Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 28 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 7 ~ Big Creek to the Salmon River near Whitewater Ranch


Elderberry, Chokecherry, and Oregon Grapes tantalized my taste buds as I climbed up and out of the Big Creek canyon area.


Pockets of live mature lodgepole pines alternated with recent burns and new swaths of saplings ranging from a few years old to fifty or more years.


Literally tens of thousands of trees have been cleared by backcountry horsemen over the last hundred years or more. A good winter wind storm can fell another thousand trees overnight.


The rangers, hunters, and guides are an older breed of humans who give their love to the land by not succumbing to irrational fears.


Every Guard Station and Ranch Establishment had their own version of a runway to shuttle in guests, supplies, and dignitaries. 


Before descending into the magnificence of the Main fork of the Salmon River, I stumbled upon a camp at sunup. The tents were on the trail and there were horses and mules off to the side in a meadow. The Guide was about 20 feet off of the trail. I quietly walked around the tents so as to not wake anybody up. Strangely enough, the horse tender didn't even see me even though the horses were staring right at me.


According to Zoner, this was a group of geologists studying the rock strata of the region.


Two different bears exploded off of the trail through seemingly endless bushes of huckleberries. It turns out you can only eat a stomach fulls worth until they lose their charm over you.


In the distance at Campbell's Ferry I saw a bush plane landing and then taking off from the historic ranch. The runway is perched up on a hill where it takes all of one's inner and outer senses to safely land. Crashes are not unheard of and are memorialized. 


The Salmon River had flotilla's of rafts effortlessly moving through what felt to be an original and one of a kind paradise. There were even apple trees to pick fresh fruit from.


I was eating blackberries now instead of huckleberries.


And finally, I had arrived at Whitewater Ranch where i found the one and only Zoner.


Mickey and Molly were wonderful hosts. Zoner and i had a great time gently floating down the river on this 90 degree day. We were invited to stay the night in a cabin and had a great evening of food and playing games.


The next day Zoner and I stopped along the Salmon River to snack and swim. Suddenly, around the river bend, an outfit of river rafts landed upon the sandy beach where they immediately prepared lunch. The guides were super friendly, and of course, the head guide had met Zoner on a past excursion through these parts. We were invited to chow down on a buffet of sandwich makings. Since they were only going to throw away the leftovers, Zoner and I got to take the leftover open stacks of cheese and lettuce and cookies and chips along with us.


Our next stop and visit was with Greg and Sue who are care-taking a ranch. They had a fabulous and lush garden, hydro electric energy, a speed boat to maneuver up and down the river with, and a black smith shop to create handcrafted knives in.  They too loaded us up with extra garden fresh vegetables and beer for the platypus. 


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