A part of the UA tradition is stopping by an Army Surplus store. This one in Sandpoint, Id
Day 7, Friday, July 6:
From Dawn to Dust
It’s hard to beat cool weather when camping, especially when your campsite has an amazing river view. On this final road day the guys gathered around the Mears family deck for a helping of fresh burritos made by the old cronies. The Old Crony Breakfast is a UA tradition and a welcome change from the bland granola bars that many of us had been downing for breakfast.
We’re pretty sure this is how the next episode of Messin’ With Sasquatch starts out.
At the drivers meeting Péwé informs us that our so-called road day would actually consist of nearly as much dirt as asphalt. On his initial prerun of the trip he wasn’t able to make our intended dirt road mountain pass because snowfall still blocked the road. Even our local guide for the day, John Mears, wasn’t sure if the pass was … well, passable! Since this was the UA and improvisation is par for the course, we decided to give it a try.
The views along the Bitterroot Range are amazing, but be sure to watch the road carefully.
Saying goodbye to our riverfront digs we fell in behind Mears’ classic early Bronco, which would be leading us through to our final destination. Shortly after getting on the road we exited Washington State and entered Priest River, Idaho. As we made our way along the river we eased into the small town of Standpoint. Here we experienced another UA staple, an Army Surplus store. This is where you can find everything from weatherproof ammo boxes, military issue boots, and knifes to the all-important camo fatigues. After we rummaged around the store for a while the crew checked out with their new military-grade goodies and met back at the local traveling café for a quick bite and fresh lemonade.
Wooden bridges on the lower portion of the trail help to stabilize the paths on some of th
Joining us just in time for their own much-needed cup of joe were Dave Schlossberg and Rob Peterson from Synergy. With the help of the guys from Offroad Power Products they were able to work through the night to get the new engine dropped in place. An overlooked sensor gave them a few bugs along the way, but once everything was plugged in place the well-used JK was good as new. With the group back together Péwé reminded us that we were burning daylight and needed to get the show back on the road.
Our next big stop would be in the town of Trout Creek. A few of the rigs began to experience issues. The week of wheeling was taking its toll. With the automatic transmission in Bubba Rope’s fullsize Chevy on its last leg, and the Hazzard Fabworx Jeep in a constant state of overheating, we left them back with a simple set of highway directions where they could meet up with us later and a couple other rigs to help mend their 4x4s.
Returning reader Paden Saracino’s XJ worked great in the slickrock creek bottom. As night
Just a few miles up the road we made our transition from smooth blacktop to rocky dirt road as our journey across the Bitterroot Range began. The Bitterroot Range is a part of the Rocky Mountains and runs along the Montana and Idaho border. With over 24,000 square miles of coverage, the range offers tremendous recreational outlets for those looking to explore the mountains. The range gets its name from the small pink bitterroot flower, the Montana state flower.
Since the range runs across the Montana/Idaho border, ultimately you will cross state line
Once on the trail the climb into elevation was swift and the path became especially narrow in places. The views are spectacular as we rode high atop the mountain ridge. Careful driving was important because dusty conditions and sheer drops could lead to an epic bad day. As we crested the top of the second pass we made our way across the state line and began our descent.
Jupiter Jane’s Traveling Café may never come across a morning rush like our group again! T
At this point many in the group believed we were almost to the end of the trail. They were very wrong. With over 10 miles of dirt already completed we still had plenty more to go, and the next leg of our trip wouldn’t be as easy as the first. As we dropped into the foot of the valley, running water and creeks began to fill our view. These aquatic indicators would be telling signs of the many creek crossings and water fording that awaited us.
Dave Chappelle and Tom Boyd were a constant help throughout the week. When rigs would pull
Slick rocks and rushing water made for an interesting mix as daylight diminished and headlights beamed across the terrain. Though we did experience a few broken components in the group, there didn’t seem to be any obstacle too great to keep us from our destination. It ended up being a little after 10 p.m. when we finally made our way into the small town of Murray, where we met up with the rest of the group that split off earlier that day. All rounded up, we finished our last leg of driving into the town of Wallace, Idaho. Exhausted, dusty, and glad to be at a hotel, we dragged our crusty gear and selves into the clean hotel and called it a night.