Big Creek plane ride


A dream flight over Idaho's Lick Creek range and Salmon River mountains.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Sandy, an old friend, flew up from Boise and met me at the McCall airport. Clear, sunny, and calm weather was overhead. Awesome day to fly. We had discussed this trip several times over the years, but today was THE day.

I was totally excited to see from the air all the areas and peaks I had visited over the years. I have added links to many of those trips in this report.


On the other hand, looking east at what should look like Nick Peak, I was feeling a little disappointed in the weather.


Sandy really wanted to go farther east. And I was up for whatever the day might bring. So after gassing up the plane, we shoehorned ourselves into the plane and were up and flying. Those are the hangars at the McCall airport.


This is Long Valley, with Jughandle tucked under the wing of the plane. Our house is in the trees below Jughandle. Jug is also where we ski.

Looking down on Jughandle. You can see Louie Lake just to the right of the summit. Trailhead
Then we were back in the mountains. That's Buck Peak to the left above Buckhorn Mountain Lake. Trailhead

Here we see Nick Peak on the far right, with Rainbow Peak in the center.

You'll notice that the clouds have departed from Nick.

The departing cloud was great news, because I was hoping to get this view of Nick. Trailhead

As we continued north, I got confused flying over the forks of Fitsum Creek. But the rocks in Lick Creek made that drainage obvious; we had hiked up through them on the way up Hum #5.

Then we turned east again, heading for Williams Peak, the flattish ridgetop in the foreground just right of center.

Then we followed Rainbow Ridge toward Parks Peak, the big snowy face in the center of the photo. There used to be a lookout on the left end. Trailhead
Sandy wanted to see Profile Gap, and so did I. This is Crater Lake, with it's unique cabin location. Julie and I climbed this ridge for our anniversary last year. Trailhead
Not the summit, but you get the idea. Trailhead
And then we were in terra incognita. That's the Big Creek landing strip at the head of the valley (actually, that is downstream from where we are, but the valley closes in, forming a narrow canyon). The Frank Church wilderness starts just past there. Trailhead

We flew down Big Creek. I was trying to call out the side canyons by reading the map and my GPS. I shouldn't have; I was getting a "buzz" of airsickness. All I could think was that there wasn't much room in that tiny plane to barf....

Then Sandy added to the excitement by dropping into the Vines airstrip, what looks like a narrow dirt road in this photo.


After Vine, we flew a little farther down the canyon to land at Cabin Creek. And then we turned toward home, but with one more stop. That little flat spot between the struts is called Mile Hi. And yes, we did land there.

Here's a list of airstrips with info.

After a brief survey of how to depart the blind runway (the runway is invisible as you take off), we were again heading west. We flew back over the Big Creek strip, then through Elk Summit. The lookout in this photo is Pilot Peak. Trailhead

Then we flew over Steamboat Mountain with Warren and Secesh on our right. As we passed over Steamboat, we could see Loon Lake shining in the sun. Loon is a popular mountain bike ride.

The valley of Loon Creek, upstream from the lake, is framed here by North Loon on the left and Victor Peak on the right.



As we flew by, I pointed out Storm Dome. Sandy was intrigued by the huge cliff face, so we did a full loop around it. That's Storm Lake at the foot of the cliff.

Just past the big face, you can see the 20-Mile Lakes basin. Also, joined to Storm Dome by its left ridge here, is Peak 8808.


We were now nearing home. Too many peaks to take pics of them all, plus now I was really feeling a little ill. Put the camera down and settle down.

But dang, we're passing over Loon Creek. Can't quit yet.

There's Lost Art Peak, center. The row of peaks heading off to the left is Hum Ridge. And on the background horizon, McCabe Peak.


Getting closer, and now we have crossed 20 Mile Creek. The long, flat summit in the sun is Paintbrush, one of my favorite climbs done with Julie.

Behind it you can see Payette Lake, which sits on the north side of McCall. Almost home.


That's the east ridge of Rain Peak in the foreground, with Burnside sticking up sharply just behind it on the right.

But while I was reliving memories on all these peaks, I was also looking to future adventures. The obvious pyramid just left of center on the horizon is on the Fitsum Ridge. It's a long ways in, and it's really steep. Any takers?

I want to say an extra large Thank You to Sandy. And I hope you want another geography lesson soon!




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