Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 5 …. Loon Creek Summit

Just past the bridge is the main population base …. Loon Creek Guard Station and the Diamond D Ranch. The Diamond D is an all inclusive guest ranch with all the amenities required as a getaway from the 9 to 5.

Up the road-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Diamond D-

Diamond D Ranch

Loon Creek Guard Station-

Loon Creek Guard Station

The run out-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

The road runs hard and fast along Mayfield Creek before veering up and south towards Loon Creek Summit.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Down Stream-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Before the summit-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek, OBR ADV Gear

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

The road tops out at 8600 ft. A wide area allows for multiple vantage points back into Loon Creek and the Frank Church. The minerals within the surrounding mountains present an impressive mosaic of colors that are difficult to capture with the cameras lens.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Next stop Sunbeam –

 

Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 4 …. Into Loon

Remaining snow levels up top of Pinyon were minimal, So I concluded that the road must be open down into Loon. Proceeding down the ridge my optimism faded as I rolled up onto this drift.

Pinyon Peak

I’ve seen this drift once before a few years back. The geographic position of the ridge is a wind funnel that during winter blows snow over the top accumulating into a sizable drift. The drift freezes solid, slowing it’s melt so that once the surrounding snow has since melted off, the road still remains impassable … at least for 4 wheeled vehicles.

I stare at the drift for a few minutes with options reeling through my mind …. do I chance it and drop over the edge? … or do I reverse course playing it safe and head back to the truck? … Decisions such as these do not come easy. I, like most, once I have a route decided in my mind I find that I have an internal drive to finish that intended loop … today is no different.

Off the bike I walk over to the lower edge and survey the road surface below. I do see bike tracks, along with a few ATV, and even a set of vehicle tracks. This is good as it does present heavy evidence that the lower road is open. I now direct my attention to the actual embankment. How does it look? Remaining cognizant of the one golden rule of off road “Do not ride or drive down anything that you cannot ride or drive back up” …. I’ve broken this rule a time or two and have no desire to do so again today.

I identify a track where other bikes have dropped over the edge, so I walk this track assessing if I can actually get back up if the lower path ends up be impassable. I conclude yes, so over the edge I go …..

Loon Creek or bust …

Pinyon Peak

Once over I continue on my course down the backside. Thankfully the road ended up being clear the rest of the way down with only a few wash out sections that were easily navigated.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Road cleared … thankfully as the size and qty of this dead fall would have ended my forward progression.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

I pass by an old mine that we stopped at on our trip last Fall. In the Fall as we were checking out some of the old buildings we met the owners and operators of the mine. Evidently it is still active to some capacity and they didn’t really want anyone around … fair enough, but in our defense nothing was posted.

Now it is ….

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek, Packer John

I continue down the hill with my next objective Loon Creek ….

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

I reach Loon Creek and a sign declaring the ridge impassable due to snow …. Ha!

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Loon Creek is a beautiful little river that runs north-northwest into the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Fishing on this small tributary is reported to be pretty good. One of these days I’ll have to pack in my fly pole.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

…. to be continued

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 5

As we point our bikes up Rd 172 the track starts to narrow and the trees begin to close in, indicative of a more primitive road. We approach the first minor switchback where the road begins to start it’s climb up towards Loon Creek Summit, we take notice of a fairly large primitive camp spot down off the road.  This is the first “Non-Campground” spot we have determined worthy of inspection. The spot is spacious and otherwise not too bad, but a fair hike from water … we ride on.

The road begins to climb and wind around switchbacks making it obvious that we are gaining elevation quickly. Right before the final turn at the top we stop and take notice of the drainage we just road up as with the now quiet Sunbeam Mine.

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Final gap before the top …

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Loon Creek Summit –

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Right as we crest the summit we cross paths with a group of KLR’s working there way out … as we’re chatting one of the riders appears to be in a bit of discomfort.  It is then disclosed that he is riding with an injured foot …. no doubt a product of some midnight refreshment induced hooliganism of the previous evening … and with little sympathy from his riding buddies. My guess was that this guys injury was cutting their stay short and they were making a late day run back to Boise to get checked out.

We drop down the back side of the summit where the road runs along Mayfield Creek. The views along the upper stretch are awesome, but regrettably since the day was running long I failed to stop along this stretch for pictures …. next time.

As we work our way down Mayfield Creek and towards Loon Creek we pass a number of camp spots … the first nice one was of course occupied, the next was a nice spot, but with a lot of noticeable dead snags around the camp area waiting to fall on an unsuspecting tent with the first real wind… we’re near the bottom so we continued on.

….. Loon Creek GS and the Diamond D Ranch

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The Diamond D is one of those off the grid remote ranches that have carved themselves a niche as a vacation destination … a beautiful spot for those looking to get away, but I still default to the adage of … “Your vacation is my weekend”

Our sights at this point are on a little campground a few miles down the road called Tin Cup. Right as we pass the ranch and make the turn towards Tin Cup an opening comes into view on our right, a trailhead actually … I make a hard right turn to inspect … nice open view, Loon Creek in close walking distance, a table, and no people … we have a winner!

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Tents are set up, bikes are allowed to rest, dust from the day rinsed off in the creek, water on boil for dinner, and evening libations are pulled from panniers.

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We spend the rest of the evening enjoying company, sharing past adventures, and solving most of the worlds problems. Then to turn in in preparation for the next oncoming day ….

…. To be continued