Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Idaho Centennial Trail - Part 12 - Lookout Mountain South of Big Creek to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Seemingly from the tip top of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, we followed a long ridge-line south towards yet again another old mining operation.

Of course there was a recent fire along our Way. The fire was so hot that it obscured our trail junction all together, and so we found ourselves at the Sunnyside Mine trailhead.

There were so many routes to take that we had to back track several times in the mining area till we found our alternate route down to the Marble Creek Trail.

Marble Creek was interesting in that we had to cross it over 40 times back and forth till we got to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Three fourth of the upper trail had not been maintained in a while. Plus we ran into a brand new avalanche chute with plenty of downfall to tinker our way through. (You can see Stacey in the far left side of the Photograph amongst the fallen logs.)

If you were going northbound in June or July, the water levels in this drainage and in the Monumental Creek drainage can appear to be a bit overwhelming for those who have little experience in backcountry travel.

We were also now in beaver territory.  Beaver dams were everywhere as well as their ubiquitous chewings on trees and brush.

It was about four o'clock when we finally arrived to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Again, it was 180 miles from Elk City to the highway that would take us into Stanley. Therefore, for the last five plus days or so, we had been eating less than normal to make sure we had enough food to get through this extensive wilderness. But it was also our hope to yogi some food, if offered, from the commercial rafting companies along the way.  We put the intent out into the ethers and we got a hook on the line instantaneously.

The rafting guides knew right away what we were up to.  Its rare to see people hiking this deep in the back-country. Plus they could appreciate our undertaking and quest.  They immediately invited us to stay for appetizers, dinner, and breakfast the following morning. We certainly stuffed ourselves. Otherwise, we would have had to push on to get our mileage in if it were not for the generosity of these kindred spirits.

Plus, as a bonus, we were able to use their portable pottie, because officially you are supposed to take out all waste products.

When the Middle Fork of the Salmon River gets low at this time of year, the rafting companies send their supplies and often their clients by plane to the Indian Creek Guard Station. The rangers here were wonderful and gave us some information about where to stay in Stanley. We also got some fresh fruit and pie to eat while continuing our hike along the river.

Interestingly, there is a subdivision of brand new cabins at Pistol Creek Ranch. The only way in for the owners is by plane, foot, horse, or raft.  A fire took out most of the community, but the insurance companies gave them the money they needed to rebuild their retreats. The few people we met that lived here were extremely nice and very talkative.  Not to often when you can find someone to talk to around here.

However, the flotilla of rafts kept coming down. This is one of the most popular rivers in the United States to float. Rumor had it that Elijah Wood and some big directors from the Lord of the Rings were floating near us this very day.


Tap Here for Part 13


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