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August 1, 2019: In Search of the Elusive Perfect Campsite

It was 3:15 p.m., early in the riding day for us. We’d just come to a possible campsite by the Blackfoot River – there was an open meadow, though overgrazed, suitable for having the horses browse. The river ran strong and clear—there was no fetid swamp here. And there was an established campsite in a grove of trees that adjoined the meadow.

Stay or go? We talked about continuing on but agreed though it was early, that this site was ideal; therefore, we should stayed put. We unpacked and set up camp in our usual, very efficient manner. I bathed in the creek and washed the boots in the moderately cold water. We hand grazed the horses, letting one at a time roam around free. I told Pete that I was not going to hobble the horses on this trip, better to have them on lead than restrained. I took them one by one down to the creek where they drank up, and where I splashed water on their legs. Raudi was okay – there were no after effects from the previous day.

Right as Pete was finishing putting up the highline, an approaching storm rolled in. We put the horses on the line and dove into the tent, which I’d set up shortly after our arrival.

I then, (with dog lying next to me) reviewed the events of the day. The morning ride to the guard station was – again, challenging. We interspersed riding along ridges rife with scree patches and a forested area. At one point a rock tumbled down from above, barely missing Tyra’s rear leg. It landed right behind us. Other rocks followed. Raudi snorted and picked up the pace, Hrimmi, on a loose line, stayed right with her. Seven miles into it and we came to a well-used trail, one that meandered through a pine forest. We arrived at the North Fork guard station at noon, just in time for lunch.

Bridge crew
The bridge over the Blackfoot River at the North Fork guard station is being replaced.

 North Fork Falls
North Fork Falls


It was, unlike the Welcome Home Guard Station, inhabited. Several tents and 3-4, one story cabins were tucked in the trees. To the far side of the dwellings was a pile of lumber, a push cart, an outhouse. There was a large pile of wood near these items – it had obviously been brought in by helicopter. I heard the sounds of pounding. Pete and I tied up the horses and then went over to investigate. There was a construction site on the far side of the trail. A half dozen guys were working on a three quarters complete timber frame bridge. They were focused on what they were doing. Pete, with map in hand, asked for trail particulars. He mumbled something, and returned to work. Another fellow stepped forward and said that he didn’t know the area and therefore could not help us. He added that they all had been contracted by the USFS and that the expected date of completion was Tuesday. It was Friday. We said thanks and returned to the horses who were now all dozing.

Over lunch, we talked about our afternoon plans. Coming in on the trail to the guard site, I had observed that the trail I presumed we were to follow paralleled a steep hill, and that the ledge was too narrow. Pete, after studying the map, assured me that we would not be following it. As it turned out, we took an adjoining trail, and yes, it ran along a narrow ledge. When finally, I gathered up my courage, I looked down and saw the Blackfoot River, snaking its way through the canyon. The sight was mesmerizing. And it got more spectacular, as a major waterfall, one with deadfall at the center, followed. Still, I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally came to yet another bridle path trail.

Next: 211. 8/2/19: Putting in Overtime Hours

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