Saturday, September 14, 2013

Because We Can!

It was up the old St. Joe again for this camping trip.  We drove down via Rose Lake and immediately hit road construction.  They are resurfacing the highway from Rose Lake down to the turnoff to Harrison.  We followed a line of cars moving at 15 mph all the way through that entire section of road. After that it was smooth sailing all the way up to Huckleberry.
At Spruce Tree Campground.
 We drove through the campground and noted that all the nice sites were filled so we headed up to the areas beyond Avery. 

Driving through the zone where all the contaminated soil had been we saw that all the digging was complete and the equipment was gone. The land next to the river was smoothed flat and had been graded to let nature try to take back over.  It was nice to see all the heavy equipment gone, hopefully the earth can recover.

Not too concerned about finding a camp site, after all it was a Tuesday after Labor Day, and people should be out of the woods and back to a normal existence. The first noted camp past Avery was Packsaddle. It was empty and since we had never camped there we stopped and claimed the first spot. Site one is the biggest and right close to the water, the other spot is smaller and a bit harder to get into so we hoped we would have privacy for a few days.
"Take the lens cap off the lens!"
Got our camp set up and cooked hotdogs over the camp fire.  It was a good night and we went to bed at about 9:30 pm.

Wednesday we took a long drive up river to the end of the road. We used to come up the St. Joe a lot when we were younger, we would drive up to camp, fish, and many times raft this part of the Joe.  It had been probably 16 years since we had been up this far.  There were a lot of changes that we noted, biggest being that the road was paved all the way up to Spruce Tree Campground.
When you come to this sign, you just have to go there!
We turned around at that last campground and drove back down checking out all the campsites as we returned home.  Linda noted them on the map for future visits and gave them the thumbs up if they had potential.

Ate lunch on the way back and when we arrived back at camp, I set up my fly rod and went fishing as Linda read her book.
Fishing was slow and there wasn’t much of an evening hatch coming off the water.  I caught one good one and called it a night.  We ate dinner played cards and went to bed.

Our Thursday adventure took us down river just past Avery on the south side of the river.  We hung a right up the West Fork of Fishhook Creek (Road #201) and followed it all the way over to the Lake.  Dismal Lake was the butt of our jokes all the way there.  When we arrived we saw a cute little lake that a logging operation had made into a dismal place.  These people had placed their two trailers next to the road which was next to the lake and then they had brought every kind of junk used for logging into the nice area. They had dragged logs into the lake and created a dock for their camp which ruined the whole mystique of the quaint little lake. The whole campsite made the area take on the literal meaning of this lakes name, Dismal.
Doing our best to look dismal.

Mammoth Springs Campground was a mile further on the road according to the map.  We drove till we saw a sign showing that Bear Jaw and Mammoth with one arrow pointing to the right.  We followed the arrow and wound up at the top of Trimmed Tree Hill.  No campground up there, so we backtracked to the fork in the road and read the sign again.  The arrow pointing left to the Mammoth Camp Ground had been shot off and that section of the sign was in the bushes so we didn’t notice it.  The campground was about 50 yards beyond the sign.
Looking Northwest on Trimmed Tree Hill.
Mammoth Springs Campground is a testament to our Forest Service dollars at work.  There are pit toilets, running water and campsites scattered throughout a roughed out area. The camp is there, but it looks like it is seldom used.  Most all the sites are grown over with brush and grass.  It actually looked like two sites had been used this year. Lots of money spent to put in the camp, but little thought of how far and how hard it is to get to, a little ghost town of a campground.

After that stop we drove down Bluff Creek to the main road and back to camp.  The round trip was about 60 miles of good gravel road. We were dusty but enjoyed the whole adventure.  We ended our day by driving into Avery for ice cream at the Idaho Fly Fishing Company shop.

On Friday we drove to the North Fork of the St. Joe River and went up to the Squaw Creek Campground.  To get there you go through three tunnels which were real cool.  At the campground, which was almost completely empty, we parked and hiked up the Squaw Creek Trail to the top of the ridge. We figured the hike was a little over a mile and a half out and then back for about three miles total.  It was a good trail but very steep in places.

After driving back to Avery we stopped in to the shop for an ice cream lunch and then drove back to camp.  At camp we noticed that an RV had taken the second site so we were now not alone. 
On the hike up Squaw Creek.
We sat out and read and then built a fire.  As we sat playing cribbage I finally recognized our new neighbors as a former NIC student that had gone on an Olympic Coast trip with me over spring break many years ago.  I goofed up by forgetting that Kobi was not tied up and I went over to their camp to introduce myself.  Kobi followed me and since they had two dogs, all hell broke out.  It wasn’t a pleasant meeting.

Our neighbors were Scott and Colleen Thompson from Rathdrum.  They are teachers in the STEM Academy which they set up a few years ago.  Scott said he remembers the Olympic Coast trip very fondly and complemented me on the entire experience.  We talked and tried to remember common things from his NIC experience.  It was nice to meet them again.

1 comment:

thetclife said...

a great area for sure. since we are working stiffs I usually cant get out until the weekend. as you eluded to...too many people on the weekends and holidays. some time we will visit during the non rush days.
great write up, thanks!