Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
It rained pretty hard in the night on Saturday May 14th but it let up some in the morning—at least long enough for us to break camp at Winchester Lake State Park. We headed south on Highway 95 and had lots of rain off and on as we went. The road follows the Salmon River past some lovely white water and through the Salmon River Canyon which has several great sections that look like this.

Salmon River Canyon ID

We turned further south on Hwy 55 until we reached the little town of Donnelly on the north end of Lake Cascade. There we turned west and followed the edge of the lake to West Mountain Road. Just a few miles south on West Mountain we turned into Huckleberry Campground, our home for the next 2 months. The water was on, our electrical hookup was unlocked and all was ready for us. Even better, we managed to get camp set up before it started to rain again.

We were happy to find that both of our cell phones had much better signals that they had last year at Buttercup which is only a mile further south. And our hot spot was much faster than last year too. Of course at this point, there are only the locals around. We have no idea what things will be like signal-wise once the campground is full and the folks who have weekend cottages show up.

We called into the office to let them know we’d arrived and then settled in for the evening.

The next morning, we were greeted by partly sunny skies—yippee. And it was much warmer too. We loaded up the laundry and headed back to Donnelly to the Laundromat. The place was empty and it didn’t take us very long to get it all done. On the way back, I stopped at the bridge on Roseberry Road to take a picture of Lake Cascade looking west towards the mountains.

Lake Cascade Roseberry Rd Donnelly ID

We drove on past Huckleberry to check out the other campgrounds. There was water running through Buttercup Campground—which it does every year. That’s why they were fine last year with us not showing up there until early June. It’s just too wet there to open much before Memorial Day and they will keep a good number of the sites closed because of the water draining down out of the hills, through the sites and down to the lake. We stopped to talk to the hosts at Poison Creek Campground (who were there last year too) and then motored on back to Huckleberry.

After lunch we walked the campground to explore the place. I’ll give you a full tour next week. That evening, the lake turned a sweet pink color and I went out to try to capture it. This is the view looking up lake—which is basically northwest.

Huckleberry Campground sunset

And this is the view looking southeast.

Huckleberry Campground sunset

The mountains to the east were pink too.  

Huckleberry Campground sunset

As were those to the northeast up towards McCall. As you can see, there’s still quite a bit of snow up above 7,000 feet. They had a ‘normal’ winter this past winter and the snowpack was good. But it ‘came off real fast’ when the weather warmed up in April or so the Forest Service Ranger said during our training on Tuesday.

Huckleberry Campground sunset

Though they say that Huckleberry still had snow in it the last week in April—just a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s a shot of Genevieve in the host site. We have a great view of the lake out of the bedroom windows (and from our patio area).

Genevieve Airstream Huckleberry host site

Tuesday morning we were up early so we could head out to the town of Cascade for our full day of camp host training. The sky was totally blue (even though we’d had fog at 7 am) and the lake was gorgeous when we set out at 8:30.

Lake Cascade Huckleberry Campground

I just love this mountain with the snow on it. I think this is Blackmare Mt which is 8,742 feet in elevation.  

Blackmare Mt Idaho

And the view from Roseberry Road as we drove along was pretty swell too.

Lake Cascade Roseberry Rd Donnelly ID

It was so pretty I had to admit this business of getting up early in the morning wasn’t such a bad idea.

Training took up the whole day and we weren’t back at the campground until after 4. We stretched our legs by walking the campground loop and discovered that there is a little inlet on the northwest side of the campground that’s real pretty.

Huckleberry Campground north slough

No doubt, it disappears fairly quickly as the lake levels drop but for now it’s pretty.

Wednesday we spent testing sprinklers (we have a whole set of lovely working Rainbirds this year—hot dog) and checking in our first campers of the season—a couple from California in a pop-up trailer. It made it up to 70 degrees that afternoon and I of course over-did trying to get as much done as I could while the weather cooperated.

We had rain by early morning on Thursday morning (a gift from the Pacific NW) that even included a few rumbles of thunder. But it had stopped by mid morning when we set out to go to McCall to do our grocery shopping. Paul’s, our favorite grocery store, had been bought out by Albertsons/Safeway—oh no. The good news is they have the Safeway brands which are familiar to us. The bad news is, they didn’t have everything we remembered from last summer. But we’ll cope.

It was cold on Thursday night (35 degrees by morning) and while it was clear when we went to bed, it was cloudy again on Friday morning. It even got up to about 50 mid morning and we went out to do rounds and talk to our campers but by noon, the rain started again in earnest and the temperature dropped back to 45 for the afternoon. We huddled inside, glad we had electricity. Needless to say we didn’t have a herd of folks coming in on Friday night to camp for the weekend. In fact we hardly even had any lookie-loos—folks who just drive through to check things out—which we’d had a lot of during the week.

Saturday morning was just as cold as the day before. In fact, it was colder since we had rain and thick clouds that kept the temperature down in the 30’s until well after noon. It slowly warmed up and we had a sun break or two in the afternoon so we actually hit 52 degrees, but it was only for a few minutes. A squall came through with sleet and small hail and the temperature dropped back to 38. We road that roller coaster all afternoon with little sun breaks alternating with patches of hail and sleet. At one point I looked up at our skylight and noticed you could see the sleet really well.

Sleet on skylight

All this cold wet weather is a far cry from the 90-degree weather we had when we arrived here on June 3rd last year. But who knows, it could turn on a dime and be hot by then. The weatherman on the television assures us that temperatures are 15 degrees below normal all over Idaho and that yes indeed it will warm up sometime next week. Meanwhile, our 3 sets of campers mostly huddled inside—except for the folks with the tents who stood around their campfire all day. Yes, we had two families (3 adults and 3 kids) camping in tents for the weekend. I talked to them on Saturday afternoon and they were perfectly happy to be making their lunch in a light rain and claimed that they camped in all kinds of weather. Me? I was COLD.

It sleeted off and on all night and Sunday morning but we had many more sun breaks as the day went on. Our 3 sets of campers went home before noon and we were left with an empty campground again. During one of the sun break we went out and did rounds. Here’s proof that we had quite a bit of precipitation.

Flooded entrance Huckleberry Campground

There was no water in this area earlier in the week!

Our administrative site (used to deal with double bookings and other snafus) was also flooded. The grass here had been boggy before but now it’s more than wet.

Flooded Admin site Huckleberry Campground

We found some Mountain Thermopsis (Thermopsis rhombifolia) just coming into bloom near the bridge over to the Curlew tent campground.

Mountain Thermopsis (Thermopsis rhombifolia) Curlew Bridge

They should look familiar since we saw them last week further up the panhandle of Idaho. We’re at 4,800 feet elevation here so things are a little slower coming into bloom.

Mountain Thermopsis (Thermopsis rhombifolia)

I also spied a few Smallflower woodlandstar (Lithopharagma parviflora) over at Curlew.

Smallflower woodlandstar (Lithopharagma parviflora)

And about 6 Common Camas (Camassia quamash) on the far side of Curlew. They are in bloom in huge numbers in the fields along Highway 55 between Donnelly and McCall too. Hopefully, I’ll get a shot of them this coming week.

Common Camas (Camassia quamash)

There was a Great Blue Heron out stalking in the lake.

 Great Blue Heron

And Walter spied this little frog in the grass along the trail.

Lake Cascade frog

We even found a few mushrooms in the grass too.

Mushrooms Lake Cascade

The lawn here at Huckleberry is full of wild strawberries.

Wild strawberries Huckleberry Campground

But because we have so many ground squirrels, voles and red squirrels I doubt we’ll get to eat any.

The storm brought fresh snow down below 7,000 feet. The mountains to the southeast were beginning to show off their new snow in the afternoon and you could see snow up on the ridge to the west that wasn’t there on Friday.    

Snow on mountains Lake Cascade