Monday, February 16, 2015

Idaho Centennial Trail - Part 11 - Chamberlain Basin in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to Lookout Mountain South of Big Creek


The Chamberlain Landing Field and Ranger Station seemed well used, yet there wasn't a single soul to be seen.


Not knowing any better we took the original route on the map out of the airfield and found an abandoned trail without much tread to follow for several miles until we reached the newest intended thru route.  That's a part of the trouble and fun of following a line on a map that few people have given feedback about.


But once we got back on the true track, the trail was well maintained in this fire worn region.


We didn't use a GPS to help us manage our way. Although for people who are not good navigators or map readers, then I would suggest using one.


However, again, what track are you going to follow.  The track that was available to us would have taken us on trails that didn't exist. This trail requires good instinct and intuition.


Now we were entering the land of many hot springs and warm springs. The smell of sulfur was oozing out of these rocks.


 The ranger at Moose Creek advised us that Big Creek up ahead might be too deep to cross on the official route. Therefore, we created yet again our own alternate in conjunction with other suggested alternates.We saw on our maps that there was supposed to be a Big Creek Road that went to the Monumental Bridge that crosses Big Creek. The Snowshoe Mine was a very interesting attraction along this route with many dilapidated out buildings that were worth exploring.


However, Big Creek Road on the map was no longer a road. It seems to have been converted into a trail for more than a few decades once this area was declared a Wilderness.


From Monumental Bridge we ascended south up Monumental Creek. Both here and near Snowshoe Mine there was a massive avalanche over the winter months. Large swaths of trees blocked our progress forward.  There were so many trees piled up that there was still snow under the chute.  Having climbed off of one log and on to another, I inadvertently stirred up a hornets nest and got stung several times. Their venom is indeed good medicine.


Within the Monumental Creek drainage there was also old and more recent mining activity with landing strips, out-buildings, and cabins to support the abstraction process. 


Then it was time to go up high yet again along the Milk Creek Trail.


From 8,680 foot Lookout Mountain, you could see how rugged and dry this region truly was. It's no wonder there were so many fires in this grand landscape. Thunderstorms seemed to roll on through as a daily occurrence.


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