Sunday, February 15, 2015

Idaho Centennial Trail - Part 10 - Elk City, Idaho to Chamberlain Basin in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

From the Frontier town of Elk City we maneuvered our way to Red River Road through a lush Valley of sparse second homes and old mining relics. This section was to be 180 miles of hiking through potentially sketchy trails through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness till we reached Highway 21 where we could hitch into Stanley, Idaho to rest and resupply.

We found our way eventually to Mallard Creek Road which dumped us deep into the Salmon River Valley at 2,300 feet in elevation at Whitewater Ranch where some choose to send resupply parcels to.

Not only do rafters frequent this National Wild and Scenic River... but so do river boats jetting up and down the sometimes shallow streaming valley.

Looking at the maps of this region in the past, I had always been enamored of this location deep in the interior of Idaho. About ten years ago I discovered this trail online and had noticed that the Gazetteer Atlas had this route amongst it's pages. Synchronistically, Stacey and I soon discovered that Stacey's mother actually knew the guy who created and first hiked this trail. That was enough to tell me that I too was to hike a version of this trail my self someday.

The river boats bring fisherman, mail, and supplies to ranches located remotely along the riverway.

We eventually crossed the Salmon River at Campbells Ferry where at one time you could only cross the river by ferry.

At Campbells Ferry there is a Historic Ranch whose owners gifted us dried cherries and lettuce from their garden, as well as cold drinks to cool down the body.

Then it was up up and away along the Chamberlain Trail with some fantastic views of the entire river Valley in both directions. On the way up to the top we had to walk in the dark for quite a ways because we couldn't find any flat areas without Ants to camp at.

We were lucky because this trail often has a lot of blow downs on it. But to our delight it had been cleared last year seemingly just for us.

We only saw one person between here and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River to come.

Hiking through these both old and recent burns gave us a bit of a downer feeling.  Some areas felt fine burned... but others felt a bit unhealthy and scarred. The killing of trees by the millions by beetles can kind of give an area a sick aura to it all. But yet, the beauty managed often to flow through our eyes and into our hearts.  Perhaps all the environment needs is some loving attention and a new vision of its future potential.

The highlight of the Chamberlain Basin was the Historic Stonebraker Ranch. It was fully restored where it's cabins could be rented out.  However, nobody was home when we came traipsing by.

Again, these remote places come with their very own grass runway for easy access.  Horse travel into these major and yet remote valleys seems to be just as popular.


Tap Here for Part 11!


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