Twin Falls: The Final Stop

We’ve been on the road for almost 80 days and it’s been fantastic. However, there’s an end to every summer and ours was in Twin Falls, Idaho. We spent four nights in this south-central Idaho city at a local KOA. We sat right next to the highway and could hear (and smell) the cows nextdoor. It was one of our lowest rated campgrounds, but it gave us easy access to Twin Falls which was why we were there.

Our first day there was all business.  I got a new phone, Steve got the truck’s oil changed, and we did a Costco run. Once we were caught up on life we headed out to see the sights.

The big draws in Twin Falls all revolve around the Snake River Canyon. The IB Perrine Bridge spans the canyon and was at one time the tallest bridge in the world.

Now it draws base jumpers from across the world. These daredevils jump off the bridge with only a loose parachute with hopes of landing on the banks of the river hundreds of feet below. It’s quite a sight to watch!

We quickly found the Snake River Rim Trail, a ten mile trail that skirts the edge of the steep canyon edge. We rode it twice. The first time we made it to the Evel Knieval jump site, the place where in 1974 the daredevil attempted to jump the canyon in a rocket-like contraption.

His parachute engaged early and he plunged down to the river’s edge. The launch site is still there, a mini-mountain that Steve had to climb. 

The other day we rode we made it to Shoshone Falls, one of the prides of Twin Falls. Known as the “Niagra of the West,” the falls are pretty spectacular, even though the water levels were low this time of year. 

Riding along the rim provided spectacular views of the canyon and river below. 

Twin Falls and much of the region was hit with a strong “wind event” the night before we were set to leave. With wind gust of over 60mph, the RV rocked and shook for quite awhile. Luckily we didn’t have damage and it didn’t look like anyone else around us did either. Boy, what a mess.

As we drove south toward Salt Lake City it was clear that the storm was even stronger there. Along I-15 just north of Salt Lake we passed over 40 big rig trucks blown over along the side of the road. It was still pretty windy but we made it safely to our overnight stop, another Harvest Host, south of Salt Lake.

All good things come to an end and this trip is about over. We plan to be back home by the end of the week and ready to plan our next adventure!

The Sawtooth

From Salmon we drove about 150 miles south to the center of Idaho and the Sawtooth National Recreation and Wilderness Area.  Most famously known for nearby Sun Valley Ski Resort, the draw for us is the natural beauty. We’ve said lots of “Wows” on this leg of the journey.

First we headed into Ketchum, the closest town with a Verizon store. Replacing the broken iPhone is a priority but in these parts, your priorities are not their problem. After a number of calls and an uncomfortable store visit we left without a viable solution. The last photo my phone took was a call to 911, which I didn’t make.

So, we are working on one phone for the time being. The scenery, however, makes up for it.

Our first destination here was the small town of Stanley and the nearby ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer. This is gold rush country from the mid 1800s through 1960. In Custer we toured the ghost town that once held a large population, all there to work the nearby mill, built to process ore from the mines. Relics from the early miners litter the ground of this historic site.

Along the way to Custer we passed the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, which is a 988 ton relic of gold mining from the 1940s and 50s. There are 71 one-ton buckets on one continuous chain and each bucket could hold eight cubic feet of dirt.

The dredge dug into the valley over a six mile swath to recover gold by washing and separating the rock, gravel, and dirt from the gold.  Having cut a large swath of land through a beautiful valley, the old dredge still stands as a testament to man’s search for wealth. We toured the four story dredge which over a 12 year period turned out gold valued at  $1.2 million in 1958 dollars.

The next day we hopped on the bikes and rode from our campsite to the nearby Pole Creek Ranger Station. Pole Creek is the oldest Forest Service construction in the Sawtooth National Forest and was home to Ranger Bill Horton for 22 years.

The station is on the National Register of Historic Places and shows how tough and hard working rangers like Horton were. 

The remainder of the day was spent at the popular Redfish Lake. With a lodge, visitor center, and white beaches, Redfish is popular with hikers, paddle-boarders, kayakers, and boaters.

We walked the Fishhook Trail from the visitor center and came across the Kokanee Salmon, a relative of the Sockeye in the nearby creek. It was spawning season, so the red fish were thick, having come up stream from Redfish Lake. Once they hatch and grow they will go downstream tail-first to live and enjoy the beautiful Redfish Lake. 

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is filled with campsites, streams, and trails. We spent some time on the Harriman Trail, an 18 mile mountain bike trail that runs along the Big Wood River. We rode just a section of the trail, which was a good workout with incredible views. 

From there we headed to nearby Pettit Lake where Steve did a seven mile trail run while I rode the bike a little more. Steve’s run took him from Pettit Lake to Alice Lake. Along the way he had incredible views and scenery. 

The campgrounds were beginning to fill up in anticipation of the upcoming long weekend, which is our cue to move along. We really loved our time in the Sawtooth area and hope to return to explore more trails by foot and by bike. 

We are heading south towards Twin Falls for our next set of adventures. 

On the Path of Lewis and Clark

We’ve spent the last few days immersed in Lewis and Clark, Steve’s favorite explorers. He studied them extensively as a kid and has always been fascinated by their journey. Our time in and around Salmon, Idaho allowed us to dive deeper into the explorer’s story and legacy while soaking in some of the most incredible scenery we’ve ever experienced.

Our base for this part of our trek was the Wagonhammer RV Park in North Fork. Situated just 20 miles north of Salmon, the park gave us easy access to a number of cool excursions. The best part was that our campsite backed right up to the Salmon River and Bob loved the view! (photo)

Our first excursion was Shoup Road, or Forest Road 30 which took us back the second deepest canyon in the US. Following the Salmon River we watched as whitewater rafters were challenged by the rapids and fishermen were searching for the big catch.

One of the highlights of the 40 mile drive was reaching the confluence of the Salmon and the Middle Salmon, an incredible sight. 

Along the way we saw deer and herds of big horn sheep. It was an all-day journey, and we loved every minute…especially the milkshakes at the Ram’s Head Cafe at mile 31!

Our second day was spent following the path of Lewis and Clark to Lemhi Pass. Here’s Steve’s account of the day:

“Our first stop was the Sacajewea Memorial in Salmon. We learned about her invaluable contribution to the Lewis and Clark Expedition as well as the culture and habits of her youth before joining the expedition.

We learned a lot and were excited to see the actual terrain that Lewis and Clark, led by Sacajewea, had to get through in order to complete their adventure and mission. Bob even met Seaman, Lewis and Clark’s dog.

“We roughly followed their path, driving up more than 4,000 vertical feet in the 20 or so miles to the highest point and the Continental Divide.

There at Lemhi Pass, having only seen two cars and some cattle on the road, we were surprised to see a group of Native Americans. It turns out that they were descendants of Sacajewea’s tribe, and each year, they hike from the valley to the top of the pass to memorialize the 1905 forced march of their ancestors up the steep hill and over the other side into Montana before boarding a train for their new home on a reservation in Oklahoma.  Their entire community of men, women and children had to hike the same trails as Lewis and Clark’s expedition. This bit of perspective changed our experience from the history book’s version and personalized the impact of America’s expansion west years after the remarkable journey of Lewis and Clark.

“After speaking with the walkers, we descended a short distance down the eastern side of the pass, into Montana and the eastern side of the Continental Divide. We stopped at a pull-out for lunch and a short walk to a spring that is the ultimate headwaters of the Missouri River. I straddled the headwaters just like Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery over 200 years ago. 

“We returned to the road and descended back to the Salmon River Valley, picking up one of the walkers as she hitchhiked back down after her hike up.  The three of us marveled at and discussed the incredible adventure of Lewis and Clark, but she also shared the hardships of her people at the hands of westward expansion. She shared the tears shed and emotions expressed that morning by the walkers, one of whom was 80 and whose parents had been part of the march.

After dropping her at her campsite, Marnie and I marveled at some of the ranches and concluded that those walkers would have been the owners of that beautiful, rich land had they not been displaced by America’s movement west. Instead, since their forced march, they lived in Oklahoma before being relocated once again to a reservation in Southern Idaho.”

On our final day at Wagonhammer we headed north into Montana to the Big Hole National Battlefield.

The site is a memorial to the people who fought and died there on August 9 and 10, 1877. The Nez Perce Indians were fleeing from US Army troops charged with enforcing the US government’s demands that the natives move to a reservation a fraction of the size of their traditional homeland. At the end of the conflict, 29 US troops were dead and 40 more wounded. Over 90 of the Nez Perce mostly women and children were massacred in the ugly attack.

Steve saw it this way: “This again personalized the impact of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. America’s expansion west is littered with cases where the US Government went back on treaties and forced Native Americans to reservations far from their homelands.

Though the Nez Perce in this battle were not ancestors of those we had met the day before, we better appreciated the emotions this battle site brings out. Natives say you can hear wails of tears of those who  perished in the battle, and, as I walked through the area, the wind through the pine trees certainly made a melancholy sound.”

Visiting sites like this makes us realize just how little we know about our nation’s history and how much we can learn from that story. There is so much these conflicts teach us about the plight of those who lived here before us. Unfortunately history seems to repeat itself, even today.

We are down to one phone as Marnie’s died on the battlefield, literally. All photos now are from Steve’s phone until we can get to an area large enough to carry a replacement iPhone. Might be awhile…