We became aware of the total eclipse sometime in the summer of 2016. When Shelley bid her vacations last October, we set up our annual week vacation in Stanley to coincide with the eclipse. We reserved two camp sites for our family gathering, which only happened thanks to Courtney who managed to be “the one” who got through on the website for the reservation.
We traveled up to Stanley on the Saturday before the eclipse and got some good mountain biking in over the weekend. Luckily the weather was clear with little to no smoke in the area and no chance of rain till after the eclipse.
We rode the Elk Mountain Loop on Saturday which was really nice. Pretty easy ride overall.
Just after we started we ran into a hiker who told us she saw a black bear moving off the trail ahead of us some ways. We rode a bit more gingerly for a while after that but once we ran into other bikers and hikers coming from the other way with no signs of a bear, we felt better about the rest of the trip.
Hawk and his son Orion tried their hand at sailing in their make shift sail boat with a tarp. They put in on the south side of the lake and came all the way across the lake.
Monday was the eclipse and Shelley took some really spectacular photos of the event. Shelley came prepared for the event with a great camera and the tripod.
The gang just hung out and waited.
I had never seen a total eclipse and had no idea what to expect, other from pictures. I was pretty surprised that it didn’t really get that dark till the last few minutes, nor did it start getting noticeably colder till about 15 minutes from totality.
Then totality was absolutely incredible. Watching the last glimpse of sun disappear while wearing the eclipse glasses then taking them off to see totality was unbelievable. I just couldn’t believe how big the event was. Pictures just don’t give the event scale unless you see it in person.
The other thing that was really cool was looking to the north and seeing the glow of a sunset…..to the north! That was the only horizon we could see being surrounded by hills and mountains. But that was just really interesting.
Bats came out.
Our dog, Ripley went to sleep. She began laying down about 30 minutes before and at totality she was out. Sleeping.
We weren’t too far off the center line so we had well over 2 minutes of totality.
We did watch the whole thing. Including the sun coming out from behind the moon as well. Took in the entire event in from start to finish.
Just absolutely spectacular.
On Tuesday, we did some more mountain biking. We drove over to Potato Mountain and did a really difficult ride. We had to do quite a bit of pushing the bike up hills as well as a lot of natural obstacles. From wash-outs to stream and creek crossings. It was a real, true mountain bike trail. It did have a mixture of cruising too through meadows and traverses. But when we were finished, we were whipped.
As we drove out of the trail head and back to our camp site, we saw a concerning site. A small billow of smoke rising from the area of Stanley Lake. The local authorities spent the whole weekend concerned about someone coming up to watch the eclipse and starting a wild land fire, and now, the day after eclipse, we were looking at one not far from our camp site. On top of that, Ripley was in our trailer and the doors were locked.
We hauled ass back down the dirt roads from our trail head to Lake Stanley. As we got closer, we realized the fire was in our valley, but then upon arriving at the camp ground, we saw it was at the south end of the lake and was pretty small. Some forest service guys were in our camp telling us the fire was being worked and there was no evacuation in effect. They told us resources were on their way to combat the fire and two crews were already on the ground working the fire.
Along with other campers, we hung out at the lake shore watching it as we couldn’t see what was happening on the ground. Shelley and I started to break our camp down a bit in the event the authorities ordered an evacuation. We wanted to be close to pulling up stakes and getting out if things came to that.
A few hours later, the firefighting air force showed up.
First, a couple small firefighting planes arrived and did three runs on the fire. Then a lone helicopter showed up and started collecting water from the lake and dropping it. Then another helicopter showed up.
Pretty soon there were five helicopters in the flight pattern picking up and dumping water on the fire. This went on for hours. Till just before dusk.
But the star attraction was when the Sky Crane showed up. Oh man. Jack pot! Only 31 were ever made and very few are even still flying. And the Sky Crane was picking up just about 300 feet off the shore from our camp site. Yeah, I watched it for some time. Took lots of video too. Very cool.
The air show went on for hours and when it ended it was hard to see what the condition of the fire was. With all the rotors beating the smoke for hours it was tough to see the fire’s condition. We were told by the forest service that we were in the clear for the evening and the fire presented no more threat to us.
We roasted some s’mores that night in peace. You can see the smoke from the fire in the background on the far side of the lake.
We were going to do another mountain bike ride the next morning, but the fire burned up the area of the trail. So we went into Stanley and just hung out at a coffee shop for a few hours to catch up with email and the rest of the world. The camp ground has no service at all. With no ride on the schedule, we took Ripley too. Which she enjoyed. Then we drove down to Red Fish Lake and she got to fetch in the lake and go for a good walk. We ate dinner there and then listened to their live music on their lawn. It was a pretty chill day and relaxing.
On Thursday morning, we started the second half of this trip. We packed up the trailer, hooked up and headed for the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR). If you’re not familiar with the BDR system, you can read about at the above link.
Back in April we did part of Section 1, from Jarbidge NV to Bruneau ID.
We left Stanley to pick up the BDR south of Lowman where FS384 comes into US21. Due to the Pioneer Fire in 2016, lots of the area SE of Lowman is closed to allow the area a season to regrow. The main road the BDR uses (FS385) is closed so we used a detour which starts SW of Lowman.
At Trinity Lake we got to try out the newest gadget we bought for the backcountry, the Outland Fire Bowl. With all the fire restrictions in place all around the Northwest, we wanted a way to have a camp fire and not be in violation of the fire restrictions. While at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff in May and the NW Overland Rally in Plain in June, we saw different people with these and everyone seemed to like them. It seemed a smart way to have a camp fire while in the back country. We didn’t know how fuel hungry it would be, so we brought a second 5 gallon propane tank we had laying around, but we didn’t did one. We carry a 7-1/2 gallon propane tank on the Moby and that would have been plenty for this trip.
It did work very well. We roasted s’mores on it and hung out around it at Trinity Lake and at Anderson Reservoir. We did notice that it doesn’t perform nearly as well at altitude. Trinity Lake is over 7,000 feet and on full, the flames were decent. But at Anderson Reservoir, we had it at 1/2 power and that was more than enough.
The other thing I would recommend is buying the extra carry bag for it. The fake rocks in it rub together while in transit and create dust. I saw this while getting it ready in the living room at home so we put the bowl in a 33 gallon garbage bag. A garbage bag is cheap, but it got torn up too and was only good for one trip.
The next morning we went for a short hike around the lake and up the ridge to explore the trail system and see what’s around the area.
We really enjoyed Trinity Lake. We found two really great hiking trails we want to come back to some day. If you are reading this for information on the BDR, Trinity Lake is a must stop for an overnight camping stay.
From Trinity Lake, we continued down the BDR to Pine and then on to Anderson Ranch Reservoir. We arrived at Evans Creek Campground (43.399409, -115.413954) in the area later in the day on Friday and the camp sites along the reservoir was starting to fill up. We did find a decent spot and found a nice quite, private spot in the trees along the camp site to spend the evening. Even though some of the camp sites were full with large groups, the spot we had in the trees made it feel a bit more private. Those that were around us were really nice too. It wasn’t Trinity Lake, but it was pleasant.
The next day our trip was over. We continued down the BDR, passing through the remaining area of Anderson Ranch Reservoir and headed to Glens Ferry and finally on to Bruneau to meet up with where we left off in April. That link up completed, for us, all of Section 1 and parts of Section 2 of the Idaho BDR.
Then it was back to Boise for a long weekend of refitting, cleaning and catching up with friends before our next adventure started the following Monday.