Thursday, February 02, 2017

Hot Springs Trail ~ Part 30 / Idaho Centennial Trail ~ Part 9 ~ Highway 12 to the Stateline Trail

Arriving at Highway 12 was like a lifeline to civilization. This concrete thruway dissects the great state of Idaho in half where recreationists abound to pursue just about any outdoor activity imaginable. While at Weir Creek Hot Springs a gentleman offered to let me stay with him and his family near Kamiah some 90 miles away. I declined this awesome offer since I thought I would be going to Lolo, Montana to resupply.  Little did I realize how easily my plans could change.

Another interesting couple were soaking at the springs who had a small baby with them. They had just gotten back from a rafting trip and told me they were from Helena, MT. I said to them, that's interesting... I met a guy named Matt who is a hydrologist from Helena while passing through the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. He too was on a rafting trip. He looked at me astounded. "I know Matt. We are colleagues. We work in the same Hydrology office."

From Weir Creek Hot Springs I walked the Highway to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs. A forest service ranger asked me to complete a survey and it turns out she was going to hike the Appalachian Trail the following year. A guy on his way to Missoula stopped to hit on me, but instead offered me an entire container full of almond roca candy. A fisherman from WA handed me ice cold bottles of water from his car window.  I was being well taken care of.

There were three separate hot spring complexes at Jerry Johnson Hot Spring each with its own unique signature watermark.

I had planned to go to Lolo Montana to resupply but a convoy of rafter folk on there way to the Snake River offered me a slightly longer ride into Kamiah to resupply. I ended up going to a bakery to eat breakfast and as I was talking to the waitress about local motels, in walks the family Stacey and I had stayed with in the nearby Kooskia some two years ago while partaking in a farmstay program. Jim exclaims "Bernie?" He says, "I thought I saw you hiking on the highway yesterday some 90 miles away." What are the odds! I therefore spent three nights at this families homestead once again avoiding some of the bigger thunderstorms the region had had in a while.

It took a while to get two hitches and 90 miles back to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs Trailhead. I even got to philosophize with an ex Mormon Bishop on my mini road trip back to the trail. Trail Life is never boring, to say the least.

From Highway 12, I had only about 350 more miles of hiking left under my feet for the season.

Stacey would be joining me in another 130 miles when I would be arriving in the hamlet of Mullen on the Interstate 90 corridor.

The hot springs were officially done with, but my cold plunges into the plenitude of lakes was just as exhilarating.

The goal now was to swing towards the Idaho-Montana border and connect into the vast view inspiring State Line Trail.

Snowshoe hare bounded at ground level as bats from above seemed to play with the light coming off of my headlamp as i spent an evening night hiking.

Fish Lake was packed with, of course, fishermen seeking fish. This backcountry jewel was an ATV mecca.

I had the subalpine State Line Trail all to me self though. I would be walking along this border route all the way to Clark Fork.

The last time I came through here southbound with Stacey, there was still quite a bit of snow on the north faces of the peaks. It was a completely different experience and it made me feel as if i were walking in a parallel universe. 

The sheer beauty of seeing so many lakes glistening from the suns reflection was just breathtaking and overwhelmed the senses with raw and unfiltered energy.

The Idaho Centennial Trail is a true spice to be tasted by any seasoned long distance hiker.



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