The Rockslide

By October 25, 2019 November 3rd, 2019 Campsites, Excursions

We’d spent 12 weeks and stayed in over 50 campsites but had yet to boondock on BLM land.  After a word with the friendly agent at the Challis office, we took his recommendation and his map, and set out up the East Fork of the Salmon River for a little-known hideaway called Herd Lake.

After following pavement as the road traced the dramatic, winding course of the East Fork, we turned onto dirt, and began a 6 mile long, 1400′ elevation increase up Herd Creek Road to the Herd Lake Overlook.  Perched on the landslide that created the lake some 2000 years ago, the overlook hangs 300′ above the lake, with a westerly view down the Herd Creek Drainage.

As soon as we arrived, we set off down the volcanic tuff slope to the cold blue waters of the lake itself.  Monster tiger muskies lived here, and as I rigged up my line, I heard a huge splash from the other side.  The monster awakens!  Didn’t land a muskie that evening, but we did scare up enough rainbows to make for a tasty meal!

The evening was warm, with a light wind as we readied the trailer for the anticipated cold weather to come.  We’d bought some Reflectix at Home Depot, and wrapped the underbelly to insulate it from the icy gusts we knew were coming.

We were the only souls up there, and as I battened down for the evening, I was struck by the sunset falling on the western drainage, and the little 1 lane road we’d wound up earlier that afternoon.

A $1,000,000 view of the lake and the snow-capped mountains beyond were right out the back window.  Location,location,location!

The next day dawned snowy, windy and bitterly cold.  We hunkered down and improved our chess game, worked on harmonica skills, and practiced backrubs.


The day following was equally cold (14 degrees during the day), but clear and bright, so we headed into Jerry Peak Wilderness fully wrapped, bound for an old road that used to wind up the landslide but was no longer maintained.

The day’s trek turned out to be anything but easy.  As we skirted the road’s switchbacks by taking to the mountains on either side of the slide, the snow grew deep.  We postholed up 50 degree slopes for probably 1000′ elevation.  Denver looked like a Namibian chameleon as he kept two paws out of the snow in his attempt at avoiding frostnip.  Hearty fellow made it through unscathed, I’m happy to report.

Rebecca scrambling upslope.  The rockslide had buried the whole valley, and the road was not a road in a traditional sense.  Landslides had covered much of it, and when we turned around some 4 miles in, we had to scurry down hundreds of feet of loose volcanic tuff, shattered and placed delicately by the slide.  Very cagey footing as we could hear rocks shifting and falling beneath us as we crabbed down.

Our stalwart companion toughing it out.

The climb took us above 9300′, and we had a great view of the White Knob Mountains under which we’d slept just a few nights before.

That’s our little trailer bean, wrapped in the mountains we called home for three nights.  Altogether, it was a fantastic stay, and was a great proving ground for our new cold-weather profile.