This year’s section of the Idaho Centennial Trail covers a lot of actually driveable roads. So the other weekend, my husband and I actually drove those roads that we could to check out how it was going to be. Of course, the part that I’m most concerned about is the part that we can’t drive, because that’s the part that has the highest elevation and follows a creek closely enough to require multiple crossings of potentially high water.
But the parts we could drive were in great shape. There was a bit of snow on Bennett Mountain Road, but only at the side of the road, not really on it. We did miss the turn off for Cat Creek Road, but only because I wasn’t reading the map correctly. I didn’t think we needed to turn on Cat Creek at the time, but it turns out that ICT does turn on Cat Creek Road instead of staying on Bennett Mountain. The upside is now I know for sure where to turn.
Castle Rock Road crossed water, but we got our Ford Focus through it without a problem. We didn’t go all the way to the Hunter Creek Transfer Camp because we got spooked by someone’s private property sign. Though I’m suspicious about their ability to call a forest service road in the national forest private property. I’m not going to worry about that when hiking anyway.
We did try to go around and make it to Hunter Creek by another route. At first, it wasn’t so bad, but after we rounded a lake, the road got less and less driveable. We made it past a muddy section, but after that, the road deteriorated to something we weren’t comfortable driving a sedan on. We turned back and went to lunch in Fairfield.
After eating, we drove on the Pine/Featherville Highway. There was a detour because of a bridge being out at Pine with a one lane road controlled by a traffic light. It felt really weird waiting for the light to change, especially once a truck pulled up behind us, but it did change after about five minutes. Driving around past Featherville, the ridges and mountains definitely had snow, but I wouldn’t be going to the top of any mountain. Just high up a ridge to come down Virginia Gulch. The trail tops out around 7400 feet. this early in the season, snow is pretty likely. The question is will it be so much snow that I can’t continue? Or will the creek crossings have too much water to safely cross?
In either of those events, if the answer is yes, then I will turn back. I’m not going to take unnecessary risks just to get the hike done. If I need to turn back, then I’ll finish the hike later in the summer. I’ve already got to do another segment later in the summer or even in September so I’ll be ready for next year. I really hope I don’t have to turn back, but I’m prepared to do so if circumstances warrant.
And I just won’t know for sure until I get there.