23rd - 29th August 2011

Our first night in Idaho was spent in the town of Challis, where we washed remnants of Montana off all our clothes and caught up on internet chores. After this we were ready for adventure. Sure enough, the next day turned out to be a big adventure!

On recommendation of the Challis fly shop, we headed for Bayhorse Lake. The lake was situated at about 9000 feet up an 8 mile gravel road, which we were assured by several people, Harvey would cope with just fine, although it "climbs a little". This turned out to be quite an understatement!

The first four miles of our drive, to the ghost town of Bayhorse was relatively easy, a gradual climb and the gravel road was good. We decided we'd press on up to the lake and visit the ghost town on the way back.

Looking back, part way up the "road" to Bayhorse Lake

Bayhorse Lake

Once we'd passed the "town", we came onto the single track, rougher gravel road, which climbed more than a little. As Harvey struggled, in rarely used low gear, to get a grip on the steep road, which actually climbed 4000 feet in 4 rough miles, we didn't have any choice but to push onwards, there was nowhere to turn around anyway!

Eventually we reached the top and the view was stunning, it was definitely worth the trauma of the ascent, maybe. Harvey was dusty and hot, we were stressed, so we were all glad to settle into a beautiful, free of charge, camp site for a couple of nights. Now all we had to worry about was getting back down the mountain without sliding off the road. Our trip up was less stressful that our neighbour's. They had blown their pick up truck's transmission on their ascent with their trailer.

Off to the lake.

Another guppy!

It was a location that kept everybody happy. Phil got to fish to his heart's content, using his new float tube. Christine meanwhile explored the beautiful forest and mountains surrounding the lake.

Next day Phil, having caught and released so many small, stocked rainbow trout that they were becoming annoying, decided we would gave fishing a try from the canoe. The hope was that the line would get deeper as we made our way to and fro across the lake, perhaps giving us a hope of landing something a little bigger. However this was not the case as the greedy small trout continued to hurl themselves onto the ridiculously large flies he was using to entice their larger buddies.

After two blissful, peaceful nights on top of the mountain, we had to face the return trip. We were dreading meeting a pick up and trailer rig during our descent and having to reverse along the precarious drop off. Fortunately this trip down was uneventful, mostly as we left the camp site at 8 am, ensuring we didn't encounter any ascending traffic. We reached Bayhorse ghost town half an hour before it officially opened, giving us the opportunity to have the place to ourselves to explore, whilst Harvey's transmission cooled off.

Abandoned Mine Workings

The towns former saloon and hotel.

Next we headed into the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, keen to fish the Salmon River. We snagged ourselves a beautiful campsite, right on the river, at O'Brien campground. Phil was eager to fish the famous Salmon River but it turned out to be quite a disappointment. The river's pristine and beautiful waters seemed to be almost devoid of trout of any size. All Phil seemed to be landing were whitefish and the occasional tiny trout.

Christine meanwhile passed the time cleaning up all the trash left along the riverbank by the fishermen who seemed to have decimated the fish population. In a short stretch of 100 metres or so of riverbank, she accumulated a shopping bag full of abandoned monofilament fishing line, lead weights, hooks and empty beer cans. It was really quite depressing.

Camp cooking, British style!

View from the dump station in Stanley!

We explored the stretch of river as far as the gorgeous town of Stanley but failed to find any improvement in the state of the river. It was such a shame in such a beautiful spot. We had planned to stay a while in Stanley, having enjoyed it so much three years earlier but instead decided to push on west.

We paid for two nights at Bull Trout Lake, another spot we'd loved previously (except for the invasion of Harvey by a Pack Rat at 6.30 am!). Phil paddled his float boat out onto the smaller of the lakes, which we hadn't fished last time. On his way out he was passed by a couple with a baby in a rubber dinghy, who despite the fishing limits applying on the lake, were headed back to shore with a string of over twenty small trout. Not surprisingly he didn't have much luck on his fishing trip and was so disgusted by our neighbours' activities that we decided to leave the next day.

All in all, our return trip to Stanley had been a disappointment, which was a real shame as it had been one of our most talked about places from our earlier trip.

Hey, bring back my trout!

Hot Spring Spa - Idaho style!

Payette River, South Fork

The Payette river, especially the North Fork, proved less depressing. We stopped to explore various beautiful spots along the river, including the very glamorous hot springs! At one spot we were surprised by a Forest Service helicopter dipping a large bucket down into the river in front of us, to scoop up water, presumably to fight a nearby wild fire.

Our next overnight stop was at the State Park in McCall. After spending so much time in cheaper National Forest Service Campgrounds, which offer more primitive services but usually more space, privacy and a beautiful setting, we were beginning to find State Parks less and less appealing, but enjoyed a hot shower, nevertheless.

Next day we were bound for the Oregon border, hoping to stop for lunch and a quick fish on the Snake River but found that major roadworks along its length made stopping impossible. It seemed that that day on Phil's Idaho fishing licence would be wasted, along with the remaining five days, as we crossed back into Oregon.

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