Off and running again. Went down tot he lake at about 7:30, but skies were still gray and no nice clouds or sun rays. Back to the cabin for breakfast and packing up our bags for a day’s drive down some gravel roads. It’s still raining and we decide, for our cameras’ sake, not to hike this morning. I’ve wanted to drive down hwy 39 into Hells Canyon and the last time we were here we couldn’t do it because of snow. let’s try again.
A quick stop in Joseph for a massive cinnamon roll, to share, and off we go. North on highway 350, our road is supposed to be the first major road to the east. None of the roads are sign posted. We find a paved road and off we go stopping to take a few pix of golden fields and a barn restoration in progress. the rain has seemed to make the field more vibrant today. The sky is still drizzling. we continue our drive but our road quickly goes from smooth and paved to gravel and then to sharp rocks. We remember what the tire guy told us the other day about the sharp rocks causing lots of tire damage. This road is not for us. We need a vehicle with off-road tires…hmmmm. So looks like we won’t be doing hwy 39 once again.
After we turn around and head north again on 350 we decide we will go finish the Rail Canyon rd that we didn’t complete the other day because we didn’t have enough gas. We have a full tank today. However, just a short distance up the road we see another major paved road heading east and decide to try this one. About a mile in we see a sign telling us this is hwy 39. Yay. It wasn’t the gravel one after all but a nice paved road. We are off to see Hells Canyon……with a few stops on the way.
We get to the Hells Canyon overlook and even though it is still hazy from the fire’s smoke we can at least appreciated this canyon, which happens to be deeper than the Grand Canyon. Not t this point maybe but it is impressive none the less. We manage to get a few pictures and Ron uses his Noblex 150 film camera for a couple of panos of this vast place. We really must come back when it is not fire season because if it was a clear day this would truly be majestic.
On we go. It’s only about 50 miles to the tiny town of Halfway and we have been there before but being so close we think we should re-visit it. We get to the intersection but instead of turning right to Halfway we decide to turn left to drive along the Snake River and more of Hells Canyon. After crossing over a small dam we are in the Idaho side of the river. Just a few miles more I plead for the view I saw in 2011. I want to capture it with my Titan 4×5. North we head….for the next 2 hours…stopping at almost every turnout to ingest the view. The skies have cleared on this side of the mountains and we are going to enjoy it while it lasts.
Soon it’s time to think about heading back to the lake. If we are lucky, ha ha ha, we can make it back before dark. But it’s not to be. Deer and cows cross are path and we have to drive slowly and keep our eyes alert for them. Many more meet us around twisting curves. We slow down even more. Then a family of wild turkeys cross in front of us but they move too fast for photos. We don’t want to hit any. The cows just stand in the road and stare at us and we have to pass them at about 5mph. The deer stare too but then run off. Of course, we take pix. And we wish our headlights were brighter. Ron gets an idea and pulls out a very bright light from our emergency gear and I use it to help light the sides of the road. This works beautifully and we finally get out of the woods and back onto hwy 350 and in the direction of or cabin.
It was a long day but so worth it. Hells Canyon is a must on anyone’s bucket list. You won’t find it crowded with tourists. There are hiking trails and even jet boat rides on the Snake River at the bottom of the canyon. Wildlife around every corner and views to capture on film or just to soak up. What a great day this was.