Dare You to Keep Your Eyes Open!


When company comes callin’ up here in Council, Idaho we like to take them places that’ll scare the pants off of ’em.  If not truly scary, then at least give them a view they won’t find anywhere in Pennsylvania … the home of our latest visitors (Cousin Tom & his girlfriend Kelly).  We picked a 130+ mile round-trip drive through Idaho mining & Forest Service history. Sweetie was the Assistant Fire Management Officer (AFMO) for the Council Ranger District on the Payette National Forest for six years (before he met me 🙂  ); he knows cool stuff about the roads, mountains, people, and history of the area … he is a great tour guide.

It's a small town fer shur

It’s a small town fer shur

For starters we drove through the towns of Bear  and Cuprum (latin for copper) … snugged into the forest; small places remaining from the mining heyday in the 1890’s. Once boasting thousands … now, uh, less than 10? … few homes and fewer people.  We didn’t see many smiling faces as we drove past … more like what the H are you looking at kinda faces.

Horse Mountain Fire Lookout ... Payette National Forest

Horse Mountain Fire Lookout … Payette National Forest

Anyway, past these little spots we slowly wound our way up to the Horse Mountain Fire Lookout Tower from which you can see the Seven Devils mountain range and below (about a mile) you can see the thread of the Snake River in the bottom of Hell’s Canyon.Nothing this high in PA Horse Mountain Lookout Viewpoint over Snake River in Hells Canyon

Some folks think the road to the lookout is ‘scary’ … well, strap on your seat belt and grab your camera … the slow going, gravel road named  Kleinschmidt ‘s Grade will send chills down your spine, at places you’ll want to close your eyes, and if you are brave enough to look you’ll get a mountain goat’s eye view of the world.  The road was built as a way to move ore to the river; a way Mr. Kleinschmidt hoped would be faster than hauling the ore by wagon and mule team. It is a spectacular drive even if the road didn’t help Mr. Kleinschmidt’s financial ventures.

Kleinschmidt's Grade Photo Op

Kleinschmidt’s Grade Photo Op

Finally at the bottom of the grade and half-way home, we headed south toward the Oxbow and on to Cambridge. We pulled off in one of the well maintained and shady boat launch sites to give the Mala dog a swim and unfold our legs before starting back to the ranch.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and ties into several day trips I’ve shared with y’all before … in my Idaho Winter Wandering — No Snow and A Saturday Explore where we ended up in Cambridge and picked over the pawn shop and the art gallery. I love road trips; old trips, new trips … I saw 3 more trailheads on our journey that intrigued me and that I put on my I want to do that sometime list. Trip Stats? 1 dog, 1 4×4, 4 people, 6 hours, 130 miles …. unlimited smiles.

The trip doesn't look treacherous, does it?

The trip doesn’t look treacherous, does it? Can you tell the steep parts?

Elevation ... not much change was there? LOL

Same route, elevation only … Nah, not much of a drop at all!






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