Lochsa River

On the maiden voyage of my new bed platform, I decided to tour northern Idaho. I was born in Idaho, but had never been north of Riggins, at least to my memory. So this was a good opportunity to explore more and test out my setup.

I went up the 95, then east on the 12. Last cell reception was Kooskia, a beautiful little town where I took a moment to have a snack and watch the river run past me. The 12 runs through the Nez Perce Clearwater national forest, along the Lochsa River. There are lots of pullouts along the road, and people were fishing as I drove past.

It was starting to get dark, so I kept an eye out for a pull out spot. I found a little meadow on the side of the road and stopped there. The beauty of having a bed in the back of your car is you can camp pretty much anywhere. I got out, did some qigong to open up sore muscles, and sat down and played some tunes on my new Rav Drum.

I must have sat down near a nest of fleas or something. I woke up with bite marks all over my belly. Note to self - when feeling bites, find a new spot to sit!

Here are some initial observations:

  • didn’t have a shade structure, felt pretty exposed to the sun, considering Nemo Bugout, my dad has one and we have enjoyed it
  • need apparel that covers arms/legs, preferably light weight
  • battery operated fan works well, keeps me cool
  • I was perching the stove on the end of the drawer, need to design a better platform for it
  • no good pot for heating water
  • having car top storage would solve several needs - (hatchet, bucket, laptop stands, camera tripod, tools)
  • pillow is too bulky, hurts my neck, need a neckbone (I left mine in Scottsdale)
  • would be nice to have some hooks for hanging things - water, wash cloth, towel
  • how can I minimize cooking and prep for my meals?

The next morning I got up and continued driving east along the 12. The closer I got to Lola Pass, the more roads I saw shooting off into the forest. Some of the initial roads I saw were blocked off - ATV/motorcycle access only. But close to the pass several looked like good candidates. Finding a forest service road to turn off on turns out to be a perfect destination for car camping, in my opinion. Disbursed camping at these locations is legal, and there’s really no hassles or other people disrupting you other than the ocassional car going by. And traffic is going to be much less than any major thoroughfares. I didn’t explore any of these roads, but just noted for future reference.

I did decide to stop at a nature walk through old growth cedars. I found a place by the river and stopped to read some poetry written by a friend of mine. She grew up in Vegas, and I found myself appreciating the fact that I was only reading about the city. The chirping birds and the bubbling river, the tall cedars overhead… none of them troubled by the complexities of society.

Continuing on the 12, I wound up in Missoula. Last summer, I remember talking to the owners of a brewery in Boise. They said they had left Missoula because property values were going insane there. Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. So I was amazed to hear that the demand in Missoula is even higher. Driving through it in summer is beautiful of course. I wonder what the winters are like.

I came up the 93, then the 200, following the Clark Fork River. Passing through the canyons leading up to Paradise I remember as being really beautiful country. I needed a nap so I pulled off when I saw a dirt road come up on the right. I think it was Weeksville. It’s quite a beautiful view seeing the water, the docks, the farms down below. But it wasn’t a great pullout spot for me. Lots of bugs, and it was dry up there. Oh well. Good enough for a nap.

Continuing on I hit Thompson Falls, which reminded me of Fort Benton, where we put in for our Missouri River kayaking trip two summers ago. Quiet town founded many generations ago, and still bearing homages to the passage of Lewis and Clark. Saw a lot of beautiful recreation spots along the river as I got past the Noxon reservoir. And then crossed over the Idaho border to see Lake Pend Orielle. Now this was a destination for sure. One thing to see it on a map, another to go there. The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the mountains were off to the left, the south side of the lake. I wanted to get a good view of those, so I turned off onto a penninsula on the left (the one with David Thompson State Wildlife Preserve). I couldn’t find an inch of shoreline that wasn’t private property. A resort, large homes with gates, and signs warning of neighborhood watch acting to curb “suspicious activity”. Not feeling too welcome there, I got back on the highway and continued circling the lake.

I figured that while competition for beach front property might be steep, I might be able to find a good pull out spot off to my right… where the huge Kaniksu national forest area started just off the highway. Sure enough, pretty soon I saw a turnoff for Trestle Creek. I took it, and ended up at what became my favorite camp spot.

Brandon Mason avatar
Brandon Mason
Brandon looks at the world with wonder, curiosity, compassion, and creativity. He is interested in the different perspectives that we as human beings hold, and finding ways to co-exist and co-create our future.
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