Wednesday, June 17, 2015

First Summer Camping Trip - Part 5

So............this is Part 5 of what will turn out to be (surprisingly) a six part blog post.
I had no idea when I first started this story, that relating this trip would turn into such a long and involved process.  
Throughout our camping trip I was simply snapping pictures as the days passed.
Absently snapping pictures without much thought.  
And before I knew it, my absent picture-snapping has turned into this post...........

We had heard about a mountain lake not too far outside of Challis.
It was called Bayhorse Lake, and it contained both a lake and a campground.
After quickly eating at a gas station and restaurant combination in the middle of nowhere somewhere between Stanley and Challis, we asked the business owner if he knew more about this lake.
There were actually two (a smaller and a bigger lake).  There was a small campground.  The lakes and campground were 8 miles off the road (almost all of it up hill).  The lake and campground were at an elevation at 8600 feet.
Armed with this information LC and I turned to each other and wordlessly agreed that we would visit this elusive place.
At almost 9000 feet surely there would be no-one there.  We could boat on a natural lake that was located deep into the mountains.
We were excited about the prospect of exploring.............

By the time we reached the turnoff the sky had become increasingly cloudy.
The sun had ultimately lost the battle for dominance on this day after all.
No matter.
We turned off the highway eager to explore a silent and solitary mountain lake, and immediately began to climb...............
Many of these pictures look washed out.
Some were taken through dirty windows.
Normally I would ask LC to stop so that I could climb out of the vehicle to snap a quick picture, but the dirt and gravel road was so winding - and so steep - and so endlessly climbing - that I did not want him to lose momentum.
And so I snapped pictures on the move, through dirty windows.
Some are also washed out because the world itself looked washed out.
Gone were the vibrant colors of bright sunshine as we had in Salmon and Stanley.
And gone were the vibrant colors of an empty campground immediately after heavy rain and as the fog was lifting the next morning.
In its place was an overcast sky and a white washed world where colors unexpectedly were washed out and faded.
Again - no matter.
We were on an empty and steep road that was winding us into deep mountain territory................
We continued to slowly creep towards the top of the mountain, endlessly climbing.
Surprisingly we passed by an old mining museum, and resolved to stop and check it out on the way back down.
A picture of one of the old mine buildings, seen through the trees..............
Still climbing...................
After slowly climbing for what seemed like a very long time we finally reached a short and flat section.
Eager to get out of the Tahoe for a few moments I quickly snapped the picture of the boat behind us and bright blue and yellow wild flowers growing abundantly on the hill side to my right....................
Continuing to climb................
Just beyond the eight mile mark we finally came across the marker indicating the direction of the big lake to the left and the smaller lake to the right.
Unsure which way we wanted to go we stopped briefly to read the sign that pointed the way to the smaller lake.
In capital letters we read the word WARNING, and then learned that the road to the small lake was extremely rough.
Taking them (whoever "them" was) at their word, we decided to head to the left, towards the larger of the two lakes.
At 8.5 miles, we finally reached the top.
We were at Bayhorse Lake.
Following the sign that pointed the way to the boat ramp we drove down a short hill, pulled the truck over to the side of the road, climbed out of the Tahoe and were immediately let down.
The big lake was small.
So how small was the small lake?
We could boat on this lake with a trolling motor, but it would have been a better place to bring our kayaks.
Only the kayaks were at the house.
There were two people sitting in camp chairs and quietly fishing from the edge of the pier that extended 25 feet into the water.
Looking to my left I realized that a middle aged couple were sitting at a picnic table silently staring at us.
Stone faced, I regarded them for a moment.
No smiles.  No waves.  Just staring.
Somewhere deep in the depths of my brain I could hear banjo music playing.................

We looked out at the lake.
We looked out at the fishing pier.
We looked at the crazy-psycho-staring-people.
We looked at each other.
Taking a deep breath I suggested that we go check out the campground and find a spot.............
We were at the top of a mountain and were looking down at other surrounding mountains and pastures.
The place was stunningly beautiful but we were most definitely not alone.
People at the lake, and surprisingly also people at the camp ground.
Stunned, we saw the two large 5th wheel campers parked in camp spots, and could not believe that they had brought such huge campers up the road that we had just navigated.
As LC squared the Tahoe and boat away in a camp site, I walked to the edge of the trees with Kory and looked around me and down towards the pastures far below.
In the background I could hear a four wheeler on the road close to the campers...............
After wandering briefly around our immediate area we all three returned to the camp site.
I smiled as I watched my dog easily jump up and into the boat.
Without her puppy-life jacket her jump was easy and graceful, and my dog proudly surveyed her domain from this high perch.
LC was tired.  
I suggested he take a nap, and then promised to stay close as I wandered around.
Disappointingly there were people up here after all.
Fishermen.  Psycho-starers.  Campers.  Four wheelers.
And bears and wolves.
I would not wander too far..................
Already curled up amongst the pillows and cushions and sleeping bags and ready to take her OWN nap...............
I was completely in awe of this place.
We were at almost 9000 feet, and even though it had been warm thousands of feet below, at this elevation I had already reached for a quilted jacket.
It was very cool.
In every direction I could see mountains and pastures and tall pine trees that majestically reached to the sky.
From the moment we had reached the lake and camp ground though, I had been determined to overlook the unexpected people.
In hindsight, why were we so surprised to see so many people?  It was summer.  The lake was accessible by road.  
Probably we should not have been so surprised, but we were.
And as I walked past the 30 foot 5th wheels, I was still astonished that they had climbed this road.
Astonished that they could climb so steep for so long.
And how the heck did they get these things off the mountain?  How did they not fry their brakes?
I had no idea.
Not only had trucks pulled big campers, but these same trucks had also piled dirt bikes and four wheelers onto trailers and dragged them up with those same campers...................
A combination of vibrant pictures and washed out pictures (depending on which direction I was facing).
As I headed down towards the lake I passed a young boy (that I had already passed twice in the short time we had been at the camp ground) riding a 4 wheeler.
In truth I was disappointed all the way around.
Nothing had really panned out the way I had expected, but I remained determined to make the best of it.
We had traveled all the way up here, and I loved this place.
I would love it even more in November..................
Slowly I walked down to the lake and looked out over both the lake and the mountains surrounding it.
It was so beautiful.  So very beautiful.
I needed to wander and walk, but not alone.
And so I hoped that once LC had rested, we would explore on foot.
Scary-staring-people had left, and I headed over to their picnic table to sit, all the while trying to ignore the kid on the 4 wheeler who was happily buzzing around the camp ground...................
10 minutes later I heard a noise, looked to my right and saw LC (driving the Tahoe and pulling the boat) and headed my way.
I already knew before he got to me, that he could not nap because of the noise and wanted to go.
We had been here all of an hour and already we were leaving.
Disappointed in the number of people, disappointed in the four wheeling kid and the other motorized play toys that would (at some point soon) be tooling around the mountains close to us...........yeah............I was good with leaving.
We would be back.  Months from now.  When it was cold and quiet.
But on this day, it was right to leave.....................
The road heading back down the mountain was very very steep and LC moved through the gears trying to find the right gear that minimized the stress on the brakes.
Regardless, within a couple of miles I could smell the brakes.
They were getting hot.
How in HELL did trucks hauling 30 foot campers (as well as trailers carrying 4 wheelers) get down off this mountain?
One more remnant of this areas' mining history.................
By the time we had traveled five miles almost straight down hill the brakes were beginning to smoke.
Oh boy - we needed to stop and we quickly found one of the few small flat sections there were to be found from top to bottom.
Pulling over as far to the side of the road as he could, LC parked the Tahoe and we all climbed out.
I could smell the brakes.  I could see the smoke.
The last time we had been in this situation we had been coming off the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.
Everything needed to cool down and (holding tightly to Kory) I looked around me.
High hills to my right.  Wild flowers, dense trees and brush, and a fast moving creek to my right.  Big downhill in front of me, and big uphill behind me.................
After a few minutes I walked across the narrow dirt road and joined LC who was sitting at the bottom of a steep embankment.
Kory wandered behind me and climbed up the hill as far as her leash would allow, still eager to explore, and while she did my Mountain Boy and I talked about our next step.
Eventually the brakes would cool down and we could continue.
We would stop on the way downhill and check out the mining museum.
From there?  The campground in Challis that we had stayed at last year and enjoyed so much?  

As LC and I continued to talk I could feel Kory pulling hard on the leash behind me.
For a few moments I was only partially aware of her pulling, as I was completely engrossed in my conversation with LC.
Eventually I turned to see what she was doing, and (realizing that she was happily and enthusiastically rolling on the side of the hill) called her back to me.
By the time she scampered down the hill to greet me I realized why she had been rolling with such gusto.
She was covered from the top of her head to the tip of her tail in cow manure.
Lots and lots (and lots) of fresh cow manure..............

Stinking to high heaven, my beautiful dog enthusiastically came up to me, looking at me with happy wide eyes.
I looked down at my disgusting dog and then looked sideways at LC, and then asked him to watch the terrain around me (since we were in bear and wolf country) while I dragged my sorry-ass dog down to the creek.
Picking our way through beautiful wild flowers and annoying downed trees, we eventually made it down to the freezing cold water of the fast moving creek.
Kory wanted no part of it.
The water was noisy and fast moving and cold, and she had worked hard to smell the way she did.
Momma was intent on cleaning her up, and she liked the way she smelled just fine thank you.
Eventually she was clean.  
Or at least acceptably cleaner, and we picked our way back up to the road.
Kory had violently shook herself down at the creek (and while still only partially cleaned up) and when I reached the truck I pulled my cow manure splattered t-shirt off, totally grossed out and disgusted.
After pulling a clean shirt over my head I sat  on the embankment with LC again and looked over at him one more time.
You know.............let's go to the museum on the way back down, but why don't we just head home after that?
LC looked over at me in surprise.
"I think I've had just about all the fun I can stand for one trip".
We agreed.
It was time to wrap this camping trip up.................

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