Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sheep Hill Odyssey

AKA: Ducky loves mountains
AKA: another epic man-venture.

Well folks, this entry is sadly only half-full because there isn't a single photo of our dear friend Tasha. Her lack of motorcycle disqualified her for the journey, but that doesn't mean she's not still rad and did plenty of awesome stuff in the meantime.

This edition involved over 1,000 miles of riding, 20 miles of hiking, and at least 24 oz. of ground
beef as our friend Kevin and his partner in crime (and former roommate) Adam made their way across the wind-swept plains of eastern Washington and into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho to meet their friend Betsy and her brother Tim, who are working fire for the Red River Ranger district on the Nez Perce National forest. Betsy is the fire lookout on sheep hill for the summer, 10 miles along a ridge, deep into the Idaho Wilderness....

The approximate location of the Sheep hill Lookout in Idaho (circled on the Placemat)

A teaser Photo of the lookout, the trip did not start anywhere near here.
It started here... a little hobo camp made up by our friend Kevin along the side of the road just west of Stevens Pass in the north cascades of Washington State.

The view of the tire, stove, and food bag far in the distance from our Traveler's waking vantage.
A roadside rest area on the east side of the pass where Pat and Barb, elderly members of the Leavenworth Walker's association gave our friend, Kevin some advice (and coffee and cookies) about how change up his riding positions to keep his butt from getting sore over the next 450 miles.
The sun came out and Kevin needed a pair of shades for inside his helmet.
The east side of washington looks quite different from the west, especially in a parking lot in Wenatchee.
A lovely shade tree provides some respite from the heat of the sun in Connell, Washington, where Kevin made his lunch and met up with his travelling companion, Adam.
And here he comes...
The pair stopped for a stretching break along the snake river in eastern Washington.

Gas was also needed for this trip, easily found at fueling stations like this one in Lewiston, Washington, just before the Idaho Border.
Soon after, the pair made it to the edge of the Nez Perce National Forest, after dropping down into a steep canyon made just for the south fork of the Clearwater river.
From Grangeville, the last real town before Red River, the road winds along the South Fork of the Clearwater for 65 miles.
The boys finally made it to Tim's historic house (Betsy's brother and fire crew leader) just behind the Red River Ranger Station.
Adam Displays the apples, wine, and Kale the two have acquired for their trip into the woods.
and Kevin contemplates just how they will all be served.
From the Red River Ranger station, a Dirt road with a 50-foot right-of-way on either side cuts through the wilderness of north-central Idaho for 113 miles as it makes its way to Darby, Montana.
33 miles up that road, the boys find the trailhead for the Sheep Hill Lookout, and Kevin pretends to be a prairie dog.
Motorcycle mode...
To Hiker mode!!! just like that!!!!

Adam discovered that he was a bit too warm on the hike in and that his sleeves were starting to cut off the circulation to his...
Kevin pauses for a moment of contemplation as they cross a patch of snow along the ridge on their way to the...
Adam, Betsy, and the trusty Osbourn Fire Finder mounted in the center of the 16' by 16' lookout.
Adam, Tim, and Betsy, enjoying a little evening radiation through the lookout windows.
Morgan, one of Tim's crew members who hiked in to help open the lookout for the season, reads in the evening light.
Jeff, another Crew member (and criminal law student) from Ohio sports his shades as the sun dips low on the horizon.
Evening comes to the ridgeline.
again, wow.
According to Tim and his crew, Tim's assistant crew leader, Cole, has informed them that it is impossible for anyone to pack 3 cubies from the spring up to the lookout. A"cubie" is a 5-gallon water jug in a cardboard box. Each Cubie weighs in at right about 45 lbs, and the spring is about half a mile and 500 vertical feet down from the lookout. Upon Hearing this, you can probably guess what Kevin and Adam decided to do the next day while the crew was tarring the roof of the outhouse...
Kevin, with 135 lbs of water strapped to his packframe.
Betsy, struggling with the audacity of the situation. (and her own load of water)
Adam, with his 135 lbs stacked vertically inside a giant dry bag, making his way up to the lookout like a champ.
put that in you pipe and smoke it, Cole.
Below the sheep hill lookout, two small lakes held promise of fish in the surface ripples left by their jumps.
Luke, the third member of Tim's crew with his fly rod, testing the waters.
as it turned out, there were fish in those lakes.
Even Jeff caught a few... with his eyes!!!
The trick will be getting them back up that hill to the lookout (on the ridge above Kevin's head)
where besty was cleaning away her day, and prepping for the...
14 FISH that were caught with shirts, spears, flyrods and bait!!!
Did you know that besty is also a trained chef?
mmmmmmmmm...... cuthroat......
After their second night in the shelter, it was time to think about heading out, but not before Adam and Brooklyn (tim's dog, right, wearing a hoodie) got their morning nap.
Adam, nesting in his natural habitat of Tafetta, Polarguard, and Down.
Betsy and Ellie (her dog) wave adieu to the travelers as they head back down the ridge to the road.
A mountain meadow along the way.
Once the boys made it back to their bikes, they started down the road towards Red River, but turned off a few miles down to climb back up on a 4X4 road to the Burnt Mountain Lookout. it's not manned anymore, but is still in an epic spot.
Adam, checking out the inside of the historic log cabin lookout.
Idaho. wow.
Ducky loves mountains!!!
Adam, coming down the lower portion of the Magruder Corridor, heading into Red River.
The Red River Valley.
Adam, riding in the back of Jeff's truck on the way to Elk City for gas and some much-rumored grubble.
At JJ's Cafe.
JJ's serves 8 oz burgers, 12oz burgers (seen here), doubles of both, and "the Tamarack" and "the Feast" (which includes 4lbs of ground beef, 1/2 pound of bacon, 1/2 lb of ham, and 16 slices of pepper jack cheese, among other accoutrements and fries).
Adam, preparing his 12 ouncer for consumption

Kevin, attempting to wrap his mind around the burger he was just served.
After another night of rest at Tim's place, the pair rode up and our of the Clearwater canyon, and were on their way back west for a night at home before returning to work.
After parting ways with Adam, Kevin rode solo northward to Diablo as Adam rode east to Seattle, stopping along the way on the Columbia river.
As well as Dry Falls (not pictured well here), a 350 foot waterfall that is 3.5 miles wide created by the massive ice age floods from Glacial Lake Missoula breaking through its ice dam repeatedly and pouring floodwaters over the plains of eastern Washington, leaving massive ripple marks where we now grow corn, wheat, and soy.
Finally, though, Kevin made his way home to the North cascades with a sore butt, tired head, tanned hide, and a smile on his face.
and of course, ducky loves mountains.