Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 26 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 5 ~ Stanley, Idaho to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The next morning, Nick and Brett were planning to hike back to Atlanta but along a different route. Amazingly, they had extra food and gifted me what they were not going to use. They were spoiling me. They bought me breakfast and coffee at a nearby restaurant where the waitress was from Santa Cruz where I spent a good six years of my life living.


I lingered at the town Library till about 3pm, when something within stirred me to continue on with my journey. Just as i was about to leave town, I saw these two hikers with beards and lightweight backpacks on. It turned out to be Yeti Legs and Tumbler who were supposedly ahead of me hiking the length of the Idaho Centennial Trail. They had just been dropped off from coming into town from the airport.


These two guys had hiked up as far as Marble Creek just past the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. I knew that the trail was indistinct in this region because Stacey and i had hiked the Idaho Centennial Trail southbound in 2014. However, they apparently got too nervous about the uncertainty of what was ahead and aborted their efforts. They backtracked to the Indian Creek Guard Station where they hired one of the bush planes bringing in rafting supplies to take them back to Stanley. They tried to warn me of the situation, but sorry, I could only smile and tried not to laugh.


After having hiked across the remote deserts and mountains of Nevada, there is absolutely nothing in Idaho that can be considered an obstacle. More interestingly, is that i actually saw these two hikers in the first place. If i was two minutes earlier or even later at this intersection where we met, i would have never even knew of their presence and predicament. 


On the way out of town I was walking on the main highway. A van drove by me and curiously stopped and turned around to approach me. The driver stopped on the quiet highway and asked me if i needed any help or water? I said no, i am alright. He said then how about a beer. I smiled and we drank there on the side of the road as cars drove around us. The gentleman was from Boise and was a bartender and was fed up with his reality. We talked about returning to Nature and the peace that harmony provides.  Hopefully, my friend is hiking the Appalachian Trail this year as per the discussion of its possibility.


While we were talking, one truck stopped to see if we were ok since we were stopped right on the road. We smiled and said all as well. I then continued on my journey and soon left the paved road only to find the truck with its occupants on a side dirt road chainsawing dead snags for firewood. They seemed happy to see me. Then they said, "You must be that guy walking across the country." I laughed...  "how did you hear that?" "We work for the outfitters that Dusty's parents used to own." What a loosely tangled web we all live in.


From Stanley, it was about two hundred miles to Whitewater Ranch where i sent a package ahead to resupply my self on the main fork of the Salmon River.


I was currently on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.


This official wild and scenic river in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is a mega highlight of south central Idaho.


Very few people seem to hike in this deep back-country. However, floating along the rivers of this vast region seems to be the preferred method of travel and recreation.


The moment I walked off the trail and into the raft put-in area, a vehicle pulled up on a spur road with their rafts in tow. A spirited conversation followed with more offers of beer and refreshments. Matt and his group were from Helena, MT and would be floating the river for ten days.


Deer walked around me as i slowly immersed myself into the boiling waters of Trail Flat Hot Springs.


Excitingly, I was visited by a mountain goat at Sheepeater Hot Springs instead of a bighorn sheep.


This was douglas fir and lodgepole pine country and the lodgepole pines love for there to be fires to help in its reproduction process. In this region, the trees seem to get their propagation wishes fulfilled on a yearly basis.


Pikas, and golden mantled ground squirrels scurried around my moving feet as three toed woodpeckers made new homes in burned out trees. Flocks of Mountain Bluebirds were in deep gratitude to the woodpeckers for offering them free room and board. Osprey Nests towered above the trail with overprotective moms while the bushes and shrubs below were filled with huckleberries and grouse whortleberries ready for the picking.


The route passes into the remote and subdivided Pistol Creek Ranch. A recent fire created the opportunity for new remote cabins to be rebuilt. The only access to their homes is by plane, raft, horse, and of course by foot. I met a true gentleman by the name of Travis who was fascinated by my journey. Fifteen minutes after parting our ways he came driving up the path on his cart with his two kids. The kids had asked their dad what i was eating on my trip. That gave Travis the idea to gift me some additional nourishment in the form of an apple, a banana, 3 energy bars, and of course the great regional currency of exchange...beer.


Next, I arrived at the Indian Creek Guard Station where i once again met Audra who is the forest service ranger stationed there. Stacey and i met her back in 2014 and she remembered me. She kindly allowed me to top off my batteries and passed along some of the extra food that the two Idaho Centennial Trail hikers had left behind.  It turns out that the bush plane that delivers mail to Whitewater Ranch also delivers mail to this Guard Station.


For the time being, packages can be sent through Arnold Aviation to:

C/O Indian Creek Ranger Station
HC83 Indian Creek
Box 8115
Cascade, Id  83611

I would advise calling Arnold Aviation to verify if packages are still being delivered as scheduled.

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Tap Here for Part 27 of the HST
and 
Part 6 of the ICT

~

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