Skip to content

It’s About The Bucket List

by Chuck Scheer
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, May 2014

The Club Challenge has been a hit with me since day one, one of Capt.ed’s best ideas. Sure, the Club has attracted like- minded riders with a variety of backgrounds and given them a common forum for sharing their riding experiences, expertise and knowledge. The club ride and member posted rides are a great way to ride new country and meet new and old riding buddies and the workshops are informative and a great resource especially for new club members wanting to join the fun.

But the Challenge, in my opinion, it’s the jewel in the crown, an adventure rider’s “BucketList”. And riding to all of the sites is only half the fun as there is the ride home to enjoy while contemplating your accomplishment. Quoting Greg Anderson, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

I’ve participated in every Challenge since it debuted in 2010 and I’ve loved every second spent on the trail in pursuit of Platinum. Of course it’s not easy, that’s the point, right? But the mix of #1, #2 and #3 difficulty rides with an occasional near #4 thrown in makes the adventure worthwhile.

The 2013 Challenge had a distinct historical favor. Among the sites were battles, massacres, ghost towns, Oregon Trail stops, Railroads, forts, a mine, an “incident”, a pass, the oldest dam on the Snake River, a lookout, bridges, overlooks, a “normal school” and a BARN. I’ll highlight a variety for you.

Camas Meadow Battle site and the Fort Henry Historic Byway & Lost gold Trails Loop markers

The battle at Camas Meadow (#1) was more of a horse theft than a real battle but the ride to that place was one of the most amazing back roads I have been on in Idaho. To get there I left Rexburg mid afternoon and travelled north on Red Road stopping at the historical marker six miles from the site of Fort Henry (#11) which is where a group of trappers built cabins in 1810 and nearly starved but for eating horses. They abandoned the “fort” the next spring. Red Road led to to Kilgore, Idaho and Kilgore – Yale Road, all part of the Lost Gold Trails Loop and was among my favorite scenic rides of the year. That ride from Rexburg to Island Park is on my “A” list.

Historic Marker Near Fort Henry
Remains of Caribou city

The ride to The Utter Disaster Site (#34) was a sobering experience. North of ID78 west of Grandview, at the end of a long dusty farm road is a 16” X 20” bronze plaque that relates the tragedy of a wagon train attacked by Indians with the loss of 31 lives by murder and starvation and the cannibalism that kept survivors alive until rescued. “No other Oregon Trail wagon train suffered greater losses.” I had no idea this had happened in my state so close to home.

Historic Marker Near Fort Henry

Not much is left of Caribou City now (#6). I got there by riding in from Cody, Wyoming through the East Entrance of Yellowstone, Grand Teton Park and Jackson Hole. I had spent the previous day riding through the Park’s West Entrance stopping at Norris Geyser Basin and Dunraven Pass, elev. 8,859’, then out the Northeast Entrance to Cooke City, Montana , over Beartooth Pass, elev. 10,947’ to Red Lodge, Montana, back over Beartooth Pass, over Dead Indian Pass, elev. 8,060’ and on to Cody overnight. Next day, just south of Alpine, Wyoming, I followed McCoy Creek Road and turned south on NF165. The Forest Service has posted an information sign with some amazing facts: settled in 1897 the town once boasted 1,500 residents, living mostly in tents, a population rivaling Pocatello and Idaho Falls. $1.67 million in gold, early 20th century dollars, was found near here. The last resident left in 1930. After I claimed the site I rode west to Grays Lake, south to Soda Springs and on to Montpelier for the night. While there I went to the Big Hill site (#17) where you can still see wagon tracks descending “the greatest impediment on the whole route from the United States (over 200 miles east of here) to Fort Hall (over 120 miles farther west).” The wagons had to be lowered down by ropes tied to trees that no longer exist.

Entrance to City of Rocks
One of the biggest impediments to progress on the Oregon Trail was Big Hill

I travelled to the BMW of Idaho Club Campout at City of Rocks (#7) and took the opportunity to ride to The Golden Spike Monument in Utah (#13). I was fortunate to get there midday on Saturday when the reenactment takes place. At 1:00pm actors in costume reenacted the driving of the golden spike when West met East, again, as reproductions of the C.P.R.R.’s Jupiter wood burning steam locomotive, east bound, and the U.P.R.R.’s west bound #119 coal fired steamer came within a few feet of each other. Bells and whistles were loud and proud as a crowd of enthusiasts watched under a 20 starred union flag. This leg was definitely worth the extra effort. Since I was a kid I wanted to see this and the Challenge was the nudge I needed to make it happen.

West meets East at the Golden Spike National Monument

Triumph (Mine) (#37) is now a community of up- scale $1 million ranchettes but once it was the source of an astronomical gold deposit. The state and US Gov’t have buried tailings worth an estimated $45 million in gold but because of environmental concerns it may never be touched. The stop at Triumph is a nice break from the congestion and gridlock that afflicts the Hailey to Ketchum corridor each summer.

A Remnant of Triumph Mine near Ketchum, Idaho

The ride from Salmon, Idaho southeast on ID28 had two Challenge sites that were totally different in character. The first was Lemhi Pass, elev. 7,373’, (#10) and was reached by turning west at Tendoy on to The Lewis And Clark Back Country Byway. The ride on the fully loaded GS12 led to spectacular views of the Lemhi Mountains and the opportunity to stand in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark was well worth the effort. Meriwether Lewis traversed the pass westward bound in August 1805 and returned two weeks later with Clark and the rest of the expedition.

Lemhi Pass on the Continental Divide
My Candidate for the Birch Creek Incident Marker

After descending back to ID28 I turned southeast to look or the site of the Birch Creek “Incident”(#9). Its actual position was questionable though several markers seemed to be genuine. The kiosk and panels erected at the Birch Creek Campground explain it well and include a statement from an eyewitness. Essentially Shoshone warriors, fresh from having been attacked at Big Hole six days earlier, came upon the freight wagons bound for Salmon, Idaho. After obtaining rations from the wagons the braves supposedly found whiskey and that probably resulted in the death of several of the teamsters. All this fascinating Idaho history wasn’t in any of my schoolbooks.

Pioneer Cemetery at Idaho City
Thorn Creek Butte Look Out

Thorn Creek Butte Lookout (#28) was part of the loop ride that I combined the Idaho City Pioneer Cemetery (#25), Barber Flat Cabin (#29), Seafoam Guard Station (#23), and Josephus Lake (#24). It made for a long day but the DR made easy work of it. The ride from Seafoam to Josephus was one that I had made many times in the seventies while riding in my Ford pickup with friends for a chance to angle for cutthroat trout in Soldier Lakes. Those were the days!

Josephus Lake

Not wanting to suffer the DR seat over pavement for six hours I opted to trailer it to Lucille where I began the ascent to Sawpit Saddle Overlook (#40). The ride out to the overlook was terrific and riding solo always adds an “edge” to that kind of adventure. I always carry my SPOT and check in with an “I’m OK” often with family and friends. The panoramic view of Hell’s Canyon from the overlook is beyond comparison and the effort required to reach it is well worth it. After tagging the overlook I began the ride along the ridges northward toward Pittsburg Saddle to descend to the Snake and Pittsburg Landing (#19). By the time I reached the river it was late afternoon and the temperature had soared to over 105°F. By the time I had the site tagged, enjoyed a cold beverage and a Power Bar from the cooler I was past ready to begin the climb to cooler elevations and the ride out to Hammer Creek. A short stretch of pavement back to Lucille and my 2013 Challenge was done.

Hells Canyon near Sawpit Overlook
Pittsburg Landing in Hell’s Canyon

I didn’t keep track of miles traveled or days ridden for last years Challenge so I’ve no numbers to show for it. I did most of the miles on my BMW R1200GS with serious dirt time on the Suzuki DR650E. There were a few strictly pavement rides that were done with our BMW R1200RT. Oh yes, there were times when my aging body complained about the effort. But whatever the cost in miles, days, dollars or aches I consider it a privilege to have participated in all of the Challenges and I look forward to more Challenges to come. I think of the Challenges as “Bucket Lists”. So many of the sites are places I’ve only heard about and wanted to visit but never quite got around to. So many sites are spectacular, some are amusing and some are historically interesting, but all should be experienced by the avid outdoorsman (woman) and adventure rider living in Idaho.

Kudos to all who chose and helped to search for the sites, found the coordinates and Benchmark references and posted them on the website. It’s a terrific amount of work and I’m sure we all appreciate those efforts. I think the design and implementation of our amazing website has had a great deal to do with the club’s success and I would like to thank hez again for her effort, patience and expertise. Very few clubs have a site as great as ours. coolsen has graciously taken up the newsletter torch again so let’s support his efforts by responding to his requests for articles.

Thanks again to:
Terri Hiatt

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments