Y’all might be wondering where I have been for the last week…… I received a call Friday evening from the Executive Director of the ITA and she asked me to join the ITA’s annual board retreat due to a last minute cancelation. After quickly accepting the invitation, I had about 24 hours to pull my gear together for this week long trail maintenance expedition.
Mel invited me to join her and two others to scout the trail we would be working while the rest of the 20 person crew would jet boat up river to the base camp. Without really knowing anything about the scouting trip, I said “yes”! It turns out that our scouting trip was with Mel, Amber, and Pam…. maybe three of the most fit and experienced people the Idaho wilderness has to offer and that the scouting trip involve a beat down 10 hour hike. Crossing the Wind River Bridge, I was already OTB! (Off The Back)
Within steps of the bridge, we entered the Gospel Hump Wilderness, one of the least visited wilderness areas in the United States.
We climbed about 2000 vertical feet over just a couple miles after which we would be getting onto a mostly contour trail. Craig, Dakota and I had hiked the first couple miles of this trail a few weeks ago, check out that trip report here.
Up and up we go! Below, you can just make out the Salmon River from about where we began, in the distance, Patrick Butte and Hershey Point, click on those names to find the trip reports from when I climbed them in recent years.
This is Mel, she is the Executive Director of the ITA. Mel is doing her best impression of John Platt playing “Name That Peak”.
Once we hit the contour portion of the trail, things got a little easier. We stopped on this cool little ridge for lunch.
Views from our lunch spot…. not too shabby!
Further down the trail, North Butte.
Amber, Mel, and Pam approaching the hight point of the day. Looking back from where we had come.
Up near our highest point we needed to deal with some north slope snow.
I was feeling pretty good about myself telling Pam and Amber that they should be wearing hiking boots, not running shoes. 🙂
Random tree pictures.
Finally, after about 10 miles, we arrived at Johnson Saddle, our camp was about 3000 vertical feet below and about 6 trail miles away. This is the section of trail we will be working throughout the next week. It was at this point that my comments about the boots came back to haunt me….. I was suffering from heal blisters and Amber and Pam just had wet feet! You can see that Mel found an Elk shed and was hauling it down!
Finally, after 16 total miles and probably around 7000 vertical feet of elevation, base camp!!!!! This was a brutal distance for such an early season hike. Day 2 coming soon and I will be able to introduce you to the rest of the crew!!!!