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  • Writer's picturefherbolsheimer

Section 6

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Rocky Bluff Campground - Wilderness Gateway

Distance: 128

Number of Days: 6 days

Day 28 - July 19

Cleaning up the campsite and sleeping in a few hours we get started around 7:00 hiking 5 miles on a steep gravel road. At this point we could smell and taste the fires in our lungs. There was a weird feeling in the air because no one was around, it was as if we were hiking a closed road and the forest service just missed telling us it was closed. We hiked an ATV trail for about 4 miles before connecting to the Driveway trail located on the edge of the Gospel Hump Wilderness that would take us to the Sourdough Fire Lookout. What I didn’t know is that the trail would make me second guess what I was doing and completely wear us out. Maneuvering over hundreds of down trees, bushwhacking for hours and seeing a huge black bear this is what the trail gave us. It seemed as if the trail was abandoned and we did not get the memo. We made it to the peak praying the door to the lookout was unlocked with a loaf of sourdough bread waiting on the table as an award because why else would it be the Sourdough Lookout. It was unlocked but no bread…

We made it with a little of our own drinking water left and just in time for a rain storm to pass through. After searching the area I was able to find a spring about a 1/4 mile away that we could quench our thirst. Being at 6,600 ft we were also able to get cell service to connect with our family back home before falling asleep on the wooden floor.

Day 29 - July 20

Hiking the Sourdough road we prayed that we would not have to endure another day like the last one. We hiked the driveway extension trail that seemed to be maintained but quickly becoming a maze. At times I felt as if we were trying to capture a diamond ring protected with thousands of trees acting like lasers.

Could it get worse? Yes it could, it started to rain and we were soaked from head to toe trying not to slip and injure ourselves. After struggling for hours we decided it was our safest bet to exit the madness and hike the creek up to a road leading to Legget Creek Campground. On our way there we saw another black bear scramble up the hillside. We set up our tent with our headlamps on and we’re exhausted from another 14 hour hiking day.

Day 30 - July 21

Dodging through a construction zone on the Highway we decided to take a gravel road to the Elk Summit Lookout. On our way there we were passed by about 30 ATVs on a joyride. We made it to the Lookout just before noon and had some lunch deciding what our next plan was going to be. We continued on trying to make it as far as we could, deciding to pitch our tent next to the trail in an open range area, listening to the cow bells as we slept.

Day 31 - July 22

Decending down a closed road, because of construction work, to the Selway River we took a break for the afternoon knowing that we would have to ascend just as much tomorrow.

We took turns catching a few nice trout before making our way past the Selway Falls and to Grover Campground where we would hike the Grover trail the next morning.

Day 32 - July 23

We followed the Grover trail for about a half mile, it didn’t seem to follow our gps so we decided to hike back and follow the road 5 miles down to the East Boyd trail and hike it to the top of the canyon before stopping for the afternoon, enjoying the shade and views from the top.

While we were packing up to leave we heard a voice in the distance and saw a guy named Tom hiking down the trail. He was manning the Coolwater Fire lookout with his day off he was maintaining a trail so his family could come visit him in a few days. Tom was a very knowledgeable guy giving us advice on fires, what trails to take which ones to avoid, and where we could find water. We wish we had a person like him at every turn to direct us. We ate dinner at the top of a peak enjoying the view Taking his advice we hiked to Louse lake and camped for the night.

Day 33 - July 24

Tom explained to us that a trail crew would be working on the Split creek trail so we shouldn’t have any problems. We did meet a trail crew about halfway into the hike that didn’t seem to have much done on the trail. We bushwhacked our way through and started the long dreaded highway 12 walk to wilderness gateway campground. This has to be on the list of worst things I’ve done on a Saturday at 4:00. The 11 miles on the curvy, exposed, busy road was exhausting to say the least. Steve was a little crabby.

We met one of my old coworkers Shelby and her husband Tony to resupply our food and stay 2 nights at the Lochsa Lodge. Not knowing what to expect we were pleasantly surprised by the place. Definitely 5 stars. We showered up and enjoyed a nice dinner at the lodge before falling asleep to the movie zookeeper (not zoolander Shelby) on the small tv.

Day 33.1 - July 25

Sleeping in and not wanting to cook we ate a late breakfast at the lodge. It was a lazy day and we finally decided to head to Jerry Johnson Hotsprings about a 15 mile drive and a 1 mile hike away. We enjoyed the afternoon drinking a few beers and enjoying the nice warm pools while watching Tony catch a few trout. Tony gave me a few pointers and I was also able to catch one. By the time we made it back to the cabin it was dark out and we were hungry. Shelby cooked us steaks and we made do with Tupperware lids as plates memorable to say the least.


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