"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." ~Goethe~

14 September 2009

Down along the Salmon River...

We woke up bright and early the next morning so we could get started on our adventure down Forest Road 30 to see for ourselves what had turned back Lewis & Clark on their expedition out west. The map below shows the 46 mile (one way) road that follows the main Salmon River until it dead ends at Corn Creek. That is where the Frank Church Wilderness Area begins and no motorized vehicles are allowed into that area. One day I will venture into that area on a rafting trip, one day. The pictures I have seen of this area are just beyond words. One day I will see it with my own two eyes. I am determined to also go on a trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon, during a low flow thank you. We were told by Bob, the ranger, that the canyon that lies a few miles beyond Corn Creek is the 2nd deepest in North America. And that the canyon that the Middle Fork flows through is the 3rd deepest. That means that Idaho has the top 3 deepest canyons in this country and the Grand Canyon is the 4th. Hells Canyon along the Snake River is the deepest. We never knew about the 2nd & 3rd ranking that our state holds. Learn something new everyday. WOW!!!

So down FR. 30 we go and we start to see some pretty cool things, at least to us. There are so many little homesteads that mark the presence of pioneers of the past. I just can't imagine living in this rugged but beautiful area without some kind of modern conveniences that we have today. Just thinking about what things might have been like makes me shake my head. And "we" gripe about how hard things are now a days. Yeah, right.
Down the road a ways, the pavement ends. The road is well kept due to the fact that there are still a tough few that live in the area year round. The landscape just kept getting more rugged and more beautiful. All the different rocks, colors, steepness of the mountains were so awesome to look at. There was old gold mine shafts along the side of the road that have been sealed up. Way cool! And again I was thinking what lucky dogs those people were to have year round homes out here. We were making a lot of stops so that Glenn could soak all of it up along with the rest of us.
At one point there was a sign that told of the story of Lewis & Clark coming to the area and how they decided against going into the Salmon River valley because of how treacherous the river was. They headed up north to what is now Lost Trail pass along the Continental Divide, into Montana and then back into Idaho. We were told that the river was about 15ft lower than the high flow times at the beginning of the summer. Remember that snow levels were a wee bit higher way back when and even when in August when the expedition came through, the water flow was very fast and high. Believe me when I tell you that the river was moving pretty darn fast when we saw it. I don't want to know what it looked like when Lewis & Clark came through the area. Those men were brave. And to have turned away from this river says something.

Around every turn there was something wonderful to look at. I was blown away at the sheer ruggedness of it all.
Along the way there was a historical site of sorts that showed were artifacts had been found of the Sheepeater Indians that lived in the area. A group from Uof I had been in the area years ago to find and save artifacts from these people. There were still pictographs on the side of the rocky cliffs that were made by these people many, many years ago. There is something that grabs at me whenever I see things like this also. I don't know if it has anything to do with my great-grandmothers Cherokee heritage, but I am blown away by the simple life that these people lead. Things were not easy, but somewhere I feel that they were happy with all that was given to them. And to find out how they lived along side 3-4 other tribes in the area, peacefully sharing food sources, etc. just so they could continue on one day to the next.

We spent about 45 mins just in this area alone taking in everything. Looking and listening.
Right near Panther Creek Rd. we came upon another little homestead that had been abandoned many years ago. The girls thought it was funny to see a little outhouse right next to the cabin. I am hoping that you can click on this pic and it is large enough for you to see the big horn sheep ewe and her babies down along the river munching on the grasses. There another walking away from the river headed near the outhouse and we spotted one sitting on the rock above the cabin that was sleeping. We couldn't figure out at first why that one wasn't moving a muscle until Glenn got out his big zoom lens and was able to see it clearly sitting in the sun, taking a nap. How cute!

There were more young ones to see along the side of the road in a little grassy area getting a snack.
We found a little picnic area to stop and have a wee little snack at. You have to keep in mind that the majority of the areas here in Idaho were one would go hiking and exploring is what is called "pack it in, pack it out". You have to take all of your trash out the same way you brought it in with you. Nothing stays behind. Glenn and the girls walked around a bit to see all the cool rocks and boulders. I just planted myself on the picnic table and listened to the sounds of the river as it raced by. Almost hypnotizing.
Here is a pic of where the Middle Fork meets the Main Salmon. Down around the bend in the far back of the pic is the 3rd deepest canyon in North America. Can you imagine!
This is the end of the road at Corn Creek where alot of floaters get out if they aren't with an experienced outfitter. I don't blame them. I wouldn't go alone either. There is a ranch down further along the river that used to be owned by Polly Bemis and her husband Charlie. Very fascinating story of this Chinese immigrant who lived in Idaho for 60yrs and loved this rugged land in the Salmon River Valley. I've got to find the book about her at the library. Very intriguing.
Since we couldn't go any further, we headed back they way we came and stopped at the Stoddard Bridge to check things out. It is used for pack mule trips to get to the other side of the river and then up the steep hills.
It's held by two cables anchored into each side of the river canyon and only ten fully loaded pack mules at a time can cross the bridge. No more. I don't want to find out what would happen if #11 would try to join the group. :)
Yes, I crossed the bridge. But I did not stop on it nor look down while crossing it. Wienee.
This is where the trail leads off to after you get to the other side. Now I wouldn't even go up that just walking by myself, much less riding on the back of a horse or mule. Now Way!!!! I'm not willing to kill myself just yet.
We came back to the Panther Creek Rd area and decided to find the hot springs that Bob had marked on the map. I was not a happy camper once we got on the road and saw that it was a one car road all the way up. Yes, I nearly got sick. Wienee remember. But finally after covering my eyes most of the way we made it to the top. Yes, the river way down below is what we were next to at one point.
We spotted the hot springs but decided there was no way we were making our way down the steep slope with the girls. Brenna scared me enough when she hopped out of the truck just to get a look at the springs and went too close to the edge for my liking. I just about died. Glenn just shook his head and wondered what I was freaking about. She was a few feet away from the edge. I'm not a height loving person. Yes, wienee.
Just had to show you why I was panicking. Most of the road didn't have a "nice" edge along the outside. This spot did. That is why I uncovered my eyes to take the pic.
Finally, we were back down by Panther Creek. And of course my gang saw a really big rock bed that was not covered by water. So you know they had to go hunting. Very pretty colored specimens out there. And yes, a few came home with us. More than a few.
I couldn't help but notice this lonely little flower that had found itself amongst all the rocks with it beautiful yellow color.
After this, it was back to the room to clean up and go get a bite at the cafe in the village of North Fork. Remember, 3 buildings. It was getting late and everyone had their fill of sandwiches and snacks by this time and were wanting a big juicy hamburger. Em ordered the same thing Glenn did and finished the WHOLE thing. We still can't figure out where she put it all. There was more exploring and toe dunking to be had after we got back to our room. And then as the daylight was disappearing we went back down the road a piece to see if we could spot that moose. Someone at the cafe said he was spotted around lunch time 2 miles down. So off we went. But no luck. Maybe the next day. We did see the bald eagle again, some horses and a fawn with his mommy. They girls saw the fawn the night before all by itself and wondered where its mommy was. They were hoping that hunters hadn't gotten to her. So they were happy to see that she was okay. Then back to the room we went to clean up for the night and then sit out on the balcony for some river time. Pure heaven! Then to bed for another adventure tomorrow!

See you back here for the next installment of the fun filled trip. Hope you enjoyed today's little jaunt.



  1. Your girls are blessed to have a family that takes such wonderful adventures such as this! No wonder they are so knowledgeable. You guys need a chaperone next time? :-)

  2. We'll give you a call Libby! Some one needs to help me keep an eye on all these people that like to get to close to the edge of the road. :) I wish you could have gone with us.


  3. All of these trip pictures make me lonesome for my dad. This area was one of his favorite hangouts. We used to go fishing and camping in this area all the time and, in fact, camped where that cabin with the outhouse nearby is located. I absolutely LOVE that area of Idaho. We're going to have to plan a trip there ourselves one of these days.