"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Idaho: Biking, Kayaking & Mining

St. Maries, ID
Heyburn State Park
We've been weaving in and out of Idaho and Montana the past few months.  This time we wanted to spend time on the Coeur d' Alene Lake.  We had some bike trails and kayaking in mind.  Unfortunately, we never got to the north part of the lake where the city of Coeur d' Alene is.  Our time was mostly spend at the south part of the lake and a little more south of that.
Interesting mascot as we passed the elementary school in St. Maries.

We stayed at the Benewah Campground in Heyburn State Park.  This is one of Idaho's oldest parks.  The campground is one of 4 or 5 in Heyburn, but one of the few that will hold larger RVs.  It is a small park with only 20 campsites.  We knew there weren't many spots big enough for us so we made a reservation for spot 213.  It was a bit pricey.  Idaho is another state that charges more if you are out of state.  It was a really great site.  We chose to forego the sewer as it was already $32 for W/E.  The road leading into the campground could sure use some repaving!  Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy!

We settled in just in time for a beautiful sunset drive around part of the lake.

Smoke from so many nearby wildfires plays havoc with our outdoor plans.  When we get a clear break, we try to get in what we can.  We sure feel bad for all those firefighters out there. Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes is a 72 mile, paved rail trail in Idaho. It follows the former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Mullan to Plummer.

The colorful little boat houses made some pretty cool reflections in the still water.

This interesting bridge spans the lake with room for taller boats to get through in the middle.

It also had interesting ladder steps to make it easier to get up and down on a bike.


These white tail deer were very comfortable with the bikes. One of them stayed
on the trail while I rode right past.

Beautiful scenery on this part of the trail.  Some in the forest, some along and over the lake and some of the river.

We had a great day for a bike ride.  Unfortunately the next day was very smoky and hot so we didn't go out for a hike.  Hurley was not happy about that.

Later in the week we decided to take a drive and do some garnet mining.  Even with some of the roads closed due to local fires, we were able to get to the Emerald Creek Garnet Area.  From their site: "Idaho and India are the only two places in the world where the rare Star Garnet can be found, from gravel to golf ball size. Visitors will take garnet-bearing gravels from a stockpile to one of the two sluices where they will wash and screen the gravels for garnets. While visitors will no longer be digging for garnets, the new method will still allow people to enjoy the thrill of discovery. All of the equipment will now be provided so visitors will not have to bring their own and pack it up the gulch. The site is open around Memorial Day through Labor Day (check for dates) and rangers are available to issue permits or provide advice."

This is what you are looking for (above).  It costs $10 for a permit which gets you as much tailings as you have the strength to do.  First you take your bucket to the "pile" and dig up wherever you want to fill your bucket.  The dirt is a heavy clay and rocky.  It is not that easy.  Then you sift it. (below, left).
I forgot to get a picture of the washing in the sluice box.  This was the hard part as the clay really stuck to the rocks and it was very hard to get washed off.  I was tired after just one bucket.  Above right is what I found.  Steve stayed longer (I opted for a nap in the truck) and found more.  After the sapphire mining, I wasn't impressed with this particular mine.

The scenery on the way back was nice.  Pretty barns and towns.

It's hard to tell, but all there are bird houses all along this fence.

I loved this old round barn.

We have friends that used to live around here in Idaho and when Shelly saw that we were here she recommended we kayak on the St. Joe River.  It is a 140 mile long tributary of Coeur d'Alene Lake. It begins at an elevation of 6,487 feet and flows west and through the town of St. Maries also passes through Heyburn State Park before reaching the Kootenai County line.

We found a nice place to put in and off we went.  Hurley loves to kayak.  It was nice to be on the cooler water as the temps were in the upper 90s.
It was late in the afternoon and with the low sun and no wind, made for some beautiful reflections!

Maybe my future house?
At the end of our week we wanted to bike on the Centennial Trail.
The North Idaho Centennial Trail is 23 miles long and extends from the Idaho/Washington state line to Higgins Point, 6 miles east of Coeur d’Alene at the end of Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive. You can walk, jog, or bicycle on the paved trail. At the Washington state line, it connects with the Spokane River Centennial Trail, which extends through Riverfront Park.

The aquifer was a nice place to fill up our water bottles with nice cold water. 

It's a pretty trail. We then connected to the Liberty Lake Trail system.

We also did a little geocaching along the way and found some really clever hiding spots!  We also got to add our Washington state badge.  For those that have seen me write about this, it's kind of like treasure hunting with a GPS (or smart phone app).  We used to do this with the kids when they were little back in New York.  It was a much simpler version called Orienteering and only used a topographical map and compass. 
Well we are off to Glacier National Park where we will spend 3 weeks with some RV friends of the Class of 2014!  Lee & Trace and Mario and Ellen, see you soon!

We were parked near this guy at Cabela's.  Do you think he forgot anything?
That is a full sized bass boat on top!  I posted this picture on facebook and it was funny to hear that some of my friends had passed him on the road or had seen this monster rig bef


  1. This is an area we really need to get to and spend some time. Boy, you did it all...perfect spot. Too bad you had some smoke. I loved all the reflection photos:) Gee, I guess that guy has it all and then some!

    1. Yes that puppy was loaded down! I wish we could've spent more time at the top of the lake as the trail is pretty up that way too. Also there are a couple lakes just north that we've heard good things about. Ah, another time!

  2. You guys are really enjoying yourselves. Love it.

  3. Hope that the smoke clears out for you guys soon!

    1. It didn't clear out until we got some rain and wind at Glacier!

  4. Your sunset photos are beautiful!


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