June 4, 2020
When we woke up in the morning, the 1:30 am group from last night were gone. We didn’t hear them leave in the morning, so we guess that they launched their raft in the middle of the night and floated down the river. It was a bright moon, so I guess there was enough light to see.
After packing up camp we drove further down the river. At this point the river isn’t in a deep gorge, so the road followed the river for the next 15 miles. Our destination was Branbury Campground. For a $5 parking fee, they will let you access the river from their boat ramp.
The plan was to paddle downstream about 1-1/2 miles to Blue Heart Springs. Blue Heart Springs is a large pool of very clear water, just off the Snake River. Even though it was downstream, there was a brisk wind blowing upstream, so it was still some work to paddle down the river and it took us 35 minutes to reach our destination. You enter the springs through a narrow path between the trees and brush. The water is crystal clear, with a slight blue tint from the minerals. We were the first ones at the spring this morning, but more kayakers showed up later.
After some time at the springs we started back. This time we had to paddle upstream. However, the winds had died down, so we didn’t have any help on the 50 minute paddle back to the campground.
Once back at the boat ramp we deflated the kayak and loaded everything up. We drove to the park in Buhl and parked in the shade to eat lunch. After eating we drove back through Twin Falls to cross the river and head north towards the Sawtooth Mountains.
We had planned to camp just north of Shoshone at Little Drops Recreation Area. It was a rough road out to the campsite in a desert that covered with volcanic rocks. The camping spot was at the edge of the Milner Gooding Canal. This was an interesting place. The canal is a 15 feet wide and 6 feet deep concrete trough that runs through the lava flows and volcanic rocks. Where we stopped there was a straight section that is several miles long. The water is about 4 feet deep and flows very fast down the trough. There were a lot of local kids there. They would jump into the canal and it would sweep them down the canal for about a mile to a spot where they would get out and walk back up a trail to do it again. Just the type of fun that rural kids get to have. In Utah County they would have fenced off the canal to keep everyone out. It look like a lot of fun, but I couldn’t get Eva to try it out. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures of the Idaho kids having fun.
We decided not to camp there for two reasons. First it was very windy, and second, the camping spot was the location where the kids got out of the canal and it looked like they were going to be having fun for quite a while. We looked at Google Maps and it showed a dirt track out of the area to the main highway. We drove down a very rough trail for about 3 miles. Just as we got within 400 yards of the highway the trail stopped at private property. We had to turn around drive all the way back to the canal. We ended up wasting an hour following the Google recommendation.
We drove further north on highway 75 to the Stanton Crossing campground. This is a free campground on the banks of the Big Wood River. It was a very nice spot in the trees. The trees were full of birds that singing all night long. There were a lot of other campers, but the sites are spread out, so it didn’t feel too crowded. We cooked and ate dinner while sitting in the shade of the trees. After dinner I set up the shower tent and we both took showers before it turned dark. The night was nice, except for the RV that ran their generator all night long.