CLEARWATER VALLEY Instead of going to the Elk City Wagon Road days two weekends back, I had a modern day adventure on another historic trail, the Magruder Road. The route follows roughly the Sout#hern Nez Perce Trail that cut through the Bitterroot Mountains by climbing to seven ascents to summits followed by descents to water sources. (Pioneer Days in Idaho County). The route was used by the Nez Perce people to travel to Montana for bison for many years before Lloyd Magruder came on the scene in 1863. If you don’t know the story, Magruder was travelling back from Virginia City, Montana leading a mule train of 60 mules. Fellow travelers who had joined his group under false pretenses murdered Lloyd with an axe and relieved him of his gold dust, also killing some of his crew. The killers were eventually caught and brought to justice.
The people my women friends and I met along the road were friendly enough. Great to see people of all ages travelling by various modes of travel- motorcycle, ATV, jeep and pickup truck. At one point on a rough, narrow, exposed section of road, we stopped to let a couple of motorcycles by. The young riders advised us to be cautious as a Subaru full of older ladies was heading our way. Thankfully we made it to Sabe Point without having to back up and found the “old Subaru ladies” picnicking there. I had to chuckle since they weren’t that much older than I am, and appeared to be intrepid outdoorswomen. We were thankful to meet them at a pullout where neither of us had to back up on a narrow section of road.
The views from the high points are stunning. Because of the open landscape from the many fires that have burned along the route, you can see for miles into wilderness or roadless areas in both the Salmon River and Selway watersheds. The road makes the wilderness accessible since you can see a lot of wild country without venturing far from your vehicle. We went for a few hikes also and enjoyed the bear grass, wildflowers and views of lakes and creeks below.
This weekend, I plan on staying close to Harpster and checking out the grand opening for the Harpster Store and RV Park on Sunday, July 30. New owners Will and Michelle Sherriffs bought the place in April, after enjoying trips to the area for hunting. The grand opening features a rib cookoff between Monte Spears (the former owner) and Will. Ribs will start coming off the grill about 4:30 p.m. Food is $10 per plate and $2 for beer. They are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, so stop by and check it out.