Monday, June 25, 2007

FALL CREEK CAMP OUT 6/22-6/24, 07

Took Scott and Jimmy to the TVTMA Fall Creek Camp Out.

We left Boise ~ 9:45 Friday morning ,of course we had to have breakfast at the Boise Stage Stop. Got back on the highway ~ 11am.

On the way in we drove around the Anderson Ranch on the one lane road above the lake. Being early we only encountered 3 cars traveling the opposite direction and each time we were at a pull out ,with more traffic it would be slow going.

Got to the Talley Creek camp spot ~ 2pm . Wasn’t sure where the group was going to set up camp , but found a nice shady spot I could back the

motorhome into. The temp was ~ 87-88 under the trees.


By 3pm we had all essentials set up and the boys found the creek right behind camp. They spent an hour riding bikes. Later we for a 15 mile dirt bike ride following two tracks and a couple of short single tracks.

They set up a dirt ramp to “jump” the bicycles , waded in the creek and had pine cone fights.

The rest of the group started showing up around 5pm and were setting up camp in a tighter grove of trees about a 100 yds away.

We had steak , beans & salad for dinner. Then took bets on what the low would be in the morning.


Saturday morning the low was 47’.

We slept in to 7:30. I made scrambled eggs , bacon and toast.

By 9 we started dressing up for ride. I decided to take the boys on the intermediate ride with Jack Grover & Becky Mandern. Becky offered to watch the boys so I could go the “Big Ride”, but I decided to stay with the boys.

We rode the upper half of Camp Creek => Bear Hole =>Trinity Mt Road=> ATV trails back to Talley creek. About 20-25 mile loop around Red Mountain.

Started out with 9 riders :

Jack, Becky, Rachel Frisbe, Scott, Jimmy, Mark Johnston & his 2 kids, and myself.

After we got on Camp Creek ,Mark decide it might be bit much for his two so he headed back.

Camp Creek quickly turned into a series of side hills and ridge lines.

Scott and Jimmy did great. No crying or cuss words !

Don’t think Scott said 6 words the whole ride, but he rode through every thing. Only hesitated at one creek crossing, but after I pointed out the line he rode through with no problems.

He even cleaned a “reroute” side hill / rock climb around a down tree.

Jimmy then stared across the creek, lost his balance, grabbed a handful of throttle and took a left turn down the creek bed and disappeared behind the bushes. He was shook up but other wise ok. Jack and I had to push his bike back on the trail

because the chain got knocked off.

The boys had a snack and rested while we worked on the bike.


Camp Creek terrain


Bear Hole terrain


Scott and Jimmy taking a breather after Jimmy’s swim.


Rachel had a head on with a rider while we were making our way up serious of switch backs. She said she was ok , but was mad because the middle rider didn’t signal there was another bike behind him.

We got back to camp around 2pm. I wish I took more pictures, it was a great day ! Jimmy was pooped so he took a nap after we had lunch.

They played around camp the rest of the afternoon and evening. I loaded up the trailer so we could leave after breakfast in the morning.

Around 8pm most of the “Big Ride” still wasn’t back, but I didn’t give it much thought, but latter I decide I was glad went on the chick / kid ride.


" A short story by Tom Bithell"

· Nine of us started the ride, which was to be an Intermediate/Advanced ride: Brett Madron, Steve Frisbee, Verick Bach, Troy Cobbley, Cody Grover, Andreas and his sons Austin and Aaron (13 and 16), and myself.

· It was a planned 65 mile loop. Our first mistake was riding the known trails and saving the unknown, unridden-for-years trails, for the second-half of the ride.

· The first 35 miles were awesome trails in beautiful country. Nine of us made it to the half way point, but Cody Grover got a hole in his radiator, so he and Andreas took a forest road back. It was the last forest road we’d have the opportunity to take for a long, long time. That left seven of us to continue on. It was around 4pm at this point with about 30 miles left. We felt like we’d be back to camp by 7 or 8pm, no problem.

· We dropped down Sheep Mountain trail and started up the Sheep Creek trail. That is where the trouble started. I didn’t know it at the time, but in reflection, we crossed through the gates of hell about 1 mile up that trail. That is where we should have turned around, rode back to the last FS road and gone home. The trail followed a creek up a deep canyon. A forest fire had gone through there a few years ago and really hammered the trail. We hit a section where the trail washed out and we had to cross the creek twice. This was a big, wide, rocky creek and we had to help one another across to make sure no one dropped their bike.

· We continued on from there but the next two miles took us three hours to ride because it was a gnarly, brushy trail and we had to cut a tree here and there to get through. We also had to do some pushing over rocks and dragging bikes back on the side hill trail. Troy and I were riding at the rear with the kids. I was already tired from man-handling my own bike, but we were having to help the kids over everything too, so it was exhausting. Thank God we had water filters because we drank way more water than we packed.

· We hoped once we got out of the valley and up on a ridge we’d get to the next trail junction and find it better travelled and make up time. I still hadn’t given up hope on making it back before dark, but the doubt was growing in the back of my mind. By this time we knew we’d past the point of no return. If we tried to ride all the way back we’d have people running out of gas and it would be dark before we got to a forest road. So we were forced to ride on and hope the trail got better so we could make it to Trinity Ridge road before dark. We also stopped cutting every fallen tree to save time. If we could ride around them or over them we did.

· It was somewhere in here the 16 year old Aaron said to me, “I can’t go much farther, I don’t have much left.” I told him, “dude, we got no choice. We’re twenty miles from anything.”

· The trail got a little better and our time picked up, but Trinity Ridge road was further than it looked on the map or GPS. At the last trail junction when we hit Lava Mountain trail it was around 9pm and we knew we had less than an hour of light. By our best calculations we had seven miles to the road. We were hoping it was the best seven miles of trail and we’d just make it as the sun went down. By this time, though, I knew we were screwed and would not make the road before dark. This was about the time I started asking God for a little help.

· Nonetheless we pushed on. The light steadily faded as we crossed a few more ridges and before you knew it we were riding in the dark. Frisbee stopped in a valley below North Star lake to check our bearing. By now Frisbee was leading and I was behind him. I had Madron switch positions with me so he could help the kids over every obstacle for awhile. We were really hoping around the next ridge would be the road, and that we had only had a couple of miles to go.

· This is where the bad news started compounding. When Bach and Madron caught up with us, they told us that Austin had crashed and broke his headlight. They left his bike behind and Verick was riding him on the back of his bike. Madron and Aaron had the only two-strokes and Aaron was on reserve already with Madron also low. We started going up the ridge (hoping it was the last one) and Aaron ran out of gas. Now we were down two bikes.

· Still thinking (hoping) it was only a couple of miles to the road we decided to have the kids keep walking. Troy would stay with them on his bike. Should they get too tired or need to stop he said he had a lighter to start a fire. It was a mistake for us not to clarify what provisions Troy really had, because it turned out he didn’t have matches or a lighter, or anything significant besides food and water. A mistake because the rest of us had fire starter and solar blankets. Now it was a cool night in the forties and it was chilly. Our feet were wet because we had been in and out of creeks, and we only had riding shirts on because it had been a hot day.

· The rest of us were going to keep riding and try to make it home, then send back a rescue squad. Of course as soon as we started up the ridge, it turned nasty. There was a 10-star uphill section and we had to help push each other’s bike uphill, over a boulder. After that there was still more rocky uphill in the dark. It’s pitch dark and you can see like three feet of trail in front of your fender. I was real tired, trying to get out uninjured, praying for the trail to get easier and for us to make it out, but really losing hope we would.

· After we made it up the nasty ridge, the trail got a little better. We came to Smith Creek Lake at about 11:20pm. There we found two trails leaving. We weren’t sure which was the right trail. There happened to be a couple of backpackers camping in a tent there. We figured we had already woke them up with the bike noise, so we went and asked them what was the right trail. The guy told us which trail to take and that it was 3.5 miles to the road. Then he throws in, “but it’s a pretty nasty trail.” After hearing that I proposed building a fire and staying the night. Then we could get the other three guys and hang together until the sun came up. Since we were close to getting out, the other guys wanted to keep riding to get help back at camp.

· So Madron, Frisbee, Bach and myself, rode on. Madron has an RM250 that doesn’t have a headlight, so he rode between us. We rode in as tight a formation as you’ll ever see, pretty much 1st gear all the way. The trail had its’ moments, but thank God it wasn’t as bad as the guy made it sound or as bad as the stuff we’d already rode in the dark. There was one major fallen tree that we had to lift all four bikes over, yet another exhausting task on top of uncountable others. Finally, though, we made the road. I was never so happy to see a forest road in my life! It was still 9 miles to ride to camp, but it was finally a sure thing. Madron ran out of gas half-way and then rode on the back of my bike the rest of the way to camp. We got to camp about 1:15am and told those still awake what was had happened. Andreas and a guy named Kevin loaded some backpacks and hopped in the truck to drive to the trailhead. They planned to hike in until they found the other three.

· Meanwhile, the other three - Austin, Aaron and Troy - had not walked all the way to Smith Creek Lake before they decided to hunker down until sunup. That’s where Troy finds out he doesn’t have a lighter or matches. By the grace of God someone had left a sleeping bag out there, in the middle of forest, on the side of the trail and they stumbled upon it. That is probably the only thing that kept them from getting hypothermia. Andreas and Kevin did not find them until about 6am, but they were fine. We sent a crew of bikes up at about 8am with gas and whatnot to get the two abandoned bikes. Everything and everyone was recovered successfully by early afternoon.

The End

We had some people spend the night this last week in the woods without some essential gear.  Here is a list to help.  I put a lot of these items into a Nalgene bottle wich also serves to transfer gas,  Heat water, and has some other nifty uses as well. 

Pack the "Essentials" and be prepared for minor injuries, sudden weather changes or delays. The following are items you should include in your pack:

    • Candle
    • Clothing (always bring something warm, extra socks, and rain gear)
    • Compass
    • First aid kit
    • Food (bring extra)
    • Flashlight
    • Foil (to use as a cup or signaling device)
    • Hat
    • Insect repellent
    • Map
    • Nylon filament
    • Pocket knife
    • Pocket mirror (to use as a signaling device)
    • Prescription medications for ongoing medical conditions
    • Radio with batteries
    • Space blanket or a piece of plastic (to use for warmth or shelter)
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
    • Trash bag (makes an adequate poncho)
    • Water
    • Waterproof matches or matches in a waterproof tin
    • Water purification tablets
    • Whistle (to scare off animals or to use as a signaling device


  1. You left out the most important part of the story. the part about where all of you family men we're going to leave someone else's boys out on a hillside overnight by themselves. perhaps troy knew that he had no lighter but was willing to stay with the boys because it was the right thing to do. contact me if you want to see the thank you letters from the boys as the way they remembered it and your guyses behavior.


    1. Troy-
      Just an FYI -I was not on the ride with you, this was Bithell's story.



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