7 Slot Nomads

Get Out

Idaho BDR

October 1st

We left on Friday afternoon and drove to Wichita, KS. Arrived at a Hampton Inn about 0100. Tough day, but we had a long way to go to get started.

October 2nd

Next morning we got up early and drove into Steamboat Springs, CO for supper and on to Craig, CO to stay the night again indoors.

October 3rd

Got up and fueled our tanks and reserves then headed to Maybell to stop off for any last minute items, then on to Dinosaur National Monument, and ran first half of it chasing down all the side trails to see where they went. Fall colors were pretty good in most spots. We were impressed with the Yampa and Green rivers as we hiked the trails to the overlooks. We wound up camped at Echo Park for 2 nights and got some really nice shots of the Milky Way while we were there. Steaks, mixed veggies, corn on the cob for supper the first night. We sat back around a campfire fat and happy. Then we drove west to Moffat County toad 14 ands turned off to air down for the back door trip into Dinosaur. Few people run this rough road into the park. It enters the park on the south side. Most go to one of the three other entrances and stay out of the central regions of the park. Brown's Park / Gates of Lodore is one of the more high trafficked areas but it is remote from the interior just like the east entrance.

October 4th

We got up in the crisp dry air, made breakfast, and headed back east on the main road again. We ran every side trail that we missed the day before. More fun trails out there than one might think. Nothing really difficult, but a couple of them were steep, rough, and loose enough for a cheap thrill. Hiked a couple more overlooks and headed back in for the evening. Weather was perfect for being out. Sautéed cabbage in olive oil and some seasonings and grilled bratwurst for supper watching the sun go down on Steamboat Rock. Again ate like kings. We were enjoying the luxury of cooking out and relaxing around the campfires. We knew Idaho was calling and in the rugged mountains in brown bear country, we would probably cook less for a few days or at least cook quicker meals with less pungent aromas.

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October 5th

Got up early , cooked breakfast, and headed west out of DNM towards the little town of Dinosaur to gas up. Then on through Vernal, UT and made our way to Antelope Island, UT. Camped in a civilized site within yards of the Geat Salt Lake's beach. Water was low in the Geat Salt Lake, but the mosquitoes didn't mind. They did their best to eat us alive. The wind picked up and blew in some rain. We took the opportunity to explore the island and see what we could get into. Ran all the roads and trails all the way to the far southern end of the island (which is pretty cool after we got down there). On the way down and back, bison were everywhere. On the way back we got delayed for a solid half hour waiting on them to get out of the road.It was a warm night out with a low around 50, but the mosquito problems pretty much went away after the rains. As we were looking through the pantry and coolers, we decided German tacos were in order for supper. What are German tacos? We fixed taco meat and sautéed the other half of the cabbage from the night before as topping on our soft tacos. We impressed ourselves with how tasty they were.

October 6th

Omelettes for breakfast and rolled out headed to Craters of the Moon in Idaho. Again we rolled into the CoM from the least used direction and traveled the BLM land into the Preserve. Ran a lot of the trails in the Preserve and did a few short hikes to the old caves and infamous ice tunnels of long ago back when concessionaires were running tours. Those days are gone due to the tunnels starting to cave in. The Craters of the Moon Preserve was very much like a wasteland. If you want to be alone, y9u can be alone out there. The BLM last was rough and every square inch was filled with sage scrub and deep powdery silt. Again the rains came so we bailed out of the much and drove to Lake Walcott State Park to camp out. Relatively vacant and deer were everywhere in camp. We were glad to be in a grassy camp instead of the Deep mud out in the Preserve or on the BLM land. For supper in camp, we cooked half pound cheese burgers over an open fire as it sprinkled and drizzled on us. Wet isn't that big a deal. Camping in deep mud is a big deal.

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October 7th

Left Walcott SP for Andersen Ranch Reservoir and the Idaho BDR. Stopped in Fairview on the way for some lunch at the Soldier Creek Brewing Company. Good sandwiches and while we ate lunch, we listed to 3 old men at a table behind us regaling each other with war stories while they cursed communists and made fun of other branches of service. We fueled up and continued west. This is southern Idaho. Potato country. We saw trainloads of potatoes ready for transport. Amazed at the hight and breadth and depth of these piles of potatoes.

Got to Anderson Ranch Reservoir and ran up the west side of the reservoir on the shelf road. Interesting thing. We followed the road into Pine, ID. Topped off tanks and looked around. From there (on a local's recommendation in Pine) we drove into Featherville and got homemade rhubarb pie and homemade vanilla ice cream for a snack at Cyndie's Featherville, Cafe.

With full bellies we headed north and drove up to Trinity Lakes and found a lakeside campsite up around 8000 feet elevation. We were the only ones we saw on the trail (other than 1 guy on a dirt bike) and the only ones in the handful of campsites. The wind was moderate but cold coming off the lake. It was going to be a really cold night by all appearances. Light snow (maybe a couple inches) was forecast for our area that night. We set up camp and got a campfire going pretty quickly. The view of the lake was very impressive after the wind died down some. What else was impressive is the fact the the Forestry Service took the time, effort, and energy to install pit toilet in this remote place. Phil checked it out to see if it was in working order and found a clipboard hanging on the wall. According to the log, the last in-camp bear sighting was September 21st of this year. We looked for recent signs but didn’t see anything nearby, but we were “bear aware” as we moved around the camp site.

October 8th

The coldest air came in behind the precipitation instead of in front, so we got rain instead of snow. Rained most of the night. Got up and broke camp and made coffee in a light drizzle. We descended through the thick clouds in the rain down the mountain. Visibility was maybe 75 yards until we got below the cloud cover and fog. A couple hours later we found a campsite just off the trail near Middle Fork Boise River and fixed a brunch of bacon and pancakes - sort of a pancake scramble actually since we wound up with watery pancake dough and had to sub in some oatmeal to thicken. Still a very good meal because, bacon.

Got back on the trail and headed up the BDR to Lowman. The trail was wild and the scenery was stellar. We had a road closure but the reopening date was a few weeks behind us. We took it anyway and navigated the washout that closed the road. 4x4 was required but nothing too bad. So, the road should have still been closed, but it wasn't a big deal.

Rained most of the day. We arrived Lowman, topped off tanks and noticed yurts behind a bar/restaurant. We rented a yurt (no electricity, but it didn't leak) in Lowman for the night since the rain came back. After getting our gear into the yurt and figuring out sleeping arrangements for 4, we ate some awesome pizza at the local bar that rented us a (small) yurt. As a big finale, we went a mile or so down the road after supper and soaked in the thermal hot springs. Hot waterfalls falling about a dozen feet into pools next to the frigid north fork of the Boise River. Very good ending to a long day on the trail. It rained a lot that night, but we were snug in our sleeping bags in the yurt listening to it come down. Went by on our way out in the morning to snap a couple quick pics.

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October 9th

Cooked oatmeal in the yurt for breakfast and packed up our gear. Afterwards we rolled north past the Deadwood Reservoir towards Yellow Pine on our next leg of the BDR. The roads and trails to Yellow Pine varied from gravel to rutted two tracks.

After leaving Yellow Pine around 4800 feet, we crossed to Elk Summitt pass at 8600 feet elevation. It had snowed some at those higher elevations and we started seeing it at around 5500 feet or so. By the time we made the pass, there was snow on the trail as well. The trees and ground were pretty much covered with crispy white snow. Looked like a wonderland. Trail was really fun. Weather was chilly, but the scenery was awesome.

We came down from the pass and stopped off at the (very muddy and slick) Florence Ghost Town and then through the French Creek Grade switchbacks. We traveled on and found a good campsite by the Salmon River. We set up camp and then transferred the remaining contents of our external fuel tanks to the Jeeps. Supper in camp at the bottom of the mountain was grilled pork chops, green beans, homemade smashed potatoes (from new potatoes we picked up along the way somewhere). After supper, we found two cans of biscuits that didn’t survive the altitude changes and popped open in the cooler. We cooked them in a skillet with a plate over the top and dipped them in butter and maple syrup. Slept well that night listening to the Salmon River running a few yards away.

October 10th

Got up early, packed up, ate a quick breakfast, and hit the trail just after daylight. We had some miles to run to stay on schedule. Rough muddy trails most of the day. Steady drizzle most of the day. We rolled into Grangeville, ID early afternoon and gassed up everything. Jeeps were getting pretty thirsty and we ran down to about 50 miles left in the tank. After fueling tanks and reserves we went to the laundromat. It was time to get everything cleaned up.

We washed and dried all our dirty clothes while eating a late lunch of MREs. We may have been the first in a long time to eat MREs at the laundromat by the looks we got. It was getting pretty late in the day so we decided to stay in town and get a shower since the last good shower was before we got into Colorado (if you don't count sitting in the hot springs). We checked into a Motel 8 and took real showers. We did some light provisioning and ate a good pizza dinner then watched the new James Bond movie in the old single show theater that had a total of 230 seats next door. Grandson of the founder still runs a movie almost every evening at 6:30pm.

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October 11th

Our good luck had changed to bad. We got caught in unexpected winter storms. Winter storms rolled in and started dumping snow at elevations of 4000 feet and up. They were calling for up to 18 inches of snowfall at elevation. We had to drop the plans to run the Magruder Corridor due to inclement weather. We bailed north and east to get around the storm and went up and around to Missoula MT and found an awesome pie shop (because that's what you do when traveling through town). We then headed out 90 east to try to beat the storm to Wyoming. We didn’t make it. We shut it down in Bozeman MT for the night at a hotel after looking at some deep snowy campsites that were all closed due to winter storm weather.

October 12th

Up early the next day we checked the weather and everything was going downhill fast. Most of southern and western Montana along with northern Wyoming were still under winter weather storm warnings and snow was piling up all around us fast especially to the east (which was our destination direction). We made the decision and bailed south out of Bozeman and drove down through West Yellowstone. 4 wheel drive was much needed for the snowy roads. Things improved slightly as we moved south, but the roads were all covered in snow and any traffic out was moving pretty slow.

At Ashton we gassed everything up again went east on Grassy Lake Road that comes out into John D Rockefeller Memorial Parkway. It’s a small piece of park that joins Yellowstone (which was closed and gated) to the north and the Tetons on the south. That road turned into quite the snow covered adventure. The road (trail?) climbs to about 7600’ elevation and the snow was at least hub deep some spots and really wet. Fun run through it and we chased down some snowy side trails as well. Mud holes, slippery snow, and some sudden elevation changes on side trails required 4 wheel drive. Even had to lock it up once to climb back up a slippery snowy trail that lead down to Lake of the Woods. We came out at the Flagg Ranch Station (which was closed) and rolled south on the slippery highway through the Tetons to Jackson Hole.

We pulled into a city park in town with a pavilion and cooked breakfast for dinner as the flakes came down here and there: bacon, eggs, and pancakes. It was about 35 degrees but the meal was great and again we ate like kings. Cold kings, but still kings. Then we found a Hampton Inn and checked in for the night to see what the weather held for us tomorrow. It was our plan to head west to try to make it across the southern part of the Big Horns on a trail I was snowed out of last time I was up there.

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October 13th

Got up the next morning early reaching for the remote to check the weather. We saw the weather had deteriorated into blizzards east and south of us dumping lots of snow. I-80 and I-25 closed in several sections and we decided to stay another day and wait it out. Let the storms pass and the roads get cleared some. We spent the morning wandering around Jackson like tourists and running through the Tetons. We saw elk, moose, pronghorns, and deer. The skies cleared enough to get some impressive views of the mountains and we checked out Mormon Row. We also ran a few trails left open by the park rangers. The trail down to the Snake River is always fun but the snow made everything really beautiful to look at. We got some good bull elk pics as we were coming back up the trail from the Snake River. The wind was fiercely cold and damp. Spit snow all day, but the Tetons looked really beautiful.

Then back to town for another night indoors in Jackson Hole. We lucked into some free pastries from a local bakery we arrived at just as they were closing. We cooked breakfast for supper (roast beef and cheese omelets) and ate the pastries.

October 14th

Next morning we left early headed and back up through the Tetons and got some alpenglow pics of them just after sunrise and also some awesome moose pics. Then southeast on 26/287 (not all roads were open) over the Continental Divide at 9500 feet elevation. The road was a little sketchy at the top on both sides but it was open so we took it. Then down beside the Wind River Range into Lander and Medicine Bow then into Laramie and down to Fort Collins, CO. There was snow and ice on the roads in several places requiring 4 high and slow speeds to make safe passage until we got beyond Medicine Bow.

We dropped in at REI to roam around before they closed then headed to the hotel. We fixed taco salad (with smoked sausage on Ritz crackers as an appetizer) in our room for a late supper and turned in.

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October 15th

Headed home and after running 750 miles, we overnighted in Joplin, MO.

October 16th

Made it home. The trip was not as expected. The blizzards really killed off the eastern leg, but it was still a great trip. It has left me with the feeling that we need to go back and finish it.

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