Monday, February 06, 2017

Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 37 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 16 ~ Priest Lake to Priest Falls

At Lionhead Campground, it felt as if we were in some sort of tropical beach location in another country.

A family befriended us and offered us drinks and tangerines to go.

I hadn't seen an Idaho Centennial Trail emblem since I entered into Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Upper Priest Lake is a unique gem whose only traffic noise comes from the occasional motorized fishing boat. 

At first light on the morning of our final day on the Hot Springs Trail, guess who strolls into our camp to awaken us?

Aria Zoner had finally caught up to us with only 17 miles to hike.

Beautiful Red Cedar Forests lined our final Way.

Zoner did Good on his creation of a future National Scenic Trail.

At Priest Falls we took one final cold plunge that sent our hearts and adrenaline soaring.

That evening, a couple from Pennsylvania was out driving in the middle of nowhere and picked all three of us up and drove us to Lower Priest Lake where they invited us to stay in their cabin rental for the night at Elkins Resort. The next morning, our bestest friend, Ron, picked Stacey and I up from Nordman after having eaten a fulfilling breakfast. Ron was there for us when we began the Idaho Centennial Trail back in 2014, and so it was fitting for him to be there with us when we ended our Journey here in 2016. 

The Hot Springs Trail and its vast pools of memories will always warm our hearts.



Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 36 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 15 ~ Samuels, Idaho to Lower Priest Lake

On our hitch back to Samuels from Sandpoint, our newest trail angel gifted us a loaf of freshly baked bread from the bakery she works in.

As we began ascending into the Selkirk Mountains, we walked into a couple who owned the last property and in-holding on the Pack River. They invited us to their home for dinner and it turns out that Elizabeth and Mathew recently acquired the land to create a permaculture retreat. For those of you who do not know, one of Stacey's biggest passions is to understand and implement permaculture and self sustainable land use ideas. In this way, people will open up their hearts to the land and to the earth where all points of view in the landscape are listened to and accounted for.

The next day we climbed up to Fault Lake.

From Fault Lake one walks cross country across the crest of the Selkirk's bushwhacking down into Hunt Lake.

It's strange that there is no recognized trail crossing through these mountains. Even on the Pacific Northwest Trail to the north of us, there is a bushwhack across this craggy crest line.

Even though a new round of thunderstorms were approaching, it was time to take another bath in Hunt Lake.

It truly felt like autumn was finally approaching us.
The Big Chill was not only in the water, but in the air as well.

From Hunt Lake it was a boulder hop to a dirt road route that would take us down to Lower Priest Lake.

At Indian Creek Campground, along the sandy shores of Priest Lake, we shot the breeze with the locals over several cups of coffee.



Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 35 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 14 ~ Clark Fork to Samuels

At Clark Fork we took a night off in a cozy motel.

Apparently, we had just missed the legendary Yeti who is the creator of the Idaho Boundary Trail. He was hiking it for a second time and just released a guide book for his route.

We met Yeti for the first time while hiking the Continental Divide Trail in Lima, MT in 2013 on Stacey's birthday of all days.

On our first night out of Clark Fork, I awoke in the middle of the night to a bear crashing downhill through the brush. When it came out into the open I had to politely tell it that we had first dibs on the campsite.

After lounging comfortably at Lake Darling we came face to face with yet another foraging Moose.

The views from the Mt. Pend Oreille area were awesome. One could see Sandpoint, Idaho in the near distance.

There were about 100 new trees down along this ridge crest all the way to the Hemlock Trail.

 It seemed like high winds uprooted many of them and broke off dead snags to block the trail.

From the Hemlock Trail we descended into Samuels on Highway 2. We opted to hitch into Sandpoint some 11 miles away. We got a ride within the first minute we put our thumbs out there.



Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 34 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 13 ~ Idaho Point to Clark Fork

We found an unlisted strong flowing spring a quarter mile north of Taylor Saddle. We lost the trail near Porcupine Pass and so we bushwhacked down to a dirt road eating huckleberries as we went.

We cross country-ed it to Bottle Point instead of following Zoner's official route.

From Bottle Point we walked the ridge-line to Idaho Point.

There were great views of Montana's Cabinet Mountains.

We really didn't need to use maps anymore because I knew the route by heart.

It feels great to let loose and improvise.

After ascending to Idaho Point a Moose scurried through the brush at lightning speed.

It would be road walking now all the way into Clark Fork.

When we arrived to River Road on the Clark Fork River, a gentleman by the name of Jim stopped to offer us a couple of cans of mountain dew.

I next came across two bicycle riders named Paul and Paul. They were bike riding across the united states from the west coast to the east coast. They were interestingly from Boise. We talked about the Idaho Centennial Trail and then said they lived within a few miles of Roger Williams and Syd Tate who were the original founders and walkers of the Idaho Centennial Trail. Paul's wife even sees Syd Tate from time to time at the grocery store. What are the odds?



Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 33 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 12 ~ Mullen to Idaho Point

In Mullen, Stacey picked me up to take me into Wallace where a friend of ours had a family cabin that we were able to use. Thanks Dylan. We took a free bus from Wallace back to Mullen called the Silver Express.

The updated forest service trail goes into Glidden Lake which then takes you to Cooper Pass. Bears continued to be startled by our Presence.

Pear Lake

Refreshing Lower Blossom Lake

Thompson Pass was a Mecca for day hikers and bathroom seekers.

On trail #404 there was no water at the headwaters.

We therefore hoofed it in dry to an active spring in a freshly burned forest below Black Peak.

From Mullen it was 85 miles to Clark Fork and a mere 200 miles to the Canadian border and the end of our epic trek.

We stopped at 93 Mile Lake for water just off route.

A black bear apparently had the same idea as we had. It seemed like we were seeing bears every single day.

We found a defunct trail to take us up to the ridge instead of having to use dirt roads as prescribed by the text.