July 1st and the start of our camping trip after work. July 1st was also a birthday for Joanne. A perfect way for her to celebrate was to be out with the camper. I had made a plan to camp at Edgewater Campground, along the Pend Oreille River and near Ione Washington. It was Fourth of July weekend and there would be a bunch of people out camping. At that campground reservations could be made so we had a guaranteed spot. The location would be great for me too as it was close to a mountain that I wanted to hike up to.
We arrived at the campground a little before 7 pm and pulled into our spot. We did have a bad experience right away as one of the camp hosts came right over and wanted money for our extra vehicle. It was no problem paying for my other truck but standing there before we could even get completely out of the trucks is pathetic. I told her I would be with her in a minute and let us at least get our dogs out of the truck. So she then sat there and was about to follow us into camp. She finally got the hint with our looks at her and left. Wow! It clearly states that you have a half an hour to get the money paid and we did before that time was up. So after that we finished getting camp set up and had dinner and relaxed. I will say that the next morning the other host came over and apologized, I made it clear of my discuss the night before.Oh well, it was all better now.
The night went by and we slept fairly well. It was noisy with it being amateur camping weekend or at least that is what we call it on holiday weekends. We knew it would be like that but still took advantage of getting out while we could. In the morning we would drink our coffee watching the river flow and two bald eagles on the other side of the river. Early in the morning it was very peaceful.
Today we would end up driving to the top of Salmo Mountain and stopping at other campgrounds to take a look at them for future trips. We found a couple nice campgrounds and noted what sites we liked. We found a couple geocaches on our travels too. The drive up to Salmo is about 21 miles of forest roads but the roads are in great shape. Salmo is the 15th highest mountain in Eastern Washington. There is a lookout at the top but it is locked up and unmanned. From the top of the mountain you could look over to Gypsy Peak, the highest mountain in Eastern Washington. I would be hiking that mountain tomorrow and looking at it close by got me even more excited.
We returned to camp after spending time on Salmo Mountain and after we found the geocache there. We relaxed the night away.
The next morning would be an early start for me. I would be hiking up Gypsy Peak by myself while Joanne and Cody stayed at camp. I got up a little after 4 am and left camp by 5 am. It would take me an hour and a half to get to the trail head. My hike started promptly at 630 am after I signed the log sheet at the trail head with my information. Although I hiked alone I had a lot of safety equipment with me and also had a personal gps tracking device, a Spot Gen3. This would be my first use of the Spot and it ended up working perfectly. It sends out my whereabouts via satellite and I also sent the “I’m okay” messages periodically. Joanne would receive the messages via texts. A device like that is very useful as there is no cell coverage in the area I was at. Along with that I carry a couple extra clothes, rain ponchos, first aid kit, matches, paper, food and water. I prepare to be stuck over night in case of emergency.
The start of the trail is fairly easy on a well maintained path up to Crowell Ridge. From the ridge you head north and it is all off trail and gets much harder hiking. At times the hike was fairly easy as you hiked up a peak top then down a saddle then back up and down a few times. The elevation gain and loss on the hike was a work out. At times I would be hiking up using my hands looking for grab holds. The hike is only about 6.5 miles round trip but it is one heck of a hike. I have hike more than double that distance on day hikes that were far easier. In total it would take me 6 hours to hike, including my stops for rest and lunch and to take in the views. The solitude of being on top of the mountains was fantastic. Just me and the mountain enjoying the day. Making it to the top of Gypsy Peak was exhilarating. After a bit of time looking around I then made the find on a geocache. On my route I also placed two new geocaches for others to enjoy.
The hike back down was just as challenging, no escalator was installed yet. I enjoyed every minute while up there as who knows when a return trip if ever will happen again. I plan on returning so I could make it to the next mountain north. I just do not know when. I made it back to the trail head and signed my time out on the log sheet. I had a snack before jumping in the truck to drive back to camp. On my way down I enjoyed the views of bear grass that were in bloom.
I arrived back at camp safe and sound and very tired. Joanne made dinner and the night drifted away. What a great day it was.
The next day would be our last at camp. We had breakfast then we all jumped into the truck and did a loop drive around the area. First to Ione for fuel then north to Metaline Falls. Then we would drive to Sullivan lake and back to camp. When we returned to camp we had lunch then packed up to go home.
On the loop drive we would stop and look for a few geocaches. All of them were great stops. Some with pretty views, one at a water fall then three more in Metaline Falls at historic places. Lots of informational signs were read learning about the area too.
We left Metaline Falls and made a stop at the Mill Pond just north of Sullivan Lake. There we took a short walk on a trail.
It was a spectacular trip. A great way to spend the holiday weekend. We only wished it could last a few more days as there was more to explore in the area and more mountains for me to climb. We will return at some point.
birthday and mountain tops 7/1 – 7/4 2016