Friday, August 11, 2017

Motocaching the Lochsa

There are quite a few geocaches scattered along the Lochsa River from Kamiah east to Montana. Over the years I’ve found most of them but there were just a few that I lacked including a couple of new ones. I planned a motorcycle trip to try to get the ones I lacked hoping Clint would accompany me. Due to his work schedule he wasn’t going to be available so Wednesday, the 9th, I struck out on my own.

Anticipating the trip I had ridden my Triumph Tiger from town to the farm the previous Sunday. So Wednesday I departed the farm at 6:45 a.m. descending the Gilbert Grade to Highway 12. I gassed up in Kamiah and made my first stop the other side of Kooskia at one I had attempted before called “Big Rock”. There are many huge boulders along side the river at this point and I was unsuccessful again. I’m going to need some help on this one.

Lochsa Lodge Grounds
Moose Wallow
I picked up a new one called “Dead Mule Flats” to break the ice before hitting the cache rich area at the Lochsa Lodge. I passed up a couple along the way to have some stops on the way back. Right near the lodge parking lot I found one in a stump. Next I rode a short distance to the Powell Campground to find one that surprisingly hadn’t been found in over a year. Now I had to backtrack to the lodge for a trail hike to “Moose Wallow”. I probably hiked ¼ mile or so to the wallow. The hint was “in a woodpecker tree”. As it turned out there were two “woodpecker” trees and I searched in vain before finally seeing another one nearby and quickly found the cache – no moose though.

Cache at White Sands

Tight Squeeze

Now my travel was on gravel roads back toward the White Sands Campground. As it turned out I didn’t take the intended route (imagine that) and I had to pass several “Road Closed to Thru Traffic” signs with barely enough room around the locked gate to allow my bike through. However, I finally made it and picked up the two caches near the campground and small lake. I had lunch at the campground.

On the Point
The Cabin
Next I headed back to Hwy 12 on Elk Creek Summit Road which is the way I should have entered. I passed one cache and stopped at another near the top of the Lolo Summit called “On the Point”. I had a little trouble finding my way out to this one but finally found a trail leading along a narrow ridge to a point featuring a beautiful view. I got back on the road and stopped at the one I had passed called “The Cabin”. It was an old cabin used by sheepherders long before the road was built. It certainly doesn’t look like sheep country to me.

The next closest cache in my GPS was “Large Tamarack” which I didn’t have on the list I’d made so it was apparently one I had entered at an earlier date. It was billed as one of the largest tamaracks in Idaho. It was located more than 6 miles off the highway. I was a little uneasy attempting this alone but I decided to go ahead anyway.

Let the adventure begin. The first mile or so was on the Elk Creek Summit Rd which I had been on earlier. Then I turned off on a narrow Forest Service road which ascended up the mountain. It was narrow with some switchbacks but relatively smooth until the last ½ mile or so. Certainly better than the 21 mile Orogrande to Dixie road Clint and I had done the previous Saturday. I could see the big tamarack up ahead so I stopped a couple of hundred feet before it where I thought I could turn around. It’s not easy to find a turnaround place on a narrow road on the side of a mountain. The cache was supposed to be in a hollow tree across the road and just up the five foot road bank. However, there was no hollow tree anywhere around, just a downed and burned tree that had been there for some time. I looked all around for some time before giving up and heading back to my bike. I later found a comment that the owner suspected it was gone due to fire but I hadn’t updated my GPS since the comment was made.

As I backed up sideways on the sloping road I became overbalanced on the downhill side and I could not keep my bike up. Now I know from experience there’s no way I can pick that 440 or so pound bike up by myself without injuring my already bad back. Clint, where are you? It’s now past mid afternoon and at least 6 miles to the nearest help. The chances of anyone else being on this road are slim and none. Okay Mickey, keep calm and think. So I found about a 3 foot piece of wood along with a long pole from a nearby slash pile. I drug the bike around 90
After 3 years
Back up with levers

degrees so it was lying uphill and then I lifted it enough to get the smaller piece of wood under the crash guard near the front of the bike. Using it as a lever I pried the bike up enough to get the larger pole under the guard. Then using one hand to lift up on the back of the bike and the other to leverage the front of the bike up with the pole, I managed to get it up so I could lift it the rest of the way. The only damage appeared to be a broken reflector although I’ll undoubtedly have to spray some paint on the crash guard. That’s been done before.

So off we go, bloodied but not beaten. I stopped for a cache I had passed on the way up and found it fairly quickly. Now my last one was one that hadn’t been found in over three years called “Lookout! Deadend!”. It was across the river from the road and to get access (unless you had a boat) you had to go back a mile to the “Wilderness Gateway” campground where there was a bridge. Then you had go back downriver in the campground where there was a trail called “Deadend”. The trail followed the river until the cache site just before the trail end a ½ mile out. I made the hike and found the cache in good shape after a three year dormancy.

Then I hit the road toward home, stopped in Kamiah for gas and called Kathy to tell her I was on the way. I arrived at the farm about 6:30 p.m. having covered 304 miles. What a day!

After posting the caches on line the owner of “Large Tamarack” contacted me and said I could count that cache as a “find” as the container had been destroyed by fire previously and I had found the tree which was the point. He hadn’t been able to replace it because it was raining whenever he was up there. So that gave me 11 finds for the day. M/W


Chuck said...

Mike, I might suggest you not go to out-of-the-way places without having some backup with you. You might not be so lucky the next time. The same thing applies to me and ladders. They are to be garage wall ornaments to me and only to be used by younger and healthier men.

Hallie said...

I do think that it's best that the women folk not know about such adventures as these. The search for Dad is going to take forever if we also have to search the roads marked "do not enter".

Mike said...

I know, poor judgment on my part. Clint was supposed to have been along. Next time I'll use more restraint.

Kathy said...

I think it's good, when writing blog posts, not to tell everything. For instance, I avoided a lot of comment on my stupidity by not telling that I put a bucket over the rattlesnake. Mike was appalled -- said it would have been safer to get the snake tongs. Once I had covered the snake with the bucket, I covered it again with the ice chest. It was all for naught. Twenty minutes later it was coiled in the yard again.