Activity Notes

Hell’s Canyon Backpack – April 24-30, 2022

Thank you for your interest in the April backpack in Hell’s Canyon, the deepest canyon in the U.S. We’ll hike along the Snake River Trail, enjoying moderate temperatures (normal spring highs 65°-85°F; lows 45°-50° F), spectacular river and canyon scenery, solitude, historic sites, wildflowers, and wildlife. Below are some of the specifics about the backpack outing. If you have more questions, contact Rex Breunsbach or Alice Brocoum, and we’ll be glad to try to answer them.    -- Rex

rbreunsbach@gmail.com  971-832-2556

alicevivianb@gmail.com 702-682-9653

Overview:

We’ll spend five days and four nights exploring Hell’s Canyon via the Snake River National Recreation Trail. We’ll be backpacking five days, driving 2 days in route to\from the Canyon. We’ll hike  a moderate 6-12 miles/day and explore some of the sights along the way (see below).  Due to limited camping spaces, we will limit the group to 10 people. Outing cost will be $85 for members $135 for non-members.  Expenses include camping fees and permits.  You will supply all your transportation, food for the backpack and any meals purchased along the way.

Covid-19 vaccination, the Mazamas Covid-10 Badge, is required of each team member for safety of the group.

ITINERARY:

Sunday, April 24

Driving Day: Drive to White Bird, Idaho; overnight at a campground.

8:30 AM – Drive via I-84 to White Bird, Idaho (7.5 hours driving).  Dinner and overnight campsite is in White Bird.

Monday, April 25

Drive 1 hr to Pittsburg Landing TH. Backpack day 1:  6 mi 1,000’ Elevation Gain to Kirkwood Ranch

An early start, breakfast at our campground drive to trailhead. Our goal is to get used to our packs and arrive early for the best campsite, while enjoying the many short but rugged ups and downs of the trail including Suicide Point. We’ll set up camp and visit the historic Kirkwod Ranch museum. Bring along something for sharing around the campfire. 

Tuesday, April 26

Backpack day 2:  10 miles, 2100’ Elevation Gain to Sheep Creek

We start along the trail close to the river, passing an old stone cabin, some ponderosa woods, interesting geology, and views up and down the river.. We’ll camp here at Sheep Creek for two nights. 

Wednesday, April 27

Backpack day 3:  12 miles, 2000’ Elevation Gain, day hike to/from Bernard Creek. Camp again at Sheep Creek

Continuing on, we will hike through a particularly dramatic, narrow section of the canyon where ups and downs of the trail yield a variety of perspectives. Grassy river benches, views across the river of Hat Point in Oregon, and roaring class IV whitewater and a visit to the historic McGaffee cabin homestead, built in 1905.  Return to our campsite at Sheep Creek. 

Thursday, April 28

Backpack day 4:  10 miles 2000’ Elevation Gain to Kirkwood Ranch

We’ll begin our return to Kirkwood Ranch, noting how the vistas always look different when coming from the reverse direction. We may visit sights we skipped coming in, hunt for a few more petroglyphs, or arrive in camp early to enjoy a relaxing evening, as the group prefers. Camp at Kirkwood Ranch. 

Friday, April 29

Backpack day 5:  6 miles, 900’ Elevation Gain, hike out to trailhead at Pittsburg Landing. Drive back to White Bird, Idaho, have dinner, and stay overnight at a campground.

We’ll continue to retrace our path, with much lightened packs, to Pittsburg Landing, once again with the varied vistas of the river and canyon walls, now seen from the return-route perspective. Highlights include views of the High Summit Ridge in Oregon and the even higher Seven Devils peaks in Idaho.

Saturday, April 30

Driving Day: Breakfast in camp or town, Drive home

 

EQUIPMENT AND FOOD:

Normal backpacking equipment – there are plenty of checklists on-line. Plan on a potential for rain and nights being cool and damp.  We’ll work out sharing of tents, stoves, fuel and water filters. Make sure to bring trekking poles. POISON OAK is prevalent along this trail so dress accordingly.  You need to have change of clothes for sleeping so as to avoid poison oak in sleeping bag. Also bring DEET for any ticks. We will be hanging our food at night, so bring some parachute cord and bags.  

There is plentiful water along the way, but we must treat it, so water filters and containers are a must.  We don’t all need to carry these, and we can divide these up at the Trailhead.

For food, on backpacking days plan on four dinners, five  breakfasts, five lunches and plenty of snacks.  On our travel days we will grab some food along the way.

INFORMATIONAL MEETING:  

We will discuss this in more detail at the informational meeting on April 12th.  At our meeting, we will also plan carpools and driving arrangements.

 

WEBSITES FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area

https://www.nationalforests.org/our-forests/find-a-forest/hells-canyon-national-recreation-area

 

Snake River National Recreation Trail

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/wallowa-whitman/recarea/?recid=51661

 

Weather in Hell’s Canyon and Snake River

https://www.westernriver.com/hells-canyon/weather

 

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$ 85 .00 for Mazama members
$ 135 .00 for non-Mazama members

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