High Desert Adventure in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon:
Editor: E. Bewley, Pic & Video M. Verley
VALE, OR – The genesis for this adventure event really happened by chance during a routine campfire brainstorming session. During that meeting of the minds, we were thinking of a good reason to explore around the area near Lakeview Oregon as we had fallen in love with the mountains surrounding that town at an even earlier Oregon Back Country Discovery route expedition. We had always wanted to get back there; now we just needed to have a catalyst. How about finding the point where the state boarders converge and make that “the goal”? Fast forward to today and several thousands of miles later, we have seen so many wonderful examples of western triumph and tragedy as well as some of the most remote and arguably beautiful country in the lower 48.
By following the latitude established by the southern border of Oregon and Idaho, we have made a series of adventures that feature most of the Majesty available both to the immediate north and south of this line. This adventure event focused mainly on Idaho, Nevada and Utah with some small sections of Oregon thrown in for good measure.
We Then drove through Vale, Oregon grabbing some roller food, ice, and gas. Heading on down the road towards a very small monument to the Oregon trail. Located on the actual route used by pioneers as they made their way to the Willamette valley, this park demonstrates to me that one can have the largest wheel-assisted migration in human history and the supposed scar left by that massive undertaking on this quote / unquote “bio-sensitive and delicate terrain” is barely visible.
We were late getting to our next camping spot due to the slow and fun climb out of the Owyhee canyon. The sun was setting as we descended on Succor creek canyon. Another gem tucked away in the Gem state and used ostensibly by the locals this incredible picturesque canyon hosted us with splendorous enlightenment, meaning we were camped close, close enough, to a small group that had a pleasant drum circle going on as we made camp.
The morning sun illuminated the canyon’s colors from the rock formations and our flat tire. An air compressor and a tire plug kit made short work of the ‘ideal’ puncture and we were soon on our way.
As often happens during our adventures, we were now at a decision point. Due to the slow progress on the climb out of the Owyhee canyon, we were quite a ways behind on our timeline. As a group we decided to skip the three forks area and took some more major gravel towards our next feature stop of Jarbidge. As the sun set, we stopped at a welcoming Indian campground located inside the Duck Valley reservation. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes are here and if there represented by the people we met, they are great! Josh, the local tribal patrol, stopped by us the morning after at the camp and asked me to see my fishing permit as there was a big lake at this campground. I told him that we were not fishing only passing through and had stopped for one night. He said, “OK, may I see your camping permit?” My what? When we drove in late at night, we didn’t see anything that mentioned that. I explained that to him and instead of writing us some revenue generating ticket he asked us to go to the local gas stop / deli / hardware store and by a permit on the way out. It was with great pleasure that I did just that.
| Day three on the way to Jarbidge. A location we’ve wanted to explore for many years as there are a ton of old abandon and otherwise gold mines. As baron, hostile, and boring as the trail was from Duck Valley to Jarbidge the area around this town is amazing. There’s a real ‘open the roads’ access to our lands vibe here that we can really appreciate. There’s even a 20 foot tall shovel commemorating some of the local’s work to open the trail and in doing some research came across an excellent example of civil disobedience with a positive result. Check out the 50 Million Round March and look at the pictures of ‘Liberty Rock’ … this rock is now at the local city park with a plaque describing what happened.
Great restaurant and bar here with two cool features. First, there’s a foot bath located in the restrooms for people to clean off their feet and for $2 one can get a hot shower (towel is included)… These guys got everything one would want, food, beer, bathroom, shower, freedom! We’re going back to just explore this are as there were a ton of trails going off in many directions.
But wait, it gets better. We climb out of Jarbidge and cross over a snow covered pass into the most beautiful, and amazing valley we’ve seen in a long time. Trees, flowers, lakes, meadows, rock formations that went on for miles and miles with no one but us exploring. Copper Basin is the name as it’s mentioned on the printed maps. Truly amazing and I know you hear or read that quite often as people describe where they have been but it really was… and it’s located in Nevada, who knew?
Dropping down and down into more of a desert environment, we headed with a fair bit of speed, that was common during this entire adventure, towards are next nights camp. Far away and out there was a great BLM camp with creek. Usually, any source of water in the desert is a mixed blessing as it means green grass and trees etc.. but also mosquitoes. A nice light breeze kept us bug free all night. Wow, the stars were amazing! In the morning my daughter did a little fishing and even though we saw a lot of ‘monster’ trout, nothing was landed. She and I had a blast though!
Please enjoy a documentary YouTube video put together by Matt Verley and a slider of all the choice photos of our journey (below). There is one more convergence along this latitude and it’s the Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah border. We plan on tackling this next year and have some highlights such as the Soda Springs geyser, Monsanto Slag Pour, Minidoka Cave, and Napoleon Dynamite’s movie house already lined up and identified. Check our forum for planning and we hope to see you out on the trail!
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