

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Day 256 – Sawtooth Sampler

Day 256 – Sawtooth Sampler, August 29, 2011

On my way out of Ketchum and Sun Valley, I stopped at the
local cemetery to pay respects to Ernest Hemingway.  He penned portions of For Whom the Bell Tolls
while he stayed at the Sun Valley Lodge.
His grave stone is like a wishing well…covered in coins.  Surrounding it are various empty bottles of
wine and champagne.

lake creek trail sawtooth national forestAfter a short visit to the cemetery, we decided to take
advantage of a cool morning and go hiking on Lake Creek Trail in the Sawtooth
National Forest.  The trail map, posted
on the sign board near the trailhead looked relatively straight forward.  We wandered into the wooded area, crossed a
bridge, and followed the river for a bit until we ended in an open area.  I wasn’t sold on walking through knee high grass
in the sun, we turned around and took the trail the other direction.  It ended up in the same place, and I ended up
on the opposite side of the river from the cache I was shooting for as I
figured my cell service would drop a few more miles north.  Oh well, the river was lovely and Petey got
to stretch his legs.  He has been kind of
cooped up the last few days.

After our circular stroll, we continued northwest up Highway
75 to Galena Summit Overlook for a sweeping view of the valley and the Salmon
River with the Sawtooth Mountains towering in the distance.

From here we visited several mountain lakes tucked in the
trees beneath jagged peaks.  The blue water
changed colors with the depth of the lakes like the Caribbean Sea.  If it weren’t for the mountains, pine trees,
and water temperature the lakes could have passed for a body of water in a
tropical paradise.  One lake, called
Redfish Lake, got its name for the sockeye salmon that spawn there.  Imagine aqua blue water filled with bright
red salmon with a background of green trees, grey mountains, and perhaps snow…what
a sight that would be!

Upon finishing a few short walks along lakeside trails, we
moved on to Kirkham Hot Springs.  The
spring water flows like a waterfall out of the side of the mountain and into
the cold, turquoise water of the Payette River.
Visitors to the springs place rocks in semicircles to trap the spring
water in pools along the side of the river.
While the spring is scalding where it pours from the mountainside, by
the time it tumbles down the rocks to the pools, it is bath water
temperature.  I soaked in a riverside “tub”
and then hopped over the wall and submerged myself into the frigid river from
waist down for a heat/ice therapy on my aggravated hip.

The area was simply beautiful.  Soaking in the springs surrounded by
waterfalls as the sun beamed down and the river roared was extremely
relaxing.  Only one other person, a guy
from Idaho City, came while I was there.
He climbed over some rocks and soaked in a pool I couldn’t even see.  What peace!

The springs were my last stop for the day.  I doubled back to a campground near Stanley
as my drive tomorrow starts from the tiny town.
As I made my way along the snaking road through three construction
sites, I noticed a dark cloud toward the west.
At first I thought a storm was rolling in until I looked a little
closer.  The cloud had a red tinge to it…it
was smoke from a forest fire pluming up over the hillside.  As it filled the sky, the sun took on a fluorescent
orange glow.  Later when the sun set, the
waves of pink and purple smoke hung over the mountain range.  Picturesque!
ETB

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Day 255 – Idaho Heartland and Sawtooth Sampler

Day 255 – Idaho Heartland and Sawtooth Sampler, August 28, 2011

After morning coffee with Sandy, I headed south to meet my
friend, Kathryn.  A colleague out of the
Houston office turned doctor, now lives in Boise.  We went for lunch at a local brewery and
walked along the Boise River to the Boise Zoo.
The giraffes were hiding.  I’m sad
because I had my camera with me the whole time and forgot to take a picture!

After lunch I continued south to Shoshone Falls which were
absolutely spectacular.  I was on
information overload.  Each time I turned
to look at a different portion, I noticed something new.  The Snake River tumbles 210 feet over
numerous rock outcroppings.  I just loved
it!

From the falls, I turned north up Highway 75 to end in Sun
Valley for the night.  I got a great
chicken stir fry at the Sun Valley Brewery which almost reminded me of Chef
Wang’s at home.  An amber beer on tap and
a little preseason football added to a relaxing evening.  ETB

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Day 254 – Idaho Heartland (Part 2)

Day 254 – Idaho Heartland, August 27, 2011

From Dworshak State Park, we followed the Clearwater River
through the Nez Perce Indian Reservation and made a roadside stop at the Ant
and the Yellowjacket.  According to an
Indian Legend, the stone arch was once two insects.  Ant and Yellowjacket fought over who had the
right to eat dried salmon in the area.
The Coyote, the all-powerful animal spirit, ordered them to stop.  They failed to heed his warning, thus he
turned them into stone while their backs were arched and their jaws locked
together during combat.

From the stone arch we turned south on Highway 95 and
twisted past the golden hillsides to the White Bird Battlefield.  On the rolling hills in 1877 over 100 cavalry
men and civilians clashed with a group of Nez Perce Indians and their chief
White Bird.  Instead of making peace, a
civilian fired on the Indians which caused an ensuing battle.  The Indians wiped out a third of the
government troops and suffered no casualties.
Brief and brutal, this battle was the beginning to the Nez Perce War.

After a short stop at the battlefield overlook, we continued
south, skirting the Salmon River which snakes between Hells Canyon National
Recreation Area on the west and National Forest on the east.  Given the warm, sunny day, we eventually
stopped in the shade and dipped our feet in the cool river.  The sea green and emerald river was lined
with both sandy and rocky shores as rollling hills, once mined for gold,
towered above.

Further south, we landed in McCall, a small ski town
situated in the forest hills next to Payette Lake.  My phone occasionally worked in the area, so
Petey and I took a stroll along the lakeshore and eventually located a
cache.  There were too many muggles
around on this glorious Saturday afternoon to snatch anything that close to the
lake, so a slight detour took us off the beaten path to a bird’s nest cache.

After killing a little time, I was finally able to reach my
dad’s cousin Sandy and her husband Keith.
In my forty years, I had never met them.
We had the greatest time chatting and basically going through the family
tree!  They treated me to a tasty dinner
at the country club across the street from their log cabin house built in the
early 1900s.  Sandy calls herself a
plant freak and her yard proved her right.
A white picket fence surrounds a well-maintained lawn and garden of flowers
and plants.  Keith is one of those handy
types (I wish I had that talent) and they both teach skiing at the resort in
the winter.  I hope I’m as energetic as
they are twenty years from now!  ETB

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Day 253 – Idaho Heartland

Day 253 – Idaho Heartland, August 26, 2011

As I was leaving Missoula, I realized there were a few
sights I probably should have explored, but I guess I was excited to get to
Idaho which is the last of the 48 contiguous states in which I really haven’t
spent any time aside from driving through a portion of it a month ago.  I was hoping to fulfill my geocaching needs
in this state, but AT&T doesn’t seem to exist here thus my apps are
currently worthless.

Highway 12 winds through two national forests; Clearwater
National Forest to the north and Nez Perce National Forest to the south, as it
follows the shallow, multi-colored green Lochsa River.  Roadside historical markers documented Lewis
and Clark’s adventures through the area.

We made our first stop at De Voto Memorial Grove, a grove of
red cedars on the riverbank.  The grove
memorializes Bernard De Voto, an award winning author who camped near the area
while editing the journals of Lewis and Clark.

Further west, we took the Colgate Licks Trail, a mile loop
which leads to two natural hot springs.
The mineral deposits at the springs purportedly attract wildlife,
including elk, deer, and bear.  Not
today!  Of course, I didn’t arrive at
the best time.  Despite gaining an hour
when moving into the Pacific Time Zone, it was still late morning on another hot
day.

Continuing on along the highway curving with the river, we
visited the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station.
The ranger station, built in 1920, was not accessible by road until
1952.  The complex includes a few cabins,
a multi-use building, a wood shed, a root cellar, a garden, and a whip saw.

From the ranger station, we continued through Lowell and
Kooskia to the Heart of the Monster.
What the Garden of Eden is to Jews and Christians, Heart of the Monster
is to the Nez Perces – the place where life began.  According to ancient belief, the god Coyote
slew a great monster from whose blood and flesh arose most Indian peoples.  From the beast’s heart Coyote created a race
known as the Nee Mee Poo, now the Nez Perces.
The Heart of the Monster, a 30-foot basalt mound, sits on the banks of
the Clearwater River.

We ended the day at Dworshack State Park.  ETB

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