Autumn Camping Above Silver City

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September 20, 2014

Something we’ve said we’d do for a while now, we load the kids up to visit Silver City then camp somewhere in the hills above. It was near freezing when I camped with my brothers recently but it seems warmer now. I hope so.

Slow down for Silver City
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Slow down for Silver City
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“Why aren’t we taking the regular road?” Hunter asks.

I wonder a moment what he could mean, since he’s never been here, then realize he must be expecting a place called a “city” to have better access than forty minutes on a bumpy dirt road.

“This is the best way in, Hunter,” I assure him. He’ll see why soon enough.

Non-Euclidean
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Non-Euclidean
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After Pat’s What-Not shop divests us of the usual trinket tax (I have something to send you, mom), we walk across the dirt street to the Idaho Hotel for pie, which I think is about the only thing I’ve ever eaten there. We spend a minute in the foyer museum before pushing into the dining room.

Hotel rules
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Hotel rules
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Lost and found
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Lost and found
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Not lost but found anyway
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Not lost but found anyway
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Don’t be stingy
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Don’t be stingy
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Years of flair
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Years of flair
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New necklace from Pat’s
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New necklace from Pat’s
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“You’d better delete that”
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“You’d better delete that”
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Over our heads
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Over our heads
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Negative space
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Negative space
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Light on a hill
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Light on a hill
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Brenna was eager to explore the town when her and I last stopped by.¹ Now’s our chance. We need to walk off some pie anyway.

  1. Trail Image, “Seeking Gold in Silver City”: trailimage.com/seeking-gold-in-silver-city
Idaho Standard School
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Idaho Standard School
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We peek in the school windows but the doors are locked.

Narrow is the way
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Narrow is the way
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Gospel according to Brenna
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Gospel according to Brenna
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Bee hive
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Bee hive
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Seedier side
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Seedier side
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Barred from the shaft
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Barred from the shaft
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We find a few mine shafts behind the church. Jess and I once motorcycled around town¹ but didn’t get here exactly. It’s interesting to see the old digging that went on right in town and how it’s since been secured. Hunter would like to climb in, of course, but city planners have anticipated his impulse.

  1. Trail Image, “First Ride to Silver City”: trailimage.com/first-ride-to-silver-city
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Brenna is more interested in the old cars sitting around town.

Thwarted
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Thwarted
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Confluence
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Confluence
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We walk back downtown across Jordan Creek alongside the old Masons’ Lodge. A sign says it’s for sale¹ if you’re in the market for an out-of-the-way, century-old lodge that spans a creek.

  1. Facebook, “Masons Lodge For Sale Silver City Idaho”: facebook.com/MasonsLodgeSilverCityIdaho
Overlooking Boise
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Overlooking Boise
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We turn in to evaluate a number of spots on the way up to War Eagle Mountain before we settle on a place alongside a high outcrop that the climbers among us (okay, all of us) will enjoy. The site has great views all around, including across the Snake River Plain to Boise if you get on your tip-toes.

Building out
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Building out
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Elf stairs
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Elf stairs
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Perch
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Perch
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Like last time,¹ Hunter is excited to find a flat place high among the rocks where he might, theoretically, sleep. Someday. It is a cool shelf in the rock looking up to War Eagle and out across the mountains around Silver City.

  1. Trail Image, “Birch Creek Sandcastle”: trailimage.com/birch-creek-sandcastle
Crux of things
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Crux of things
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Race relations
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Race relations
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Hop, skip and jump
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Hop, skip and jump
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We love the Owyhee’s whimsical rocks. How can you contain your inner kid around mountains of sand-colored taffy?

Not so sure
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Not so sure
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And then there were four
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And then there were four
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Last rays
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Last rays
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Is that a hot dog?
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Is that a hot dog?
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Boise city lights
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Boise city lights
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Galactic pollution
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Galactic pollution
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Morning read
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Morning read
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Jessica is the first to rise. I’m impressed when I hear a fire crackling. What a wife!

New directions
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New directions
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Pony play
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Pony play
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They’re camping too
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They’re camping too
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While the rest of us sit around the fire, Brenna’s ponies gather sticks and stones for their own fire ring. Hunter gets a little jealous, I think. We have to warn him off harassing her.

One last hike
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One last hike
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Fairview unknowns
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Fairview unknowns
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We continue the War Eagle climb on our way home, beginning with a stop at Fairview Cemetery along the way. It is good to remember the lives, the hardships, that came before us.

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War Eagle summit
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War Eagle summit
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Too cool for school
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Too cool for school
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The rest of the family think it’s cold atop War Eagle summit so we don’t stay long.

Probably Egyptian
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Probably Egyptian
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“I’ve heard you can get back into Silver City this way,” I mention as we sort of slide off the summit to something that looks more like an ATV track.

“That could be interesting,” Jessica replies. Or that’s what I hear.

Fifteen steep, low-range minutes later, interspersed with my belief that “we can probably get back up this,” we spot a peculiar wall of natural stone.

Miner’s cabin
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Miner’s cabin
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Whatever (extra-terrestrial?) function the wall had is now erased. As we continue our crawl down the mountain, we’re presented shortly after with another reason to pause, a dilapidated cabin with an outhouse built squarely over the creek — good reason, I guess, to claim the highest homestead.

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Faces in the windows*
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Faces in the windows*
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After continued descent spanning ditches and large rocks while branches scrape all sides and Jessica makes groaning sounds we get to a patch of rocks I’m not sure about.

“I need to walk ahead and look at this,” I tell Jessica.

We get lucky. Another Jeep is coming up the trail. We hustle ours out of the way (it was a little hard, actually) and watch his go at it. He makes a few bad scraping sounds but I see his route over the biggest stuff. Shoot, I can do that.

  1. starPhoto by Jessica Abbott
Seemed easier in the video*
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Seemed easier in the video*
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Hunter hides his face in a pillow while Brenna yells and Jessica looks on. Good times. The salesperson told us about Jeep skid plates so I think those noises are probably fine.

  1. starPhoto by Jessica Abbott
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica Abbott
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Front of sign
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Front of sign
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Back of sign
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Back of sign
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That rocky bit is the worst of it. Roofs and then houses begin to appear on hillsides as we continue descending. And then we’re back in Silver City. As soon as we get to smooth roads, both kids are fast asleep — definitely the best way for them (for all our sakes) to travel.

The kids’ usual skepticism about going was replaced with the usual disappointment about leaving. If the weather keeps up like this, we’ll have to try some October camping.