Life off Interstate 84 - Idaho

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(19 April 2014)  My name is Tim Bondy and the owner of this website.  As of Jan 1st, 2014 we moved to a different domain.  Please head over to the Bondy Blogs Website at  Different address, different system but same type of great articles, photos, stories and information. 

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Idaho Outdoor News

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Rockhounding ATV Trip to Wilson Flats Area

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Long views from Wilson Flats
Click for a larger photo.

After a wonderful May 25th hike up into the Wilson Flats area above Anderson Ranch Dam, Toni and I decided to take the ATV up there for some rock hounding. The whole trip turned out a little different than I thought.

Rock Hounding in the Wilson Flats Area
My previous hike up in this area made me think there could be a real treasure trove of quartz crystals just waiting to be discovered. And I still believe this could be a good place to rock hound. We just didn't really give it much of a look like we wanted to.

The places we traveled to around the Wilson Flats / Granite Mountain area contained a lot of smoky quartz, feldspar and one nice piece of drusy quartz. My thoughts were the flanks of Granite Mountain on NFS Road 611 would be a good place to explore. I also saw what I think was an old pit off NFS Road 607 that showed promise during the earlier hike. We never made it to either place.

The “Not Well Planned But Fun” ATV Trip Adventure
My planning for this trip was to input some “waypoints” into my Garmin GPS unit and wing it from there. Looking at Google Earth it sure looked straight forward but reality sometimes slaps you across the face. In this case, we had a great time, great experience and will head back to Wilson Flats again.

Click for a larger photo.

Experience the Unexpected and Beauty of Wilson Flats
Our Route:
1. Headed up Wilson Flats and stopped at the intersection of NFS Road 606 and 607. This is where we found the piece of drusy quartz.

2. I made my first “mis-turn” on the trail that heads straight towards the bluffs overlooking the dam. The views from “the edge” of this cliff were spectacular while looking almost straight down on the South Fork of the Boise River and the dam itself. Incredible!

3. We then headed north on this trail through a mixture of wide open country and many nice tree lined meadows. We stopped at 43.369599, -115.469921 for a look at the rocks in this area. My wife remarked that she “would buy this piece of land and build her dream home if she could”. Nice testimony considering some of the places in Idaho we've visited.

4. We ignored the turn onto NFS Road 611 that would have taken us up on the flanks of Granite Mountain. Time was getting short and I wanted to take the long loop back to the truck. Granite Mountain can wait for a different day.

5. My 2nd mis-turn was taking NFS Road 609 instead of 607. NFS 607 would have lead us on a nice loop back to NFS Road 606 and then down off the escarpment. NFS Road 609 is a little more primitive than what I expected and at the ½ way point a very large downed tree blocked the trail. The portion we did travel was very beautiful but we had to backtrack to NFS 606.

Deep forested are on Wilson Flats in Idaho
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1st Impressions Can Be Misleading
As we have all been taught, 1st impressions are lasting impressions. In this case, my first impression of Wilson Flats was it was wide open country that was quite tame. My 1st impressions were dead wrong. Overall, some of the trail system up on Wilson Flats is quite rugged, rough and somewhat adventurous for an old couple like us. It's also quite scenic and lot more forested than it appears from maps, satellite imagery or even looking at it from the Dixie side of the gorge.

Stats and Additional Info About This ATV Ride
1. Total Mileage Ridden: 12.3 miles
2. Vertical Gain / Loss: 2,283 feet
3. Time on Trail Including Stops: 4 hours 9 minutes
4. Trailhead Distance from Mountain Home: 30.3 miles or 20 miles as the crow flies.
5. Rock Hounding Potential: This area needs to be explored more. I'd say “Fair-Good Potential”.
6. Backpacking Potential: Excellent for a 2 Day / 1 Night trip.
7. See some more photos from this trip:

Let Tim Bondy Know What You Think
Leave a comment about your experience in the Wilson Flats area or questions about this trip. I know all our fellow Idahoan rock hounds, ATV'er and outdoors people would enjoy hearing from you.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 June 2011 21:38

Mystery! Mystery! Found in Fall Creek Area Mountains

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A vigorous hike up Camp Creek in the Fall Creek area of the Boise Mountains resulted in a few mysteries (to me). I was hoping some of my regular readers could educate me in what I saw during my 1st exploration into this area. You can read about this hike from a previous post at:

Mystery Photo # 1 – Pine Tree Growth?
Idaho pine tree growth
Click for a larger photo.

Photo made at: 43.498420, -115.356093 or just off Camp Creek Trail #177
My Guess: A tree-fort for a very large squirrel or some kind of nest.

Mystery Photo # 2 – Wild Cabbage Plant?
Is this wild Idaho cabbage?
Click for a larger photo.

Photo made at: 43.491598, -115.357795 or about 1.3 miles from Trail # 177 start point.
My Guess: Wildflower of some kind before the flowers emerge?

Got a clue what these things in the 2 photos are? Leave a comment, e-mail me via my Contact Us form or give me a call. I'd really like to know what you think.


Last Updated on Monday, 20 June 2011 06:21

Great Hiking Opportunity on Camp Creek near Mountain Home

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On top of Idaho's Camp Creek Trail
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On May 31st, 2011 I took the kids (Erica and Kelly) into Fall Creek area north of the Anderson Ranch Reservoir for a hike. I've never been in this particular area so I was excited about this new adventure. The place we chose was Camp Creek Trail Number 177 and it was a great place to explore.

How to get to Camp Creek from Mountain Home
The Camp Creek trailhead is about 28 miles northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho as the crow flies or about 42 miles using the tradition motor vehicle mode of transportation Laughing
The quickest way to get there is:

1.  Head north out of Mountain Home on Highway 20 and cross the Anderson Ranch Dam.
2.  Head northeast on Anderson Dam Road until you get to the Fall Creek Resort.
3.  Head north on Trinity Mountain Road.
4  .Just before the Ice Springs Campground hang a sharp right and head south and east to the trailhead at 43.47614, -115.357965

Some Pictures of the Hike:

Camp Creek Valley Hike
This trail is well marked/easy to follow from the trailhead up to about the halfway point of our 6 mile out and back hike. At the halfway point, the trail becomes “braided” with trails forking off in a few different directions. I think they all end up in the same place...a saddle that forms the headwaters of Camp Creek and our destination for this hike.

Camp Creek Trail No. 177 is designated for use by motorcycles, horses, mountain bikers as well as hikers. At 43.496239, -115.356922 I believe it becomes “Non-Motorized Vehicle” so no more motorcycles and conditions get a little more primitive and steep.

Steep portion of Camp Creek Trail
Click for a bigger photo

We took the trail less traveled at that point as it heads “more or less” straight up the headwall of the valley. Less traveled means there are large downed trees blocking the trail in places but easy enough to climb over, under or scramble around. We gained over 700 feet in elevation in the last 0.67 miles of the hike up to the saddle.

Once up on the saddle of the trail at 43.503306, -115.353156 the views are excellent. The view back down the valley includes Bennett Mountain, Little Camas Reservoir, and even a small sliver of Anderson Reservoir. Looking northward, the still snow cover Dog Mountain and “The Trinities” can be seen.

Camp Creek Summer Snowbank in Idaho
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The Stats of Our Hike
Total Distance: 6.09 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 2,254 feet
Highest Elevation: 6,544 feet
Max Slope: 46% while heading up the headwall on the trail.
Snow Cover: Some snowbanks on the trail in shady areas.
Bugs: Almost non-existent.
Animals Seen: Just birds and a lizard.

Want more information about this great hike? Leave a comment or use my Contact Us page.


Last Updated on Sunday, 05 June 2011 09:34

Excellent Hike – Boise Mountains Little Wilson Creek Trail

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Scenery along the Wilson Creek hike in Idaho
Click photo

Wednesday May 25th, 2011: The Wilson Creek to Little Wilson Creek trail near the Anderson Ranch Dam was my destination. This local hike was one of my favorite hikes I've taken in a long time. Why? It's only a 30 miles drive from Mountain Home, the scenery is great and it's geologically fascinating. I'll do this hike again.

Where is Wilson Creek?

View Larger Map

Trailhead Coordinates: 43.381256, -115.437006

The Hike
The Little Wilson Creek hike starts just off the Anderson Dam Road on the north side of the reservoir. The hike follows and crosses Wilson Creek for ¼ mile before heading up the Wilson Flats escarpment.

Steep Trail up to Wilson Flats near Mountain Home Idaho
Click photo

At the ¼ mile point, the trail gets steep and rocky as you head up to Wilson Flats. You can get some good views of Anderson Reservoir along this section as the trail is carved right out of the side of a mountain.

Once up on the “Flats” you'll see a fork in the trail so you'll want to head northwest on NFS Trail 607. This portion of the hike follows Little Wilson Creek and is quite scenic and peaceful. This river valley is quite lush with plenty of aspen and pine tree groves.

I hiked up this well maintained trail for about 1.25 miles before turning back but you should be able to extend the hike a little further if you want. I think it would be worthwhile as there would be some excellent crosscountry hiking opportunities up there.

Some Things About This Hike
1. I saw 2 mule deer on Little Wilson Creek. As my dog was with me, I'm glad she didn't get sight nor smell of these creatures. My dog doesn't like surprises and she would have coward behind me the rest of the hike.

2. I encountered my 1st snake of the year. I'm not a snake person but suspect it was a Western terrestrial garter snake. Just a heads up...snakes are out and about now.

Is this wolf scat

3. Scat: Dog? Coyote? Wolf? Caveman? See picture above.

4. A Bald Eagle was seen perched in a tree below me and then I got to watch this magnificent bird soar the windy thermals for about 5 minutes before it headed over the next ridge.

5. My original plan was to hike up to Wilson Flats and head to the edge overlooking Anderson Dam. Well, I didn't do this. Even with a leash on my dog, I figured one little slip of hand and I'd be picking up a blood splotch on the road home. Better safe than sorry.

6. From the trailhead and up onto Wilson Flats (NFS Trail 606) is designated for ATV and motorcycles. This is something to keep in mind when attempting the hike on a weekend.

Rockhounding Potential
I never would have thought the rhyolite cliffs in this area would give way to some very good rock hounding potential. The steep trail up to Wilson Flats is covered with interesting rocks. Smokey quartz, feldspar and even some tiny crystals were easily found even along the upper reaches of Little Wilson Creek.

Little Wilson Creek Hike Topo Track

Hike Stats
This hike was a breakthrough for me personally. It's the first time I've hike more than 1,000 vertical feet in a few years. I'm getting in better shape...Yeah!

  • Total Hike Length: 4.98 miles
  • Total Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,225 Feet
  • Max Slope: 40.7%
  • Average Slope: 8.5%
  • Beginning Elevation: 4220 Feet
  • Highest Elevation: 5148 Feet on Little Wilson Creek Trail.
  • Number of people encountered: 2 ATV'ers near the trailhead. They stopped and chatted with me for awhile.

Want some more info about this hike or have a favorite hike you're willing to give the details about? Leave a message for me.


Last Updated on Friday, 27 May 2011 07:26

Road Across Anderson Ranch Dam Open Full Time Temporarily

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According to a news article on the Bureau of Reclamation website, the work that has caused the daily closure of the road that crosses the Anderson Ranch Dam has been stopped until June 11th, 2011. This means the Dam Road will not be closed at all. It was closed Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

This a good news for outdoor recreation folks wishing to access the area north of Anderson Dam and the South Fork of the Boise River during weekdays. I'll be heading over that road very soon and thankfully I won't have to take the Prairie Cut-off Road instead.

Anderson Ranch Dam Road is Open Full Time
Photo made on Feb 28th, 2009 from the north side looking across the downstream side of the dam wall.

Here is a cut/paste from that article
Anderson Ranch Dam Work to be Temporarily Delayed
The Bureau of Reclamation is temporarily delaying construction activities on the roadway that crosses Anderson Ranch Dam effective immediately due to heavy rains. Anderson Ranch Dam is located on the South Fork of the Boise River about 28 miles northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho.

Recent heavy rainfall is causing delays for the contractor, PNK Constructors, to proceed with the work at this time. Traffic will still be allowed to cross over the dam crest, but motorists should exercise caution while driving over uneven road surfaces. Operators of heavy trucks or equipment are advised to examine the roadway surface prior to crossing.

Construction activities will resume on July 11, and will be completed by August 12. Construction at Anderson Ranch Dam was intended to raise the dam’s crest 4 feet and create a 19-foot, one-way travel lane with an asphalt cap. PNK Constructors of Coalville, Utah, was awarded the $386,050 contract on September 20, 2010.

Reclamation built the Anderson Ranch Dam in 1950 as part of the Arrowrock Division of the Boise Project. This is a multipurpose facility that provides for irrigation, flood control, hydropower, and recreation.

For more information about the project contact Mr. John Tiedeman, Activity Manager with the Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific Northwest Region at (208) 378-5034.

Comments: Comments on this or any news articles is greatly appreciated and welcomed.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 18:42

Granite Creek Hike – Rottweilers, Rifles, Cows and a Rant

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Hiking Granite Creek off the South Fork of the Boise River – May 21, 2011

Granite Creek Trail in the Boise National Forest
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Saturday May 21st, 2011: On advice of a friend I decided to take a hike up Granite Creek in the Boise Mountains. I was looking forward to seeing the old apple orchard, some cool scenery and some rock hounding. But things couldn't have been much more different...

Rottweiler Greeting at the NFS Road 636 Trailhead
My dog Addie and I headed down the South Fork of the Boise River below the Cow Creek Bridge. Got my water bottles and dog treats loaded in my daypack and we headed to the trailhead. Before we got there, we encountered a couple of nice looking unleashed Rottweilers near the trail. The owners were exploring along the river as a 3rd rottweiler followed us the first 30 feet. Not one of the best omens in my opinion. But finally one of the owners dragged the dogs back down the slope.

Condition of Granite Creek Trail
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The Hike Along Granite Creek
The hike starts by heading straight up this canyon with about 400 feet of elevation gain in 3/5 of mile. The trail then levels out in a large meadow (pasture) as it continues northward into the Boise Mountains. I never really got a good look at Granite Creek during the entire hike even though it was less than 200 feet away. We could hear the creek tumbling down the canyon but a steep 40-70 foot drop off and thick vegetation along the streambed made it almost impossible to get a good view it.

The scenery was quite fabulous along the hike. The steep and rocky ridges along both sides of the trail and view back into the Boise River Canyon is pretty darn dramatic considering we were less than 30 miles from Mountain Home.

NFS Road 636 is designated as an ATV trail so it's an easy walk. Conditions on the way up were dry and somewhat sandy/dusty. Once you get up on the flatter section they remain dry except at one point were it becomes swampy. I suspect there is a spring up there somewhere that creates these conditions.


Hike Shortened by a Bull and Cesspool
Make no mistake about it, this is cattle country. A large herd of cattle occupied the meadow up there. And once we got to the swampy section, a bunch of cattle claimed ownership of the trail. I certainly didn't want cut the hike short but I didn't have much choice. My dog hasn't been exposed to cattle much and wanted to make friends with these huge animals. Needless to say the cows didn't want to be friendly.

With Addie on the leash, we crossed the first part of the swampy area but is was quite distasteful to say the least and a little crazy with cows closing in on us from all sides. Lets just say the second section of the swamp was more like a cesspool. Even with my impaired sense of smell I felt like I was in an outhouse from all the cow poo.

I still had almost 2 miles left of this “out portion” of the hike and the only thing standing in my way was a slog through the cesspool and a very large bull standing on the trail. After a few minutes of facing this bull down, I decided to turn around and call it a day.

Bulls Behind and Rottweilers/Gunshots Ahead
As we started heading back down the trail, I heard gunshots not to far ahead of me. Obviously the owners of the rottweilers were coming up the trail. So I stepped out into an open area so the “youths” headed my way could clearly see me. A few minutes latter we met up on the trail...5 young men, all carrying rifles and handguns approached with their pack of 4 Rottweilers. This made me quite nervous as their dogs were unleashed and one can NEVER tell how this breed of dog will react to another dog. I decided it was best to step off the trail and let them pass by.

Tim Bondy's Gentle Rant
Idaho is ranching country and I understand this completely. Ranching opened up parts of Idaho so today I can explore the places I have in the last 3 years. For this I am grateful. But there are places where cattle shouldn't roam our public lands. The swampy portion of the Granite Creek/NFS Road 636 is one of those places. I have no suggestions how this “cow poo to hiker and wetlands” conflict could be resolved. I suspect it never will.

Hiking with the “2nd most dangerous breed of dog in the US” should be carefully considered and reconsidered. And to hike with a pack of 4 or 5 unleashed Rottweilers is what I call one of the most serious breaches of outdoor etiquette imaginable. I really don't care how well trained you think your dogs are, this behavior will almost certainly lead to trouble in one form or another. At the very least, carry a damn leash and use it when approaching other people on the trail...okay?

Topo tracks of Granite Creek

Information on Granite Creek / NFS Road 636
- The trailhead is located on the South Fork of the Boise River Road below the Cow Creek Bridge or at 43.386954, -115.543462.
- The road/trail is only about 1.5 miles long with the potential many more miles of cross country hiking at the end.
- This trail doesn't seem real suitable to ATV traffic considering the short length and steepness of the 1st ½ mile.

Comments or Questions?
Got something to say about this post? Let me know what you think about Rottweilers on the hiking trail or cow poo swamp. I'm interested in your opinion as you may see thongs differently than I “do-do”.


Last Updated on Sunday, 22 May 2011 22:09

Rock Hounding Owyhee Mountains Plus Scenic and Question Photos

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Saturday May 14th, 2011: We headed down to the Owyhee Mountains for a quick rockhounding trip. The weather window for this trip promised to be quite short on this warm Spring day. And it turned out to be even shorter than promised as thunderstorms developed shortly after getting to our destination. Our destination was in the Birch Creek area southwest of Grand View, Idaho. More specifically, the upper reaches of McKeeth Wash.

Owyhee Mountains Greening Up Nicely
McKeeth Wash of the Owyhee's
Link to bigger photo

Looking south while in McKeeth Wash of the Owyhee's
Photo made: 42.882068, -116.320941

Slow Moving Thunderstorm Just to the East
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Thunderstorm that stayed with us for about an hour
Photo made: 42.882050, -116.320674

Snow Capped Silver City Mountains
Silver Mountain of Idaho
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Zoomed in on the Silver City Mountains of Owyhee County
Photo made: 42.877586, -116.311254

What Was This Area?
Is this an old missile silo site
Link to bigger photo

Is this an old Mountain Home AFB Missile Silo Site?
This fenced-in area (open gate) had two large electrical panels and a few round metal fence posts at the gate that were much bigger than necessary. While the total area was much smaller than I'd expect an old missile silo site to be, I cannot come up with any other explanation.
What do you think it is?

Photo made: 42.877586, -116.311263

Rock Hounding McKeeth Wash
We didn't spend more than 30 minutes looking around this little known wash. I got a tip from one of my readers this wash contained some nice looking opal but we didn't see much of interest. There was a lot of nice looking quartz but nothing worth sticking in our pockets. Of course, McKeeth Wash runs much futher south and across the Poison Creek Cut-Off Road. You may want to explore another portion McKeeth Wash.

You don't take a photograph, you make it. - Ansel Adams

Comments, Questions or Answers
So what do you think? Let me know what you think about these photos.


Last Updated on Sunday, 15 May 2011 09:26

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