Idaho Trails Association – Highline Ridge Trail, Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho

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It is that time of year when I generally head back into the Franck Church Wilderness on an ITA trail crew. Originally, we were scheduled to fly into Cold Meadows, one of my favorite places in the world. However, with several fires cooking in the area, we were re-routed to Chamberlain Basin and directed to finish an earlier ITA project on the Highline Ridge Trail. A big thanks to the ITA, Stonebreaker Ranch, and The Payette National Forest for making this trip possible!

As we left the McCall airport, there was a load of fire assets on the tarmac…… Curious on this calm quiet morning they were sitting and not fighting….

Once in the air, we had a beautiful ride back into the Frank. It seems that we might get lucky with the smoke!

Less than an hour later, bang! Paradise!!!!!! No baggage claim here, this is a self baggage handling situation!

It is always a sinking feeling as the plane pulls out and flys away….. the stillness and quietness of the Frank Church is as stunning as the beauty. Thoughts of my gear flash in my head…. did I remember my water filter? I put in my sleeping bag, right? Well, it would be too late now!

Our team gathers around for a quick discussion of some trip basics. We consider this the McCall “A” Team! “A” stands for aged! From left to right, Tom, Brian, Carl (our leader), Craig, Ann and of course myself behind the camera. I have been on previous trips with all these guys and they are experienced, hard working, and tough as nails!

It was time to load up and get on our way. Job one, carry our full packs, tools, and airport bags to the neighboring Stonebreaker Ranch. About a week from now we will be returning there for our last night. The Stonebreaker Ranch hosts Dave and Beth will have a warm meal and a hot shower to enjoy our last night in comfort.

Hauling our backpacks with a week’s worth of supplies along with tools and our airport bags the 1 mile over this ridge to Stonebreaker was no easy task. It would be worth the effort on the last night as this ranch is an Idaho Gem!

We stashed our airport bags and had lunch prior to setting out for the Highline Trail.

The Highline Trail is about a 1 day backpack up the West Fork of Chamberlain Creek. Since it was already noon to start, we planned to hike up about 4 or 5 miles, set camp, then finish the trek tomorrow.

We found a beautiful camp spot along Chamberlain Creek and settled in for our first evening.

Tomorrow, we head towards the Salmon River to intersect the Highline Trail. Much more exciting adventure to come!

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