Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 29 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 8 ~ Salmon River to Highway 12

From Whitewater Ranch is was a little over 140 trail miles to Highway 12.

I now felt as if i was in a true pacific northwest forest. Majestic white firs stood at attention as we marched up Bargamin Creek. Bunchberry, foamflower, and queens cup lily adorned the forest floor.

The first third of the way up Bargamin Creek was a bit brushy and rough going until one reached a maintained trail junction. Suddenly the trail was well used and even had new tread. About 20 Elk with calves helped to clear the way. The route was in great shape all the way to the Running Creek Trail where i decided to take an alternate down to the Selway River. 

In 2014 I got intel from a Moose Creek Ranger that this would be the way she would go to make a through way across the region.  Well, the first third of the way down was all maintained by a local outfitter, but when the trail crossed the creek, the trail was in complete disrepair.  For three miles i bushwhacked and even put a hole into my forehead by running into a stick. The Trail had turned into a Trial. However, the lower drier third of the trail proved to open up and relieve some of the self created stress.

The Selway River was beautiful and was super shallow and could easily be forded if need be.

White tailed deer now replaced mule deer as osprey flew overhead with fish in their talons.

There was no poison ivy to avoid along this stretch of river. Instead, I had to dodge a rattling snake.

I camped near the Moose Creek Ranger Station and a solitary plane landed for its occupants to spend the night in their historic cabins.

The next morning i ascended up the north fork of Moose Creek to Rhoda Creek which had some of the nicest Red Cedar Groves I have ever been in.

At the Junction with the Wounded Doe Trail, I apparently hurt the feelings of a black bear by incidentally chasing it up into a tree.

There were hundreds of trees down but the trail was in great shape. One could easily just step over most of the trees without much effort or hindrance. Kingfisher's at the lower elevations gave way to Gray and Steller's Jays in the higher elevations. Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Firs, and the White Firs transitioned into Subalpine and Engelmann Spruce Forests.

Thundershowers lulla-boomed me into a deep thundering sleep. From Fish Lake and its newest collection of snags, I ventured towards Eagle and Sponge Mountain with breathtaking views of remote lake basins. 

I could see the silhouettes of elk on the western shores of Eagle Mountain Lake.

A Howling Wolf turned out to be the perfect overture to my ongoing saga.

I was leaving the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness and was now rapidly approaching Highway 12.

The Plan was to hitch into Lolo, MT some fifty miles away after having soaked in the last of the trails official Hot Springs.

However, fate was to send me into a new and unexpected direction altogether.



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