June 4, 2020
Yeti and I drove over 9 hours to get down to the place where we met Mike to scout a possible new route for the IBT by Mahogany Mtn in Leslie Gulch. It would be a 13 mile day hike. We met Mike on the road near Owyhee Dam – it leads down to the reservoir edge where there is a boat put-in. We all just camped along-side the road on the grass. Mike had his truck and slept inside, Yeti slept in the car, and I pitched a tent.
The hike started on the road winding up and then mostly down into the canyon. It was easy walking and got pretty dramatic and the walls got closer. Rugged cliffs, which Yeti said would be great for climbing. Wildflowers were amazing: desert blooms were lush. We must have seen four different colors of paintbrush. After a few miles, we turned onto a trail up a canyon, which was on wide jeep-road like trail. Unfortunately after a couple of miles we came to a fence marked private property. That meant that this route would not work for the IBT. But, we went forward anyway. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, with lots of wildflowers. After ascending, the “trail” kind of plateau-ed.
We had lunch up top and our plan was to re-join the main IBT route to loop back to our camp-site. Before reaching this junction, we came to another trail heading back down towards the road we’d started on. Mike decided to scout this trail to see if that could be the alternate route. Yeti and I went on as planned and we told Mike we’d pick him up on the road in the car once we got back to camp.
The rest of the walk was fairly moderate – walking along the plateau, grassy meadows with nice views of the surrounding hills. Again, lush wildflowers. At one point, we got close to a cabin – we’d gone off the GPS track a bit because we could see there was water – we passed several stream crossings. There was no one in the cabin, so we were okay. The route went steeply up at that point and then brought us over to the final push into camp. We passed a new spring, which Yeti waypointed, and got back into camp. We picked up the car and drove down to get Mike.
Mike told us he had also encountered private land and he wanted to try going back up the canyon a different way to see if he could get through! We headed back to camp. Mike made great time and arrived back in camp in time for supper….he entertained us with his tale of getting into a tight spot where he had to climb out to get to the top of the ridge. So, this route would also not be usable. Oh, well. Even though the scouting trip failed to come up with a route, we had a great time hiking with Mike. It was beautiful and weather was nice, so it was worth the whirlwind trip.