4 mtns, 10 Cuts, & 100 miles of ridgetop dirt road in Idaho!


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Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 18, 2012 - 12:03am PT
I took a 2 & 1/2 day break from my Montana/North Idaho Biz/road trip and ventured into "Deepest Idaho" for a weekend adventure.

Afternoon of day one: I found lots of feeding cutthroats on the upper stretches of the "No-Tellum-river, but they were highly selective. The river is "catch & release" and every fish had survived a summer of being caught on fake flies.

I finally figured out they were eating tiny (size 18-20) flying black ants. My unworthy attempt to duplicate the ants still caught me 9 fish, with the largest a reel-ripping 14". I camped next to the river that night and caught 0 evening fish.

Nice camp though.

The rocks and deposits of garnet sand, from all the tiny garnets in the abundant schists were interesting.

Early the next morning I drove up a steep one-lane with pullouts dirt road to a ridge line above the No-Tellum River and followed it west for about 100 miles of dirt and gravel roads, during the next two days.

I had anticipated great ridge-top photos, but the smoke was bad.

I found some wonderful (to me) mineral specimens and climbed 4 mountains while searching for them.

Although, I am always on the look-out for Survival's "Lost Tribes of Prehistoric Women"------I did not hope to find any this far north.

Sometimes you just have to go and explore.

(more to follow)


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 18, 2012 - 12:32am PT
That looks a tough row to hoe, Fritz. Buck up and catch one for the Gipper!
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Sep 18, 2012 - 08:56am PT
N. Fork CW 4 cuts.

Deepest darkest N ID.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 18, 2012 - 09:28am PT
Solitude and fish....so what's a little smoke? See you in the Creek, don't bring your fly rod for this one, but tape might be a good idea.

Sep 18, 2012 - 09:37am PT
Sounds like paradise...

from out where the anecdotes roam
Sep 18, 2012 - 10:19am PT
fritz breaks into song after a day with donini at the "creek":


Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 18, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
Sounds like a trip I did several years ago Fritz. I went up out of Riggins I'm not sure how many forks of the Salmon I crossed but I came out in McCall three days and many miles later. Lots of river and rock back in there and the biggest Cutt I landed was an 18" beauty somewhere on the South Fork I think. The next day I headed over to Salmon and on up to the Bighorn Crags. Awesome area. More pics!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 18, 2012 - 08:41pm PT
Thanks all for your positive comments. Hooblie! I like the "Water" song, but I do "dry" better than I do "wet."

Wayno! That is a great trip you did! I've done the drive up the Salmon River to Burgdorf Hot Springs, and then spent a night & day in the old mining town of Warren, and got to meet & spend time with some locals too. (the Warren stories, sweet Jesus, do I have Warren stories).

However, I have not linked into that lower chunk of the South Fork Salmon. Good on you for a great trip into Idaho!

------so I drove up the steep one-lane, with pullouts road to the "ridge-top" road and worked west. The road was in good shape, but 10" deep in dust at some points.

First mountain was Junction Peak. You can drive up a God-awful steep road to within 100 yds. of the summit, but I hiked up a steep mile or so.

The smoky views, which the summit register claimed were the best in the area------were smoky.

I hiked a few miles around the next peak-Bathtub Mountain, and neglected to take a summit shot when I finally made the rounded ridge-crest. The frost-nipped Huckleberry bushes were more photogenic.

Then it was 40 miles to where I wanted to camp. Archery season is open for deer & elk, wolves & grouse are in season for rifles, and I drove through two-active logging operations. I met 3 vehicles on the road and saw another 20 or so parked or camped in the 40 miles of "pretty-good" dirt-roads.

Damn! You just can't get away from people anymore.

I finally camped near the top of Goat Mountain, and strolled to the summit in the early evening. Still couldn't see much, due to smoke.

The next day, I rose as it was getting light, had coffee & breakfast, and drove a few rough miles to the parking for No-Tellum Peak. The smoke had cleared somewhat and the early views were promising for photos.

I found crude, but large & plentiful garnets almost everywhere along the route.

The smoke views improved!

I even found some decent Kyanite & garnet crystals.

It was a beautiful afternoon, but I had another 30 miles to go to hit pavement, and then another 390 miles of two-lane highway to Choss Creek.

I enjoyed the rough drive that was un-ending. I met one more car in 30 miles and saw another 3 camped. Damn place is over-run with tourists! It wasn't crowded like this, the last time I did the drive in 1981.

The road is significantly rocky & steep in places, but I never needed 4 wheel-drive or low-range.

I didn't make it to Choss Creek that night.

Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Sep 19, 2012 - 01:31am PT
Ah-ha! Freezeout! I knew you wuz up between the N. Fork and the St Joe.

On a side note, I hitchhiked from McCall to Burgdorf one day. Only had to stand there for about 8 hrs.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2012 - 12:19pm PT
Spider: Back in the 70's in Moscow, we would even drive to Freezeout for a steep as hell north-facing snowfield that lasted well into July.

I didn't make it home the last night of the road trip, and ended up in Moscow (Idaho).

Next day, heading south down US 95, the smoke from big fires to the east was ------impressive, by Grangeville and along the Salmon River.


Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2012 - 01:47pm PT
I wanted to head over the Magruder Corridor that year but the fires near Riggins were like your last pic, Fritz. Road was closed. I headed over through Bergdorf and Warren and then to Big Creek and Yellow Pine and out on FR48. The big Cutt was had at the South fork between Warren and Big Creek. Gawd, I love that part of Idaho.

Social climber
Sep 19, 2012 - 04:55pm PT
hey there fritz... say,this is a great share... i love the feel of the
whole thing... i will definitly come back and see these pics!

thanks again...

wayno, your trip sound great, too, :)
thanks for throwing in the share, :)

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2012 - 07:28pm PT
neebee! Be sure to catch the photos! They are the best part of this adventure!

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
WA, & NC & Idaho
Sep 19, 2012 - 11:18pm PT
Beautiful country Fritz, I'm praying for snow (and I'm not even religious). Glad you got out in the back country.
thanks for sharing your passion with mountains with us!!!
mountain dog

Trad climber
over the hills and far away
Sep 19, 2012 - 11:31pm PT
Cool report. I like Idaho.
Captain...or Skully

Sep 20, 2012 - 12:38am PT
It's flammable Idaho.
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