Trinity Ridge Fire Tour

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October 30, 2012

A long loop with unknown impediments requires an early departure. Snow and fire kept us out of the Trinity Recreation area this year. I’m curious to see what remains. Some effort is required to push the GS uphill through snowdrifts.

Early on the Oregon Trail
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Early on the Oregon Trail
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154693087
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The Trinity Ridge Fire began August 3rd when a UTV somehow caught fire aside a forest road.¹ It was snow, however, that kept us from reaching the Trinity Recreation Area in the Jeep the following weekend.² The fire wasn’t large yet. By the time we could spare another weekend, in September, the much enlarged fire kept us away and almost kept us from getting anywhere.³

Including other attempts cancelled before launch, this would be about my fifth 2012 effort to reach Trinity Mountain. I was kind of determined.

  1. InciWeb, “Trinity Ridge Fire Update” (August 7, 2012): inciweb.nwcg.gov/…/15513
  2. Trail Image, “Camping Below Trinity”: trailimage.com/camping-below-trinity
  3. Trail Image, “Hard Road to Boulder Basin”: trailimage.com/hard-road-to-boulder-basin
Boise from the Oregon Trail
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Boise from the Oregon Trail
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154725598
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I took the day off work and left as early as I could after getting the kids ready for school. I planned a big loop up through the Trinities to near Atlanta and back which would require much of the available daylight.

It was still chilly, about 40°F, but three layers and heated grips kept me cozy as I cut across the open land behind Micron along the old Oregon Trail.

Littering immigrants
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Littering immigrants
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154730256
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The Oregon Trail is one of our few National Historic Trails.¹ It’s a little known fact that the immigrants’ hubcaps, energy drink bottles and worn shoes still litter the path. This stretch between Technology Way and Bonneville Point usually has a few trash dumps (I also passed a shot-up TV and roll of carpet).

  1. National Park Service, “National Trails Map”: nps.gov/…/National Trails map
Parked at Bonneville Point
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Parked at Bonneville Point
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154734438
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I couldn’t pass by the historic origin¹ of “Boise” without a quick stop to admire the locust tree thorns and look back across the valley.

  1. Bureau of Land Management, “Boneville Point”: blm.gov/…/bonneville_point
Easy living along Blacks Creek
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Easy living along Blacks Creek
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154710111
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East on Blacks Creek Road
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East on Blacks Creek Road
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154714075
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Pointed at the mountains
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Pointed at the mountains
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154718919
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Weekend rain made the dirt and gravel roads more enjoyable than usual — good traction, not dusty. There were, however, hoards of hunters seeking to dismember the living and eat their flesh. You have to take the bad with the good.

Middle Fork overlook
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Middle Fork overlook
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154724365
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One lane bridge
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One lane bridge
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154729535
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It was crowded, hot and dusty when last we stopped here. Now, the opposite.

Our spring campsite
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Our spring campsite
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154735653
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When snow kept us from Trinity Lakes, we retreated to camp here along Fall Creek.¹ It was fun to see our spot at the opposite end of the year.

Jessica warned me that she’d heard of snow in the mountains but I was still determined to go. So far the only difficult area was the eastern side of House Mountain where the road was snow-packed in places. I didn’t stop for pictures since I was preoccupied with anxiety.

  1. Trail Image, “Camping Below Trinity”: trailimage.com/camping-below-trinity
Old bathtub
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Old bathtub
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154740899
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Jessica spent some time digging this out for Brenna when we were camped here. It was mostly under water then so I didn’t fully appreciate her fine work.

Looks promising
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Looks promising
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154746569
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Overheating
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Overheating
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154750865
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A good knobby may have provided reasonable propulsion but the end-of-season TKC could only push the pig uphill at about 1 MPH (I saw a high of 1.1 on the GPS). I was still determined to get over the mountain. We just needed several breaks, the two of us, to cool down along the way.

Snow on the road to Trinity Lookout
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Snow on the road to Trinity Lookout
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154755681
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Too close to stop now
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Too close to stop now
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154789976
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Road slalom
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Road slalom
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154795262
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Beautiful and a bit depressing at the same time.

Trinity Saddle
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Trinity Saddle
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154800026
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As I’d been doing for some time now, I walked ahead to scout and make tracks along the best route while the motorcycle cooled. I didn’t think slipping off the road would be fun but was too committed to quit.

High enough
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High enough
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154774999
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I thought I would setup the tripod for a triumphant picture of us, the motorcycle and I, at the saddle summit but I just wanted to puke at this point (old age plus exertion) so instead slumped on the seat for a minute.

Black trees in the Trinity Recreation Area
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Black trees in the Trinity Recreation Area
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154808436
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Although I’ve seen plenty of wildfire aftermath in years of Idaho riding, somehow the summer of dire news left me with an image of a bare and blackened landscape.¹ The burn area began right at the ridge and I was almost surprised to see green trees remaining.

  1. Over 1,000 Forest Service photos of the fire:
  2. flickr.com/…/72157631137223234
Breaking trail
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Breaking trail
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154784477
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White road, black trees
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White road, black trees
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154791217
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… riding on the edge of juxtaposition.

Edge of the burn area
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Edge of the burn area
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154826626
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Winding north on Trinity Ridge
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Winding north on Trinity Ridge
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154832990
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It was a glorious day to be up here.

Protected hill
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Protected hill
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154839238
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Burn around Little Trinity Lake
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Burn around Little Trinity Lake
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154846602
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I didn’t feel up to the additional exertion of even the short access roads to Big Roaring River, Little Roaring River or Big Trinity Lake. My legs were starting to cramp from the constant toe dabs needed to keep the GS up so I was glad to stop for a short break and my PBJ at the edge of Little Trinity Lake alongside the road.

Behind the scenes
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Behind the scenes
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154851392
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Ten second timer
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Ten second timer
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154855866
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Hazard tree
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Hazard tree
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154833629
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I walked a short distance around the edge of the lake while eating my sandwich. The danger of falling trees was evident with many already on the ground like this. It’s understandable that land managers wouldn’t want campers up here for a while.

Shadows of themselves
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Shadows of themselves
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154871684
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Some escaped the fire
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Some escaped the fire
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154857055
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The bigger they are
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The bigger they are
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154901522
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I should have included something for perspective. The tall, thin trees here were the regular size trees everywhere else. I saw a couple of these monsters burned and broken.

Clean slate
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Clean slate
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154883217
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fresh snow cannot hide
the acrid smell
of black earth and barkspa

Final moments
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Final moments
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154891211
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Late autumn ridge road
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Late autumn ridge road
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154903509
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Under 7,500 feet the roads were about perfect.

Horseshoe bend
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Horseshoe bend
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154941366
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Looking back to the Trinity Recreation Area
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Looking back to the Trinity Recreation Area
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154926031
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Zorro on the job
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Zorro on the job
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154934467
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Charred wood
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Charred wood
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154942021
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Not the first time it has burned
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Not the first time it has burned
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154947469
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Do not adjust your set
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Do not adjust your set
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154955809
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I had to see it a couple times before I realized all the red must be fire retardant.

Phifer Creek Road
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Phifer Creek Road
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154991240
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Middle Fork campground
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Middle Fork campground
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8154996628
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Middle Fork Road
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Middle Fork Road
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155001408
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I had never been up the Middle Fork this far. I really liked the ruggedness.

Northwestern fire boundary
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Northwestern fire boundary
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155009120
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There were a few small spots where fire jumped the river but it looked like crews had been able to hold it here.

Cliffs along the Middle Fork
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Cliffs along the Middle Fork
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155016494
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Orthogonal hues
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Orthogonal hues
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155023308
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sunlit reflections
in midnight ripples —
this election season

Yellow rocks and shrubs
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Yellow rocks and shrubs
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155002695
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Green reclamation
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Green reclamation
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155010975
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Autumn draw
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Autumn draw
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155018411
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It is hunting season. Most every draw, big and small, and a few inexplicable locations, were pickup truck parking lots. If car thiefs want to score they should really consider visiting Idaho in October and November.

Striations
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Striations
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155053956
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Dusty and gravelly, stuck behind cars, I didn’t think riding around Arrowrock Reservoir was so pleasant in the summer. On this autumn evening, however, it was a real joy.

Two if by night
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Two if by night
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155060418
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Fading light above Arrowrock Reservoir
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Fading light above Arrowrock Reservoir
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155037753
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Exposed shore
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Exposed shore
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155072012
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Arrowrock Dam at dusk
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Arrowrock Dam at dusk
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155077682
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When planning began in 1910, Arrowrock Dam would be the largest of its type in the world.¹ During construction, the site was home to 1,400 workers. As I rode by, however, I could have been the only person in the world.

  1. Wikipedia, “Arrowrock Dam”: en.wikipedia.org/…/Arrowrock_Dam
Drained for the summer
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Drained for the summer
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155055133
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Sunset over Lucky Peak
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Sunset over Lucky Peak
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/8155060709
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Wrestling through the snow made me a couple hours later than planned but it was a beautiful ride with no tips or tumbles. I saw the last of the sunrise as I departed and rode the winding highway into the sunset on my way home. Thanks to my wife Jessica for handling the day’s errands while I reconditioned (drained and recharged) my batteries, charging through the mountains.