Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
Sunday June 19th, we had a lovely pink sunset looking southeast across the lake. It didn’t do much to the north or west but it sure painted the lake nicely for a while southward.

Sunset Lake Cascade ID

On Monday June 20th (Happy Summer) we got up early and met the hosts from Buttercup and West Mountain at Grandma’s Kitchen in Cascade for breakfast before heading out the Warm Lake Road heading east past Warm Lake to Landmark, an historic ranger station that was retired five years ago and is now being restored. The folks at West Mountain will be hosts there the second half of the summer and wanted to show us the place.

It was a gorgeous drive with lots of penstemon in bloom along the roadsides. The last couple of miles, the road climbs steeply through a series of switchbacks that might be interesting to take a trailer back down but otherwise it was lovely.

We pulled into the grounds (after opening up the locked gate) and got a tour of the place. The hosts will be living in the old ranger’s office.

Landmark ID Ranger's Office

It’s pretty basic housing but the old office itself was nifty.

Landmark ID Ranger's Office

The ranger’s house has been converted into housing for seasonals working in the ranger district. It comes complete with the original phone system—no dial because there was a switchboard!

Ranger's House phone Landmark ID

And really nifty ceilings upstairs.

Landmark ID Ranger's House ceiling

The bathroom was pretty cool too.

Landmark ID Ranger's House bathroom

Outside in the grounds we found lots of Hairy Shasta Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum pyrolifolium) in bloom.

Hairy Shasta Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum pyrolifolium)

In front of the shower house there’s an old rustic porta potty that’s been converted into a water valve cover. It’s quite the throne don’t you think?

Outdoor toilet Landmark ID

All of the buildings are original log buildings. This was the blacksmith’s shop that slowly morphed over the years into a general shop.

Log Blacksmith's Building Landmark ID

Clearly someone very organized set up the storage here once upon a time.

INside Landmark ID Blacksmith shop

There’s a nice old footbridge that goes over Landmark Creek.

Landmark ID bridge

The creek is really clear.

Landmark Creek iD

The hot shot fire crews used to camp out in the meadow here across the creek. The storage building for their gear had lots of fun stuff in it—including cabinets full of Pyrex dishes.

Firefighters dishes Landmark ID

And all these odd water bags hanging on the wall that say they are not for potable water. We decided they were for water for the stock horses and mules that crews use to get their gear up into the mountains.

Firefighters water bags

Once the restoration/renovations are complete here there will be 5 rental cabins. One of them is pretty much ready to go.

It has a large fireplace on one end of the great room downstairs.
Rental Cabin fireplace Landmark ID

And a large kitchen and dining area on the other end.

Rental Cabin Landmark ID

Upstairs (the individual stairs are so narrow that coming back down I had to step sideways because my feet didn’t fit) there are a couple of bedrooms with log beam ceilings.

Rental Cabin ceiling Landmark ID

We sat and talked for a while at the picnic tables in the center of the station and then split up and went our separate ways.

We drove back down Warm Lake Road and stopped to look at the signs at the Fire Crew Memorial Trail.   

Fire Crew Memorial Trail ID

The trail wanders through the few remaining stands of trees in this area (lots of dead snags from a fire in 2005 I think) and then out into the burn. There was a waterfall coming down the hillside too.

Fire Crew Memorial Trail ID

Then we drove out the road to Stolle Meadows with the thought of doing a hike. Stolle Meadows turns out to have been totally burned out a number of years ago (2005 I think). The meadows were green and there were lots of flowers but it was a bit stark with all the black spires of burned out trees dotting the meadow and the hills around it. We did get a nice view of Cougar Rock on the west side. But as you can see it’s not a particularly lush area.

Cougar Rock Stolle Meadows ID

My favorite part of this drive was this sign. Somehow it strikes me as very Idahoan to have to tell people they can’t harass the salmon.

Don't Harass Salmon Sign

The wind was blowing pretty hard by the time we got to the trailhead so we opted to just have our lunch and turn back. I got out and took photos of the flowers here and there.

There was lots of Taper-leaf Penstemon (Penstemon attenuatus) in the meadow.   
Taper-leaf Penstemon (Penstemon attenuatus)

And wonderful dark blue Upland Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum).

Upland Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum)

For some variety there were patches of Wilcox's Penstemon (Penstemon wilcoxii).

Wilcox's Penstemon (Penstemon wilcoxii)

And Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea).

Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)

I walked ways across the road and spied what I think was Common Eriophyllum (Eriophyllum lanatum).

Common Eriophyllum (Eriophyllum lanatum)

There were also large patches of Cusick's Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja cusickii) in a lovely light yellow.

Cusick's Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja cusickii)

We had our lunch and then began the drive back. We stopped along the way so I could photograph the Elephant Heads (Pedicularis groenlandica) in bloom in the wet section of the meadow. Pink ears and purple trunks what more could you want?

Elephant Heads (Pedicularis groenlandica)

Not far away there were Foothill Death Camas (Toxicoscordion paniculatum) in bloom too.

Foothill Death Camas (Toxicoscordion paniculatum)

And Scarlet Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) covering the verge.

Scarlet Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)

The rocky hillsides were covered with Shrubby Penstemon (Penstemon fructicosus).

Shrubby Penstemon (Penstemon fructicosus)

Here’s what they look like up close. Unlike the taper-leaf penstemon where the flowers are in whorls, this plant’s flowers are mostly all pointing in one direction.

Shrubby Penstemon (Penstemon fructicosus)

That night, the Strawberry Moon (full moon on the summer solstice) put on a show over the lake.

Solstice full moon Lake Cascade

Ours was mostly golden rather than having any particularly unusual cast.

Solstice full moon Lake Cascade

And as a plus we had a nice sunset too.

Sunset Lake Cascade

Wednesday we went to McCall to do our shopping and I took a walk around town while Walter had his hair cut. There is an ice skating rink on the main drag and I parked the truck on a side street next to it and walked by the side doors to be greeted by the Zamboni sitting in front of an open door along with a blast of cold air from the ice rink just behind it.

Zamboni McCall ice rink

Along the waterfront on Payette Lake, there’s this fun bronze of bears basking in the sun—it usually has kids crawling all over it.

Bronze bears McCall ID

Down below you can see the marina.

Marina McCall ID

I hiked down and got a view of the local tour boat getting ready for its afternoon voyage around the lake.

Tour boat McCall ID

I went south from here to the little pocket beach in the downtown area.

Marina beach McCall ID

I climbed the stairs back up to the main drag and stopped to admire the pink lupine in bloom.         

Pink lupine

And a nice mix of sage and columbine.

Sage and Columbine

I have a fondness for columbine and the pretty yellow ones just called out to be photographed.

Yellow Columbine

We did our shopping and then on the way home I stopped at the beginning of West Mountain Road to photograph our first White Mariposa lilies (Calochortus eurycarpus) of the season. Last year there were none that I saw along the road here. This year there are tons in all the meadows from West Mountain to Donnelly itself.

White Mariposa lilies (Calochortus eurycarpus)

Thursday the campground began to fill up and we discovered that we were once again going to get to host the Meridian Baptist Church. Last year (this same weekend) they came into Buttercup and moved into 18 of our sites for Wednesday to Saturday. This time they came Thursday to Sunday and took up the equivalent of 23 of our 30 sites. They said that their count was that there were 150 of them (with 80 of them being children).

They set up a kitchen in the companion site (double site) next to us and fed their whole crew dinner on Friday night, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and then Sunday breakfast. They had church services on Sunday morning too. They were very well behaved but that many people is bit much especially when you’re trying to balance their needs and desires with those of the 20 or so folks in the other 7 sites in the campground. Our non-Baptists had the waterfront sites and some had issues with the kids running right through their sites to get to board the boats that were taking them tubing. I had a very full weekend and by Sunday I was TIRED.