Good plan!

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:11:57 04/16/14

In Reply to: Great Information Frank! Thanks! posted by David K.

Hi David,

It's good that you have done this trip before, so you know what to expect.

I'll try to offer a few other ideas for exploration here and there, including a few for future trips.

Going in sequence, from the beginning of your trek, I would say if you have the time, you might check out the thermals along the river to the left of the trail, once you get past Lone Star. I have seen a number of them, but seriously doubt I have seen all of them.

There is an incredibly wonderful little spring near the top of Grants Pass, between your Day 1 and Day 2 campsites. It is on the left, quite close to the trail (like a few feet). It's not real big, but the water is amazingly clear, cold, and safe to drink. There is usually some emerald green moss around it!

When you are cruising Shoshone Geyser Basin, if you have the time, check out the far side of the basin. It is across Shoshone Creek to the west. Some of it is visible from the east side. The last time I was out there, you could make the crossing fairly easily on a conveniently located large fallen tree. The crossing is downstream from the main part of the basin, not far from Union Geyser as I remember.

As you do the uphill to Douglas Knob, keep an eye out for significant tree blazes. There are actually a couple spots where you can see all three generations of trail markers simultaneously (on different trees). The earliest generation blaze was a simple vertical slash. The next generation was an "I" made by simply putting a horizontal slash on the top and bottom of the original slash. It stood for "Interior" as opposed to the rival "Agriculture" (for the Forest Service). The third generation markers are metal or plastic orange markers. (One could make the argument that metal and plastic are two different generations themselves.)

Since you speak of the thermals up the Ferris Fork, I figure you are well aware of Mr. Bubble. I've always wanted to continue upriver to see what other thermals are there, but have never had the time. I've heard there are also thermals up the Gregg and Phillips Forks, but have not had the opportunity to do that exploring.

The fellow that outfitted our 1989 horsepacking trip through the Bechler told us about an old trail that ascends the Pitchstone Plateau from the vicinity of Three Rivers Junction. I've always thought it would be great to hoof it up there for the views, but you don't want to go wandering on the Pitchstone without a GPS. Lots of folks get lost up there. I've flown over it in a light aircraft, and there are many miles of "sameness", with little in the way of reference points.

Be aware that there was once a trail on the east side of the Bechler River that negated the need to do the two fords below Three Rivers Junction. The NPS moved the trail across the river because there are dozens of small streams that drain the Pitchstone and make foot travel and maintenance tough. I actually used that old trail in August of 1991, and found it quite acceptable. We just had to step on stones to cross a few creeks. A reliable friend of mine tried the same route in the early/mid 2000's, and said it was a nightmare. I guess the undergrowth is reclaiming the land!

The berry bushes are downstream of Colonnade Falls, along a relatively open hillside. I remember there being a boulderfield to the left of the trail.

I love the idea of doing a side hike to Ouzel Falls. That is such a pretty waterfall.

I'm not sure you will have the time to wander over to Dunanda Falls. If you can't get over there, consider it for a future trip. There are soakable thermals below the falls, as well as upstream on the unnamed creek that flows over Silver Scarf Falls. You could spend several days exploring that one area alone.

In the opposite direction, also at the base of the Pitchstone Plateau, is Union Falls. If you haven't been to that area, and Morning Falls, upstream on the warm fork of Mountain Ash Creek, you need to plan that one for some future outing.

Have a great outing!


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