Sunday, April 30, 2017

August 2016: Island Park--Fifty Miler with the Scouts--Part Two

A motley crew

Continued from previous post

Day Three

We arose from our slumber and discovered that one of the amenities the Island Park Scout Camp has are showers.  The maintenance guy hadn't turned off the hot water for the season, so we were able to take advantage of a creature comfort while we were there.

After breakfast, and striking camp, we set off for the next leg of the journey.  We made our way back to the railbed and continued our hiking and trail clearing.

This part of the hike was a little more scenic than the day previous.  Lots more trees, and the railbed made it's way through a few rocky mini-canyons.  At one of these stops, my son revealed a major blister on his leg that had formed as a result of the sunburn he had received the first day on the reservoir.  We stopped long enough to administer first aid.  I sanitized my knife with fire, and lanced and drained the edge of the blister and then with triple antibiotic ointment and clean bandages we patched him up to continue the journey.  My other son, later that day revealed his nasty sunburn and he covered it with adhesive moleskin to keep it from chafing.  Turns out that was a bad idea.  If these boys and a bunch of the others had just listened to their mothers about wearing sunscreen...

We made it to our next campsite which was right by Warm River Springs.  We spent an hour or so at the spring which is the headwater of Warm River.  It is so called because the water temperature, while not warm, is heated by the volcanics below just a little bit.  It is warm enough that it does not freeze in the winter, even when the air temperatures are sixty below zero.

We went back, made camp and ate dinner, slept.

After my shower, I decided I needed a shave

Trail grooming

Balancing act

Nasty blister

Pretty country

Railroad trestle

Far more scenic than the day before

More grooming

Trains used to go down here

Oregon Grape.  Edible, not particularly tasty

There were places like this here and there

Lunch break

There's a surprising amount of water in Island Park

Boys who didn't listen to their mothers

Warm River Springs

Dirt leggings

Possibly the dirtiest boy I've ever seen

My sons

Tinfoil dinners.  A staple at scout campouts.  And believe it or not, they are really tasty after a hard day of hiking.

Day Four

Not surprisingly, we got up on day four and had breakfast and struck camp.  Then we headed off to the next place.  We worked our way to Bear Gulch.  I was on truck duty on this day.  We had a couple of trucks that we hauled our equipment on.  I took a turn getting the equipment to the next location.

We made it to Bear Gulch where we unloaded the bicycles for the remainder of the trip.  From Bear Gulch to Warm River Campground, there is a mile or so trail along the railroad bed that descends into the canyon.  We hardly had to pedal.  It was a nice ride.  Much nicer than the ride we'd have the next day.

We set up camp and my son decided to remove the moleskin from his sunburn.  He removed more than moleskin.  The other leaders and I conferred and we decided that my two sons with their blisters and sunburns probably needed to see a doctor.  I drove them into Rexburg and we got them treated.  I asked the doctor if they'd be able to finish the fifty miler.  He said it would be uncomfortable, but there was no infection, so he cleared them for the last day.

It was a lot of fun for me to see the boys who said, "I could never do that," in reference to whittling a stick on the first day, spend time carving their own hiking sticks and creating elaborate designs.

We got back to camp in time to have pizza delivered by one of the leader's wife, then we played "Redneck Volleyball."  Basically you tie a string up about eight feet in the air, then you play volleyball with empty milk jugs.  Good time had by all.

Heading out on day four


More bushwhacking

Bear Gulch

More Bear Gulch, we didn't see any bears

The old railroad tunnel.  Sadly it collapsed a few years ago so you can no longer hike into it.  Would have been cool though.  I never got to go through this tunnel.  Kind of bummed about that.

Rocky goodness

Culvert under the main road, tall enough to walk through

The trail

Exiting the culvert

Welcome change after days of walking

On the descent to Warm River Campground

The assortment of carved hiking sticks

This is why you don't put moleskin on a sunburn

Death by pizza

Actual bike wreck.  Took him awhile to recover.

Redneck volleyball



Sunset at Warm River Campground

I have no idea what this is all about

Day Five

This was the day of the brutal slog.  I haven't spent much time on bicycles in more than thirty years.  As a young man, I had a ten speed that I used to ride into Yellowstone National Park.  Thirty or so years earlier, my bicycle had been in storage in my parent's apartment complex in West Yellowstone, Montana.  During the winter, there had been a massive gas leak in the apartments and we had an explosion.  Eyewitnesses said they saw a refrigerator a hundred feet in the air.  My bicycle was bent and twisted beyond repair.  I never had another bike after that.  So for thirty years I didn't ride.  But hey, it's like riding a bike, right?

We started out riding along the railbed again.  There were sections where the ground was hard and the pedaling was pretty easy.  Then we'd get into sandy areas and it was very tough for me.  I was definitely the weak link in the group on the bike ride.  It was brutal.  One of the leaders was very kind to me and stayed back to make sure I was okay.  He pretended that it was hard for him too, but it really wasn't.  Like I say, he was being very kind.

We rode for several miles along the railbed and crossed several trestle bridges.  Finally the trail got so hard that we voted to go over to the highway and ride the rest of the way on the pavement.  Thankfully so.  It was still hard on muscles I hadn't exercised in that way in thirty years, but at least it was easier than three inch deep dust.  The last section of the road, before I got to my fifty mile mark was a steep downhill.  There was no slowing down.  One of the boys had a speedometer on his bike and clocked himself going forty miles an hour down the hill.  I couldn't remember which handle was the front brake and which one was the rear.  I knew I needed to ride the rear brake to control the descent rather than the front, which would have pitched me over the handlebars and possibly into the 200 foot gorge on the side of the road.  Luckily I chose correctly.  We made it to the fifty mile mark and I got off the demon cycle and loosened my spaghetti legs.

Then we had to wait for the vehicles to come and pick us up.  We had originally planned to ride all the way into Tetonia, but almost to a man, we vetoed that.  The vehicles came and we went home.

Embarking on the last leg of the journey

One of the forks of the Snake River

Crossing the first bridge

Exploring a grain elevator

The second bridge

A view from the bridge

Abandoned farmhouse

Rolling hills

An old corn crib

Dusty road

There were Libertarians there

Taking a rest

Dusty road

I had to take a rest, okay a bunch of them.  Terribly out of shape.  I never want to be this out of shape for a bike ride again.

This is about where we decided to hit the real road

Much easier for me to pedal here

The Tetons were ever present

Deep canyon

The road seemed steeper when I was riding down it.  I was going quite fast, though.

I wasn't the only one who was tuckered out

Back home

Group shot

My boy's legs

I really enjoyed this hike/bike/canoe trip.  I exercised muscles I didn't know I had.  Actually, I think I exercised fat that was supposed to be muscle.  I would love to make the fifty miler again another time, but starting in better shape next time.  I enjoyed spending time with my sons and their friends.  I made new friends among the leaders.

I believe it was Nietzsche who said, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger."  I'm still alive after this ordeal, and now I want to do it again.  Peace.

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