We get started

Being gone from home for 7 weeks requires a lot of planning.  Lining out the house sitter, packing gear, buying supplies, it all takes a lot of time.  This year has an added wrinkle.

My wife of less than a year wanted to accompany me.  I had no objections and soon she was caught up in the furor of preparation.  We spent a week packing the RV and getting the vehicles ready.  I decide, though, that she needed to bring her Jeep this year.  I figured she may want to go home early, or may get bored with the trip.  So we have an extra rig and a lot of extra supplies.  One thing I will never do on the Idaho trip is go hungry.  The freezer is stuffed with goodies and we will eat well. 

We got out of Pomeroy at 7:15am Sunday the 18th of July.  The weather was good and we were able to make great time.  This area is quite familiar to me, but Praxy was thrilled to see the gorgeous scenery on the way.  Here is some of it…

Crossing the Camas prairie near Gangeville, Idaho.

Looking south on Whitebird grade near Grangeville.

Near the base of Whitebird grade.  Driving to camp and setting up is a long day, and I don’t waste time.  We drove with only 5 stops in 350 miles.  Then we set up camp at Bear Valley campground.

Here we are, parked in the trees.  We ate a quick dinner of cheese and crackers, smoked fish, and other nibbly things before we settled down early for a good nights sleep.  I had plans for the following day and we were going to make the most of that time.

I always leave a day early, which gives me a day to get used to the altitude.  Our house in Pomeroy is about 1,200 feet above sea level, our first work site at Bear Valley creek is 6,300 feet above sea level.  I try to go for a walk and breathe deeply, getting myself a accustomed to the elevation change.  The air is fresh and clean, almost no noise except for the occasional pickup passing by to find a fishing hole.


Praxy is standing next to a sweat lodge frame.  The Sho-ban Indian tribe comes to Bear Valley yearly to gaff salmon as they are preparing to spawn.  I assume they had a tarp stretched over the frame and made this a steam room.  It’s pretty sturdy, having made it through last winter.  We hiked about a mile down the road towards the Elk creek ranger station, then come back for a quick lunch. 

The bridge at Bear Valley campground.  To the left is the mouth of Elk creek.

Then…off to White Hawk mountain fire lookout.

White Hawk is located on the far southern end of Bear Valley.  It’s main function is to provide an early alert of forest fires so the towns of Lowman and Grandjean can get better fire protection or earlier evacuation notices.  It’s about a 1 hour drive from camp, but the view is worth it.

This is the southern end of Bear Valley.  We are camped off the left edge of the photo.  In the center is a bunch of dredge ponds left over from the mining days.   The view at the right center shows the Sawtooth mountains near Stanley.  There is one little place where the Whitecloud mountains can be seen, over 60 miles away.  The elevation at White Hawk is just under 8,300 feet above sea level.  Praxy had never seen anything like this before and she stared and stared. 

She is obviously delighted to be here.

Here I am with JT, the lookout.  He has been here for many years, this is his retirement/vacation.  I’ve known him for three years, and he always looks forward to my visits.  The last two years I rode up by motorcycle.  Since Praxy came with me this year I left the bike home and we came up with the Jeep.  There will be other years for motorcycle riding.   As we gazed and gawked, a helicopter broke the silence.

A telephoto lens shot; a Blackhawk helicopter sails by with the Sawtooth mountains underneath and in the background.  Last year several military jets zipped around the area while JT and I enjoyed the show.  Central Idaho is a training ground for military pilots, it’s a good place to get used to rough terrain.

Going back down the road.

Deadwood reservoir is in the background.

This has been a cold, wet spring.  The wild flowers are late, so we were here early enough to see them.  Normally by the end of July the wild flowers are dried out and gone.

We returned to camp and sat around reading for a few hours.   We then made a delicious dinner of BBQed ribs, baked potatoes, and salad.


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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