So I set out for what I had hoped would be a small group hike but became a solo trip late last week. I have been eying a short 11 mile loop about an hour drive from home.
I got a good bit later start than I had planned, my wife realized last week that after her birthday in April that her drivers license had expired and she had been driving the last couple months without a license. So after my quick drive up to the hills I hoped out of the car, got everything ready and went to turn on my GPS, only to find it was on, had been for 36 hours, since I had replaced the batteries. So a quick wasted hour to run to the closest little town and back for new batteries and I was ready to hit the trail at 1PM.
The trail was a slowly acceding 2 lane highway through the woods, working its way up the canyon. Covered in horse, mountain bike and dirt bike tracks I feared the worst.
But after a mile I passed one couple on horse back and no sign of anyone else. As the trail continued to climb the canyon wildflowers here and there were in bloom.
After several miles there was a major fork in the trail and the main mountain bike trail crossed the creek. leaving behind the quite obviously rarely used and much smaller hiking trail slowly working its way slowly towards the ridge line. After stopping at one point in a shaded spot for a breath and some water I came out from behind a small tree to spot a pair of doe's standing in the trail only a dozen yards away.
They never spooked as I approached but simply walked into the brush at the trail side and watched as I passed.
The trail continued to climb and the trail continued to become smaller with less and less sign of human travel and more heavily covered in deer tracks.
As I neared the ridge I came to a very small stream of water in a small gully with a 4-5 foot wide creek running in the bottom. Looking for a quick crossing I spotted a small snow bridge that looked as if it would do, I tested it cautiously with my trekking poles, seamed firm. Took one step on and before I had my full weight on it broke, sending my foot into the ice water flowing below. A quick set and I was over pulling the Dixon Roller pack up and free of the snow. As I approached the ridge patches of snow in the shade popped out everywhere.
I didn't get many pictures for the next couple miles as I was in an out of patchy snow that in places was still several feet deep. I was at times walking on firm icy snow and at times post holing my way slowly through the trees hoping that I was still "on" the trail. Every little low spot in the hill side had streams flowing down them, most still covered in thick snow, I was often walking cautiously hoping that I or the Dixon Roller Pack would not break through into waist deep holes that would have been a nightmare to get myself out of.
After crossing the main creek I finally made it to the North fork of the creek and was now headed steeply down hill and back towards the car. While I was past the worst of the snow pack the ground in many places was still very wet to the point of me sinking into the mud all along the trail.
But as the trail lost elevation almost faster than my buy this point beat to death legs could keep up with I started dropping back into elevations that looked more like spring than winter.
I had a number of small creeks to cross that in another month would be just dry rocky spots along the trail.
And from time to time looking back I had views of the mountains and ridge that I had been very close to only an hour before peaking out from behind the trees.
I had planned to camp someplace shortly after making the ridge crossing and dropping onto the second creek but as the elevation dropped so quickly form the ridge down stream I ended up traveling several miles looking for a spot I liked to hang. I finally spotted what looked to be a good spot, on the far side of the creek. After miles of rolling up trails, through snow and down some very steep descents and mud I now had to change the roller pack over to carry mode and pack it across the creek. COLD! Wading the knee deep water was invigorating at the end of the day with less than an hour left of good light these trees would have to do.
It turned out to be a nice spot filled with wild flowers and turned out to be the point between the main creek and another feeding in to it just down stream from my camp.
After I had some bean burritos for dinner I kicked back to have a bit of camp treat.
Night came early and I kicked back and snoozed a bit in my hammock as I watched the sky grow dark and the wind pick up. I had pitched the tarp for shade in the morning but decided before fully sleeping I should adjust the pitch to help block some wind. Getting up in the morning I leisurely packed up after a small breakfast and got set to cross the creek back to the main trail. I hoped it would be the only time as the water was noticeably cooler this morning than the crossing the evening before. In only a mile I found that it would not be the only crossing. The wide open canyon choked down to a narrow and steep passage with little space above the creek for the trail to hang from. I again switched the roller pack back to carry mode.
Knowing that the trail ended on this side of the creek I hoped that the trail would cross back over soon and decided to try my luck at just hiking and hope to find the next crossing shortly with the pack on rather than going back and forth from rolling to carrying and back again.
I did not have to wait long, in under a half mile I found the crossing, the trail just ended and down stream 20 yards there is was popping out of the water.
After crossing I switched back to rolling and pounded out the last 2 miles though willows, cottonwood and aspen trees, along with the occasional huge pine.
The trail began to grow back into a wide 2 lane mountain highway. But with one more quick stream crossing and a few hundred yards of road walking I was back at the trail head in time to watch dozens of mountain bikers heading up. In between them I watched the morning light hit the mountain in an amazing way, then it was gone.
Then got one last one for the road.
All in all it was an amazing trip with at lot of up and a lot of down but a nice start to the hiking season here in ID. Here is the elevation profile that my GPS recorded.