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

12 September 2009

To the River of No Return...

Things didn't go as I had planned on Monday night as far as getting done early and getting to bed early. I didn't hit the hay until 10:30pm because of all the last minute things that had to be done. So needless to say, getting up at 5:30am so that we could hit the road at 7am did not happen. We were on the road by 8am, so it wasn't all that bad. The trip took a little over 6hrs, mainly due to the twisty roads in the mountains and the roads following the river. Lets not forget though about all the neat little places to stop and look at and the potty breaks. That's the most important you know.

Here's the route we took.
Our first stop was just outside of Garden Valley, Id. It was mainly because Brenna said she wasn't feeling good. So to avoid any disasters inside the truck, we pulled over to stretch our legs about an hour into the trip. She has a habit of trying to focus on everything whizzing by as we go down the road, so she will sometimes get car sick. We have to always remind her to look out the windshield and not the side window.

Anyhoo, where we pulled over had info about the CCC (civilian conservation corp) camp that used to be in the valley just outside of Garden Valley during the Depression. I knew nothing about this, even though we have driven by this spot several times before. So lesson learned. Don't be afraid to stop and look at those signs that are in the "weirdest" spots along highways. There is a reason for them. :)
A little while later we come upon Grandjean Pass. This is an area that is always closed down at some point after the snow starts falling and doesn't open up until things start to melt. Big avalanche country here. The highway dept. doesn't even take chances very often trying to keep things open. I don't blame them. The road is great now but I wouldn't even want to know what it's like up here in the winter time! Remember, I am a wienee.
Emile Grandjean was one tough guy to be living up here all by himself, especially in the winter. You can compare this map and the one above to get a feel for how far we have come.
Back on the road we went, through the pass and out into the Sawtooth Mtn. Range area we came. Another stop was made so that we could take a look at the 5 most famous peaks in the area. My personal favorite is McGowan Peak on the far right, all 9,860 ft of it. Just gorgeous.
We came into Stanley, Id, which is a very small town. Recreation and touristy stuff is the main thing happening around there. Very quiet though. When we have come up this way in the past we have always taken the highway back south towards Sun Valley. Oh but this day we were taking a road never traveled for this family. A turn to the left and off we went, heading up north to new things to see following the Salmon River the whole way. Pretty awesome I must tell you.
Down the road a piece we came to the Sunbeam Hot Springs. It's always very cool to come across these when traveling down the highways in Idaho. Always amazing.
This one just comes right out of the side of the hill and pours down the side. Luckily a culvert was built under the road to carry all the water under the road and to the river. That would be a wee bit scary having all of that water rushing across the highway during the winter and then freezing. Yikes!
Of course we had to stop and check them out. Brenna was a little hesitant at first. She wanted nothing to do with it. I had to hold my hand in the spring for a while just to show her that she wouldn't get burned from it. She still gets nervous because of what happened at Vulcan Hot Springs in June. She actually wanted to come back and sit in them on the trip home.
Back into the truck we went, not even a mile, until we came to the Sunbeam Diversion Dam. It was built along with a power plant to supply power to a local gold mine in 1909 but by 1911 it was closed down because not enough gold was coming out of the mine. Eventually Idaho Fish & Game blasted the bank next to the dam in 1934 so that fish could go up river again.

Below is one the mine carts that still sits nearby where the mine was. Very cool. I have to tell you that there was a set of steep stairs that one must walk down just to get to this. Yours truly did just fine until I stepped off the bottom step and rolled my ankle a wee bit (nothing serious) and went down on my knees. I was so glad that there was no one else stopped at the historical sight to have witnessed this. I picked myself up and noticed that I had ripped my favorite pair of cut off capris! You don't want to know the words I was saying. I would have had soap in my mouth! To heck with the fact that I just banged up my knee! I followed the gang down to the cart and showed them what I had accomplished. FABULOUS!!! I was ready to go by now and headed back up the stairs, hoping I wouldn't fall down the stupid things. I noticed once we got back to the truck that my pants weren't the only thing that was ripped. I had done a pretty good job on my knee after landing on the rock that ripped my pants. So I sat on the curb by the parking lot and dug out all the grit that was in my knee. Yes, in my knee. I wasn't bleeding too bad which was surprising being how deep the cut was. So I kept pouring water into the cut and kept wiping stuff away with paper towels until all the dirt was out. Then a bit of Neosporin, some bandaids and off we went. Glenn couldn't sit and watch me "digging" all the stuff out. He felt so bad for me. He really thought that all of our hiking plans were done for. After we were headed back down the road, Glenn asked if I needed to stop somewhere to get something for the pain. I told him that it didn't hurt at all. He thought I was joking until I poked at it a couple of times and didn't flinch. He said he knew now that I had a high pain tolerance because he thought it looked bad. "It's all good" I told him and away we kept going. I'm a tough cookie. Nothing was going to stop this adventurous trip.
Eventually we came to Challis, Id and made our turn onto Hwy 93 North. Challis is the town where a 7.3 earthquake happened in 1983. Pretty scary. I've never experienced one and don't want to. You have to check out the pics from the link above. I could not imagine having a 20 ton boulder falling towards my house from the hillside. Oh my gosh!!!

The scenery all along 93 was beautiful. The highway still followed the Salmon River. The terrain is a mix of rugged mountains that are right on the edge of flat dry "desert" but not quite full of trees. All the colors of rock were beautiful. And just seeing how different things were from one hill to the next was so awesome.

At times we would go by homesteads that have been empty for years. They would be falling apart from all the years they had been abandoned. We could help but wonder what life would have been like all those years ago out there all by yourself just trying to get by, day by day. Very tough people one could imagine.
Then we came around the bend to see where Salmon, Id began only to see the mountains of the Continental Divide before us. AWESOME!!! Things definitely move at a slower pace in this little town. But things can't be too bad there. They have an indoor and an outdoor hockey rink! That's cool all by itself! Only about 3,000 live in the area. Very quaint, with lots of ranches in the area. They girls thought it was neat to see all the cattle on the ranches along the highway. We got a quick bite to eat and headed back down the road.
Then just 20 miles more and we made it to our final stop, North Fork, Id. Very small indeed. I think we counted 4 buildings in the village center not to include the big Forest Service Station there.

This was the view outside of our room balcony! I was in heaven! Could you imagine having this right outside your back door! All I could say was "all those people who have properties along the river are lucky dogs".
The girls were in a big hurry to help unpack the truck so they could go down to the river and explore things. How pretty the Salmon River is. This pic shows were the North Fork of the Salmon and the main Salmon River meet. Yes, all right out our window! AWESOME!!!!
You didn't think they would just sit on the bank and not want to put their little toes in the river did you? They were in heaven. The pic below shows them in the North Fork of the Salmon. Hence the name of the village, North Fork. After their little toes started to freeze and turn red (yes, even at the end of summer, the water is freezing!) shoes were put back on so that we could head over to the Forest Service Station to get maps for tomorrows adventure.
We pulled up into the parking lot and noticed the deer eating the little crab apples that had fallen on the ground. I didn't want to get out because I knew they would go away. They looked so cute just eating those crunchy little apples. So after about 10 minutes, we finally got out to get what we came for.
After getting the maps and speaking to the nicest ranger we have ever met, we went back to our room to get the cameras. We ventured down forest road 30 to see if we could spot any wildlife before the end of the day. All these pics were taken only a mile or two down the river from around the bend at our room. Very beautiful area indeed. We spotted a bald eagle, a little fawn (who still had it's spots), lots of birds, bull trout, but no moose this evening. Supposively there had been a bull moose in this area of the river for the past week. So we crossed our fingers for a sighting sometime during the trip. There had been a black bear with her two cubs just a couple of days before we came up just on the other side of the river from our room. No sight of them though on our first evening.

So after a couple of hours of just checking things out along the road and river we headed back to the room so we could get something to eat and check out everything that Bob had highlighted on our map. There was some serious planning to do. We would have had to be there for two weeks in order to do everything that Bob marked for us. So after much discussion, decisions were made, showers were taken and then it was off to bed for an early rise the next day. I just can't describe how absolutely wonderful it was to sit on the balcony of our room and just listen to the river flowing by and to enjoy the cool breezes pouring into the room. Heaven! I have found another favorite place to be if the lottery were to ever be won by us. Definitely "see ya later city life".

Come back for day two of the adventure. I can't promise that I will post tomorrow because Glenn will be home and he has tons of pictures to download and check out. I wouldn't let him bring the computer with us to do that on the trip. I'm so mean. So if not tomorrow, then Monday. I've got to go put the last of the clean clothes away and then finally sit down and have some serious yarn time with Em's sweater! I brought everything with me thinking I would surely have some time at the end of the day to sit on the balcony and work on the sweater for a wee bit. But I was wrong. I hope you enjoyed what little we did for day one of the trip. There are only more cool things to come.

Toodles for now!!!


  1. Wow, Karfee!! What an amazing trip! Sorry you got a battle wound, but hey, great trip huh? (no pun intended ;o) I can't wait to see more! I have always wanted to see hot springs. There is a warm spring in GA where we like to go, but no public access except one day a year. Dumb, huh?

    Love the mining cart! I would have had to go explore some of those old homesteads up close!

    What lovely views from where you stayed. Just delightful!! Show us more...show us more!!

    Happee Sunday!!
    Love and hugs,

  2. I just love the West...You took some pretty pictures. What a fun trip, I wish I could have tagged along.