4 Day Rolling Campout Writeup
Today (Sunday) at church the sermon was on Psalms 100, a message of being joyful and thankful and that is what I felt on our 2018 rolling campout as we traveled in the high open country, along beautiful streams, recent burn areas, in the deep forests and from mountain tops with views that went on as far as you could see. Just 3 of us made this year’s campout but it was a good match of personalities and we were still friends at the end!
It was 263 miles with 4 days of nice weather, although the first day was a bit hot (no make that REALLY hot) with the next 3 cooler and the nights just right, cool in the morning but not so cold you had trouble getting pants and boots on. So many memories it is hard to remember them all, As Randy said the start was a bit rough so it was good to get all the bad stuff behind us making the rest of the trip very nice. Hit Moon Pass and then to Slate Saddle and down Slate Creek (or crick as I like to say). We didn’t swing over to Avery but headed for Marble Creek even though we found out at Avery Ranger station that Fishhook Creek was still open (tunnel work was yet to start). This was the first year I pulled an atv trailer (a Yutrak from Cabela’s), pulled fine and held all we needed so much easier than carrying it on atv. It did decrease my gas mileage but with plenty of room for cans of gas that was no problem. Reached our first campsite at 7 PM, still plenty of light to setup and have dinner and sit around and B.S. with a cold beer. Had to use the bathroom in middle of night and it was amazing looking up seeing so many stars. Even though I live in the country, there are not near that many stars at night. Thanks for the elk sausage Randy maybe elk steaks next year (If you remember them, oops!)
The second day was nice as we rode up to Buzzard Roost, the best part was getting there, high country and over snow patch. Glad the snow was solid and had no trouble getting over it, plus it was the only patch on road. Never would have made it in June. It was slow going with road being very rocky. Got to top of Buzzard Roost and it was a big bust, no views at all due to trees growing up around peak. When we had views during day it was hazy not smoky but just haze as the distant mountains were not clear. We crossed a bridge that was under construction in 2014 when Gary D and I had to ride across Little North Fork Clearwater River (option was to backtrack 2 hours of rocky riding). On to Avery to resupply gas and get some dinner. We tried the place across the street from gas station where they had just deli sandwiches, no grill. Sandwiches were great so unless you want fried food that is place to go. We timed it just right and finished up at 5 PM which is when Kelly Creek Road opened (until then was closed due to logging). Found a nice 2nd night campsite up a little used road. Never did have a vehicle drive by even on the larger road close by, same with first night camping. Seems very few people were out this far back in the St. Joe NF. Meals were cooked and then relaxed and talked until almost dark when we hit the sack. This site caught the early morning sun which felt very nice. Next stop on 3rd day was Middle Sister Lookout. It was a working lookout with a lady spending the summer there. She was very nice and invited us up and we had a nice conversation. That is one thing I’ve always thought would be fun, spending a summer in a lookout. Left a couple of cold
beers as a thank you. While we were there a guy with a horse trailer drove up to the lookout (over the rough 4 mile rocky road), he was a bit lost and was thinking he was at Surveyors ridge lookout. Well I informed him that was about 30 miles of road to the southeast. Gave him a MVUM of the St. Joe (an extra one I had with me) with roads highlighted to the lookout he wanted. Off he went to meet his family, felt sorry for his horse with all the rough roads he was going over.
On to Mammoth Springs Campground which was not too far down the road. Lunch time so it was nice to have a picnic table and good shade to relax in. There was a vault toilet there and running water (literally) a pencil thick stream coming out of a pipe. We made the decision not to visit Surveyors Ridge Lookout as it would add at least 2 hours to the day and we did not have that much time. At the junction that headed down to
Beaver Creek Campground there was a doe that just would not leave what she was eating on the ground, turned out to be pistachios someone had dropped. Randy kept slowly advancing taking pictures and got within 25
feet before she slowly moved off side of road into brush but only 10 feet, she was not about to give up on those nuts. From Beaver Creek CG we rode the pavement for 8 miles one of the best pavement rides as you
were right along the St. Joe and pavement was such that if you met a car you had to pull over. Finally got to the first road that lead up to State Line (NF 391) When we got to the top of the ridge, the time was
such that we wanted to head to camp otherwise if we dropped into St. Regis it would be almost dark when we got back up and to camp.
That 3rd camp even though it was high (6200) feet with a breeze had lots and lots of mosquitoes. The other times I’ve camped there (mid Sept) there were none. It was so bad that we called it a night and headed for
the tents at 8 PM. Hey that didn’t stop me from going right to sleep and sleeping most of the night through. As usual we were stirring at 6 AM and then up for breakfast. Off we went and just a mile down the road was
the campsite that Randy loved (I must say it was a nice one, more grass and less dust) Well you know how that goes “if you stop for camp there is always a better one just a short ways up the road, and if you don’t
stop you will drive for miles and not find one as good as the one you passed up” I think that is rule #3 of camping. We did stop to check out Quarles Peak Campsite. Rode to the top of the peak, the campsite was a turn off 1/4 mile before peak. One of the best views of the trip, was a grassy top mountain not rocks. Took a 360 video will see how it comes out. After that we dropped down towards the road to Moon Pass, I was
surprised there were no campers along Loop Creek at the large dispersed campsites with vault toilets. It was up over Moon Pass and down to vehicles, which were fine, right where we left them. The spot had afternoon shade also while we were loading the sheriff drove up the road and then 5 or so minutes came back down, must be part of the patrol they do.
Lets see --- some odds and ends. #1. Took two 5 gal gas jugs (that was plenty especially with refill in Avery). #2. Plenty of ice left in chest (bought a bag in Avery), #3. Having a trailer was nice especially with two on same machine. Heck could have carried some stuff from another rider. #4. Trailer pulled great, the low pressure tires worked (no suspension), did use more gas. #5. Brought 4 gal of water and that was enough. #6 explosion of wildflowers along the roads.
Pretty much stayed to planned route, only passed up one turn by 100 feet other than that it was good. Not sure which was better Sept rides or this one in July. Do like the slightly cooler weather in Sept. but there were more people out and about then. Will 2019 rolling campout happen??? If so we need some talk and planning this winter. One more rolling campout and Randy will be able to lead it, heck he could do it now. It was a good time and wish one or two of you could have experienced it.
Comments from Randy G (ride participant):
Finally took my first "rolling campout" ride since joining the club a number years ago. Rich asked me to post all the negative things about it; he'll post the positives. It's a short list, so here goes:
Day 1: We got stuck behind a traffic jam going through CdA, so we got a late start.
The Sheriff had a problem with us leaving our vehicles at the Wallace High School. They used the oldest law enforcement excuse on the books when not wanting to be involved. They said the (taxpayer funded) school was "private" property and they had no jurisdiction. It's OK. We found a better spot.
It was so hot my nose bled, until we laid down in the cool river. Terrible experience; got all wet on a hot day.
I forgot to pack the elk steak planned for supper. Had to beg Faye to feed me a beef taco. Yes, I'll eat beef, but only in an emergency.
Day 2: Broke camp and got on the trail at 8:38 AM. A bit less heat, but still hot.
Only 1 major snow drift to get through, I mean over, as the photo shows.
Lunch in Avery ID. Great sandwich, but darn, no pickle. Long day, finally set up camp as the sun went down.
Day 3: Broke camp and got going about 8:38 AM. Rich must have an internal "time to go" clock.
We saw moose and deer, but no elk. Little buggers hide well.
Ice ran out so I had to drink warm beer.
As part of the harassment package, Rich camped us on the MT/ID border, in ID, but looking at a beautiful lake in MT. He said, "go ahead and walk 1/2 mile down to the lake if you want". He informed me of this as the sun was setting, and failed to inform me it was 1/2 mile straight down. This was truly punishment knowing I was inches from MT, but couldn't set foot in the state. Well, I walked "Down" into MT anyway, but never made it to the lake. My heart is still pounding from the hike.
Nasty mosquitoes made us hole up in the tents anyway.
Day 4: Broke camp about 8:38 AM..
We rode about a mile to a gorgeous campsite overlooking the whole world, including another MT lake. Rich informed we could've camped here last night as it was actually in MT. I thought about pushing him over the edge at hearing that, but somehow held myself back. He's the only one who knew the way outa there.
To conclude the negatives, just a couple general observations: I'm amazed only 3 people participated. This is a vacation, not just an ATV ride. I encourage ya'll to take a couple days off work next year and do this. Way better than a cruise. It's not really roughing it because you can bring all the comforts of home with you. Well almost. You won't be disappointed. This is without a doubt the best ride I've taken since becoming an EWATV member, and I regret not doing it in past years.
Mother nature did not cooperate. I never saw a cloud in the sky the whole 4 days out. She must've been resting from her usual exhibitions of rain, wind, and cold. The trail-dust was minimal. Never got cold or wet at night.
Last thing; Rich only knows 1 joke. Just kidding!
Thanks for a wonderful rolling campout Rich. Let's do it again next summer!
Ride track (image) - Members Only
Ride track (GPS file) - Members Only