Thursday, August 4, 2016

July 27, 2016 - North Fork, ID to Stanley, ID

The morning was gorgeous.  We were up early to get things ready before checking out of the campground.  Two RVs that were next to us had already left.

At the campground the air quality was little better than yesterday, but the smoke, although not as thick, still hung over the mountains.  

We left Wagonhammer Campground at 10:10 am, turned right to get on Highway 93 South.  On way down the smokes were still smoldering at the mountains.  At the bottom there were still small fires burning, and the helicopter and plane were hovering above.  The affected areas were all black.

We made a right turn to historic Highway 93 (Salmon River Scenic Byway).  The road was very windy and twisty, but very beautiful and exhilarating.  We highly recommend that if and when you are in Idaho to take this scenic Highway 93 route.  The route runs between Arco, ID near the Craters of the Moon and Bitterroot Valley in Montana.  Along the route we spotted some old log cabins, but there was no turnouts or pullouts to let Edith get out and take pictures.

Each bend/turn had us on the edge of the seat wondering what lies ahead of us.  The textures of the mountains were varied from bald to rocky.  Salmon River was alongside the whole time we drove.  No wildlife was sighted.

While in Challis we turned right onto Idaho 21 where Yankee Fork State Park is at.  Just past the state park we pulled over the shoulder to fix lunch and to rest a bit before resuming our journey.

We stopped at a scenic overlook to read information about spawning salmon.  We were hoping to be able to see salmon in the river, but there were none.  The sign explained that Chinook salmon swim nearly 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean to lay their eggs here in the gravel river bottom.  The female salmon digs a nest with her tail and deposits her eggs. The mate covers them with gravel. After spawning they die. While death is unfortunate it serves a purpose by returning nutrients to the aquatic ecosystem.  In 1 to 1 1/2 years later the minnow-sized salmon will head downstream with hopes of surviving the difficult passage to the ocean and spend 1 to 3 years in the ocean if they make it.

We decided to camp in Stanley, ID instead of Sunbeam, ID because the town is bigger and had more campgrounds.  We chose to spend two days at Valley Creek Lodge/RV Park.  $35 a night if staying for just one night, but since we are staying two days the rate was reduced to $30 a night.  We settled into site #2 with full hookups.

We were planning to drive on HWY 21 to Boise but had to change
our route because of road closure due to the wildfire!
 The alternate route was very beautiful so we didn't complain.
Because the air/visibility quality was poor we decided not to go out for rest of the afternoon. After supper we went out for a short drive to get ice cream.  The sun’s color/view was affected by the smoke.

A fellow camper, parked next to us, informed us that he spotted 4 elks in the pasture on his way to the campground from the West, about a mile and half west of here.  We went out looking for them, found them. The first time we saw there was a bull elk, but it moved behind bushes and we did not see it again. We were able to get a close-up view of the elk cows through the spotting scope.  We stayed a while to watch them, but the elk cows became startled and started to run back to the mountains.  The rancher was riding on the ATV on the pasture and it scared them away. :(

We went out looking for ice cream and found a place at Patagonia Outfitters. Erwin had huckleberry ice cream and Edith went with strawberry.  We drove around for a bit to finish ice cream before returning back to the Lil' Home and retired for the night.

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