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County Line Knob

Payette County - County Line Knob

After attending the wedding of Rollie Jones and Meredith Toevs in McCall, Lori and I decided to take the backroads home between Council and Emmett to explore the Payette County high point.  It was Monday, November 30th and a cold but not unbearable day.  I had always wanted to take the drive through Indian Valley, where the state of Idaho has considered building an alternative route north from Boise.  After driving through Indian Valley, we headed on south on Riley Butte Road through Washington County, and some rolling ranch lands bordered by mountains to the east. 

On arriving near the Payette county line, we finally found the jeep track off of Four Mile road that took us up a ridge to the high point.  It was a rocky road, made somewhat more difficult with several inches of blown snow in places.  After cresting the prominent knob still inside Washington county, the Payette high pointwas clearly in view a few hundred yards south.  We drove right to the spot, which agreed with the GPS inputs we had programmed earlier. It was overcast, slightly breezy and cold, but we did walk around an touch all of the prominent rocks, confirming high point #15 at 12:45.  From there we headed to Emmett for lunch and then on home.  Over one third of Idaho's high point are now complete.

Payette County High point 002.JPG

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Kelly Mountain

Jefferson County - Kelly Mountain

After camping at Wolf Flats along the Snake River east of Heise Hot Springs, we loaded up the camper and headed up Kelly Canyon past the ski area.  It was Sunday, October 25, but a fair amount of outdoor activity was occurring in this eastern Idaho area.  We parked at the “Y” parking lot and headed up a gated road toward the top of the Kelly Mountain ski area.  We first headed southeast to a summit and radio tower site where views toward the east were quite good.  From there we could see the ridge behind the ski area where the high point was located.  With a little bushwhacking, we finally cut the ATV trail that traverses the Kelly Mountain ridge near the high point. 

A little wandering around the brush and we found the refrigerator sized rock that is apparently the highest point on the ridge, and the high point for Jefferson County in the extreme south east corner of the county.  It was 12:30, and an hour and twenty minutes from the Jeep. We had snacks and loaded up back to the Jeep, passing a couple of joggers out for Sunday exercise.  The return to the Jeep only took 55 minutes on a more direct route.  Soon we were enjoying Pizza at Heise Hot Springs Resort, where we met a man that needed help getting his car unstuck from a steep slide off just above the ski area.  The Jeep winch made quick work of the task, and we headed home.

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Cinnabar Mountain/Hayden Peak

Owyhee County - Cinnabar Mountain/Hayden Peak

For a southwest Idaho outing, Lori and I headed to Bruneau Dunes State Park, an Owyhee County highlight,  where we camped for the night on October 17th.  A rainy evening brought an interesting fog over the dunes the next morning. 

bruneau dunes.JPG

From there we headed to Silver City and the Owyhee Mountains.  We had lunch at the Idaho Hotel & Bar, where they were in the process of closing for the season.  An interesting visit with the owners advised that it would take us an hour and a half to reach Hayden Peak from there, so we headed to camp and set up the trailer. 

Silver City Masonic Hall.JPG

From there a good gravel road took us toward War Eagle Mountain and the Silver City mining area. We followed on, using topo and dead reckoning, toward Cinnabar Mountain in a dense cloud of fog. Catching views of stunning country to the south we traversed Turntable Moutain on the southside and on toward Hayden peak, finally catching the 4WD road to the peak, arriving at 3:10 p.m. in a dense fog. We found the summit register packed with entries, and decided not to add.  We circled the whole area, and decided to return on a clearer day. From there we returned to Silver City and camp on a very wet night.


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The Felt Hat

Franklin County - The Felt Hat

On October 12, 2015, after driving to Lava Hot Springs the evening before, Lori and I headed through Grace, Idaho and onto the trail head for the Franklin County high point at Danish Pass in the Cache National Forest.  We headed north up the trail, which is part of the High Line Trail, for about a half mile before turning east up the ridge line toward the high point.  We gained several hundred feet of altitude through fairly open terrain.   We crossed a couple of rocky bands and then finally topped out on the ridge just a few hundred yards from the obvious high point which consists of a couple of rock spires on the peak of the ridge. 

The mountain is locally known at The Felt Hat.  We reached the high point after an hour of hiking at 11:50 a.m.  After snacks and a celebratory beverage, we began retracing our route back to the jeep which we reached in 40 minutes.  From there we traveled through Egan Basin to Pat Hollow and the site of the January 1953 plane crash that killed 40 people.  The returning Korean War veterans went down in bad weather on their way from Seattle to North Carolina.  From there we returned to the highway at St. Charles and on toward home.

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Bald Mountain

Latah County - Bald Mountain

On Wednesday evening September 23, 2015 while visiting Moscow for a history conference, Lori and I decided to drive out to the Latah county high point. We drove to Potlatch and then through Princeton and Harvard. Following White Pine Drive we reached the Palouse divide summit and turned east on Forest Road 377. From there it was 9 miles on gravel to the lookout on Bald Mountain which we reached at 5:30 p.m. on a beautiful fall day. Views from the lookout were quite expansive in all directions. 


From there we circled on around the divide until intersecting the Palouse River road which we took back to the highway past Laird Park campground. The backroad through Deary and Troy completed our trip back to Moscow.

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Oxford Peak

Oneida County - Oxford Peak

Lori and I drove to Malad Saturday morning the 19th of September to hike Oxford Peak, the highest point in Oneida County.  From an earlier scout we had decided to approach from the southwest up the First Creek drainage. 

We drove up Dry Creek northeast of Malad to a point where the road/trail crosses First Creek.  From there we bushwhacked up the ridge to a point below the major rock outcropping.  We side-hilled through heavy forest until we were directly below a chute heading up to a rock spire.  We gained a lot of altitude in the open gravel chute until the saddle between point 8685 and the southwest ridge was visible.  We continued on up until reaching the saddle at 8500 feet and from there northeast to the Oxford ridge.  On top of the ridge we caught an ATV trail that continued toward Oxford Peak to the north.  Following the ATV trail to the next knob brought us to a good trail over to Oxford Peak for the last quarter mile.  We reached the summit at 4:15 p.m., having hiked for four hours.  While enjoying the summit we were joined by a young couple from Pocatello who had climbed to the summit from the east side.  We signed the summit register, took pictures and refreshments and headed down.  We reached the Jeep at 7:00 p.m. not much worse for wear.

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Owl Creek/Smoky Point

Camas County - Smoky Point

On Saturday, August 22nd the Rupert Jeep Club headed for the Camas County
high point at the head of Owl Creek Canyon.  We turned off of Idaho Highway
75 about 15 miles north of Ketchum and forded Wood River.  We drove up Owl
Creek 3.2 miles to the end of the road and loaded our packs for a serious
up hill trek to the high point.  GPS showed 1.7 miles and 2400 feet to the
destination.  The contingent included Ron, Rhett, Miranda, Lori, Big Al and
myself leaving the Jeeps at 10:15.  We worked up the west side of Owl Creek
for about a mile and then headed up a steep ridge toward an alpine bowl
shown on the topo map. 

camas high point 019.JPG

We stirred up a dozen forest grouse on the ascent
that became increasingly steep until reaching a bowl at about 9600 feet.
We crossed the bowl and headed up the rocky gully to the southwest toward
the high point.  The scramble up the talus canyon was the most vertical so
far on the Idaho 44 project.  After topping out on a more gradual ridge the
Salmon River headwaters came into view all the way down the Sawtooth
Valley.  The last few hundred yards to the ridge crest seemed to take all
the gas we had left.  On ascension of the ridge we took a break before
continuing over to the high point which overlooks the Smoky Mountains, the
Sawtooths, the Boulders and the Pioneers.  The high point was the place for
lunch at 1:10 p.m.

No summit register was found so we decided not to litter either.  The trek
back to the Jeeps took a more direct route to the northeast, traversing
some brushy slopes below the alpine basin.  The steep decent took a toll on
the downhill muscles for sure.  Another one in the books!

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Elk Mountain

Twin Falls County - Elk Mountain

On Sunday the 9th of August, Ron, Lori & I headed out to ascend the Twin Falls highpoint in the Jackpot/Jarbidge desert along the Idaho-Nevada border.  Leaving Rupert just before noon meant we'd be hungry for lunch about the time we got to Salmon Falls Dam.  After a short stop there for lunch we were soon turning off Three Creek Road to the south up Little House Creek.  The road follows a good dirt track up the sloping steps toward the Nevada border.  Following our fairly unreliable GPS guide “Martha”, we managed to continue into Nevada, past the target.  A little backtracking past the Guerry Corrals, and we soon could identify the saddle between the two highest spots in Twin Falls County.  A newer Jeep track now leads up to a radio site near the summit of the Twin Falls County High Point.  We celebrated with a beer and a signed into the summit register.  Others have been here too.

From there we headed on up Elk Mountain past Chicken Springs to some spectacular views into the Jarbidge area, Nevada and Magic Valley.   Lori & I found a lovely camp on Elk Mountain and, after some refreshments, Ron headed home from our camp.  Lori & I stayed for a peaceful night with the coyotes.  The next morning we took the short cut (4+ hours and one serious mud bog) over to Jackpot spotting a huge 4 point buck, a herd of antelope and a lot of desolate country along the way.  We then returned home looking forward to peak #9 in a couple weeks.

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Cache Peak

Cassia County - Cache Peak

Sunday, the 5th of July was a fitting day to shoot for Cache Peak, just south east of Mount Independence and the highest point south of the Snake River in Idaho.  An earlier scouting trip indicated a decent trail could be reached by going through Oakley and driving up Fish Creek to the Almo Park ridgeline.  At the end of the road a trail ascends the southwestern flank of Cache Peak to a saddle between it and Mount Independence.  This steep escarpment created the cirque within which lie Independence Lakes. 


An hour and a half hike with Ron, Rhett, and Miranda Jones brought Lori and I to the saddle and a view into the Independence Lake basin more than a thousand feet below.  From there we bushwacked for a distance along the ridgeline until picking up a trail of blue ribbons that helped guide us to the summit.  We reached the summit at 1:30 p.m.   From there the views, especially to south into Castle Rocks State Park and City of Rocks were spectacular.  We had lunch, a celebratory glass of wine, and then we headed back to the Jeeps.  A beautiful hike with perfect weather timing as the storm clouds gathered as we finished.  Another fine highpoint checked off.

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Deep Creek Peak

Power County – Deep Creek Peak

On April 19th a large group of us attempted to ascend Deep Creek Peak.  We found the road up Big Canyon to be blocked by deep snow about two miles from the summit.  We went around the mountain to the north and drove up Knox Canyon to Sawmill Hollow, where the road was again blocked by snow.  On foot, several of us reached the saddle at the 7300' elevation, within sight of the ridge buried in snow leading to the summit of Deep Creek Peak.  By then it was nearly 4 p.m., so we decided to turn around for a try on another day. 

Another day came on May 31st.  Ron & Tammy Jones, along with Lori and I drove to the summit of Big Canyon, 2.1 miles west of Deep Creek Peak.  After lunch and a beer, we set off at 1:20 p.m. cross country along an up and down ridge line toward the peak which loomed in the distance.  The first half mile involved some bushwhacking through brush and light timber sometimes following faint trails.  By the halfway point, we were definitely on a steady climb toward the summit.  The summit was reached at 3:40 p.m. on a beautiful, breezy spring afternoon.  The view from the Power County high point is quite impressive with views all the way into Utah, the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Range, into Wyoming and the Tetons, and across the Arco desert to Big South Butte and the Lost River Range.  After reducing the load in our packs with a snippet of food and beverage, we headed back towards our jeeps visible at the trail head.  We were back to the Jeeps in just under two hours in time to savor our accomplishment for the day.  Six highpoints down, thirty eight more to go.


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Davis Mountain Update

Gooding County

May 1, 2015 starting at Dead Horse Cave northwest of Gooding, we traveled up into Clover Creek and then to the Chalk mine.  From there we traveled north on a very interesting Jeep road that came out at Bowman Flat.  From there over to the Davis Mountain road and a traverse from the east along the county line to the high point.  The half mile hike was fairly easy, but the cairn for the high point is somewhat obscure.  Awesome spring day in the Idaho High Desert.  Many wildflowers blooming.  Continued over Davis Mountain and exited due north to Fairfield through several “locked” gates.


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Davis Mountain

Gooding County

From Idaho 46 heading north we turned west on the Gooding City of Rocks road and continued southwest to the intersection with the Davis Mountain road.  Continuing west on Davis Mountain road we crossed several drainages before reaching the east fork of Clover Creek.  We crossed the creek and then headed up the switch backs toward Hobby Spring.  The views became quite spectacular both to the south across the City of Rocks and the Magic Valley and to the northwest where the Smoky Mountains were framed by the canyons of the Bennett Hills.  After crossing the Squaw Creek drainage, the road turned north on the east side of Terrace Creek toward the summit of Davis Mountain. 

south from Davis Mountain.JPG

Relying on the topographic map, we turned east just south of the Gooding highpoint on a jeep road and continued toward a spring that was marked on the map just west of the highpoint.  The jeep road no longer continues to the spring, but we did on foot.  From there we headed back east as indicated by the GPS units.  We split up to explore the high ground that was indicated on the topo map, while the other group ascended a ridge to the east according to the GPS coordinates.  They found a cairn and a note marking the spot where others had been while my group explored the high ground marked point 6336’ further west.  These two spots are about four tenths of a mile apart, separated by a ravine that forms Terrace Creek.  Close enough for me, at least for now.  Our group retrieved the jeeps and drove back around to the Davis Mountain road and picked up the others who had continued cross country.

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Near Thorn Creek Reservoir

Lincoln County

We met at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Shoshone to head out for another two-fer.  The Rupert Jeep club was out in force with a contingent of eight.  We turned off Idaho 75 on the Mammoth Cave road and then continued west toward Thorn Creek Reservoir.  We found the plateau we needed to ascend just north east of a saddle in the road.  About a quarter mile up the hill and then across the plateau to three different high spots that were potentials.  We completed the search about 11:00 a.m. under partly cloudy skies, breezy and a temperature of about 55 degrees.  The desert is remarkably green, but quite dry.  The views to the Magic Valley are quite stunning.  From there we back tracked south, missed the turnoff to Thorn Creek Reservoir and bounced around a really rocky trail until finally intersecting Idaho route 46 north of Gooding.  From there we were off in search of the next highpoint.

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Pickles Butte

Canyon County

We met at the Brick 29 Bistro in downtown Nampa for Sunday Brunch on March 1st, 2015.  After enjoying an excellent buffett, the seven of us proceeded south from Nampa and on toward Pickles Butte on Missouri Avenue.  At the end of the road, the area turns into an extensive ATV area that was occupied by a large band of sheep.  We navigated some deep ruts and geared down to four wheel drive on the last little pitch to the top of the butte.  We arrived at the summit at about 1:20 p.m., where the view to the southwest of the Owhyee Mountains was quite beautiful.  We looked around a little bit and located a survey benchmark, but no other remarkable features.  Lake Lowell and the Boise foothills were visible to the north and east.  It was a little breezy on top the butte, but really quite nice for the first day of March.

From there we descended off the west side of the butte and circled around to the south and returned to Missouri Avenue.  From there, off to the wineries of Sunnyslope.  Another good day for Idaho 44!

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West Kimama Butte

Jerome County

It was approximately 3:30 in the afternoon, the sun was breaking out and it seemed like a good idea to go for two on the first day of the year.  From Kimama we headed south west and then south to the Kimama Butte access road.  From here we went due west until the road eventually turns south and ascends the north east slope to the top of Kimama Butte.  We arrived about 4:00 p.m. to a spectacular view of the entire Magic Valley.  The sun was shining, it was up to 14 degrees and we were having a glorious day.  After snapping a few pictures we headed back north to the powerline road, and then turned west up and over the north shoulder of Kimama Butte.  We then found the road that heads south west crossing the Lincoln/Minidoka county line, then headed for the Minidoka/Jerome county line.  We wandered around a bit and found the knob and the sub-knob on the topographic map, took latitude and longitude readings and ciphered that we were darn close to the Jerome County highpoint.  It was now 5:00 p.m. with the sun on the horizon and temperatures falling.  From that little nub I took my first selfie for 2015 and considered Jerome county bagged.  Two down, 42 to go!

2 peaks in one day!

From here we descended on to the west toward farm ground, ended up headed back east and stopped to take a photo of an incredible sunset and moonrise over Jerome/Minidoka county Lapland.  We finally intersected 1150 West road and headed south toward the end of an eventful day.  At baseline road we bid farewell to the others who had come from Twin Falls, and headed home, arriving back in Rupert at 6:00 p.m.

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Bear Den Butte

Minidoka County

A group of six formed a meeting of the Rupert Jeep Club Thursday morning, starting promptly at 10:00 a.m. at the Drift Inn in Rupert to head for Minidoka’s highpoint.  We headed north toward Kimama under foggy skies, temperature hovering near zero.  Upon crossing the railroad tracks we started down the Kimama-Carey road, headed north into a snow covered desert.  We reached the Laidlaw International Airport after about 14 miles of good desert road, with little more than a few frozen mud puddles as obstacles.  Conditions at the airport were calm, frosty, but surprisingly pleasant for a January day.  From there we proceeded to the South Park Well crossing the first lava flow without incident.  From South Park we headed northwest along the lava finger to the north and west of Bear Den Butte.  At 12:08 p.m. our objective came into view across the lava flow as the fog lifted slightly.  We soon came to the trail across the lava flow and stopped to take pictures.  From there we headed south and circled to the east side of the butte.  We ascended the east side arriving just before 1:00 p.m. and spent a pleasant half hour having lunch and adult beverages on the pinnacle of Minidoka County.  Tempature was a balmy 10 degrees, light breeze, mostly cloudy with the sun occasionally trying to burn through.

One down, 43 to go!

We then descended and headed south west, getting stuck a few times in the packed and wind blown drifts.  We soon began retracing our route toward South Park, and saw the same herd of mule deer that we had seen earlier.  We headed back toward Kimama, without major incident and decided to go find the Jerome County highpoint.

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