Boise to Stanley, Day Five


June 21, 2005

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Fortunately, we were not too hung over from yesterday, but we were still a little slow getting going due to our morning foot-taping ritual.

The trail this morning starts out pretty easy, but interesting. It's an old logging road that has been "rehabilitated" by burying it with a 'dozer. It's been constructed to discourage ATVs, which is a good thing. At the actual trailhead, the trail is continuously very steep, which makes it impossible as an uphill mountain bike trail, and even look unappealing as a motorcycle trail. But there were tire prints....

Carol heading up the Horse Heaven trail

The day was warm and humid, a warning of things to come. But for now, it was a nice morning and we made good time climbing the 2700' to the pass over the ridge. There is a trail junction on the ridge, with a nice-looking tread titled West Warrior trail. This one looks like a better way up West Warrior than the bushwhack I did from the Middle Fork.

From just the other side of the pass, we got our first view of Graham and Johnson Creek. Graham is the flat area just left of center, and Johnson Creek is the drainage running from the right of Graham around the ridge and then into the Sawtooths.

Although the trails we had been following had been very good overall, they had all been somewhat suspect. We felt that once we got onto the Johnson Creek trail, a well-known access route to the Sawtooth Wilderness, we'd be home free on wide, well maintained treads. Let's go!

As we headed down the trail to Graham, we found that we had entered another burn. However, the trail had been cleared and maintained, so it wasn't a problem.

We did have a few creek crossings to do, but they weren't too bad. Until we got to Johnson Creek. It was much wider than anything we had dealt with yet, and faster. But not too deep. So we were soon across and had lunch at the Johnson Creek campgrounds.

The trailhead for the North Fork trail between Deer Flat and Johnson Creek showed us our wisdom in avoiding this trail. We would have had to cross the North Fork, which was running very full and fast. That, and the trail apparently had not had any maintenance... a signal we didn't really pick up on, but some fuel for the motor-access debate, since the trail open to motorcycles had been maintained. We thought it ironic that the un-maintained North Fork trail DID have a brand-new sign....

The Johnson Creek trail also had a brand-new sign. For some reason, this carried a different significance as we walked past it on a faint trace.....

We quickly learned that the Johnson Creek trail has gone without maintenance just like the North Fork trail. Here you can see the trail by the sawn log. later, I was too busy wading through brush and over deadfall to take a picture of the entirely missing tread.

Our good progress slowed to under a mile per hour. Since Johnson Creek is about 10 miles long, our spirits also sagged.

But it wasn't just difficult hiking that was the problem. It was actually quite dangerous at times. Here Art negotiates a sloping log, high over the raging creek, and for the third time- once with his pack, then back, then again with Carol's pack.

I was glad to only do it once.

Art's trail finding abilities were stretched, but he managed to keep us moving through the wasteland. We had several more creek crossings, then came the next obstacle- ticks. I first noticed one on my arm, then as I was filtering some water, I noticed four- count 'em, four- crawling on my legs.

At about 5:30, near exhaustion from the exertion of climbing up and down steep hillsides, over logs, and through jungles of brush, we ignored another creek crossing on the map thinking we could work around it. We were wrong... a blowout from a side drainage pushed the river onto our side of the canyon and pinched us against a cliff. We had to cross at the outlet of the "lake" formed by the blowout. The water was either deep and fast, or slow and even deeper. I chose the less deep, which was about to my crotch... and I'm the tallest. Carol wisely chose the calmer water, but was wet to the waist.

Time to set up camp. We did a little survey work trying to find a tent site that would be beyond the reach of falling snags. Good call- a thunderstorm moved in before we could get dinner cooked, and Art watched a tree fall near the campfire. We huddled in the tent for a first-class thunderstorm with lots of rain. When it was over, we pushed over a bunch of snags near our camp, and carried on. Fortunately, we had saved a small amount of the wine, and soothed our spirits because tomorrow looked like it could be even longer.

Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski