Usually, when we plan to hike out on the same day that we drive out, we start driving as early in the morning as possible. Not this time. This time, we wanted to order some breakfast from a local cafe, so we waited until they opened and then made our order and headed out to pick it up on the way out of town. We ate while sitting in the parking lot, and then went on out of town, stopping only for gas at Idaho City.

There were some people camped at the trailhead, but it wasn’t crowded. Maybe half a dozen cars at the trail parking, and one of the three camping spaces was open. I wanted to go check out the bathroom to see if it was usable, but when I headed over, one of the campers went in – so I presume that it’s usable, but I can’t confirm because I didn’t want to wait for them to come out. I wanted to get on the trail!

Ambrose brought his camera too. 

Ambrose and I got started on the trail and we could quickly see that some trail work had been done – on the Queens River side. The Little Queens, where we were headed, was actually blocked off by a large downed tree. We had to go around it, because there were too many branches still attached to go over or under.

Trail to the right – nicely cleared; trail to the left – practically blocked off. We went left. 

The first mile or so of trail had a pretty good scattering of downed trees. For the most part, we could just step over or under – an option that tended to be easier for me than Ambrose. But there was one downed tree that simply had too many branches. We couldn’t go around towards the river because the trail was to steep that direction. Instead, we climbed up to go around and ended up doing a bit of cross-country hiking because there were more trees after that one making the trail difficult to follow.

I fit perfectly under this tree. Ambrose did not. 

Yeah, this is the trail. No easy path to get through, gotta go around.

Made it back to the trail, but there were still more logs.

That was the worst one though; after that most of the downed trees were pretty easy to get around. After we got to the bridge, the downed trees were less frequent – but not totally gone.

Last bridged crossing on this trail. 

Thimbleberries were in bloom; pretty, but not edible. 

First side stream crossing was an easy one. Ambrose and I took different paths, but both got across safely.

I was keeping an eye out for a good place to dig a hole, since I hadn’t used the trailhead bathroom. I hoped to make it past the second stream crossing; there used to be a mine or a mining camp there, and there’s still old equipment that hasn’t been packed out. Once we got past that second crossing, I told Ambrose to go on ahead while I took care of that business.

Lots of flowers in bloom on this trip.

Second stream crossing. 

I told Ambrose to go ahead and get ready for crossing once he got to the crossing of the Little Queens River. This crossing is the one that we have to keep an eye on. Some years it’s been deep and fast enough to be scary to cross. We’ve even done tandem crossing a few times on it for safety. But this year the water level has been really low, so we weren’t worried about that.

I completed my business and kept going. When I got to the next crossing, Ambrose was ready to cross. At this particular crossing, there’s a little wash of water just before a kind of island that provides a great place to sit and change into crossing shoes. Well, it used to provide a great place. There have always been ants there, but the colony has grown, and by now they’ve taken over the whole thing. You put your pack down, in ten seconds the thing is crawling with ants. Almost impossible to change shoes fast enough to avoid ants crawling on your feet – and biting when they get stuck in the crossing shoes.

I couldn’t get into the freezing cold river water fast enough.

Ambrose was waiting in the shallow water for me to avoid the ants. 

More flowers!

After we both crossed, I declared that it was lunch time, because I was hungry. And it was almost noon. I was originally sitting kind of far away from Ambrose, but it started to sprinkle and I joined him under a tree. We ate, and Ambrose was ready to go before I was, so he left first. I didn’t linger too long, but he did get a bit ahead of me.

The cloudy sky was kind of nice, because it blocked out the heat of the sun. And there were hints of blue sky on the horizon.

I caught him!

 I decided to hike with Ambrose for a while, not because I didn’t have the legs to go faster, but because I wanted to spend some time with him out in the woods. We’re stuck together at home pretty much 24/7 now, and while I can get annoyed with that while I’m at the house, I still like being with him when we’ve got wide open spaces all around us.

Poor little squirrel. Well, half a squirrel. 

The stream crossing that always seems to get Ambrose wet.

When we got to the stream that always gives Ambrose trouble, we split up. I went upstream to try to find a good crossing point and he went a bit downstream. He – surprise! – got through without getting wet or falling. I, on the other hand, managed to get some water into my right boot. But it wasn’t a lot, and I didn’t feel the need to say anything at the time…

At this point, I started to feel energy in my legs. I went on ahead of Ambrose and stayed ahead until I got to the next crossing of the Little Queens River. I waited for him there, and he didn’t take too long to catch up.

There were a few more tree problems to get around.

Some were easier to deal with than others.

Time to cross the Little Queens again.

We made it across with no drama and took a brief respite on the other side. Not too long because we weren’t far from our planned campsite, and we both wanted to get there and see if we’d be alone.

Another downed tree go around.

Ambrose struck out ahead, but I caught him.

 The sun was out, but the heat wasn’t too bad. Ambrose left the stream crossing before I did, but I caught him pretty quick. I was kind of tired and ready to be done, but I think that was partially due to the fact that I knew I was so close to being able to stop.

Ninemeyer junction; almost there!

The bushes are hiding the view of the tarn, but it’s still there.

The junction to Scenic Lake. 

When I got to the junction, I sat down in the shade and waited for Ambrose to catch up. I know I could have gone on to where we intended to camp, but I’ve learned my lesson well. I do not go on past a junction without my hiking partner. 

This spot just might do.

Once Ambrose caught up to me, we hiked on together. We took the Scenic trail over to just before it crosses the Little Queens and wandered around a bit before finding a spot that would do. The area was burned out a while ago, and I’m anticipating it won’t be camp-able in another few years as trees fall down and take away all the flat spots.

Before I got the tent set up, I had to eat some dinner. For a special treat, we had ordered a pizza the night before we drove out. And boy, was it hard not to touch that delightful smelling pizza when we brought it home. But it was worth it. So. Worth. It. To eat cold pizza on the trail. I mean, leftover pizza is generally pretty good, but bringing it out to the woods gives it extra savor.

After I ate a few slices, I got to setting up the tent. It was a decent pitch; I tightened everything up just in case we got any rain, but otherwise didn’t get too concerned with making it pretty. Then I got my bed all set up. And then I ate more pizza. I actually ate more of my half than Ambrose ate of his, but we both had a bit left over for breakfast the next day. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *