Monday, July 31, 2023

Camping the ION Desert...Idaho, Oregon and Nevada

 Because of my ongoing back problems we haven't gotten out much in the last year. My reasoning is that if we got stuck I wouldn't be able to walk out, sometimes as far as 60 miles. This trip would have been 40 miles or so. Plus I wouldn't have the strength to dig myself out. However just before going on this trip I had a steroid shot on both sides of my spine and I was feeling good, lets go camping Dear! 

I wanted to go back to a favorite place after a very wet spring to see the Desert in full green regalia. And to check on the fish population, specifically redband trout. The road in was, and beautiful with Orley asking me right off the bat, "Are you a chukar Dad?" My Dear Wife does her wifely duties and opens gates for me...

so I can drive into Shangri-la

I've been here before yet needed my handheld GPS to keep me from getting lost.

Since these pictures are of good sections of road I have to wonder, why don't I get out and take pics of the worst sections? I guess it's because my teeth are rattling at that point in time from all the rocks embedded in the trail. It takes literally and hour and a half to make the last 7 miles after breezing 40 miles of good graded road. 

Spring flowers were out making the drive a lot more scenic than early spring or later in the summer when it would all be dead.

Stopping to throw the frisbee

The local herron was there to greet us next to camp. Between him and a muskrat we saw here on this trip told me all I needed to know about the fishing, or lack of that week. I caught a few large redband trout but most of the middle sized to small were gone, probably eaten by these other creatures.

While my main reason for coming here is to fish for the desert trout known as red bands, the scenery is the other reason equally as important. 

Orley may be a bird dog, but he likes to direct my spin casting as well.

We do pretty well together, this trout being 2.5 pounds after a quick weigh.

Right on Dad, I'm glad you cast where I pointed.

Too big for the frying pan it was let go under the approving gaze of the local dragon fly/game warden.

It was a good water year for the desert, we were at full pool this trip. I was a thinking it would be a good chukar hunting season this coming fall, little did I know chukar season was going to start early for us, ahead of season.

Nothing but small nibbles that evening...

I decided to bring Orley up to snuff on his water retrieval.

The judges gave him a perfect 10 for entry

Another 10 for extraction

And another 10 for water removal

Giving Orley the prize for Best Boy, and he is.

Our little dog Bailey is blind and can see only shadows as she navigates using her ears. Yet she is, and always had been the best swimming dog we've ever seen, using no effort at all to swim. It's funny to us that when we're around water she'll walk away from us and go swimming by herself, I think she secretly identifies as an otter.

I've always joked about Orley being able to catch a live chukar since he's so good at catching the frisbee from behind, he's that fast. That evening as we were walking upstream and fishing a bit we heard Orley in the bushes. Thinking he was tussling with a snake, something we've trained him NOT to do, he lifted his head with a live chukar. Totally surprised in a big way I took the bird from him and held it for a few minutes so it could collect itself, it wasn't dead. This wasn't the behavior I wanted from him, he's supposed to point, then retrieve after I've shot one...during season. He must have broken a wing and leg while catching it and it couldn't fly, instead it died in my arms. You might think as a bird hunter this didn't bother me, oh but it did. Anyway we took it back to camp and I processed it to eat with a couple of trout I'd kept for dinner. It was bitter sweet.

And every evening sitting by that fire we could hear a covey of chukar just across the creek up on the rocks.

A few scenes from a walk downstream. Mosquitos weren't too bad this trip, oh but the biting flies were horrendous, bothering Orley the most.

Which kept Orley in the water more than usual. It was the only way he could keep the basty nasterds off. Yes I did, thank you.

I take Orley with me most places and when in Home Depot or Lowes, the most often comment I hear besides how well trained he is, is how happy he is. I hope it shows in some of these pictures...

He looks like a bat dog with those ears don't ya think? 

He is the unofficial king of the desert, looking over his domain. Ok he's really looking for that dang muskrat, I know he wants to chase it. Sadly the only picture I got of it was from too far off to use here.

Who knew the desert could be this green?

We did  

That afternoon we watched the dozens of swallows fly over the pond, wishing they'd be catching and eating the biting flies that plagued us.

Bailey took her evening swim

And it was a usual gorgeous affair. Have we gotten too used to them? Maybe so yet we appreciate these evenings like they were our first...or last. 

We always hate to leave a beautiful place but the biting flies were driving us out a day early. Sadly, like mosquitos, we can never predict the exact time before or after they've come and gone, after wreaking havoc on the land, and us.

Back up that two track we drove, glad to be away from the flies.

A couple of antelope bid us adieu

A full 40 miles of this road took us closer to civilization, but only within 15 miles...
We have driven this stretch when it was all mud, the fun meter rating in the negative on that trip.

We made it back to another creek where I hoped to spend the night, stay tuned hah.

It had been such a heavy snow and rain year that the road across this creek had been washed out, leading us to make our own way across to the better dirt road on the other side. There was an old "cabin"I wanted to see complete with usable outhouse. And no I didn't.

Ah but I did impress my wife with my still intact lizard catching technique, developed as a kid with my friend Gordon. We caught myriad tree frogs and lizards to feed our collection of snakes. This lizard being a bluebelly.

You can see, if you haven't before, why they're called bluebellies.

Then back down to the creek to catch a snake.

I've come to the conclusion that the fountain of youth is indeed to be found in the catching of lizards and snakes as an old man. It sure as heck makes me feel young again.

And that ain't no bull...

After that, a huge mistake was made. Sh, it happens. We drove back to the creek to find a spot to spend the night, the next day being my 69th birthday. Driving up the creek bed in 2 inches of water I was in the process of pulling out of the water and had my front two wheels on dry rock when my driver rear wheel dropped into a bottomless hole. 

During the 6 hours I spent on my back and stomach mucking out the rocks as best I could, I discovered my rear locker was not working. My front locker engaged but with the tilt of the truck and camper it couldn't pull me out. My power side rear wheel was only digging itself deeper so at 9 o'clock pm I stopped and used our satellite in-reach device to call for help. It was a brutal blow to my ego, as well as my birthday hah.

I took my rear racks off the truck to use as a walkway off the back step and leveled the camper sans truck for the night. The view was not bad.

In the morning Orley sat and watched a cranefly on the top of the doorjamb.

Then the kids did what kids do best, they played in the water oblivious to the stress in the adults.

I had to unload my front rack to re-install and use my front hooks for getting pulled out, while waiting for a 4wheel wrecker to show up. What a ton of work...the Beverly Hillbillies had nothing on me.

A couple of young guys showed up and their wonderful spirit of adventure was a joy. "No sweat man, we got this!" And they did in less than 10 minutes start to finish. Oh to be young again.

All in all it was another chapter in the adventures of outdoor life and with a good story under my belt we'll be off again in the future. This time with a working rear locker. And while we prepare for the worst, we can't always be prepared for the worst, but just be glad for the convenience of modern life and the ability to contact help in an emergency. Otherwise I'd have walked 15 miles to the highway which is more and more daunting with age. 

I certainly hope you'll give this trip report a doubly good grade.