Island to Inland PCS Road Trip | Day 4 | July 28, 2020 | John Day, OR to Boise National Forest, ID
On day 4 of our road trip, we packed up our campsite and drove back to John Day. Today we were wrapping up our time in Oregon and planned to camp in Idaho that evening. Our goal wasn’t that ambitious, as far as driving goes it was only 6 hours away, but we were enjoying our slower paced method of travel. We loved the feeling of knowing we had miles and miles of road ahead of us to areas we’d never laid eyes on before. We were soaking in the freedom to go where we wanted and stop where we wanted.
The only thing getting in our way was Charlotte’s dislike for the high temperatures and unwillingness to hike for very long. We couldn’t be upset with her though; she had slept in the same house every night for 3 years and had the same routine every day, and we had just turned her world upside down. We knew it would just take time for her to get used to her new lifestyle, and that once she had adapted she would start enjoying the constant change of scenery and abundance of new adventures. For now, we just had to be patient and plan our days around how much she could handle.
For today’s driving route, we took US-26 to I-84 on the state border. We had trouble believing we were still in Oregon, the scenery had Western vibes and I would catch myself thinking we were in Wyoming. We made one brief stop at an empty rest stop to enjoy the view. Once on 84, we entered Idaho and continued on to Boise. We believe that interstates usually go through the least interesting parts of states, and this stretch was no exception.
We then took 184 to downtown Boise. One of our less-serious state goals is to see all of the capitol buildings, and this was an easy check off the list for this trip. We parked in a 15 minute spot right in front and took a short walk in the green space around the capitol, admiring the statues and the architecture. After that, we rewarded Charlotte with Sonic, then continued on our way.
After a short jaunt back on 84, we took ID-21 North into Boise National Forest. Sure enough, the scenery became much more interesting right away. We drove past Lucky Peak reservoir and power plant on our way into the mountains. One of Curtis’ ideas for future careers is to work at a hydro-electric plant like this, and it was fun to imagine living up here. The biggest draw to that career for us is that the reservoirs and dams are located all across the Western US in so many places where we’d love to live.
We drove into Boise National Forest, up and down on the winding road, not having much of an idea of where we wanted to camp or hikes that we could do. We ended up picking a spot in Deadwood Campground on Banks Lowman Road, a few miles West of 21. The campground was situated right between the Payette River inside a narrow valley with high peaks on either side. Better yet, there were a couple letterboxes hidden nearby, and there was a trailhead that started right in the campground, so we didn’t have to wonder how to spend the rest of our day.
While still in the heat of the afternoon, we walked along the river to find the letterboxes, and found a spot for Charlotte to wade in the water to cool down. Later that evening, we started up the trail just for the sake of wandering — there were no signs at the trailhead, so we had no idea what to expect. The trail made its way up gradually, following a ridge around the peak we thought we were hiking to but in reality was headed to somewhere much further away. Instead of setting our minds on finishing the trail, we just enjoyed the views of neighboring ridges, the Deadwood river down in the valley, and wildflowers along the trail. We ended up hiking 3 miles before we decided to turn around so that we wouldn’t be hiking in the dark.
Back at our campsite, we looked up at the nearest peak where we had thought the trail was heading, wondering how hard it would really be to reach that peak. Curtis got up early the next morning to attempt it, but came back an hour later saying it was still further and higher than he thought. I couldn’t find an official trail recording on AllTrails, but if you’re interested, here’s what we recorded from our evening walk.