Leslie Gulch to Birch Creek Camping

View Another Adventureexpand_moreexpand_less
menu
March 31, 2012

Our brother rides have been in North Idaho forests so it was time for different scenery. Joel and I were lucky to have good weather while visiting Succor Creek, Leslie Gulch, Birch Creek Historic Ranch and Jordan Craters.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669669326
infoinfo_outline

Happy Trails nerf bars and skid plate were applied to Joel’s KLR the night before our ride. Thanks to Ed for making that come together in spite of not officially having all the parts in stock.

Joel used my faux dremel to clean up some plastic edges then accidently touched it on the windshield for the final, finishing touch.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669677756
infoinfo_outline

I had to tease Joel about loading so much. “Just testing the setup,” he explained. Whatever. I know those bags are stuffed with lovingly packed hors d’oeuvres from Jill.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669684688
infoinfo_outline

Ready for launch.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669693598
infoinfo_outline

We followed back roads instead of the Interstate west. I wanted Joel to appreciate that the Boise area can be pretty too.

City living
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
City living
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669700212
infoinfo_outline
Marsing ahead
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Marsing ahead
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669707696
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669715238
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669725694
infoinfo_outline

This route would involve crossing Succor Creek a couple times. It wasn’t looking good.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669734904
infoinfo_outline

This was a little splash on the wheels last time through. We stopped to assess our options as a couple ladies on horseback approached from behind.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669743916
infoinfo_outline

“I got my foot wet,” the nearest lady said, bending her ankle to show us how deep the water was on the horses. The lead horse refused to cross here.

“What’s the best way to Succor Creek Road?” I asked between shared remarks on the beautiful day. We obviously weren’t going this way. We didn’t get much of an answer out of them.

“I think they hated us,” I said to Joel in a low voice as they rode away.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669755496
infoinfo_outline

Between squints at the tiny GPS screen and good old-fashioned dead reckoning, we didn’t lose too much time on our way to Succor Creek State Park.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669764632
infoinfo_outline

I have wanted to stop here and poke around before where Succor Creek cuts into the overhanging cliff.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669776598
infoinfo_outline

Joel and I had nothing to add.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669786922
infoinfo_outline

We all gotta pee sometime.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669798532
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669808636
infoinfo_outline

It was a short break.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669822948
infoinfo_outline

This overlooks Succor Creek State Park from the opposite end.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669833754
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669844260
infoinfo_outline

The forecast called for wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. I don’t think we experienced any that strong but combined with the freshly graded, thick gravel, it was entertaining just keeping to the Leslie Gulch road.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669853868
infoinfo_outline

neck bent
apply the brakes
for the reign of firespa

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669864400
infoinfo_outline
Wind on the reservoir
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Wind on the reservoir
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669872460
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669882880
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669892010
infoinfo_outline

We stopped for a brief hike among these peculiar formations.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669898874
infoinfo_outline

Jess and I came across this partially hidden memorial on an earlier hike. I went to show Joel and was surprised to find it broken. Who would do such a thing?

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669909116
infoinfo_outline

I think they look like eyelids. Creepy monster eyelids.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669917844
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669937062
infoinfo_outline

I know it isn’t his favorite thing but he agreed to pose.

Unseen path
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Unseen path
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669948320
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669960094
infoinfo_outline

We sat here a bit and comtemplated our odd surroundings.

“Let me get another picture to make Jesse jealous,” I requested.

Jesse was supposed to come along for this ride. We kept adjusting the timing to accommodate everyone’s schedules but in the end Jesse decided school was more important. What a lamer.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669967272
infoinfo_outline

There must have been a little cloudburst above the cutoff to Mogogany Creek. It was a slow-going, legs out affair avoiding a nap in the mud.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669975110
infoinfo_outline

Last time through I circled far around this farm, through which is the most direct overland route to Jordan Craters Road, on the assumption it was occupied.

Well, turns out it isn’t. There were no signs or gates to ward us off so Joel and I stopped for a look then continued straight through.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669984810
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7669994694
infoinfo_outline

I was worried that Mahogany Creek might be running as high as Succor Creek so I let Joel go first.

Two inches of water we can handle.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670002726
infoinfo_outline

cows stand chewing
wet meadow grass
while mud swallows wheelsspa

Here we have Joel “Runs with Cows” Abbott. He did a little loop out among them—kind of became one of them.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670011822
infoinfo_outline

faint tracks
the sound of wind
this must be the wayspa

As the bird flies, this should be a pretty good shortcut (cue rolled eyes from my wife). My first time through was a little challenging but I’d had time to study the map and GPS tracks for this second pass.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670021892
infoinfo_outline

We have skipped ahead a bit because I saw things getting a little messy ahead and gathered momentum just to launch myself into an axle-deep quagmire.

So I stopped and waited for Joel to offer his help. It seemed like it took him a long time to offer while I stood in my waterproof boots watching him in his non-waterproof boots.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670035792
infoinfo_outline

It doesn’t look bad but the GS was having none of it. Althought the KLR is twice Joel’s previous bike I was happy to demonstrate that it’s still better in the mud than a GS.

You’re welcome.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670047516
infoinfo_outline

I felt bad about laying a track like this through somebody’s field but by the time conditions were obvious we were close to being across. Mea culpa.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670055728
infoinfo_outline

Do not be deceived by the line called Magogany Creek Road. It was put there by a nefarious Delorme employee to crush spirits. It’s just a creek and cow pasture.

Fences and ponds turned us around a few times in spite of this being Plan 2.0. But I am steadfast in the conviction that it’s a shortcut. Third time will be perfect. Promise.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670063518
infoinfo_outline

The wind that nearly blew us off the Leslie Gulch Road was felt again, coldly, as we passed by the fog shrouded Jordan Craters lava field.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670075968
infoinfo_outline

Perfect: we have four wheels between us.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670089980
infoinfo_outline

Everything in the ride so far I’d seen but down to the Birch Creek Historic Ranch I’d not been.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670099068
infoinfo_outline

That’s a good pose, there.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670113314
infoinfo_outline

The contrasting rocks caught my attention.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670124506
infoinfo_outline

I guess that’s Birch Creek.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670136416
infoinfo_outline

I waved Joel by so I could capture this dramatic water crossing. Well, it might have been dramatic if not for that speed limit.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670146294
infoinfo_outline

water wheel
ingenuity
a late frostspa

“Nestled among cream and chocolate colored hills, barren red cliffs, and towering rock spires lays a secret oasis: the Birch Creek Historic Ranch. Established in the early 1900s, the ingenuity and determination of a Basque sheepherder and a West Virginia cattle rancher are still evident at the site today. Stone walls built in the Basque tradition still ascend the mesa. Remnants of a waterwheel hint at the lush alfalfa fields fed through the gravity irrigation system. Nineteen buildings and structures at the ranch contribute to the property’s designation as a historical rural landscape on the Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.”¹

  1. BLM Brochure
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670163194
infoinfo_outline

How did your feet get wet? —the question I didn’t ask.

We were glad to see abundant fuel. The Owyhees don’t always provide much.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670173582
infoinfo_outline

I used the excuse of recent surgery to defer to Joel for the wood cutting. He did good work.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670186800
infoinfo_outline

In our different brother rides, we couldn’t remember arriving at a campsite with so much remaining daylight. Now what do we do?

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670198126
infoinfo_outline

I decided to explore the cliffs.

Flaking rock
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Flaking rock
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670209732
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670222576
infoinfo_outline

The large crack in the rock that I hoped might be the entrance to a fantastic cave instead was a hollow that, judging by stacked rock walls, had long ago been used as a corral.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670233680
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670245940
infoinfo_outline

I saw a big rabbit over here but it could scramble a lot better than I could.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670257350
infoinfo_outline

I wonder what the story of the perch and chain is.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670269434
infoinfo_outline

Once your eyes adjust to the subtle desert colors, the rocks up here are pretty spectacular. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I climbed around these rocks.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670282690
infoinfo_outline

“Both properties were homesteaded between 1899 and 1901. The property was used as the headquarters for livestock ranching operations throughout the historic and early modern periods until 1968–1977 … The rows of mature locusts and elms Morrison planted some 60 years ago.”¹

  1. BLM Historic Structure Report, pp. 5, 12
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670298930
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670311778
infoinfo_outline
Grey rebels
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Grey rebels
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670325920
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670340624
infoinfo_outline

climbing heart quickens
to cracked rocks
plucked of treasurespa

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670353098
infoinfo_outline

It was clear every nook and cranny had been repeatedly picked over for thundereggs. Little round hollows signifying their absence were everywhere.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670366328
infoinfo_outline

“A Thunderegg is not actually a rock. It is a structure, sometimes a nodule, sometimes a geode, occurring in rhyolite, welded tuff, or perlitic rocks. However, without question, the Thunderegg is by far the most popular ‘rock’ in Oregon.”¹

  1. Nature Northwest, “Thundereggs”: naturenw.org/rock-thundereggs
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670382334
infoinfo_outline

the hard angle
between blue and orange
is cold in the handspa

Temporary closure
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Temporary closure
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670392784
infoinfo_outline
One way or another
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
One way or another
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670404766
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670417564
infoinfo_outline

Joel appeared unmoved from the fire as I made my way from the cliffs back to our camp.

Dissolving
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Dissolving
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670430462
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670443544
infoinfo_outline

tongues dance
words drift
darkness circlesspa

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670458850
infoinfo_outline

Continued wind made a hungry fire.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670471158
infoinfo_outline

Another one to make Jesse jealous. We never planned for Jeremy to come — we knew he was busy — so he’s off the hook.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670484506
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670496892
infoinfo_outline

inarticulate
the plastic bottle is empty
time for sleepspa

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670512608
infoinfo_outline

“I have to get your KLR with that sunset behind,” I explained. And with that sock hanging there—so beautiful.

Morning comes to camp
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Morning comes to camp
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670525920
infoinfo_outline
Striking color of simple shrubs and soil
photo_camera

Camera Settings

Striking color of simple shrubs and soil
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670538200
infoinfo_outline
Fire on the water
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Fire on the water
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670554520
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670566888
infoinfo_outline

We awoke to a glorious morning, threats of rain having never materialized.

Packing up
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Packing up
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670581028
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670598766
infoinfo_outline

This was a quick trip for Joel. Later in the same day he would need to head three hundred miles back to Moscow for work the next morning.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670611218
infoinfo_outline

After Succor Creek, Leslie Gulch and Birch Creek, Jordan Craters would be our last big stop.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670623790
infoinfo_outline

Ironically, it’s one of his better smiles.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670637814
infoinfo_outline

From the parking lot, this pair of craters look like small holes compared to the main Coffeepot Crater. Up close, it’s another story.

Joel noticed the rocks at the edge overhang the cliff and stepped back. I was trying to take some pictures and wasn’t worried about it until then. After he did that, I got nervous. Darn it.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670651260
infoinfo_outline

For a sense of scale, that’s my shadow in the ring of light on the far crater wall. It’s a big hole.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670663902
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670677852
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670694280
infoinfo_outline

From Coffeepot Crater we headed south to circumnavigate the lava field.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670709988
infoinfo_outline

We stopped for a look at the stone corral near Mud Lake. It’s about what you see.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670721158
infoinfo_outline

The path hugging that western tongue of lava was fun, though it took discerning eyes to see there was a path.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670730174
infoinfo_outline

Our time between Leslie Gulch and Jordan Valley went something like this.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670745878
infoinfo_outline

From the stone corral we followed a somewhat discernable path along the edge of the lava. It was quite enjoyable.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670761804
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670774830
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670788190
infoinfo_outline

You’re on hot lava!

photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670798914
infoinfo_outline

This house near Biscuit Butte surrounded by lava piqued our curiosity but we didn’t take time to investigate closer. Our thoughts were on burgers and fries in Jordan Valley.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670810996
infoinfo_outline
Welcome sight
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Welcome sight
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670820842
infoinfo_outline
Motorcycle parking only
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Motorcycle parking only
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670831944
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670844158
infoinfo_outline

I noticed he was wearing a muscle shirt and asked him to flex.

In case you didn't know …
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
In case you didn’t know …
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670855270
infoinfo_outline
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670868056
infoinfo_outline

This looks across the Snake River to Boise, home for me and the start of Joel’s trip home.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/7670887606
infoinfo_outline

I fly by Jordan Craters about once every month for work when I get to look down and remember the great ride I had with my brother Joel.