Sunday, July 29, 2018

It Was A Total Zoo

Spent the week up the St. Joe River at Huckleberry Campground. We drove up on Monday with our friends Marcy and Daren.  When we arrived in the camp area almost every campsite was taken and people were everywhere. We lucked out and were able to get two sites next to each other by talking to the people who were in the sites and getting their permission to move into the site after they were all packed up.
Shade played a huge part in our weekend!

After we got all set up we found out quite a bit about what was happening and why. It turns out that there were three groups in competition for any site that became available. These groups were gathering their site grounds for the upcoming weekend and it was becoming a dog eat dog battle to secure sites.

Our campsite was a bit crowded.
Arriving as we did on Monday morning gave us a lucky break, but it also placed us right in the middle of all this land grabbing. You see, Tuesday was the campground hosts' day off and since there was no one to run herd over some of these campers, it got way out of hand.

One lady was in charge of gathering sites for forty-some friends who would be arriving on Friday.  She was ruthless and willing to get up at 6 AM to place tags on sites where the occupant's tag said that the campers staying there would be leaving that morning. She used this method to squeeze our neighbor, Steve out of a site. He arrived just after she under tagged an opening site. Steve ended up sharing our site which worked out just fine.

I like to let people be themselves. Really.
By Tuesday afternoon when the camp hosts returned, this woman had tagged almost every site except for the group site, our sites, and about five others. She needed the sites on Friday and had tagged and paid for them on Tuesday, placing chairs or a tent as holding markers.

Then, so she would not lose money on the three days she had paid each site fee, she would stop campers who were driving through looking for a place to stay and ask them how long they needed a site. If they only needed a site for less than the three days and would be leaving by Friday, she would take their money and allow them to use the site until that day. If they said they were wanting to stay longer, "No Camp For You!" She would keep the site tagged. The folks would have to move on.  She was the Campsite Nazi!

Now, of course, this was very much against the rules and when the hosts arrived they were placed in a very tough position and had to straighten it all out. Vehicles were parked, fees were paid, but the license plates didn't match up on the tags and those vehicles.

But wait there is more!

One of the other groups was made up of Coeur d'Alene Tribe members and they were all up there to hold a Pow Wow over the weekend. They had reserved the group site and many of their members had secured sites in the camp area by leaving items in the sites as markers. It turns out that the Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene Tribes have an agreement with the BLM allowing them to have sites without paying. (Will not comment on this.) These sites were recognizable by the total lack of a person present or the presence of six to eight vehicles in each site with a million people camping there. (I may have exaggerated a bit on this.)

All was well until the Campsite Nazi removed tags from some of the tribe folks' sites and placed her tags there. On Thursday night, when the tribal folks arrived and their sites were taken, I guess all hell broke out. Now, we didn't actually hear any of this as we were in sites farther away from the group sites, but we were told that both the Tribal Police and the Sheriff were in the campground to straighten things out.

In the upriver corner of the campground was the final group. Linda spoke with their leader and found that about 28 people had been camping together for over 20 years and their gathering was set to take place over the weekend. The woman said they had a couple sites, but not enough for their entire group. The Campsite Nazi had messed up their plans, but they were rule followers and didn't feel right being so ruthless.

Spread throughout this entire mess sat about four site owners, which included our two sites. We all watched everything that took place with amazement. There was a comradery amongst this small band and we smiled and chatted regularly as a steady stream of RVs and hopeful campers pulled through, only to be disappointed.

By the end of the week, we talked to the camp hosts and found that they had gotten things a little back to normal.  A BLM employee had visited, and with the hosts' suggestions, changed some of the rules and posted the new guidelines.  We hope for everyone's sake that it all works out. The weekend should be an interesting one.

All the above took place while we watched from the protection of our two sites. The week was very hot and we spent the time when we were in camp sitting in the shade and talking. Steve, Daren and I went fishing Tuesday and Wednesday, but the fishing was slow due to the heat. We ate wonderful dinners and Linda celebrated her 60th (insert Linda cringing here) birthday on the 24th.
Route planning a Huckleberry Campground.

Backyard camping. 
On Wednesday evening we were sitting waiting while dinner cooked when four cyclists rode through the campground. These young biker riders were looking for a site, and we knew there were none available. It was a little late so we offered up the choice of our two sites as a place for them to stay. Linda and Marcy stopped them and invited them in.

Bennett, Sheri, Ellen, and Nicole.
With no open sights available they accepted. The four of them, three girls and a guy, were riding from Whitefish, Mt to Spokane, WA. We chatted and found out how they found themselves at Huckleberry. It was quite fun talking. Two were sisters and two were married;  Ellen and Nicole, Bennett and Sheri respectively. Bennett was excited to find out that his first name was our last name.

During the evening we looked at maps and gave them suggestions on their next few days of travel. Before we went to bed we handed them our card and said that if they ran into problems, that they could contact us and we would help.

Nicole, Ellen, Sheri, and Bennett.
The next morning they were off on down the road. We wished them well and hoped that they were safe on the busy sections of road they needed to ride to get to Spokane.

Friday morning arrived and we all packed up and drove home. Our camping adventure was over and I think we were glad to get home, out of the crowds and heat. We arrived home and got everything out of the camper.

Cute shirt, alluding to their bike Chamois.
My phone rang at about 5 PM, I ignored it thinking it was a telemarketer. A message popped into my message box so I listened to it. It was Bennett! I called back and found that the four cyclists were in Coeur d'Alene and were wondering if they could stay in our backyard for the night?  We said of course and they were very glad that our place was available. Guess C d'A was packed and there were no spots available anywhere.

Off for their final leg to Spokane and then Portland.
They ate dinner, swam, and hung around town until the sun went down and then rode out to the house. It was fun to see them and talk about the past few days. They took showers and set up their tents. We made suggestions for their ride into Spokane and discussed possibilities available to them in the city that they could do while waiting for their train back to Portland.

The next morning we provided coffee and sent them on their way. Such a nice foursome, they reminded me of all the college students I used to work with. I kind of miss that.

The bike route that the four cyclists followed, started with a train ride to Whitefish, Mt. They rode to Wallace, and hitched a ride to the Hiawatha Trail and rode down to Avery on the St. Joe. From there they appeared at Huckleberry and then rode on around through St. Maries to Chatcolet Lake, Idaho. Then they rode the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes to Harrison and finally followed HWY 97 along Lake Coeur d'Alene to Cd'A. They hooked up with the Centennial Trail and rode to Spokane where they caught their train at 2 AM and ended their adventure back in Portland. Oh, to be young again!

Monday, July 16, 2018

100+ Degree Trip

Boats stacked, truck ready!
The preparation for this trip was a bit more intense than other adventures we have had recently. Floating the Lower Salmon River with our friends is one thing, but it adds a bit more thought to the process when your friends have little experience with preparing and then rowing their own raft on a multi-day trip.

The river crew is ready!
For a couple of years our travel friends Holly, Ryan, Zane, and Anika have expressed that they wanted to do an extended river trip. Ryan wanted to learn to row a raft and read a river. The entire family wanted the river experience. Our main holdback was the age of the kids. Their water skills are strong and they love the outdoors. They were also a year older. With this factor overcome, everyone felt that a trip was possible.

My navigator; she kept me alert.
Boating equipment was rented from the North Idaho College rental program, our river cat was cleaned and made ready, we dug through the river camping gear and found a place for it on the boat and trailer. This all took a lot of work and about fifteen different lists. Linda and I had to talk through the entire process, locate the needed gear, check it to see if it still worked, and put it into the "go" pile.

Food lists were developed and all the needed items were purchased and then packed.

Our plan was developed and agreed upon; everything was a go.

On Thursday, we drove out and picked up the Edwards family. We placed the final items on the load and we all squeezed into the truck.

Birthday boy and Holly.
The drive down to the put-in at Slate Creek on the Lower Salmon was full of stories and excitement. When we hit the ramp, no one was there and we were able to get everything ready and organized without being rushed. It was the best!

The game plan was to hit the river and float a couple hours and find a beach for the night. Then we would get up and move on down below Hammer Creek and grab a beach where we would have a layover day. On the final day, we would float the rest of the canyon to Pine Bar where our truck and trailer would be waiting.

Ryan and Anika, ready to roll!
Everything went exactly as planned! This was a great relief to Linda and me.

Our first night we spent on a beach upriver from the Skookumchuck Campground just off Hwy 95. It was a good spot. The only drawback was that it was directly across from a good sized ranch. Not as private as we like but a good start.

We all slept well. Linda and I were on our cots and we both were a little cold in the early morning hours. We made adjustments each night and slept great the rest of the trip.

Slate Creek put-in.
This was the Edwards' intro to unloading and loading the boats for an overnight stay and all went well.

The group worked as a team and were on the water in fine shape. The river time would be relatively short. The plan was to float down to Hammer Creek, use the restrooms, resupply water, and then move on down the river about two miles to just above Lyon's Bar.

The river runners are ready!
We found a great beach just above Lyon's Bar and settled in for the hot, hot afternoon. Swimming and relaxing in the shade was the recipe for dealing with the 100 degrees plus afternoon.

Zane fished and Anika swam in the sand. Yes, Anika spent more time covered in the sand than she did anything else. She just loved the feel and it was hard to keep her from getting sand everywhere!

That evening we had a great meal of chicken burritos provided by Holly. The shade came in the late afternoon and we got a bit of a reprieve from the sun. We were sure glad we brought our shade tent and the two umbrellas.
Anika and Teddy Bear Tim!

The beach activities for the layover day included fishing, swimming, playing games, eating and trying anything to keep cool. It was reported that the temperature at Whitebird, ID was 96 degrees on Friday and stayed around that temperature the entire time we were on the river.

Ryan on the oars, "WHITEWATER!"
Zane turned eleven on Friday which meant that the entire day was spent in birthday mode. He raked in presents, got a huge birthday brownie, and was able to fish almost all day. We sang "Happy Birthday" and played Bolo Toss. We're sure it was one of his more memorable days.

The first night on Layover Beach, we noticed a couple huge fish working the sands along our beach front. The challenge of catching one of these guys became a large focus of Ryan and Zane.  One of the techniques tried was to tie a hook with a bunch of pepperoni and beef jerky and then sink it with a rock, letting it sit in the deep eddy just off our beach.  This project was engineered by Ryan and gave us many laughs in the process.

One of the four species of fish Zane caught.
Oddly enough the fish were not excited about pepperoni. When Ryan hooked on some cheese as bait (as suggested by Linda and Holly), he and Zane were able to pull in a large Pike Minnow.

Anika and one of her catches.
We ate dinner and low and behold the huge fish came back to scrub the sands clean of all the food we had disturbed during the day.

Zane grabbed his spinning rod and loaded his hook with a chunk of Cheddar Jack cheese. Watching the big fish working, he tossed his hook in the direct path of the behemoth. The fish moved slowly to the cheese and suddenly the cheese sucked out of sight into the mouth of our prey.  Ryan screamed, "Set the hook!" and Zane gave a mighty pull.

The hook set and the water erupted! Zane fought the fish as we all cheered with excitement.  Landing the beast was quite a job, but Zane did it. On the sand at the birthday boy's feet lay a 27 " Asian Carp. It was huge and relatively ugly. Zane posed with his catch and pictures were captured. Finally, the carp was released to go back and warn his friends of the mighty fisherman that is stalking their beach.

Fun on the layover day!
Linda and I made dinner the final night. We had four cheese tortellini with pesto sauce, a salad, and cold cut up fruit. Dessert was an assortment of cookies. We sat in the shade and ate our meal. The final day of our adventure was drawing to a close.

The next day we packed up and boated the final eight miles out to Pine Bar. There were several good rapids on this final stretch so Ryan got a bit of a taste of whitewater. The kids loved the waves.

Birthday boy. 
We stopped at a site where there were pictographs. The hike was easy but the pictographs were very weather worn. I think the number of visitors has been hard on the graphs too. People just don't respect these treasures as they should. Someday they will no longer be visible. That will be very sad.

We floated out and ran the final rapid at Pine Bar. As we approached the ramp, a lone raft pulled away, leaving us the ramp to load up the boats at a leisurely pace.

We pulled out and headed up the hill to Hwy 95. Heading north we buzzed past Lewiston and stopped in Moscow for dinner. During the final stretch home, Anika kept me awake with a constant chatter of songs, questions, and laughter.

Bolo Toss championship of the world!
We arrived at the Edwards' place at about 6:30 PM and unloaded all their gear. We returned the rented equipment to the college on Monday.

You can't express how much fun an adventure like this was. We laughed hard during the weekend and really enjoyed being together with everyone. The river provided again!

Linda and I will clean up the gear and prepare for our next adventure. Zane and Anike will enter into a huge adventure of their own. Monday evening they will pick up their new puppy Remy. We can't wait to meet her!

Guns a blazing.
Family fun on the sand.
Professional form.
Bait rescue team.
The rescue in progress, Ryan's deep diving goggles.
Zane's Pike Minnow.
Posing with the Pike Minnow.
OOPS again!
The 27" Asian Carp! "Set the Hook!"

Hiking up to the pictographs.

Heading back to the boats.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Sam Owen Park

Sometimes when we get together with the Andersons, it's the little phrases that get us laughing the most. This week it was Linda who uttered the six words that made us laugh til our sides hurt,  "Big buck, big buck, big buck!"

We were on a drive to find a couple of places up in the Clark Fork area. Mike wanted to visit the fish hatchery and Rayelle and Linda wanted to hike Scotchman Peak. We left our campsite in Sam Owen Park, drove into Clark Fork and immediately found a bakery. Of course, we ate lunch and tasted a couple, three, or four of their baked goods. Once we were stuffed we waddled out to the truck and drove out across the Clark Fork River in search of the fish hatchery. At Heron, Montana, we turned around. The hatchery was definitely in Idaho and most likely back near Clark Fork. We got back on the highway and found our way back to the "big" city. We never did find that pesky fish hatchery 
"Big buck, big buck, big buck!"

At this point, our attention turned to Scotchman Peak. Linda went back into the bakery and asked directions. One of the staff gave Linda some vague directions. We headed back out on the road. We took the first left and followed the Lightning Creek road out of town. It came to a split and Linda had a feeling we should go right down the Mosquito Creek road, so we went left. We drove a bit and again Linda mentioned that she felt we should have gone the other way, so we turned around at a wide spot where a deer was standing and backtracked. (The deer was a coincidence.)

Back on track, Linda told us that the lady said to follow Upper Mosquito Creek road, which we did. It led us to road 2294 which, at this point, we questioned the validity of the directions. We kept true to Linda's gut and after a few miles, we rambled across a dried streambed to the parking lot at Trail #65, the Scotchman Peak Trail.

By this time we were a bit too late to venture up the trail to the peak, so we looked around and headed back down the road. We swung around a corner of the road and Linda shouted, "Big buck, big buck, big buck!" Mike hit the breaks and we all started laughing. 

The buck was just off the road and was not a bit concerned about all the attention he was getting.

We drove on down to Clark Fork and back to Sam Owen. Our goals of visiting the fish hatchery and climbing Scotchman Peak Trail never came to fruition, but we had a great time exploring this wonderful area.

Pizza was on our minds when we arrived back at the campsite, so we loaded up and drove into East Hope to Icehouse Pizza. We ordered and while the girls enjoyed the wonderful view of the lake, Mike and I played pool. The pizza was great! 
Spending a total of six days up at the park, each day the weather threatened to get better, but it didn't.  Part of the fun of this trip was spotting the sun, running to the beach, and retreating when the sun hid and the rain fell.

Mike and Rayelle's friends, John, Jerianne, and Dylan came up to visit. Dylan brought his boat and took Mike, Julia and I fishing. We caught some good smallmouth bass but had to watch the weather on the lake.

Prehistoric bug from the sky!

Linda's collection of heart rocks.

s'more s'mores!

Skipping stones.