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Exploring Central Idaho (Crowdaho) in July

July 4, 2019.

We always seem to get our trucks reasonably level when we're out in the woods, but something about the level driveway we'd parked in made for an extremely easy night sleep. Or maybe we were just tired from our previous three days - gallivanting around the southeast parts of Idaho.

At any rate, we were up late (for us) when Ben @m3bassman opened the garage door at 8:00am - our planned departure time giving us plenty of time to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get the tent put away. In fact, it was still a few minutes before 9:00am when Ben and Kirsten loaded up Venice and Milo and climbed into the green truck, and Mikey @pizzaviolence got Riggs buckled into his 2nd gen. We were off!

Our plan for the day was to hit a couple of spots that weren't in our Idaho itinerary the previous year, but that should offer some nice views and plenty of spots to enjoy a relaxing night in camp. Plus, they'd keep us close to Stanley, Idaho - where we would be picking up another truck each of the next two days.

As we headed north, it wasn't long before we reached our turn-off for FS-555 and decided that now was as good a time as any to air down. We weren't going as low as normal - since we expected reasonably well graded FS roads, and a bit of pavement over the next few days - but even taking the tires down to 20 psi would smooth out the bumps and make the trip more enjoyable and easier on our trucks.

Aired down and headed up the road, we made good time - a requirement (we thought) as Ben had warned us that we had some 120 miles to cover each day - a very full itinerary! We were glad to be in the tail-gunner position - the hot, dry roads making for dusty conditions that we avoided as best we could by hanging way back as we made our way towards Deadwood Reservoir.

It was just after noon when we reached the dam - no water flowing over the spillway, despite the high water levels in the reservoir. Still, it was cool to see the water rushing through the outlet tunnels, and as we took a few photos, we noted how run down the dam itself looked - at least compared to the larger dams we've seen recently on some of our trips.

Still working though, I suppose!

As we cruised around the reservoir, I think we were all surprised by the sheer number of people we encountered. With the water levels high, there were fewer spots accessible around the reservoir, and every one of them was packed tight with campers enjoying the warm air and cool water. And the road - heavy with traffic - was a constant source of dust.

We eventually found a spot where we could pull off the road for lunch and to let the dogs stretch their legs, before continuing on - hopefully away from the hustle and bustle of this popular area. Our route took us east, through the Salmon River Mountains - a beautiful route with easy trails - thankfully relatively light on traffic, though thick with dust.

Our speeds high, we made great time - arriving at Dagger Falls just after 2:30pm. A favorite place for boulderers, we found it interesting that the "falls" - really more like rapids - had a fish ladder along their eastern escarpment. This ladder, completed in 1960 allows migrating salmon and steelhead upstream over a distance of 175 feet, and at a cost of $107K.

A waste of money? Perhaps - or maybe the falls are more pronounced when the water flow is lower (or higher).

Regardless, Ben, Kirsten, and Mikey enjoyed a Dagger Falls IPA overlooking the rapids and then we ventured upstream a couple hundred feet to check out a bridge into the National Forest Wilderness. The bridge itself wasn't anything to write home about, but we all got a good kick out of the sign posted on the far side.

Fair notice, hang gliders!

This was a place that Ben thought we might camp for the night - but it was still extremely early and even here, we were going to be sharing the campground with several other campers - so we decided we'd continue on to find a more typical dispersed spot. But not before some shenanigans from the front truck.


The roads through the Salmon's were mostly wooded, but every now and then they'd break out into a grassy field, with 360° views - hard to resist for a group of folks who were way ahead of schedule anyway!

We didn't pause long at any given site however - trucks pulling trailers and boats headed both ways along the road, prompting us to continue on. In fact, as had been true most of the day, there was so much traffic that Ben and Mikey didn't even stop as we passed what was perhaps the epitome of the #insta-overlanding boom that we find ourselves in these days - I mean, you can't get much more over-land than an airplane, can you? LOL.

From there, we bombed down to ID-21, where we immediately set out in search of a camp site. We wanted something secluded, but with a view. Near the creek, but not too buggy. Warm, but with some shade. You know, as always, we wanted it all!

To find it all, we split up - Ben and Mikey investigating a road north, @mrs.turbodb and I checking out one to the east. Initially, I was sure that ours was going to be the winner - after all, we crossed the river twice and found the ruins of an old gold mine...

...but it was not to be - our road eventually whittled its way down to an ATV-road, and there wasn't any great place to setup three trucks and have the dogs run around. Plus, Ben called out on the CB that he'd found what he thought was a great candidate - on the edge of a meadow, views and fishing plentiful.

It was a great spot, and even with the extra miles we'd tacked on for the day, we were setup before 5:00pm, just as an afternoon rain shower passed overhead. Luckily, the awning on Ben and Kirsten's CVT Mt. St. Helens provided a nice dry spot for the 30 minutes or so that we needed to stay dry, and after that we were all back out under the sun, a few downed trees providing more  wood we could burn in a several-hour long camp fire.

I'm not sure exactly what time we hit the sack, but it was dark, and that was enough for us - all of us happy for the comfort of our tents and looking forward to what the following days had in store.

Little did we know that we wouldn't even need to wait until daybreak for the first of that excitement, the 4th of July with more excitement in store...


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