Hitch leader: Joe Duszak
Members: Shannon Apgar-Kurtz, Erica Madden, Tisha Farris
Everyone was really excited to be on this hitch and to have Joe as our fast and fearless leader. Shannon and I had not worked with GIS before so this hitch was the perfect introduction to the Trimble and ArcMaps. Tisha had led the first U-Routes group so the balance of experience and non-experience was just right.
We spent the first day in the office putting together a map of the areas we were to explore, and then we were off to Challis. It felt like leaving on family vacation, being excited about hiking and camping together. After spending the first day in the foothills of Challis with the cows and horses, we moved onto Stanley, where we did most of the work the rest of the week.
Joe was great and determined to be efficient in our work day, even if our plans did not come to fruition because of blocked active mining areas and unreachable routes. Also, having only one vehicle made splitting up routes to walk a bit more difficult, but in the end, all worked out well.
To get through the uphill climbs, which often lasted hours, we would pretend we were walking on flat ground. So uphill climbs were never a problem and we never complained.
On our third or fourth day, a few of our routes cut through a Boy Scout camp. We walked these in the rain, ducking under trees, realizing that perhaps we looked curious roaming the camp grounds. We did most of the routes in this area but a couple routes would have been too sketchy so we decided to leave.
The next day we did routes in what appeared to be a very old mining area. There were remnants of old houses and appliances, and many of the roads as well as the routes we walked were completely overgrown or reclaimed by scree.
We reached subalpine areas pretty often, with white-bark pine, wild flowers, scattered snow and very cold streams. These areas were always beautiful and exciting.
On our last full day we went to one of the cow camps in the area. This cow camp was near the Basin Butte radio tower. We were all curious to see what cow camp was exactly. As we entered the gate we first encountered an abandoned baby stroller which was a bit ominous. We walked our routes and never encountered any cows, yet some how Joe and I got cow poop on our pants. Shannon determined that it meant we were initiated into this mysterious camp. After climbing over 60 degree inclines to get to two routes with no concerns we got back to the Suburban, renamed Shiniqua, and blared inspirational music, particularly R. Kelly, I Believe I can Fly and the like.
On our last day most of the areas we planned to walk ended up being active mining sites, plan A and B and C all failed (a good life lesson). The area south of Loon Creek Summit all ended up being open pit mines, so although it was really amazing and interesting to see, we had no access to the routes which all were being used to mining operations anyway. Lucky Boy mine also fell through because of locked gates and safety issues. It seemed to have been an old gold mine, which would have been neat to see. Perhaps in the future after we contact the owner of the mining claim we may be able to explore and walk the U-Routes.
But we all decided the food was the best part.