Chamberlain Creek – ITA Trail Project, Day 1, Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho

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Last Sunday Brian, John, Tom, Art, Craig, and I headed to the McCall Airport for our flight back to Chamberlain Basin. It was a week long backpacking and trail maintenance trip deep in the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness and about an hour flight from McCall. This team was hand picked by John, our expedition leader…… We called ourselves the “ITA A Team”…. Feel free to apply any additive you would like to “A”! A special thanks to the Idaho Trails Association and the Payette National Forest for setting up this trip and allowing us to participate in this project!!!

It always amazes me that these Cessna 206’s can haul us and our packs. Our team of 6 used two separate flights and with the pilot, we had 4 guys in each place. Along with our tools, each guy was hauling about 70 pounds each. They don’t call them flying pickup trucks for nothing!

The Chamberlain Basin Airport….. or should I say landing strip?? There are actually two, one roughly north-south and the other roughly east-west. If you look carefully to the left and up a bit from the intersection, you can see the Chamberlain Basin Guard Station. We stashed an airport bag there before heading off to the right for our project….. What’s an airport bag? We spend the last night of our trip at the airport for the morning flight out so it has clean clothes, extra food in case our flight is delayed a day or two by weather along with other extra supplies.

Through the magic of media, here is our flight landing.

Can you tell that we were former bike racers? Yes, I am OTB.

Headed down Chamberlain Creek

Dog Creek coming into Chamberlain Creek. Off come the boots and on go the wading shoes. This is one of the few creek crossings that Craig did not go swimming.

Fully loaded pack with provisions for at least 5 days.

As we entered into the canyon, it didn’t take long for the work to begin. Yes, there is a trail there and this is the before shot. Notice the burned trees yet to fall? Job security for the A Team!!!!


This area is the transition to the ponderosa forest deeper in the canyon. Ponderosas are huge trees and things were getting harder and harder.

We soon crossed this monster, most of which is up the hill above the photo. Super steep hill, giant suspended tree in the heat of the afternoon, a very dangerous situation. We voted to skip for now!

Someone before us had done a lot of work on this trail!

Art working the saw!

Another after! If you could put a thought bubble above Craig here, I think it would say “It sure is hot! I hope there is another creek crossing soon!”

About 4:00, we reached our camp site and set up for the evening. We were about 5 miles from the airport down Chamberlain Creek near Deer Creek. We had left a fair amount of work that we hoped to have time for on our hike back out. Much much more to come, check back soon!

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