Idaho - Gem of the Mountains ride
I knew instantly what that sound was even though it was around twelve AM and just moments before I was blissfully
sawing a big ol pile of logs in my tent following a hot day of riding through 100+ degree temps up the Middle fork
of the Boise River. I instinctively crouched for a few seconds, but then sat up bolt straight in my Big Agnes
sleeping bag and froze while straining to hear every sound outside my woefully inadequate shelter - inadequate in
the sense that there was no way it would be a deterrent to a 180grain lead bullet fired from a high powered hunting
rifle that was surely a mere three feet from my head when it went off.
So began our adventure in to the land of the Nez Perce. We actually started the tour on Saturday, the day prior in
Walla Walla, WA (gosh I love saying that). Brent and I rode down the Skyline Road through the Umatilla Forest to
La Grande Oregon, then on up the Grande Ronde River to Sumpter; Baker City and finally to Boise to meet up with Jerry
who was returning from the Happy Trails Twin Peaks ride.
Our original plan was to ride down through Hells Canyon on the way to Boise but the roads had just been closed the day
before because of a couple of large forest fires; one to the North of the canyon, and one in the Seven Devils Mountains
on the eastern rim. As many as 100 separate forest fires were smoking up the sky in the Idaho mountains and fires would
be all along our route for the next seven days but thankfully for us none of them further detoured us from our intended
When I first heard the shot, and after making sure I was not the intended target for whomever was out there hunting who
knows what in the middle of the night, I quickly put my shoes and shirt on and began to plan my escape route.. not so
much as to run off through the woods like a whimpering lass (which did cross my mind briefly) but I was actually
formulating a plan where I could slip down the bank next to the river just outside my tent, circle around behind the
serial killer lunatic type while he was reloading and preparing to stalk my camp mates and bear hug him till he dropped
While working out the details of my plan, about fifteen minutes passed and I began to believe I had imagined the whole
thing when all of a sudden "CRAACKKK!" .. a second shot rang out.. even closer.. maybe it just seemed that way since I
was definitely fully awake this time and such things have a tendency to seem closer then they are. In reality though, it
was probably around 100-150 feet away and they were probably shooting at something on the steep hill side across the river.
Earlier that afternoon, after riding for hours we came upon a dilapidated log tavern leaning against the trees on the
dusty forest road we had been riding. It seemed we stepped back in to a different time. Speed bumps and "slow down" signs,
dozens of miles from anywhere.. no electrical service (other then a generator). The outbuildings and other structures
were made from river rock and were literally 130 years old (so claimed the weathered sign along side the road) and not a
single Harely anywhere to be seen.. it was like something out of a Louis LíAamour paperback. Don't get me wrong, I
applaud their efforts to keep a business running in such a remote setting, but it's just not something you see every day.
Twin Springs Tavern
Twin Springs Resort (directly across from the tavern)
We were seriously hot and tired so as uninviting as the place looked, it seemed like an oasis to us at the time. We
leaned our bikes up against the hitching post and stood listening for a few moments and once we determined there wasn't
any bar fights or pigs squeeling (flash backs from Deliverance, Porky's and Road House all came flooding to my mind at
once) ambled inside. Now I normally canít stand any kind of domestic beer from a can, but on that day, I donít think
anything could have tasted sweeter then those icey Coors lights. We didnít stay long however as two of the three patrons,
and possibly the barkeep was pretty hammered and were getting a little too friendly with us. You know the type.. once
they find out your on a motorcycle adventure, they want to be your guide to show you some of the areas best fishing, or
invite you camp the night on their "spread" - the guy I was talking to offered both services.
After making our exit and dusting the dirt off our proverbial sandals and roosting their pickups (just kidding), we
soon found a spot down the road along the river with a big flat area just off the road. At one end of the campground
there was a family size tent pitched but with no people or vehicles in sight. We chose the area at the other end as
far from their site as we could in order to give them, and us some space. We quickly downed some grub and hit the
sleeping bags hard.
Soon however, our rooting-tooting gun happy neighbors showed up and announced their presence by blasting rock music
(and it wasnít very good rock music either; I wouldnít have minded so much if it was some Dead or Pink Floyd) out of
what must have been a 1,000 watt system. Thankfully though, for whatever reason, that didnít last long and I soon fell
asleep until the first volley several hours later.
My buddy Brent whoís tent was closer to the road - and that was last time he camped that close to a road for the rest
of the trip - wasnít as able to get as much sleep as me because his first rude awakening came when our camp neighbors had
a visitor who came barreling through our area right towards Brentís tent with blinding lights and tires spewing gravel;
turning mere feet before flattening him and his tent to a pulp. I think Brent muttered something about finally getting
to meet our Sweet Lord Jesus face to face in those few seconds when he was sure he was going to not live to ride
Suffice to say, it did not take us long after sunrise to break camp and get on down the road after a night straight out
of a Steven King novel with the visit to the weird ghost tavern and the camp neighbors from hell. You know, come to think
of it, I never actually saw a single person over there. I heard em hooting and hollering a lot - but never did see em.
Sadly, in terms of storytelling, the rest of our trip was not nearly as gripping or dramatic, but that night we spent
alongside the Boise River was definitely one Iíll not quickly forget and it's the kind of story that makes adventuring
so entertaining. So sit back and enjoy the images and my recollection of some of the interesting history of the places
Here's a few more to whet the appetite
High mountain meadows and wildflowers in Umatilla National Forest
Heading down the Skyline road
Near La Grande Oregon
Sumpter Valley Railway in Sumpter Oregon
Dam at Lucky Peak Lake; just east of Boise
MORE TO COME!
Wow! Awesome ride, report and pics! Beautiful place to ride!! Thanks for posting :thumb
you're a true storyteller.
It was such vivid I was able to see what u told us.
Fine report indeed !
ps: shame on me but I laughed while reading. Mum always told me not to laugh when people stumble or show fear. I'm a freak.:D
ps2: u've a kinda Dean Kontz style. and take it as a compliment as I love his style very much.
Different kind of place, huh? I was in there with Ditchbanker back in March ~ It was Monday at about 10:30am. We both had a cup of coffee while the owner (who drove up in his truck with a beer in hand) and his wife had three cans of Bud Light each and talked about all the "conceptions" that had happened up there recently. All girls, apparently. "because of the hot water in the hotsprings" they said.
Haven't been in since... and I heed the "go slow" signs when I pass through.
Can't wait for the rest of the report :lurk
Nice! Your storytelling style is very good, I was wanting more!
indeed. I'm very much a fan of your style. D:wink:o keep posting, won't you?
Why I prefer to camp deep in the woods
Yeah, that was an interesting night. Did I mention that the week before I happend to flip by the AMC channel and catch the part in Easy Rider where Jack Nicholson is killed while asleep in his sleeping bag? :yikes
Smeagol type conversation with myself at about 11:48PM:
"Could they be trying to kill ussssss?"
"No, surely not, they've probably been imbibing a little (lot?) and are just having some fun"
"Yeah, maybe thats why they didn't realize they needed to be closer to hit usssssss! Or maybe they shot Rob first before coming after usssss!"
"OK, listen for footsteps" :ear
20 minutes later, almost ready to drift off.... BOOOM!
"They ARE trying to kill usssss!! They just shot Jerry!"
"No, that wasn't any closer, there just having some fun"
"Alright, but I'll just lie here and listen for a while...."
A half hour later, a 3rd gunshot! Still no hits.
"OK, their probably not trying to kill usssssssssssss"
" Yeah, but if their inebriated, what if they forget we're here and shoot this way?"
"Oh, shut up and go to sleep, they've missed evertime so far"
Then, about 2AM, this is what the car with the boomer stereo saw when he turned into the wrong entrance:
Well, except there was a guy in the tent with this deer in the headlights look of sheer panic staring back.
The next night we stayed in a campground filled with nice families from Utah, where WE were the suspect characters! I slept great that night.
Didn't I see you on Magruder pass last Saturday? I was going opposite direction -west on a Tiger.
Twin Springs Resort (directly across from the tavern)
I want to know if you saw a big-headed banjo-playing kid on the porch at this place?
Sweat report. I live in Boise and have never been to Twin Springs resort, but its on my list. I just got back from Alaska yesterday. I left Boise on 7/14 and returned on 8/2. I am still working on my report of the trip.
Log of our travels
Our route for the seven day ride was developed over a six month period or so, and was derived from a combination of ride
reports, websites with historical information on the areas and of course maps – Garmin Mapsource and a Benchmark Atlas
mostly. These were augmented with National Forest maps we picked up at Ranger Stations along the way..
something I cannot recommend enough. GPS and Benchmarks don’t always cut it when your 60 miles from the nearest
anything and running low on fuel and water.
old school seat of your pants navigator/adventure types know this, but we need to make sure to pass it on to the younger
ones that go off in the deep woods with nary a decent map
Middle Fork Boise River (photo by Brent)
While we had a general route planned, we really had only three hard goals.
One: Ride off pavement as much as possible (secondarily, ride as much out of the way, gnarly 4x4 roads and get off boring
gravel roads as much as possible) We did pretty good with this one. Out of almost 1600 miles, we probably only rode
about 180 on pavement (not including transitioning to and from Pasco)
Two, we wanted to hit a few hot springs. We did ok there too.. We only hit two of them, but they were pretty nice..
especially the first one.
And Three, we came to ride the Magruder Corridor (or the Southern Nez Perce trail) and the Lolo Motorway (aka The Lewis
and Clark, aka The Nez Perce trail).. which we accomplished. I also had in mind to ride the Trail Creek rd heading east
from Sun Valley and the Double Springs Pass road that goes across a high mountain range next to Borah Peek which we also
were able to achieve.
so without further ado...
From Middle Fork to Trail Creek Summit
A log of the next section of our route
After leaving the Middle Fork of the Boise River, we continued due east with the hope of finding fuel somewhere along the
way.. in Featherville maybe.. We knew it was a pretty small place, but our friend at the Twin Springs Tavern said there
was fuel to be had; if not there, then nearby, so we weren't too worried. In reality, it was a bit of a concern as my
range for a tankful of gas had dropped considerably. Where as I normally get to about 160 miles before the reserve light
comes on, the big twin was now hitting reserve at about 125-130 miles.. the high elevations, the heavy load, and my
abnormal tendency to spew gravel out of every corner was the most likely cause of such meager fuel economy. But I had a
couple of spare 33oz Aluminum fuel bottles and my pal Jerry had enough gas to spare so we pushed on in faith.
My two-wheeled, self propelled auxiliary fuel tank (thanks Jerry)
I just love the the way Idaho gives you signage like this 100 miles from the city.
Brent riding through a small Aspen grove
We were now really starting to climb and the temps were much cooler then the day before, but the air was thick and heavy
with smoke from some distant fire. I recalled reading a ride report a couple of weeks back from some Boise area riders
that mentioned Trinity Mountain and their descriptions and photos were enough for me to want to see the mountain and the
nearby Trinity Lakes, so when we reached the well marked intersection, we headed up towards the lakes.
More great signage
And a few shots of Big Trinity Lake - the pictures really don't do it justice
That water was as cold and sweet as anything I've ever tasted
From the Trinity area, we continued on to Featherville; which unfortunately had no gas, but it did have a small little
cafe that served up some great patty melts and fries. We were told there was gas 10 miles south in Pine which was perfect..
otherwise the next nearest gas was probably Mountain Home which was about 60 miles south.
After filling our tum-tums and getting the dino-juice, we continued on our eastward trek. Most of this section was fast,
open, nicely graded dirt roads without a lot of switchbacks to slow us down.
We were making good time, and I was still holding out hope for a 200 mile day, but I'd never let the route impede on us
having fun. We found a few side roads to explore and were especially jazzed if there was a creek crossing, a bit of
trail, or steep hill to climb.
Brent catches me playing on an short ATV track next to the road.
And then Brent found us an awsome, steep, rocky hill to climb. (near some place called Dollarhide)
but enough playing.. it was getting well in to mid afternoon, and we'd barely traveled just a bit over 100 miles. I was
beginning to give up hope of making Morgan Creek (which was about another 100 miles) so we high tailed to Ketchum (which
is not really worth talking about much in the context of this adventure) and on up the Trail Creek Rd.
But we did see some amazing country on the way to Ketchum.
Can you see the ad for this place? Slight fixxer upper with good views and lots of privacy!
Trail Creek Rd. is pretty amazing. In my book, it ranks up there with some of the great roads in Colorado and Utah that
I have ridden - at least in terms of scenic beauty, like the road up Evens Peak near Denver, Trail Ridge Rd through
Rocky Mt. National Park, and hwy 12 in Utah except this road is dirt for most of the way. It was a shame the thick layer
of smoke kept the views from being even more spectacular so as it turned out, we only got had a few photo ops along the
way to the summit.
Looking West back towards Sun Valley
ok kids.. that's it for tonight.. tomorrow we get really high (no, not like that) as we cross over Double Springs Pass
rd, we also discover that Jerry Garcia is not really dead. He's living life as a goat herder in the mountains along
Meadow Creek North of Challis, and we find that there are still places in America where you have to literally hand-pump
your own gas.
Great report!! I've spent the majority of my life running around the middle fork of the Boise. Twin Springs (the whole "town" is actually the resort) is a neat place. A long time ago they had a hotspring swimming pool. The hot water is now piped to the 3 cabins next to the river and you can rent those out. A few years ago it was about $75 a night. I've only stayed there once since the new owner took over. The old owner George (last name escapes me) was a character. He could go on for hours and hours about his life in mining. Very cool old guy.
Great report, looking forward to the rest of it.
Thanks 4 sharing!:clap Beautiful area, great writing. Do they make Kelvar tents just in case?
Beware of Idaho, Beer-Drinking Hicks. Seriously. When I camp, I now camp in places where nobody else is in view as a result of similair encounters to yours. That, and I never leave home without the .45:lol2
Beer + hicks + firearms + midnight = bad news everytime.
I'll be putting this one on my list for sure. Nice shot.
Was there last weekend. Great spot. Did you guys travel extra few miles to the lookout tower?!
If you take that road that goes to the right (while looking at the pic), there's a $$ hot spring right there about 150 yards up the road. There are 3 or 4 pools that are knee to hip deep.
Great report thus far... looking forward to the rest of your adventures!:thumb
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