Idaho - Gem of the Mountains ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by robdogg, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. robdogg

    robdogg turnip truck driver

    Jan 29, 2004
    wren-tonne, WA

    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
    his rifle.

    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 L’Aamour 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 can’t stand any kind of domestic beer from a can, but on that day, I don’t think
    anything could have tasted sweeter then those icey Coors lights. We didn’t 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 wasn’t very good rock music either; I wouldn’t 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 didn’t last long and I soon fell
    asleep until the first volley several hours later.

    My buddy Brent who’s tent was closer to the road - and that was last time he camped that close to a road for the rest
    of the trip - wasn’t 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 Brent’s 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
    another day.

    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 I’ll 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
    we saw.

    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


  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Aug 16, 2002
    Wow! Awesome ride, report and pics! Beautiful place to ride!! Thanks for posting :thumb
  3. kktos

    kktos on a bright side of life

    Aug 22, 2005
    in front of Mare Nostrum
    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.
  4. Heath

    Heath Coke-The choice of Angels

    Dec 31, 2005
    Boise, ID


    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
  5. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

    Nov 19, 2003
    Lost Coast, Cali
    Nice! Your storytelling style is very good, I was wanting more!
  6. xdbx

    xdbx Motorcycle Connoisseur

    Nov 3, 2006
    indeed. I'm very much a fan of your style. D:wink:o keep posting, won't you?
  7. BrentS

    BrentS I'd rather be riding

    Mar 5, 2006
    Sunny Seattle
    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.
  8. fano

    fano here and there

    Jun 3, 2006
    Salt Lake City UT
    Didn't I see you on Magruder pass last Saturday? I was going opposite direction -west on a Tiger.
  9. chucktab

    chucktab I did what? When?

    Oct 16, 2006
    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?
  10. brunxscream

    brunxscream Dongle

    Oct 31, 2006
    Boise, ID
    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.
  11. BrentS

    BrentS I'd rather be riding

    Mar 5, 2006
    Sunny Seattle
    We were on our way to Pasco on Saturday after departing from the west end of the Lolo, headed for home. :waysad We rode the magruder earlier in the week and only saw a few 4x4's, I was surprised we didn't see any other bikes.
  12. robdogg

    robdogg turnip truck driver

    Jan 29, 2004
    wren-tonne, WA
    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.
  13. brother dan

    brother dan Lost in my mind

    May 27, 2006
    Boise, Ee-da-how
    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.

  14. Rebelrider

    Rebelrider Been here awhile

    Jun 2, 2007
    Thanks 4 sharing!:clap Beautiful area, great writing. Do they make Kelvar tents just in case?
  15. ryanwilliamcantrell

    ryanwilliamcantrell Get Out and Ride!!

    Dec 9, 2006
    Nampa, Idaho
    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
  16. robdogg

    robdogg turnip truck driver

    Jan 29, 2004
    wren-tonne, WA
    From Trail Creek Summit to Horse Creek Hot Springs

    The day's route

    "we got us another hot ride today boys!"

    I knew it was going to be warm after we dropped down in to the valley separating the two ranges we were planning on
    crossing.. and after going over the second range, we'd be dropping down even lower.. to about 3,000ft which is about
    the lowest elevation of our entire week.

    I started the morning by doing a field cleaning of my foam pre-filter. The 950 was having difficulties starting..
    mostly when she got warmed up.. and the pre-filter was pretty caked up.


    As it turned out, cleaning the pre-filter didn't help a whole lot so my next gut feeling was that she was just reacting
    to the high elevations.. which was confirmed when at the end of the week at around 1k elevation, she started right up
    every time. Still, I think there's some tuning I need to do.. I've never had a carb bike act quite like that at high
    elevations. Normally I'm used to them acting like they are running super rich, sputtering and burbling with a
    noticeable lack of power. The 950 ran relatively strong but it just took forever to start when warm.. like she
    was being starved of air.

    My goal for the day was the camp grounds at Horse Creek Pass.. which like much of our desired destinations, was
    inspired by a ride report here but it was a bit over 200 miles, so I challenged my compadres to see if we could
    make it happen. From looking at the maps, it was pretty obvious we had some nice, long wide open sections coming
    up; which to some, may sound a bit mundane, but I actually enjoyed the next 100 miles or so immensely. This area
    of Idaho is quite different from the heavily forested mountains we had been riding the past couple of days. The
    trees were much sparser, the land drier, wider, and flatter, but with massive mountain ranges flanking us the whole
    way and the high rate of travel and the remoteness of it all gave our morning ride a spiritual dimension that I
    humbly submersed myself in. It was a ride not to be endured, but rather to be experienced and enjoyed.




    The Double Springs Pass road heads up over the White Mountains and skims the lower slopes of Borah Peak which is
    Idaho's tallest. A sign along the highway that we were crossing pointed out some interesting information about a
    ginormous earthquake that hit the area in 1983. Among other facts that it told, was that the shifting of the land
    cause a unbelievable quantity of water, some 461 billion gallons to gush out on the country side. Not sure what kind of
    damage that did way out here, but I couldn't help thinking if that happened back near Seattle, it would be catastrophic
    in terms of damage and lives lost. <shudder>




    I plan to come back one day and explore some of the roads we saw shooting off in to the hills off the main track.
    This area is so vast and has some of the longest, straightest dirt/gravel roads I've ever seen.. it was not hard
    hitting triple digit speeds, but as fun as that was, I tried kept it to half that in order to soak more of it in.




    At the top of the pass



    One must know where one is going out here

    Once we cleared the high mountain pass and got down into inhabitable country again, more typical evidences of
    civilization began to appear. We were still however, in land that is probably some of the most sparsely populated
    in America and while we came across a few slumbering farming communities (it wouldn't be accurate to call them
    towns) we still had many miles to go before finding fuel, food and water. We almost found fuel in a place called
    May, Idaho, but the pumps had run dry long ago so we quietly left so as not to wake any of the good townsfolk and
    continued our search.

    Looking for gas


    We knew for sure that the town of Challis would have what we needed, so we hopped on to State Highway 93 for a quick
    ride to town. Jerry had just been in the area a few days before with the Twin Peak riders so he knew right where
    to take us.

    I was relieved to find fuel at this point.. not because I was terribly low, but because I knew the next section was
    going to be long and void of any places to refuel unless we detoured off our route near the town of Salmon which I
    didn't really want to do as it would have added a 45 mile round trip to get off and back on our route. Ideally, my
    thought was, our next fuel would be available at the tiny village of Shoup on the Salmon river about 70miles North
    along our route so we could then climb the divide and jump on the Magruder the next day and have enough to make it
    across to Elk City without having to divert for fuel. It turned out to be one of those "best laid plans"

    It's said that the Magruder, at 115 miles or so, is the longest unimproved road in America, but if you combine that
    with NF-55 and various other roads, that with exception of a few miles of pavement on the Montana side, you could
    ride from Highway 93 just North East of Chalis, all the way to Elk City - about 190 miles or so without seeing a
    single stop light, major intersection, 7-11 etc. and with the exception of some cabins, ranches and the odd sign
    or marker, and one old country store at Shoup, you would barely see any man made structures at all.

    The ride coming up NF-55 along Morgan Creek and then Panther Creek (man, they got some big creeks in this state) and
    down to the Salmon River was quite pleasant; if not a bit rote. Because we were trying to make good time, we
    unfortunately did not have a lot of time to explore some of the great side roads that lead up to the high peaks in
    the area. It was pretty warm here as well; which was helped by a cool dip in a road side creek that passed under a
    short bridge. Stepping down that bank and into shady coolness under the bridge was like walking in to an air
    conditioned room. It had to be 20 degrees cooler then the area above. A tip I'll have to remember for future rides.

    Remember my comment about finding Jerry Garcia? I saw this funky circus looking cart along side the road and I had
    to stop to take a look.


    The cart/wagon - whatever it was had a smaller cart hooked up behind it that looked like a lion cage for a circus train.
    There were goats all around and under the main wagon.. and when I got towards the front of the wagon, I was startled
    to see a gentlemen staring out the doorway at me. He had long gray hair and a long gray beard that reached almost down
    to his waistline. I wave half-heartedly and he waved back.. and I would have loved to talk the guy to hear his story,
    but he sure looked like he was in to the whole solitude thing.. so we rode on without disturbing him.

    Here's the spot where we found the cool under-bridge creek.

    We didn't stop a whole lot after this until hitting the Salmon River..

    but here's a shot by Brent that is one of my favorites.. it really shows this part of the country well


    Another great shot by Brent. This is along Panther Creek - through a burned out canyon.

    We finally reach the Salmon River



    Shoup Store.. these pumps really do work, but unfortunately they were out of gas.

    The ride up to the Divide from Shoup was one filled with steep switch backs, a few nice views and it had to be one of
    the most incredible ascents I've ridden. We went from right around 3,000 feet down on the Salmon River, to about 8,700
    feet in about six and half miles.



    Interesting historical areas and facts abound and Idaho is great about marking them


    We finally got the the turn off for our days destination, Horse Creek Hot Springs and campground. This took us about
    16 miles off the more direct route down towards the Magruder, but it was worth every inch. We even had the place almost
    to ourselves. There were a couple of groups in the lower campground near the hot springs, but we had the entire upper
    campground to ourselves.

    time to get toasty

    A fully enclosed (sans roof) shed surrounds the natural spring fed hot tub.


    The temperature was a bit warm for my tastes, so I didn't stay in long, but the little pool a bit lower down the creek was just
    right temperature wise.


    and with that... Goodnight!
  17. oldx

    oldx Long timer

    Mar 28, 2007
    Camano Island, WA
    Thanks for the pic's and report Robb.
  18. spanker

    spanker I don't get this florida thing...

    Jun 5, 2007
    Citra, FL
    You guys are so lucky, having this terrain right in your back yard. Having spent time in Coeur' d alene, ID, I've had a taste of your spectacular country. We New Englanders have to travel 2000 miles just to get to the Divide. Nice report and pics.
  19. hez

    hez no longer rational

    Feb 16, 2006
    Definitely Basque. We've got alot of'em around here. Chances are, the two of you did not speak a common language.

    Oh, and a great report you've got going! I love seeing my back yard through someone else's ride reports. It makes me appreciate this place with fresh eyes every time.
  20. Firefighter_Joe

    Firefighter_Joe Been here awhile

    Jun 29, 2005

    I'm glad I live in Idaho!!