Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Having reached the recreation resort town of Pine, Idaho, I added enough food to my bags to get me through to Stanley. It was a weekend and there was a lot of road traffic to dodge and be aware of. The only cafe in town checked the freezer for a vegie burger and found one for me.
The next morning I woke up early to get to the Johnson Bridge Hot Springs. Located beneath an actual car bridge... this spot was still a gem located on the edge of a forest service campground.
I made it into Featherville by 11am and ordered up the best breakfast I perhaps have ever eaten. I sat in the cafe for almost three hours drinking coffee and swapping stories with the owners.
ATV's and motorcycles soon replaced cars as I ascended to smoky views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Walking into dusk on the Roaring River Trail, I flushed off 7 Bull Elk just as two horse riders were making their way up the mountain to intersect with that which is truly wild and free.
I finally escaped the heat of Idaho's dry terrain and would remain in tree country for the remainder of my long distance hike.
The middle fork of the Boise River holds a multitude of simple hot springs to explore. It makes me wonder if the river is on a major fault line.
Placer Miners worked their gold claims.
In the Mining town of Atlanta, it turns out that the owner of the bar and cafe will allow Hot Springs Trail and Idaho Centennial Trail hikers to send their packages to him as a resupply stop.
The next biggest synchronicity was to run directly into Clay Jacobson who is the go to guy for the Idaho Centennial Trail. We had been emailing each other about the ICT on and off for about a year now. Nobody knows about the trails of Idaho more than Clay does.
He was in the region to do trail maintenance with a group of volunteers for the Idaho Trail Association which included the Princess of Darkness (P.O.D.). It was through one of P.O.D.'s podcasts that we first even heard of the existence of the Hot Springs Trail. Everyone's constellations and planets must have been in alignment. :)
There were three very unique hot springs near the trail head that would be leading me next into the Sawtooth Wilderness. Each had a sense of unbridled beauty to them.
It was awesome to be high up in the mountains of the greater Pacific Northwest again. I felt at home amidst the plentiful sub-alpine wildflowers and trees.
Not only did I take a more direct alternate away from the Hot Springs Trail, I also took an ICT alternate into the Heart of the Sawtooth Mountains which possessed some of the most beautiful alpine lakes surrounded by picture perfect granitic peaks.
It was the perfect opportunity to take a cold plunge that could awaken any soul from a deep slumber.
Tap Here for Part 25 of the HST
Part 4 of the ICT
The Idaho Centennial Trail through this desert region followed both seldom used and defunct roads.
Often 1000's of grasshoppers would flush away from me in waves as i brushed through the longer grasses. One type of grass here should go by the name of razor blades.
A fox floated by me as if it were an apparition.
On one stretch... i wondered if there were badgers in this region.
Within an hours time, one magically appeared.
The badger apparently was digging up ground squirrels for its supper.
Zoner's Hot Springs Trail route through this desert region is an improvement over the Idaho Centennial Trail in that it eliminates the need to stash or cache any water on route. It may be longer, but it is also more scenic and takes the hiker into two different hot spring complexes.
Once again I camped near the rim of the Bruneau River before descending to replenish my body with more liquids.
There is a great trail both leading down to the river and rising up and out of the canyon on the other side. The crossing was shallow in mid July. Just keep your eyes open to respect the poison ivy lining the river's edge.
The desert is great place to learn to respect all of life in general.
Arriving at Indian Bathtub Hot Springs... the water was less hot, but relaxing. There were even fish bathing with me in the lower pool. The lush banks of the river as well as the sound of rushing water fully opened up one's senses of one's greater reality.
However, unfortunately, as i was exiting the hot springs i began to notice strange pink worms crawling up and down my legs. Into the River I plunged to wash off the potential parasites. So much for relaxation... but a burst of sudden excitement has its benefits as well.
On my last bridge crossing of the Bruneau River I came across two retired gentlemen fishing for their relaxation. It must have been odd for them to see a dirty bearded guy suddenly disappear under their bridge to make a home of it in its shade. Needless to say, they were soon lured to a new place along the river. With fresh water in tow, i soon reconnected with the official Idaho Centennial Trail. It was only 15 miles to Hammett. At dusk I decided to camp away from the Snake River and the occasional farmhouses on route. However, I just couldn't sleep. So at one in the morning I packed up and began walking the roads without using a flashlight. Dogs barked in the near distance as a farmer plowed his fields under starlight.
At three in the morning I ducked out into some bushes before crossing the Snake River. At five, cars whizzed by me on dirt roads on their way to work at sunup. I arrived in Hammett to find everything closed. My goal was to hitch 17 miles west into Mountain Home. It took an hour to get my ride. A factory worker dropped me off at the edge of town. As i walked by a well loved Mexican diner, I noticed the owner planting beautiful flowers. I complimented him on his wonderful artistic eye and recent renovations. His reaction was to gift me 20 dollars.
In my two days off in Mountain Home, I bought new shoes and sent a package ahead to Whitewater Ranch on the Salmon River located in the middle of the state of Idaho. Hitching back to Hammett, it was now 26 miles to my next water source and the temps were in the high 90's.
About halfway there, a gentleman with his brother stopped to see if I could use some of his water he had stashed in his vehicle. He was an avid fan of the Idaho Centennial Trail.
Turns out there was a lot of water flowing at mile 143 which wasn't mentioned in the guide. It provided for some wonderful relief. My custom was to soak my shirt and hat with water to help keep me cooled down as i proceeded towards my next water source.
Near Skull Rock, a forest service ranger stopped to talk with me. He insisted on giving me two bottles of water and two bottles of ice cold gatorade.
On my approach to Anderson Ranch Reservoir, i was literally thinking how nice it would be if someone stopped to offer me some ice tea. And no kidding, within the hour I came across a real life cowboy working on fences. As I neared him, he walked to his truck and lifted his hand in the air towards me with a lipton iced tea in his hand. As matter of fact... he ended up gifting me three bottles of iced tea.
Tap Here for Part 24 of the HST
Part 3 of the ICT
I finally arrived in Idaho. A sense of accomplishment and relief entered into my mind and therefore my body. Nevada to me was a Scenic Wonder, but it felt great to have completed another chapter in the Hot Springs Trail Saga.
I still had another 120 miles under my feet to go until reaching Hammett, Idaho on Interstate 84.
Interestingly, Murphy Hot Springs was a much bigger community than i could have ever guessed or imagined. Oddly, there is no Post Office here and i have indeed seen and experienced Post Offices in smaller towns.
The old Murphy Hot Springs Resort has become a historic relic. There was an old swimming pool that used to house the hot mineral water. However, there still is a pipe between the bridge over the Jarbidge River and the empty swimming pool dispensing the precious hot liquid.
The Idaho Centennial Trail was now upon me. There was only another 1000 plus miles between me and the Canadian border.
Nevada and the Jarbidge Mountains were a foothill note behind me.
Fresh bouquets of flowers and roaming antelope dotted the wide open landscape.
Zoner was now ahead of me...
His bike tracks led the way through the enlivened desert terrain.
Temperatures must have hovered around the low 90's in the shade.... if there was any.
I was carrying four liters of water from Murphy Hot Springs not expecting to find anything at Poison Creek, for which I didn't. There were, however, a couple of dirty cow troughs on route that could have been utilized if desperation set in.
It was 41 miles to Indian Hot Springs from Murphy Hot Springs,
and I elected to camp on the rim of the Bruneau River.
I had hiked 42 miles this day. Apparently, I had acclimated well to the extreme heat.
I drank the last of my four liters that night and descended into the canyon the next morning.
Indian Hot Springs was a true Oasis and a natural hot water Wonder. Water gushed out from the sides of cliffs water-falling its way into a new born creek
The water was scalding hot. There was no way to soak in it. Even where the hot water met the river, one would either feel too cold or burning hot. There was no apparent mixing of the two.
However, there was a solution. Why not just soak in a bathtub naked?
There is a flexible fire hose collecting water from the waterfall which you can pipe into the tub.
It took about a half hour for the water to cool off reaching the perfect temperature.
The Bruneau River was fordable on July 17th, however, there is a dilapidated bridge that is usable for those who venture this way earlier in the summer season.
A nesting Peregrine Falcon's Call pierced my ears in the arid air. It was now a mere 22 miles to my next water source on Clover Creek.