Minor League and Fish Hatcheries

We left Ketchum and were planning on driving straight to Mt. Rainer NP. At the last minute, however, we decided to swing by Hood River, Oregon for a couple of days because we’d had it recommended to us by several people. Along the way, we stopped in Boise, Idaho for two nights and happened to camp within walking distance to the Boise Hawks’ stadium. They were playing at home so we decided to check them out. The game was fun, but I’m still partial to the Montgomery Biscuits or the Asheville Tourists. The next day, after an early bike ride on Boise’s wonderful intown hike/bike trail and a trip to the Boise Children’s Museum, we continued on towards Hood River.

As we crossed the state line we spotted a sign for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center located near Baker, Oregon and had to pull off. Having spent hours playing the Oregon Trail computer game as kids, Maggie and I both thought it warranted a stop. We laughed a lot reading some of the diary entries from the pioneers as we felt like we could sympathize with many of their experiences (minus the dysentery – fingers crossed). A prairie schooner is pretty much the same as a travel trailer right?

Hood River is an active, outdoorsy town located along the Columbia River near the Bonneville Dam. We secured a campsite at a state park located just outside of town along a railroad track. We decided to stay at the park despite the tracks since it was located on the Columbia River and offered access to several waterfalls and hikes. We were unpleasantly surprised though by the frequency with which the trains passed during the night. Liam got used to it, but CJ was pretty terrified every time it came through, which was 3 or 4 times a night.

After hiking to a few different waterfalls in the area, we decided to visit the Bonneville Dam. The Bonneville Dam was built in the 1930’s and is open to the public. In addition to information about the construction of the dam, it also allows visitors to view the fish ladder that the salmon and other fish use to swim upstream. The kids really enjoyed watching the fish through large viewing windows.

After the dam we headed a little further down the road to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, home of Herman the Sturgeon. Herman is a 79 years old and weighs a whopping 500 pounds! The kids got a kick out of seeing Herman and feeding the rainbow trout. Normally a fish hatchery wouldn’t be high on our list of tourist stops, but this one was actually pretty nice with beautifully manicured gardens and plenty for the kids to see and do.

Before we left, I was given leave to wake up at the crack of dawn to hike Mt. Defiance. The hike was only 12 miles long but gains 5,000 feet in less than 6 miles. While I enjoyed the challenge of hiking up the mountain, I did not enjoy the steep decent and had to practically run down whether I wanted to or not. While I’ve certainly done longer hikes, I can’t remember doing a tougher one than this and don’t believe I’d be doing this hike too frequently if I was a resident of Hood River.

Way To Go IDAHO!

After burning up in Hells Canyon, we drove west towards Ketchum to meet up with our good friends Dan and Eleanor. Along the way we stopped for a couple of nights at Ponderosa State Park in McCall, ID –a cute little resort town located along the shore of Payette Lake. We appreciated the opportunity to charge our devices, play on the beach, and escape the triple digit temperatures of Eastern Oregon.

From McCall, we continued southeast towards Ketchum, passing first through Boise National Forest where we camped for a couple of nights at Pine Flat campground. In addition to being located in a mature pine forest along the Payette River, it also boasts a natural hot spring hidden down a ¼ mile trail from the campground. The pool was nestled in the hill giving it an infinity-style view over the river below – we felt pretty special to discover it. It was a nice way to cap off the evening after a day of hiking. While the hikes in the area weren’t particularly glamorous, on one of our hikes we found several animal remains including an intact jaw bone which Liam thought was pretty cool. We found so many skeletal remains that Liam dubbed it the “Boneyard Trail.”

From there we headed to Stanley, Idaho and camped in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The Sawtooth Mountain range was aptly named for their jagged, saw-like peaks. Dan and Eleanor tagged up with us for a night on their way to Ketchum. We enjoyed a family paddle down the Salmon River to our campsite where the kids played together, and the grownups had a chance to catch up. Also, while in the Sawtooths, we enjoyed several day hikes through wildflower meadows and beautiful sub-alpine lakes. Despite all the natural beauty of the area, Maggie would argue that the most notable portion of our stay in Stanley was the discovery of Huckleberry ice cream, which she claims is the best ice cream she’s ever had (if you know Maggie that’s saying something).

From Stanley we made the short jaunt to Ketchum, a posh resort town surrounded by the Sawtooths. We found a campsite in the national forest that was biking distance to town. Dan and Eleanor had rented a house nearby with the rest of Eleanor’s family and were kind enough to invite us over for dinner and drinks a couple of times. We also got to explore the area with them, including a trip to the top of Bald Mountain (9150ft!) and a paddle on Silver Creek Preserve which was teeming with trout.

After many months away from friends, a chance to spend time with the Macken family buoyed our spirits. Liam even made a new friend in Eleanor’s mom, Mary. He barely left her side on the hikes and when he found out she was an avid bird watcher he brought over his collection of bird literature to read with her. We sincerely appreciated Eleanor’s family letting us mooch off their rental house’s amenities (cocktails in the hot tub!) and generally crash their family vacation.