June 16 - On to Idaho and Wildernes

Clyde Holliday SP to Grayback Gulch NFS CG near Idaho City ID
230 miles

Slept so good last night that I didn’t stir until after 8am… something that just doesn’t happen lately. Apparently something about traveling like we are agrees with my system. But with a dose of self-motivation and a measure of resolve to see what’s over the next hill, we got things buttoned up and rolling in short order.

The route today was to continue on US-26 to Ontario near the Idaho State Line and then do a bump and grind over to I-84. I know… I know… I can hear it now… Mr. and Mrs. Shunpiker getting on an Interstate Highway?? What gives??

Well, from time to time you’ve just got to leave high standards and promises behind and do what’s right… you gotta do what you gotta do… ya know? And this was one of those times. The choice, the way I saw it, was we either take the Interstate for about 30 miles (in about 30 minutes), or spend an hour or two on busy roads through the congested traffic signal forests of the Boise suburbs. Like I said, you just gotta do what’s right.

For the next week or so we’ll be in the wilderness areas of south-central Idaho. The planned route is as follows: north from exit 57 on ID-21 toward Idaho City, Lowman, and Stanley. In Stanley we’ll take a left on ID-75 toward Salmon. This route takes us through or around the Sawtooth Range, White Cloud Peaks, the Salmon River Mountains, the Lost River Range, and the Lemhi Mountains. No one knows how long this will take us as we know the going will be slow. Perhaps as long as 3 or 4 days to go somewhere around 200 miles.

Why in gods name are we here? One, we’ve not been through here before and it looks like it’d be an interesting part of the country to explore. Two, since we did the Lewis and Clark tour about 5 years ago I’ve wanted to get to a key spot along their trek westward that we missed -- Lemhi Pass. Most will remember that this is where Lewis and Sacagawea happened upon a band of Indians that would eventually help them get through the mountains. Shockingly, the Indian Chief who they met was Sacagawea’s brother. If it were fiction no one would believe it. It’s also the place where Lewis walked to the top of a hill on the continental divide hoping to see an obvious and quick way down to the Columbia River. Instead, he looked out on more rugged mountains as far as he could see. It was the place where hopes for a quick transit of the mountains were dashed… and he could see many more weeks of very tough going to get through the mountains and onto a navigable stream connected to the Columbia.

So we have this gnawing need to soak in a little Lemhi Pass… for the old days.

Back to today… From Boise, ID-21 follows the Boise River for a few miles, but it’s no longer a river. A huge dam, Lucky Peak Dam I believe, creates the Lucky Peak impoundment… a large long lake used as a water reservoir and for recreation. A little further upstream is another dam, the Arrowrock Dam, with another reservoir behind it. But instead of going east toward Arrowrock we bend North and follow a tributary, Mores Creek. Before we left the influence of Boise behind we passed an area of large and very ‘spensive homes… clearly some of the rich and famous enjoy this part of the country too.

Along Mores Creek on Idaho 21
Following this creek must have been a tough for road builders of old, not to mention the guy that drives the asphalt paver. There are certainly more miles of curved pavement than straight-aways. It all makes for an interesting road if you’re looking for scenic wonderment; not so interesting if you’re trying to get somewhere.

Just a few miles before Idaho City we found an NFS campground -- Grayback Gulch. We liked what we saw and grabbed a spot for the night.