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Backpacking in Hells Canyon

By Cassie Hayden

I
Left Montana and went on a backpacking trip to Hells Canyon, Idaho. I
didn’t know it until just before the trip, but Hells Canyon along the
Snake River is the deepest river canyon in the U.S. We choose the
Snake River because it was the closest place that droped to an
elevation of one thousand feet, so we guessed the weather would be a
bit milder. Although the highest point of our trip was going to be six
thousand feet, which is what the snow line reached in Big Sky. Mike
Griffen and I left Big Sky, MT and drove into a snowstorm, it was
snowing all the way down to three thousand feet, berrrr. The highest
peaks in the canyon reached up to 9000 ft and had a ten foot snow pack
on top, an awesome sight.

We lucked out with mostly sunny and pretty warm days, but it still was a little chilly on some nights. It
turned out to be a great five day backpacking trip with incredible
views. The trail along the river was a gorgeous historical trail with
old cabins and old farming tools along with great views from rock
outcroppings high above the river. Our two day side hike trail was
often not a trail at all. Map and compass skills and a relatively
large open area kept navigating pretty simple. Walking along the
grassy ridges we were lucky to see many elk and deer. On the third day
progress was at an ants pace as we climbed two thousand vertical feet
and then post holed our way through waist deep snow along the
ridge. After the ridge we descended four thousand vertical feet back
to a nice stream and a small historical cabin on Bernard Creek where we
spent the night. The final days we cruised along the well defined
Snake River trail.

The
Snake River would also make a nice multi day float trip for anyone
interested. If you are ever in the area be sure to check out the twin
falls area too, there are some amazingly huge waterfalls. Shoshone
Falls is 212 feet tall and Twin Falls is 125 feet tall, but they only
occasionally have water going over them. Near Twin Falls is also were
Evel Knevil tried to jump the canyon.

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