Lick Creek to Indian Crossing
Saturday, August 2
Three of us (John & Jan Jacobsen and myself) set out to do this 11+ mile hike as a car shuttle. First we drove the five miles upriver to the Indian Crossing trailhead and left my car. Then we drove back toward camp, and took FS 3925, a nine mile short-cut, over towards Lick Creek CG, turning left onto the road to the Lick Creek TH just before reaching FS 39. This last stretch of a little over two miles is very rough and requires considerable care to negotiate safely.
We started up the trail at a brisk pace, relieved to have an earlier start and cooler weather than we had had on our previous day’s hike. The trail starts out on an old road, passing through a forest of pines and fir. As most of the trails in the region, this one also receives a fair amount of pack traffic, and in consequence is quite dusty in places.
The first two miles seemed to go slowly, with the pine and fir forest intermitted by dry meadows filled with yarrow, penstemon and small, fuzzy, greyish-leaved lupine, and occasional wet stream crossings surrounded by nettles and a dill-like plant, always with yet another false summit beckoning a short distance up the trail. Finally, after about 1½ miles, we reached the Eagle Cap Wilderness boundary, and a short distance beyond, the true summit of the Imnaha Divide.
After a brief rest and snack at the divide, we headed down the steep, dusty trail towards the Imnaha—glad that we were going from Lick Creek to Indian Crossing, and not the other way around! We soon entered the large, burned out area—grey, 30 foot snags all around, and thick with five and six year-old pine seedlings. Along the trail we saw cone flower, fireweed, something with yellow, tansy ragwort like flowers, and even a nice patch of spotted cats ear. (There are a few of these around Coverdale CG.)
After regrouping at the junction with the Imnaha trail we headed downstream, planning to stop at Imnaha Falls for lunch. But when we arrived at what we think are the falls (the river was obscured by some large boulders), we found it rather overpopulated, so we went a bit further and found a quieter spot to stop at.
Shortly after lunch, we discovered that the trail out wasn’t going to be the easy, downhill glide we had hoped for—at places where the canyon is very narrow, the trail climbs way up above the river. After a couple miles we came to a user trail off to the right, which we did not take, as we didn’t know where it went. Shortly after that we came to the trail to Blue Hole—the user trail is a short-cut to it.
We rested for a short time at Blue Hole, then hiked out the last two miles to the Indian Crossing TH. Much of this section is through the burn, some places thick with sweet smelling ceanothus bushes.
After refilling our water bottles at the Indian Crossing hand-pump (which doesn’t work nearly as well as the one at the Ollokot CG, but, in my opinion, has better tasting water), we dropped Jan off at Coverdale, and proceeded back to the Lick Creek TH to retrieve the Jacobsens’ car. While my low-clearance, 2-WD car handled FS 3925 (and, with care, even the road up to Lick Creek TH) ok, we concluded that the minute or two saved by taking this route just isn't worth the wear and tear on the cars, so we returned to camp via FS 39.
— Wayne Deeter
— photos by Wayne Deeter