June 8, 2020
In the morning it was cold and snowing a bit, but not enough to stick to the ground. We left the campsite and continued north on highway 93. About 8-10 miles north, as elevation rose, there was 3-4 inches of snow on the ground, so it was good we camped down by the river.
The highway north followed the Salmon River through wide green valleys with cattle ranches and alfalfa farms. We arrived at the “town” of Elk Bend and parked at a trailhead about a mile off the highway.
Our destination was Goldbug Hot Springs. It was a challenging hike up the mountain to the hot springs. It was still raining when we arrived, but we waited for 15 minutes and the rain stopped and the sun kind of came out. For the beginning of the hike it was sunny, but the clouds rolled in again and it sprinkled rain on us as we got close to the end of the hike.
The hike started with a couple of steep switch backs. The middle of the hike was a gentle incline, but the last 1/2 mile was steep again with switchback and a couple of stairs that were built into the trail. The hike was 2 miles one way, with 1300’ of elevation gain.
The hot springs consisted of 3 separate pools that varied in temperature. The pools were built of rock into the mountain side and the bottom was nice soft gravel. The water was crystal clear and the pool we were in was probably 100 degrees. It felt just the perfect temperature.
We went to the warmest pool, which also had the best view. When we arrived there were only 6 others in our pool and another 6-8 people in the other pools.
However, after about 30 minutes a huge family with lots of kids showed up. There must have been 15-20 of them. They all crowded in our pool, but they were pretty polite and jammed themselves into one side of the pool and left us and another couple the other half of the pool. The kids were climbing around and having fun, so it wasn’t very peaceful.
After about an hour we decided to head back down to the van. It was sunny when I got out and went behind a rock to change. But 5 minutes later when Eva was ready to get out, the clouds had came in. She quickly got out, changed and we headed down the trail.
We were only 10 minutes down the trail when the storm hit. The wind kicked up and the hail started to come down. We were still high on the mountain in the rocks, so there was nowhere to hide. We hurried down towards the trees where we could get some shelter. However, by the time we made it to the trees, the hail had stopped. So we continued down the trail and by the time we made it to the van, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day again.
From Elk Bend we went back up the canyon and found camp at the Colston River Access. Idaho is full of the river access points that have free campsites on the banks of the big rivers. Our campsite was in a grassy meadow on the banks of the Salmon River, just across from a large cliff. It was another very nice night, however, about 5 minutes after we arrived, the sun went down behind the cliff, so it was too cold for Eva to be outside. We ate dinner and then played Phase 10 for the rest of the evening.