Hot springs, camping, hiking, and fishing trip.

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To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors review their week’s prep activities and planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, ranch improvements, bug out bag fine-tuning, and food storage. This is something akin to our Retreat Owner Profiles, but written incrementally and in detail, throughout the year.  We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in your e-mailed letters. We post many of those –or excerpts thereof — in this column, in the Odds ‘n Sods Column, and in the Snippets column. Let’s keep busy and be ready!

Jim Reports:

This past week, Lily and I took a hot springs, camping, hiking, and fishing trip in Central Idaho, crossing over a bit into Montana. We enjoyed some wonderful sunny weather.

We spent our first afternoon at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, in the Lolo National Forest. This is just a one mile hike off of Idaho Highway 12. It is a very pleasant place to take a dip, where a hot spring emerges, at the side of creek. From there, we proceeded down through Hamilton, Montana, and back across into Idaho.

We traveled down Highway 93, which alternates passing through Idaho and Montana.

We turned off at the little town of North Fork at spent the night camping near Shoup, Idaho – a tiny little off-grid ghost town hamlet. This is along the banks of the Salmon River, upriver from the roadless designated Wilderness section of the river.  The Salmon River runs 425 miles and is the longest free-flowing river in the Lower 48 States.

The only folks going any farther in the Wilderness stretch are whitewater rafters and bush pilots. Floating the Main Fork of the river, you don’t hit any sign of civilization — or even have any connecting road — for more than 70 miles, until you reach Vinegar Creek –about 25 miles east of Riggins. So you can see why the river’s nickname is The River Of No Return.

For our campsite, we picked a side road marked Sage Creek and drove up a canyon for four miles, looking for a level spot. Those are a rarity, in that country, which seems to be all straight up and down. But we eventually did find a very nice level spot that was grassy, and pitched our tent about an hour before dark.

After a restful night, we had breakfast, broke camp drove a bit farther downriver, stopping to see some Native American petroglyphs. Then, still further downriver, I showed Lily the Panther Creek area. This was where 15 years ago, I had considered buying a small ranch. But soon after, I instead made an offer on the current Rawles Ranch, much farther north.

Most of the rest of the day was spent driving, down 93 to Challis. We took a side trip up to the Custer mining ghost town and museum.  There, Lily found the history and high elevation geography fascinating. This was her first trip to visit a mining ghost town.

We then took Highway 75 to the town of Stanley. From there in the Stanley Basin, you get a fantastic view of the Sawtooth Mountains, pictured, alongside this paragraph. Further north on 21 at one place where we stopped, there a carpet of blossom of dark blue Camas that measured more that 60 acres. Camas bulbs were a native staple food of the local Indians. In Stanley itself, we toured the historic Stanley Ranger Station, which is now operated as a museum.

The rest of the afternoon was a lot of driving back across to western Idaho, through the tiny towns of Lowman, Garden Valley, and Banks. As we dropped in elevation the temperature got progressively hotter, topping out at 101 F. Then we took a highway paralleling the North Fork of the Payette River –which was a mass of foaming whitewater. As we climbed, the temperature mercifully dropped. After dinner at The Basecamp restaurant in Cascade, we splurged and spent the night at a hotel in the resort town of McCall.

On Tuesday morning, we took a hike down to Goose Creek Falls–near the Brundage Mountain Ski Area. That was a delightful hike, with my wife Avalanche Lily exulting over the 16+ species of wildflowers to photograph. (See her flora and fauna description, below.)

That afternoon, we drove up to Riggins. We watched some Nez Perce tribe members netting and gaffing Chinook Salmon right out of a narrow spot in the Rapid River just above where it dumps into the Little Salmon River. One that we saw them land was at least 26 inches long, and must have weighed 20+ pounds. That inspired Lily to go upgrade her Idaho fishing license with a Salmon Tag. About $90 worth of fishing gear later, she was out fishing on the Little Salmon River. She had a couple of bites but didn’t land any.

She was fishing with an old 1960s-vintage Surgeon pole, loaded up with 50-pound test monofilament. I rigged her up with 30-pound leaders and 1/2-inch radius barbless hooks. The rock bottom ate a lot of her leaders before that day was over.  And thus we came to jokingly presume why the town is called Riggins: The local river rock bottoms contribute to the sale of a lot Riggings!

We camped 11 miles up the Salmon River Road, at Spring Bar. We were treated to a dandy sunset. God sure paints them pretty. On Wednesday morning, we had an appointment for a half-day whitewater rafting float trip. So we packed our tent early and were back in Riggins by 8 AM. We stopped and bought another block of ice for our cooler, and then met our whitewater rafting guide from the Orange Torpedo Tours rafting company.

Since we’ve had a cool, rainy April through June in the Redoubt, the river was quite high, and the rapids were truly rapid. Great fun! Lily and I were seated at the front the raft and hence got the full brunt of the swells which were up to four feet over the bow of the raft.

That afternoon, we took the Seven Devils Road up to Heaven’s Gate. That is a more than 6,700-foot climb in just 18 miles of driving to the summit at 8,418 feet. Because of lingering snow patches, the last two miles were passable only by foot. It was a great and truly memorable hike. The views were stupendous, with a view of four states visible from one location, up at the old fire lookout.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
Jim and I had a fantastic week traveling around together.  It was really the first time we had gone anywhere for more than two nights alone together during our whole marriage.  The past twelve years were spent raising the children, homeschooling, and building up the ranch, gardens, and livestock. So this really was our delayed “honeymoon” and it was a marvelous wonderful and refreshing time for the two of us.

Jim and I both wrote the preceding travel itinerary, and I will comment on the flora and fauna that we saw:

First of all, we were thinking of visiting multiple hot springs, but the weather itself was so hot and I am generally too hot these days, that after visiting Jerry Johnson, of which I did not get in, there was no way that I could even think about sitting in a hot spring, after hiking on an eighty-five degree day. All I wanted was a refreshing swim in coldish water. However, the river was ice cold, but where the hotsprings met the river, it was cool enough to sit in and cool down without freezing the tail off. We’ll do a more extensive hot spring tour in the fall and winter when it will be lovely to get in a hot pool on a cold day.

We have had such a cool and rainy spring that the wildflowers are just exploding all over the Redoubt.  I have never seen so many flowers before in my life.  It was so awesome to look at faraway hills and see them with patches of blue, or purple, or pink, or yellow and white.

Wherever we went, I had my eyes scanning the ground for any new flower for me to identify of which Iimmediately photographed.  I carried several guides with me, a flower pamphlet and an alpine flower guide and a Northwest edible plant book. Just at the Goose Creek trail, I saw and photographed these flowers:  Larkspur, meadow rue, Clematis, Bane berry, Spring beauties, strawberries, dandelion, false Solomon seal, Star False Solomon seal, Queen cup, Red trillium, Bunchberry, Mountain bluebells, purple violets, gooseberry, Hellebore, Alpine Willow herb which is in the primrose family, Groundsel, Vervian, and several others that I am having trouble identifying with my books at home.

When I saw a flower alongside the road that I hadn’t seen before we would pull over and I’d photograph it and then try looking it up while we continued driving along. One such flower was in the Mallow family.

While we were on top on top of Heaven’s Gate Mountain I saw Glacier Lilies, and new to me, Old Man’s Whiskers/Prairie Smoke. That is truly a unique flower.

Northwest of Staney we passed through a high elevation Mountain valley and saw the purple meadows of Camus. We stopped at a pull out and took some photos of the Meadow.  There I also saw patches of Shooting star flowers.

During this trip for fauna, we saw Mule Deer – including two mule deer fawns, Elk, Antelope, Moose, Bighorn sheep, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Chuckar, Sand Hill Cranes, Osprey, Great Blue Herons, Marmots, Colombian Ground Squirrels. And of course umpteen assorted songbirds, flickers, and woodpeckers.

Often as we drove through certain areas, Jim would read their description to me out of the book titled, “Idaho for the Curious”.  This thick book is a gem of interesting facts of history, people, and geologic wonders of Idaho.

I also spent many hours while we drove pouring over the Idaho Gazeteer map book of Idaho, learning the locations of many cities, towns, mountain ranges, ghost towns, back country forestry service roads, etc. of central Idaho and elevations of each place.  I also have plans for exploring other areas of the state that we did not yet see.  In the future I am very interested in seeing the Driggs area and seeing more places north of Stanley and down in Sun Valley.  We are also very interested in touring parts of Montana and Wyoming, Lord willing.

I needed this fun get away time, badly.  It recharged my batteries, somewhat.  When we got back home, I weed whacked the main garden.  I was tired of looking at all of the tall grass in the garden beds and wanted to get a semblance of order back in the garden.  I also weed whacked a portion of the house meadow that is full of daisies, knapweed and other weeds.  I hope to finish weed whacking that meadow next week after the expected rains stop.

I harvested some of the garlic scapes. I am allowing some of them to go to flower to produce seeds.

As usual, keep prepping.  Each week, the news is getting worse and worse.  I feel the tension of all of the horrible news we are hearing and a part of me wants to ignore it, but I will keep on doing what we do to get ready.  Keep, keeping on.  Read the Word of God and pray and don’t take any of the Vaxes or the soon to come, Mark.  Be very skeptical of the narrative the Media is spinning. Don’t take any Legislative actions as “victories”, because there is a major agenda that they want to accomplish and these “victories” are actually stoking the fire of hate against God’s true people.  Remember, Jesus will keep us if we keep trusting in Him.  May we keep our eyes on Him at all times.

May you all have a very blessed and safe week.

– Avalanche Lily, Rawles

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As always,  please share and send e-mails of your own successes and hard-earned wisdom and we will post them in the “Snippets” column this coming week.  We want to hear from you.



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