Blue Highways Outdoors

Owyhee Sheep Camp Expedition, Part 3



After our two nights at Boni Spring we decided we would visit Silver City before heading north to find our last campsite of the trip. After a hearty breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs we broke camp. While David and I finished packing everything into the trailer and truck Mom took Farron for a walk down the road. I guess it took us a while to finish loading as we found Mom and Farron nearly a mile down the road, Farron was running ahead trying to extend his hike as far as he could. We continued west into the Jordan Valley.


Picture by Mom

Since we didn’t know how far it would be to Silver City and out again we decided to fuel up in Jordan Valley, Oregon. We also stopped to take a picture of the Pelota wall and the Old Basque Inn.


Picture by Mom
Picture by Brandon
Picture by David

While in Jordan Valley we also asked for directions to Silver City. We headed north out of town on Hwy 95 looking for Cow Creek Road. After about 15 minutes we turned east onto Cow Creek road. It is a good two lane gravel road with turnouts. It was Sunday just before noon so many of the weekend campers and hunters were heading out. Once we turned onto the Dewey-DeLamar road we were on a primitive one lane road that resembled the historic ghost town we were heading for. It follows a stream was narrow in spots and made of dirt and native rock. All along the stream we saw people panning and prospecting. We passed old home sites as well as one currently occupied residence. We hardly knew when we passed the old towns of Dewey or DeLamar. We arrived in Silver City about lunch time. We took a little walk down town and decided to have lunch at the Idaho Hotel.



Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon

After lunch we took a quick drive around town. It was getting late and we still had some driving to do before we found a campground for the night. We left town back toward Ruby then east on the Silver City road toward Murphy. Once we got down to Hwy 78 just outside Murphy we found we had cell phone reception again and made some quick calls that we had survived then headed west to Hwy 95 North. On the way we drove through Marsing were mom’s Grandparents had lived and saw Lizard Butte. We followed Hwy 95 through Homedale, Fruitland, Payette, Weiser and countless other small towns.



Picture by David

In Weiser we had to decide on camping back at Farwell Bend or continuing north. We had decided to stay of the interstate on the way home so we didn’t really want to head for Farwell Bend. Looking on the map we saw a campground at Evergreen but could not find any phone number or GPS location for it. We decided to keep north on Hwy 95 and try our luck. It was getting late, about an hour before sunset, when we stopped in Council to fuel up again. We asked the clerk inside about Evergreen campground. She didn’t know anything about Evergreen but said there was a Lost Lake about 15 minutes further down the road. We stopped at the ranger station on the way out of town and looked at the recreation map. There was an Evergreen Campground as well as Cold Springs and Lost Valley. It was 30 minutes before sunset now as we pulled into Evergreen Campground. Had we been traveling in a Motor home or pulling a large camping trailer this would have been the ideal site with its nicely paved parking pads and hookups. It was not going to work for our large tent.



Picture by David

We decided we would head up to Lost Valley. At the restaurant in Pine Ridge we turned left onto Lost Valley Road, another gravel forest road. The first campground we came to was Cold Springs. It looked a little torn up as they had recently finished a large danger tree removal operation. The grounds were still covered in limbs and debris. We made a quick drive around and settled on a nice large site close to the rest room. Again Mom and Farron went to register our site as David and I set up the tent and got out the stove for our last camping trip meal. Mom made some great ½ pound burgers and we ate by lantern light listening to all the forest sounds. This was much different the camping we had done at Boni Spring with the wide open space. Cold Springs is tucked away in the forest with only a few feet to spare around our tent and pick neck table. We even saw a resident pair of deer, a doe and young buck. Luckily they were the only cows crashing around we heard that night. Regardless, we locked up all the food and garbage in the back of the Land Cruiser. We had a good sleep and, as far as we know, didn’t get any visits by Yogi.



Picture by Mom

We decided since we had run out of water in the trailer for dishes, an easy breakfast would be best. After breakfast we broke camp for the last time, packed up and were on the road again. Heading north on Hwy 95 we followed the Little Salmon River until Riggins where we picked up the Salmon River. Riggins is home to several white water rafting companies. We followed the Salmon until just before White Bird. Here we left the river and had a steep climb out of the Salmon River valley then down into the Palouse and Grangeville. From the top of the grade we could see the location of the 1877 Battle of White Bird Canyon which was the first fight of the Nez Perce war. Grangeville is near an excavation of a Mammoth skeleton in the early 1990s. With further excavation they found a mammoth grave yard containing hundreds of skeletons. This was also the beginning of the wheat fields we wouldn’t see the end of until Ritzville. We traveled across the Nez Perce Indian Reservation to the Clearwater River near Lewiston. In Lewiston we had our second to last fuel stop then took the nearly 7 mile long Lewiston Grade out of town back up to the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse.



Picture by Brandon

Just past the Grade we left Hwy 95 for Hwy 195 north to Pullman and Spokane. In Colfax we changed Highways again for Hwy 26 West toward Othello. At Washtucna we turned north on Hwy 261 toward Ritzville and a milkshake. As a child I remember stopping often in Ritzville on our way home from Spokane to get a good old fashioned shake. It was pretty windy by now and the fields in the area had been recently plowed. This made for a slow dusty drive. Unfortunately when we arrived we found the stand to no longer be there. With a milkshake still on my mind we stopped at Zip’s Drive Inn. Now for our only interstate portion of the return trip, 45 miles headlong into the dust storm.


We stayed the night in Moses Lake. After Dad fixed us breakfast David, Farron and I continued on the final leg of our trip. We took a slight detour (following the bicycle detour) at Snoqualmie Pass. We followed the old road down between the east and west lanes to Denny Creek Campground. All my life I have traveled I-90 and never new there was a wonderful campground and recreation area between the freeways. Once in Olympia David moved his belongings to his Volvo and headed out for Seattle.

Trip total, 1,625 miles. 7 days 6 nights. 9 full gas fill-ups.


Outdoors Uncategorized

Owyhee Sheep Camp Expedition, Part 2



Picture by David

After a brief explanation of our visit I signaled to mom, David and Farron it was ok for us to look around. When they came down I introduced them to Duane, the resident employee of the Cattle Ranch and a genuine, honest to goodness cowboy. You couldn’t hope to meet a nicer person up here in the mountains.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon
Picture by Brandon
Mom and Anita – 1950’s

We were so excited. Duane invited us inside the cabin for a look around. He explained to us that he was trying to bring the cabin back as close to original as possible. He added a few modern conveniences like caulk between the logs on the inside and some insulation to fill the gaps in the roof. He also showed us where he had found some names written and scratched on the walls.

Picture by Mom

We told him about the copy of Grandma’s old map. He sounded very interested. We looked over it together and he told us about some of the areas he ranged the cattle. He also told us about an old sheep pen with loading stocks. We decided we would try and find it if we had time.

Too quickly it was getting dark. We mentioned we had better get going if we hoped to make it to a camping spot or the campground that was another 20 miles down the road. Duane offered for us to camp right there at sheep camp. He irrigates out of the spring so there were a few nice semi green spots. We quickly accepted. He had to get up early the next morning to meet the rest of the crew and would stop by if we were still around in the afternoon. We headed over toward the new building to find a good place to set up the tent and all our other camping accessories. We decided to camp further away from the cabin so we would not disturb Duane.

Picture by Mom

Once again we were pushing darkness to get the camp setup. While David and I set up tents mom and Farron explored around the area a little and started getting the dinner together. We still had firewood left over from Farewell Bend so we decided to finish of the hot dogs and have a few marshmallows. As the moon rose in the east, we finished the out house then settled down to a nice evening around the camp fire.

and Now

Everyone pitched in for a hearty breakfast of Pancakes and bacon. Coffee by David, pancakes by Brandon and mom cleans up. After Breakfast we all took a walk around looking at the old buildings, the spring and the horse corrals. Duane has several horses with him here at the camp. He said that he uses them all for different jobs as well as trains young horses from time to time.

Picture by David

After a morning of exploring around camp we decided to have lunch before heading up to the sheep pen and Boni Table. Just a short drive from camp we found the road Duane had told us to take. It is hard to miss with it’s crooked fence post.

From here on it was four-wheel-drive. The trail was rough with native surface and washouts. Not only were we looking for the old sheep pen but another trail that would take us up on top of Boni Table. Duane wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it up but we figured we would give it a try.

Picture by Brandon
Picture by David

After returning from our four hour drive we were ready for dinner. We invited Duane to join us but he had already eaten supper and had another early morning. He gave us some information about Jordan Valley and offered to let us stay at his place in town if we didn’t find a camp site.

After dinner we finished off our firewood and enjoyed the last of the marshmallows under another full moon


Grey Rock Trail – Ahtanum State Forest

We recently visited our favorite outdoor destination in Yakima County, the Ahtanum State Forest.  This time the destination was the first of the Grey Rock Trail, starting at Treephones Campground.  The trail heads over Whites Ridge, down to the North Fork (8 miles) then onto Louei Way Gap for a total of 23 miles.  Our journey took us 4 hours and was just to the top of the ridge and back.  Along the way we found many flowering plants, great vistas and voracious mosquitoes.

This trail is a multi use trail, used by motorcycles, ATVs, horses, Mt Bikes and hikers.  We were the only ones on the trail but tracks from all the other users were visable.  Some recent trail work had been performed on the trail, probably by an ATV group.  The ruts have been removed or lessened in many areas as well as encroaching brush and trees removed.

We were one day early to see the 4th Annual Grey Rock Trail Run, a 50k cross country race the full length of the trail.  We spoke with a few participants who traveled from Idaho to participate in the 16 mile class (Treephones to North Fork trail head).

To see the full photo gallery click HERE

Overland travel Tech

Off-road Tent Trailer Build, Part 1


A few posts back I introduced my “old” camping trailer and stated I was going to start to rebuild it. Here is the first installment of the rebuild process. It took some time to figure out how exactly I wanted to approach this. The old camp box was built on my M416A1 military trailer. While this would work again, I find I have use frequently for this little trailer as is. I decided a new, dedicated trailer was needed. The next step was to figure out whether it would be better to find a built trailer and make the box fit or build a new trailer to fit the box. I decided on the latter. After a few trips to Centralia Supply and Fabrication I had enough parts together to start the build. I decided on a simple ladder frame build from 2″x3″ tube steel. I chose to use a combination A frame draw bar that extends to the spring mounts. I had some old Land Cruiser springs and hangers so I used them.

For the axle I went to ABC Trailer Parts as recommended on the forum Since it is going to be a little heavy fully loaded and for off-road use I opted for a 3500# axle with electric brakes. I think this will greatly improve the safety and drive ability of the trailer on the Highway and off-road.


I had the old fenders so I went ahead and used them. They are a little small for 31-33″ tires but I think they will work out fine.

The trailer is decked with 1/2″ pressure treated plywood fastened down using rive nuts and flathead cap screws. I decided to add the deck in increase the usability of the trailer. While I said I wanted a dedicated trailer for the camp box, I realize having an extra trailer could come in handy.


I just used some LED boat trailer lights from Schuck’s Auto Supply. Be sure to print out the page and take it in if you decided to get these lights. Online they are $39.99 and in the store they are $54.99. Schuck’s will price match it’s online prices if you have proof of the price.


For the draw bar I had a piece of 2″x3″x1/4″ tube. I welded a pintle lunette onto the end and formed it for a little cleaner look. I drilled a 1/2″ hole for the safety chains about 12″ from the end and added the brake away switch for the trailer brakes. This hitch is rated at 10k# and should be more than sufficiant for my needs. If you are a concerned about the strength of your particular draw bar, take a look at this source (found on for specifications gleaned from some Australian Highway Codes.


The box is held to the trailer using the same rive nuts, 4 per side. Now I just need to add some “D” rings to the sides of the box so I can easily hoist it off.

The box will house a RV style hot water heater, power connections, 2 deep cycle RV batteries and a 20 gallon water tank. It also has provisions for a sink and stove that slide out of the back of the trailer. There is also room in front of the box to store extra fuel, water, cooler or other supplies.

Eventually I would like to add a large tent to the trailer making in a complete off-road camper. I am currently trying to source a supplier for such a tent.


Here is a sample 3D model I drew up using Google’s Sketchup program.

I will continue to add more as I complete the build process.  Next up will be batteries and a charging/inverter system.

Overland travel

Scouting Whiskey Dick

All pictures posted here are courtesy of Steve Bisig at PNW Backroad Adventures. Special thanks to Jerry at Backroads Drivers Northwest for leading this outing. For a detail trip report, visit Steve’s writeup.

It was the hottest day yet this spring and we were headed from Yakima to Kittitas, WA to meet up with the caravan of vehicles heading to the “trail head”. It was suppose to reach 90 deg so I stopped and filled up with cold drinks as well as fuel before heading off the black top. Just as we approached the Old Vantage Highway, I saw a long line of 4wheel drives heading east. We fell quickly in line as the 10th vehicle. Jerry, our intrepid leader turned off onto the Corral Whiskey Dick Road. This is the southern entry point into the Whiskey Dick Road Managment Area, managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This area is mostly accessible by 4wheel drive. High clearance is not required but good tires and a supple suspension will make for a nicer day. On this trip there were three Jeep Wranglers, two Ford Explorers, two Toyota Land Cruisers, one Ford offroad conversion camper Van, a newer Chevy Pickup and one older Jeep wagon.

Heading up the hill you can see the Wild Horse Wind facility operated by PSE. We remained to the east of this facility but could see it as we rose to each of the ridges. It was turning out to be a hot and dusty day. Many of our fellow overlanders were along to photograph the flowing plants of the scrub steps, including the hedgehog cactus. We continued along the road over many hills and into valley after valley, many having natural springs and signs of early settlers attempts at home steading and ranching.

After making it north to the Quilomene Ridge Road, we headed west for our last leg of the trip. Unfortunately Jerry started having a problem with his ’76 Jeep Wagon. It was acting as though he was out of gas on the uphill sections, despite showing half full (later proving true with only 20 gallons going into the 40 gallon tank). He had to keep it in low range and the peddle down to have enough power to make it up the hill. Flats and down hills were not a problem however. At our highest point we ran into patches of snow lingering from the winter. We had to cross a series of these to get the rest of the way out. There did not appear to be any other tracks in the snow here. Then we were onto the Colockum road down to the Kittitas valley and into Ellensburg.

Here is a 12 minute “clip” of our trip. Thanks to every one how came along and made this a fun first “back country” drive for my son.

Scouting Whiskey Dick, the movie

Additional resource

PNWadventures Forum

PNW Backroad Adventures Blog

Turner Photographics

NW Source hike of the week