One of Kathy’s co-workers has a house in McCall, Idaho and invited us to stop by since we were going to be in the area. I am all about having a free place to stay and meeting Kathy’s peeps, so I agreed that it would be a fine idea. We had no idea how long we would stay, so we decided to play that by ear.
On the drive from where we were staying in Sun Valley to McCall, we drove through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area – part of the Sawtooth National Forest – and stopped at Redfish Lake to check it out. Oh my god! What a gorgeous place with several campgrounds. With usable cell service (barely). In a National Forest. This is unheard of!
We would have stayed at Redfish Lake if we didn’t have a commitment to be in McCall. So we picnicked instead. And talked about how nice it would be to stay there. I mean, it was SUPER nice there. Definitely on the radar should I find myself in that part of Idaho again (doubtful as the drive there is, um, a fun one).
We pulled up to Kathy’s co-workers place and parked my house on the side road. We were going to be sleeping inside the co-worker’s house during our time there. Now at this point some of you might be saying, oh good, you are getting to sleep in a real bed. To this I would reply, um, no, I have a real bed, thank you very much! We were staying inside the sticks-and-bricks house as it was more convenient and my house wasn’t plugged in, so no A/C. The bonus is that we did sleep on a memory foam bed that was super comfortable and makes me wish I could have one in my house, but I can’t due to weight issues.
McCall turned out to be a nice little place to chill out for a few days. We ended up staying four nights before moving on. We spent much of the time just relaxing. We had the house to ourselves a couple of the nights so we dog sat and enjoyed taking the furry creatures to the beach.
Loon Lake Trail
Like many of the places that one goes while traveling around, McCall offers many hiking opportunities. But like many of the places in our travels, we didn’t have the time to explore many trails. In fact, we had to narrow our choice down to one (from the recommendations that we received), but what a one it was!
Loon Lake Trail is hike in the Payette National Forest that starts to the north of McCall a bit, up a Forest Service Road. This road goes through some interesting little clusters of houses/cabins in the middle of nowhere. Knowing that Idaho has a reputation of being a neo-Nazi hotbed, it makes one think that these are the sorts of places said “wonderful” people would live. So when there was a plywood sign that had “Speed Limit 25” painted on it, you better believe I went 25 miles an hour through there. I didn’t want to find out if my suspicions were correct!
We hiked somewhere in the neighborhood of 13-14 miles doing the Loon Lake Trail Loop. The trail starts and end at Chinook Campground, a Forest Service facility way down at the end of said Forest Service Road. We took the trail up to Loon Lake and back down by the Secesh River. With a couple mile detour at the lake.
Hike to the lake
There is a B-23 Dragon bomber that made an emergency landing on January 29, 1943 onto the iced over Loon Lake. It skidded on the ice and went into the trees, where both wings departed the fuselage. 3 of the crew members walked 35-40 miles through thick snow over the course of 15 days to a ranger station, where they called for help. At about the same time as they reached safety, a bush pilot spotted the wreckage and picked up the remaining crew members. All individuals in the plane survived.
We hiked to the wreckage, though it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. We first had to cross the outlet of Loon Lake. Then the walking was easy, until it wasn’t. We then had to find our way to the plane, not knowing its exact location, and not having a defined trail to follow. You could kinda-sorta make out where people had been in some spots. Other areas you just picked a path through the brush. And the mud. Yeah, Kathy wasn’t too thrilled about this, but she did great and commented, once we found it, how cool the wreckage was.
Turns out, the shiny spot on the lake edge that I was using as a reference point during the bush whacking was actually part of a wing that was just in the water. Once this was found, you just had to follow the trail of debris to the main fuselage. It was very apparent that many people had taken bits of the plane as souvenirs, so it isn’t in the same shape as it was on that cold day in 1943.
b-23 Dragon bomber
The hike ended up dragging on during the walk back. The trail along the river was very nice in spots, but by the time we got back to the car we were done. It was hot and we had walked a long way. I think the bush whacking really took it out of us and having to walk back 6 or so miles just did us in. So Kathy took a dip in the river. A fitting end to a long day.