Vanity Summit-Seafoam Lakes Part 4

After touring around the Seafoam Guard Station, I direct my attention to the road ahead. The road splits into three options at this point… East, to Sheep Mountain,  North towards Josephus Lake, and Up to Seafoam Lakes. There also happens to be a sign posted with a notification that the road has been washed out a few miles ahead. Since Seafoam Lakes is one of my intended destinations the choice will be up … then maybe North depending on actual road conditions ….

Pic repost out of the guard station …

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Road 010 to Seafoam Lakes starts off gradual following a beautiful valley that has impressive steep slopes on either side. The lower road is in great shape with lots of flow lending to a fast pace.

Mid point meadow

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After the mid point meadow the effects of past fire become evident and the road begins to increase its accent towards the rocky ridges ahead.

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As I ascend the road starts to narrow and road bed slowly becomes a bit rockier and loose … still not a challenge for the capable DRZ!

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I continue to climb reaching the edge of the once was tree line …

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Seafoam Lakes sit on a bench at approx. 7800ft. A pretty good climb up from the 6200 ft Seafoam Guard Station and a bit below the ominous 9400ft Langer Peak.

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As I near the top the effects of the past Halstead Fire become very evident … the fire ran through this basin fast and hot leaving not much more than charred tree trunks in it’s wake ….. a sad reality that we’ll never see this basin back to its previous splendor within our lifetime.

A tree across the road is a sign that I’m the first to ride past this point this season. Quick work is made of the single tree with my saw conveniently packed in my OBR ADV Gear Tool Pouch.

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I finally arrive at Seafoam Lake ….

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A few green trees still stand on the opposing lake edge …

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Along the accessible side, a single stand of trees survived, before the fire this was probably a prime camp spot right along the waters edge, but the danger of falling snags eliminates any reasonable potential to ever future camp IMO.

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On the plus side the water appears clear and the fish were rising ….

to be continued …..

Vanity Summit-Seafoam Lakes Part 3

Once finished exploring around Vanity Summit it is time to continue north into the immediate valley and areas to me currently unknown …

Rd 008

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Rd 008 continues approx. another 4-5 miles past the summit before arriving at the Seafoam Guard Station.

Entrance sign

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Main buildings

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Corral and flag pole

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While the buildings here at the guard station appear to be some what kept, the grounds are pretty over grown. It’s evident that this station has not been occupied for some time. It seems as if these remote outposts are not so much utilized for personnel anymore, but for possible equipment storage. I hope they will continue to maintain these structures at least for no other reason to preserve the stories that they all can tell.

Immediately past the guard station the road forks … East to Sheep Mountain (012), North to Rapid River and Josephus Lake (008), and West/Up to Seafoam Lakes (010). My intended route for today is to make the climb up to Seafoam Lakes and then possibly Josephus Lake… Sheep Mountain will need to wait until another ride.

Challenge accepted…

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To be continued ….

 

Vanity Summit-Seafoam Lakes part 2

After making my stop at the Wagon Town historical marker …. the road begins to climb in elevation towards the 7700′ Vanity Summit …. as I climb up this section of road it is hard to not imagine the fully loaded wagons crossing this pass in support of the mines …

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Vanity Summit does not disappoint as it presents breathtaking ridgeline views all around … what is amazing is the evidence of how hot the previous fire was by the presence of the black stumps, but then to have a totally healthy tree right next to it.

South

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North

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West

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I notice a two track running off the west side of the summit …. I know that the wilderness boundary exists some distance from the main road, but this track has recent ATV tracks and is not signed to be closed. I check my map and it does exist as a dotted line …. the map indicates that this track runs up towards Langer Peak passing some small lakes. The decision is made to explore!

First lake about a 1/4 mile from the summit ….

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The track starts off smooth and easy, then starts to get a bit rockier ….

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The track continues for what seems like 3-4 miles and concludes at an old mine… the mine has obviously been blasted closed, but the tailing pile is still evident.

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View off the tailing pile …. maybe Ruffneck Peak?

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Passing by a higher lake on my way back down ….

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I descend back down towards Vanity Summit … I stop at a view point just above the summit that provides a nice perspective up the valley I’m going to travel next …

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Time to get going …. lots more country to still see ……

 

Vanity Summit-Seafoam Lakes part 1

For years I have driven past Seafoam Rd as I made my way around Cape Horn to Stanley….every time making a mental note that I needed to put this road on my “to ride” list. I have made my way up and around Beaver Creek/Pinyon Peak, which offers nothing short of amazing views as you ride along 8000ft ridge roads… I expect the country over Vanity Summit to offer much of the same!

(Note – somewhere along my ride I inadvertently switched the setting dial on my camera so that most of my days pics seem slightly over exposed …. so being that these are my only pics of the ride they will have to do) 

This being one of those day rides a few hrs from home … I’ve chosen to trailer the bike to the Bear Valley Rd cutoff as my staging point. Arriving at approx. 10:00 am, the air is still crisp and refreshing, but starting to warm, so the bike is unloaded and gear adorned for the days adventure!

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As I’m prepping for my ride … a USFS truck pulls up with an older gentleman and his dog stepping out. We chatted for a bit and regrettably I do not recall his name, but this guy and his dog were outstanding representatives for the USFS, Challis RD. He drives shuttle for the River Rangers who patrol the many tributaries of the Salmon.

After saying a goodbye … the first few miles will be on hardtop.

Hwy 21

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Within minutes I arrive at Seafoam Rd, turning north …. I’ve noticed over the years that the USFS needs to spend a few $$ on sign replacement. Most are weathered and peeling … some even falling over.

 

 

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Lower Seafoam Rd runs fast through open meadows …. most of the area is heavily scarred from the Halstead Burn a few years back.

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The uniqueness of the area I’m riding today is that it is surrounded by the Frank Church Wilderness via an easement for the many historical mines in the area, some with still open claims, although probably not much actual activity.

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I pass the Beaver Creek cutoff that will take you up and over Pinyon Peak and head north towards Vanity Summit. Along the way I notice a board sign along the road explaining the area as a stop over point for supply wagons carrying supplies up to the mines.

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Same sign pre-burn … evidently there was still some structure left, which is now all but burned leaving only a charred spot to reference it’s once existence!

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Pre-burn photo from www.usdirtbiker.com

To be continued …..

Mayfield-Danskin Peak-Anderson Ranch Conclusion

My route up through Fall Creek and onto #159 provided constant reminders of what once was. Still standing are large sections of green healthy timber only to be shadowed by the charred remains of a previously thriving landscape…. I remind myself that fire is a natural cycle and vibrant trees will return … some day.

Eastern view

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West view (Prairie)

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Cresting the summit, I am shocked to see the landscape as it is today … I believe that last time I passed through this section the view was much different.

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It is obvious that the State Dept of Lands has been clearing out the burned timber. While the area looks like it has been subject to a nuclear blast, I’m glad to see that there is some proactive management of the area…. hopefully we will see tree growth within this area a bit sooner…. although it appears to have burned hot and might take some time for the soil to recover enough to actually support new tree growth.

House Mountain in the background

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Passing through the burn and through Prairie I notice a dark mass of clouds heading my way from the Owyhee’s … luck has been with me today in avoiding any weather, but this dark front has me concerned since I am riding directly towards it’s path … rain is ok, but lightning …. no thanks!

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I decide to double time the next 10 miles back to the truck … afterburners on!

South Fork Boise River Canyon

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Even with a dark sky I felt obligated to stop at this view point … I always stop and snap a pic …usually traveling the opposite direction as the scene is always different pending sky, light, season, fires, etc …

Parting shot

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Great day of riding … made it through a few areas I had not visited in years. My timing back to the truck was perfect. Right about the time the bike was loaded the sky darkened and thunder started to roll ….

Days mileage – 150 miles