For our second backcountry adventure we chose to do Section 1 of the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route. This section starts in Jarbidge, NV and goes north to Pine, ID at the north end of the Anderson Dam reservoir. It’s hard to see in this photo, but the end of Section 1 is that dark purple icon with the bed on it.
We weren’t planning on going all to the way to Pine, however. We were going to come out at the south end of the reservoir (that first light purple icon along the green line) and head to the Northwest Overland Rally in Plain, WA. We didn’t want to back track down the BDR so we were just going to come off the BDR early and that would make a good place to restart it another day.
On Saturday, July 10 we headed to Jarbidge to start the BDR. We followed the guideance of the BDR map and took the more difficult route to Jarbidge instead of the more direct route that Google maps suggested. Besides, the idea was to be in the backcountry.
So we exited I-84 in Mountain Home and took ID 51 south to Rowland Rt Rd. Since we had a vehicle breakdown on our last trip, in which we took a pre-trip photo, Shelley wasn’t very excited to do the same on this trip. A bit superstitious, I know. But also foretelling.
We took that all the way to Nevada where it changes to NF 37. NF 37 was heavily washed out. We managed to get through it, but it took quite a while as we had to get out on foot and walk the route to make sure we were going to be safe. It took about 90 minutes to go 1 mile. From there we took various backcountry roads east eventually passing through Diamond A Ranch (and some private property that the road has an easement through) and eventually onto a narrow, steep windy road that led down to NF 62 (which become Main St in Jarbidge itself).
I don’t know if we took a wrong turn, or read the map wrong or what…but the narrow, steep windy road we took after we left the Diamond A Ranch led down to this at the bottom.
There was no such sign at the top. The road wasn’t that difficult to navigate either. It was just narrow and steep with a tight hairpin turn that, with a trailer, took some pre-planning but we did it without having to back up. I don’t know why the road was closed. NF 37 at the Nevada/Idaho border was in far worse shape and it had no signs at either end.
While traveling down Rowland Rt Rd at the start of our way to Jarbidge, we suffered a major failure on the Moby. The weld on the bottom seam of the water tank burst and we lost all our fresh water. We had to leave Boise full as none of the camp sites in this area of Section 1 were going to have water so we had to bring it with us.
This was quite disappointing. Especially after the shock failure in the Mojave just a few weeks prior.
Luckily, I brought a 5-gallon water jug with us but it was empty. When we got into Jarbidge we found a general store that had a well out front and we were able to fill the water jug. That would get us to our second camp site where we could refill again without any problem. After arriving in Jarbidge, we did a bit of sight-seeing. They have a really nice little city park in the center of town and a cool monument as well.
After visiting around Jarbidge and buying some ice cream from the store we headed up to our camp site for the night and the first few miles of Section 1. We stayed at the Juniper Campground (GPS 42.03577, -115.37305) just across the Idaho border. The red star is the approximate spot where we camped on day 1. Juniper Campground is next to a nice river edge that was running fast due to the heavy snow fall we had over the winter. There were even steps leading down to the water that were well under water from the high flow.
On Sunday, we headed out north up the BDR. This section of the BDR isn’t difficult at all. It was mostly dirt with some pavement, but the dirt roads were all in good shape and wide enough for two vehicles to pass with out issue.
There also wasn’t much to stop and see except for the Bruneu Canyon Overlook. But to get to that overlook, you have to leave the BDR route for a detour. We didn’t mind. We knew we weren’t missing anything on the BDR and I was surprised this wasn’t the actual route in order to take advantage of this overlook. You can see how the BDR (green line) turns NE and we sent NW to the overlook. Well worth the detour. Photos can not possibly do the overlook justice. It was pretty spectacular.
After stopping there, it was on to our next camp site at the Bruneu Sand Dunes. The campground was pretty empty. We took Ripley for a walk over to the dunes, but didn’t climb them ourselves as it was too hot to leave Ripley in the truck or trailer and our camp site didn’t have power to run the AC for her.
We spent a leisurely evening until a storm moved in and ripped down the kitchen awnings. We had to do an emergency take down of the awnings to keep them from being damaged. The Moby’s side awnings were fine.
The next morning, Monday, I started making phone calls to various places in Boise to see about getting the water tank repaired. We found a place who told us if we got it to him that afternoon he could fix it quick and keep us on the road. So, instead of making our way to Anderson Dam, we headed home with our backcountry trip over prematurely.
When we pulled into our driveway, we dropped the water tank and I ran it up to Tim’s Job Shop who cleaned up the seam and welded a new bead along the bottom edge. All in all, it took him about 30 minutes and I was headed back home. We re-hung the water tank and we were back in business.
Tuesday morning, we head off to our next stop outside Baker City, the Union Creek Campground. This was just a pit stop on our way to Leavenworth. This stop in Baker City was pleasant and quite. The weather was great and we just took Ripley for a walk and relaxed.
On Wednesday, we moved up to Leavenworth and stayed at a KOA to make sure we could top off with power and water before heading to the Northwest Overland (NWOL) Rally in Plain.
We were glamping it in Leavenworth. We picked up a growler of beer from the local brewery and had a real nice dinner at our favorite restaurant in Leavenworth, Pavz Cafe.
Thursday we moved up to Plain and moved onto the Rally grounds.
The NWOL Rally is much smaller than Overland Expo in Flagstaff. But it had the same idea. Venders selling new products, classes on various aspects of overlanding and backcountry travel, equipment demonstrations, vehicle courses and lots of free beer. NWOL also had pre-determined trail runs for each day. We didn’t participate in those, however. Also, the overwhelming percentage of participants here are from the Northwest and western Canada. So, in a sense, it’s has a local flavor to it that the Expo did not.
We took a class on trailer maintenance and learned how to service our trailer’s ball bearings. We did attended some presentations on the UT backcountry and the ID backcountry. The UT one wasn’t that great as the main presenter didn’t show up, but the ID one was nice as the presenters knew a lot about northern UT and shared that information with us. We also attended a Leave No Trace presentation by a local Idaho rafting company and they brought along…..free Idaho beer! I think one of the best classes we took was on mountain biking techniques. It was one hour and we were two of three that showed up. After the class, it was just Shelley and I and the instructors hung around another hour talking about bike maintenance. It was really pretty cool of them to do that.
Someone took a drone up and took a photo of the entire area. We are that little orange spec that the green arrow is pointing to. The trees in the bottom left are where the off road courses where held and the upside down “L” shaped clearing on the right are where all the venders are set up.
The organizers had a big bonefire every night (it was kinda rainy the first night so no fire) and did a raffle drawing for a bunch of swag, mostly, but there were some really nice things given out too. We got nothing. Bummer. Venders, like Rugged Overland below, did their own raffle giveaways too.
A member of NWOL put up a post on the forum about meeting for breakfast on Saturday. So we went over to his camp on Saturday morning and met other NWOL members there for breakfast.
There was also plenty of time to wander around the site and check out other people’s rigs and set ups to look for ideas.
It was a really fun time. Very relaxed. Very small and easy to get everywhere. In fact, there were things I wanted to buy, but didn’t know if things would fit on our set up. The venders were more than happy to “loan” it to me to walk over to my truck/trailer and check the fit before buying. No one ever asked for ID or collateral in case I didn’t bring it back. It was all very friendly and low key.
Saturday night was the end of the Rally and Sunday morning we finished our packing and headed home around 7:00 am for the long drive home.