Sawtooth Mountains

August 22-26, 1979

Thirty-five members rode 1,531 miles in a Trailways bus east across Oregon and into the Sawtooth Mountain Range of Idaho and return. Along the way they heard extensive colorful explanations of the geology and some history of the lands between.

There are miles and miles of “sagebrush country” interspersed with irrigated fields in the same kind of country, and evergreen forests. The mountains of Idaho are spectacular, and have clear running streams. We were at the headwaters of the Salmon River. Mountains were high and so were the passes. Highest peak was Mt. Borah in Idaho at 12,662 feet (North Sister 10,085). The nearby pass, Willow Creek Summit, was 7,161, higher than the McKenzie Pass (5,324). Another was Galena Summit at 8,701, with a beautiful view some 4,000 feet down into the Sawtooth Valley. Overnight stay in two motels in Challis (Id.) was at 5,283; Ketchum—Sun Valley at 5,920. Overnight stops were at Ontario, Oregon, Challis, Idaho, Ketchum—Sun Valley, Idaho, and Burns, Oregon. Most everyone collected red and black obsidian at Glass Buttes. Lois Baker has an in-law that owns 120,000 acres and leased another 170,000 which include Glass Buttes. Their hayfield is 7 miles long and 2 miles wide to feed 5,000 cattle in winter; takes all summer to harvest.

A high point of the trip was a side trip to Pine Mountain Observatory, especially arranged by a trip participant—Prof. Ed Ebbighausen who is its father. We saw three telescopes—a 15 inch, a 24 inch and a 32 inch, largest in the Northwest.

Other high points included: a visit to the Craters of the Moon National Monument, displaying recent (as young as 1,600 years) extensive lava flows; a visit to famous Sun Valley with its numerous tortuous ski-lifts (and numerous condominiums!). Ketchum and Sun Valley are two separate towns that run together. Another high point was a visit to the Custer Mine Museum in Idaho. This is a collection of memorabilia of life and times of 1880s in mining country. The Museum is an old school house containing all kinds of artifacts of life. A real event was a slide show in a tin-roofed building on crude benches and rain rattling on the tin roof; narrated by one of the Nordlings of Eugene, who obviously has put his life into the collection and presentation. Also nearby was an old dredge from when the little valley was worked for gold. We did see antelope in “Antelope Flats.”

One disappointment was that, for lack of time, we were prevented from going down Succor Creek Canyon and the Jordan Valley country. This led to talk about another trip to pick these up, along with Malheur Wildlife Refuge, Steens Mountain, Chandler Wayside—Sawmill Museum and Captain Jack’s country.

Ewart Baldwin was our Tour Guide; Bill Eaton Manager of Arrangements (and seating!). We heard from Irene Flynn on trees, Bea LeFevre on birds, Al Smith on some Eastern Oregon history (a history buff), and Ed Ebbighausen on the origins, construction, and local (Bend) support of the observatory. One innovative feature was picnic lunches which made for flexibility in sight-seeing.


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