Friday, June 13, 2014

Camping Big Lost River Valley - Part 6

On our last evening in Salmon LC and I spent a good deal of time playing cards - at the picnic table by the river - something that we did regularly a few years ago, but which we haven't done in a long time.
We're actually fairly evenly matched in cards, taking turns regularly at both winning and losing.
We had meant to bring cards with us, forgot them in the rush to get out of Atomic City, and then unexpectedly found a deck in a draw in the camper, apparently left by the previous owners.
We had played four or five games before finally realizing that the Jack of Diamonds was missing.
Using a joker card for a make-shift Jack of Diamonds we played some more before cooking our last dinner in Salmon, still taking turns winning and losing.
After dinner we played some more.
Part way through a game not long after we started up again, a gust of wind blew through our camp site and LC and I scrambled to hold onto wanna-be flying cards.
We thought we had saved them all until we finally realized that we were indeed missing one.
Searching around the campsite for our wayward card we finally found it laying upside down peacefully underneath the truck.
When I turned it over I just looked at it wonderment.
What were the odds?
It was the joker card turned Jack of Diamonds.
By the time it was dark outside and we were playing by lantern and headlamps, I was beating LC like a drum...........

We left the campground in Salmon mid-morning on Wednesday and headed back down the valley towards Challis.
On the drive between these two mountain-surrounded towns we sped by two sights that I wish we could have stopped and photographed - two bald eagles perched side by side on a tree limb, and a small herd of big horn sheep up in the rocks close to the river.
We had blown right by the eagles at highway speed before it even fully registered what we had just seen.
And the same held true for the big horn sheep.
Driving too fast, pulling a camper, not really looking for wild life but seeing it and driving by it before we even fully recognized what we had seen.
We had noticed a couple of campgrounds on the outskirts of Challis as we were heading north up the valley, and (without knowing anything about them) pulled into this one.
We knew nothing about the place aside from the fact that it was beside the river and only a few miles from Challis, and that was all we really needed to know.
We were pleasantly surprised to learn that it was a free campground.
A restroom, but no running water or other facilities, and that was all fine with us.
It was a gorgeous campground.
When we pulled in we realized that the only other person at the campground had already staked out the best site right by the river.
A lone man and his dog.
With that out of the way, and with all over camp sites only steps away from the river through the trees, the only other consideration was shade.
We picked a site and even as we were setting up another camper pulled in behind us, and I watched as they maneuvered themselves tightly into the trees away from us.
While LC unhooked the camper I pulled together fire wood, and then soon began to wander, as I am hard wired to do.
The campground was much bigger than the one in Salmon, and as I looked around me I realized that we had unexpectedly found one more very beautiful spot to spend a night.............
The Salmon River was very deep here and still fast moving, although the water looked less rough here than it had at the Shoup Bridge campground.
The area around Challis is not as lushly green as it is only 60 miles further north in Salmon.
But it is green enough and it is filled with hills and mountains that remind me very much of Wyoming.
Yes.........we could easily spend a night here.
These pictures were all taken as I walked the perimeter of the campground.............
Private land in back of the campground............
It was very warm out and as I stood in the shade for a few minutes I watched the horses.
They had been playing and dancing around each other when we first arrived, but by the time I reached the fence and looked out over them with my camera, they were resting.
Quietly bunched together in the shade.............
I learned on this trip that this type of fence is known as a jake fence.
Very common on farms and ranches in the Big Lost River Valley............
We had only been at the campground for 30 minutes before I wondered just how bad the mosquitoes would get in this place.
There were pools of standing water everywhere on the private land adjacent to the campground and down by the boat ramp, and by the time I got back to the site we had chosen to spend the night I was reaching for bug spray.
Thankfully our worst fear about the bugs (that they would continue to get worse and more annoying in the evening) never materialized.
This was an incredibly beautiful, quiet and serene place (and free to boot!) and as LC continued to putter around the campsite I continued to putter around looking at the mountains, and the pastures, and the river.............
Not long after we arrived, the guy with the dog by the river greeted me as I wandered close to his site.
I smiled automatically and extended my hand to shake his.
Both of us exchanged names and I immediately forgot his, as I have been so guilty of doing for so long.
He was in his mid-30's, a little scruffy looking and rough around the edges, but you can get that way when you spend a lot of time in a camper, and his camper was his home.
The dog had been a gift from his girlfriend-at-the-time.  I didn't ask for more information and he didn't offer, but I got the impression that times had been tough for him recently.
After a few more minutes of conversation he told me that he was picking up odd jobs, and right now he was off to do some landscaping for a company in Challis.  
As he drove out of the campground, I noticed that his boots were balancing precariously on top of the roof of his camper..............

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