Family Camp in Boulder Basin

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August 31, 2013

Jessica, Hunter, Brenna and I head to Boulder Basin north of Ketchum, Idaho, to spend the night at 9,700 feet among the tailings and crumbling log cabins abandoned some sixty years since metals were last dug and dissolved from the high rock arena.

Burned hills
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Burned hills
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/26486311600

It is hard to get anywhere without passing evidence of the year’s fires. “Firefighters say they’ve never seen fires burn the way they did in 2013.”¹ We see the charred aftermath of two or three as we drive east from Boise.

  1. Idaho Statesman, “Wildfires: ‘Something Bigger is Going On’” (October 6, 2013): idahostatesman.com/…/wildfires-something-bigger-is
Boulder Basin: Level Three
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Boulder Basin: Level Three
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I have wanted to bring the whole family to Boulder Basin since I first saw it last year.¹ I knew the kids would love the open space and adventures running around rocks, creeks, tunnels and lakes.

  1. Trail Image, “Hard Road to Boulder Basin”: trailimage.com/hard-road-to-boulder-basin
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Tucked in
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Tucked in
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Since the basin is accessible only to the daring drivers of high-clearance four-wheel-drives, or motorcycles, there aren’t many campers. I expect to get the nice spot by the lake I enjoyed by myself in July¹ but we find it occupied by a couple UTVs. We’re forced to continue up to the small bodies of water in the highest basin where we find a lovely site already prepared among the evergreens.

  1. Trail Image, “Indomitable Boulder Basin”: trailimage.com/indomitable-boulder-basin
Kids loved this
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Kids loved this
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The site comes ready with a rock oven and skillet that the kids decorate with flowers.

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Removing burrs*
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Removing burrs*
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The kids begin exploring our patch of evergreens, surrounding rocks and nearby meadow while Jessica and I set up camp.

  1. starPhoto by Jessica
Bummer
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Bummer
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There is a good reason to bushwhack with only shorts and flip-flops.

Mountain climbers
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Mountain climbers
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
We are led to this “waterfall”
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We are led to this “waterfall”
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After camp is prepared, the kids take us on a tour of their discoveries, headlined by a waterfall.

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Checkered past*
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Checkered past*
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
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We walk together through the high meadow, taking time to inspect every curious wood, stone, water or plant our eyes light upon.

  1. starPhoto by Jessica
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
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  1. starPhoto by Jessica
Princess tower
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Princess tower
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Brenna stops to play on mounds of rocks (“castles” if you remember our trip to Silver City¹) while the rest of us circle back to our campsite.

  1. Trail Image, “Seeking Gold in Silver City”: trailimage.com/seeking-gold-in-silver-city
Hot dogs, of course
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Hot dogs, of course
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Such a thorough meadow survey leaves us eager for dinner. The kids would like us to cook with the cobble oven but it’s under trees and not easy to sit around so we persuade them to endure a traditional fire ring near the tent.

It’s not so bad
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It’s not so bad
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Must cut something
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Must cut something
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There is plenty of wood lying around but the kids would still like to cut some. If only they were this excited to clean their rooms.

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Brenna takes a turn with the camera
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Brenna takes a turn with the camera
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  1. starPhoto by Brenna
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  1. starPhoto by Brenna
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  1. starPhoto by Brenna
Brenna also
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Brenna also
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The sky glows orange and gold as the last light of day filters through smoky skies.

Good night
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Good night
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Morning
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Morning
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We awake to a perfect day.

Leaving camp
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Leaving camp
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We don’t stay long at camp, instead wanting time to explore other areas in the basin.

Exploring a hole
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Exploring a hole
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We stop alongside a hole we noticed yesterday and agree to let Hunter explore it.

Let us know what you find
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Let us know what you find
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Hunter gets to the entrance and reports it’s filled with rubble beyond.

Quick, they’re in the hole, let’s go
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Quick, they’re in the hole, let’s go
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Back at the lake
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Back at the lake
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I sold the kids on the lake so they’re excited to finally stop there today for some swimming. Yesterday’s campers are gone so we have it to ourselves.

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One-two-three
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One-two-three
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It takes a couple countdowns but finally Hunter does it. Jump! He’s braver than I am. That water is cold.

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Brenna sees Hunter’s reaction when he surfaces and decides she may be content with watching.

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Indiana Jones
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Indiana Jones
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After the very brief swim, we hike above the lake and find a tunnel. It ends quickly but we keep going and find another farther up — a great little adventure.

Using the kids again
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Using the kids again
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The short tunnel emerges on the other side of an outcrop. We send Hunter above to reconnoiter what looks like another tunnel above. He reports that it doesn’t go anywhere else.

Treasure?
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Treasure?
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Steepest way is best
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Steepest way is best
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From the tunnels we continue upwards to a spire that overlooks the lake and an old rock mill in the lower basin.

The point
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The point
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We hiked above the lake and onto the point that sits between the lake and mill.

Last stop, the old mill
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Last stop, the old mill
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Finally we descend back to the Jeep and drive to explore the lower basin and mill.

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Scary stairs
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Scary stairs
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Jessica had to go higher
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Jessica had to go higher
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