May 29, 2011 in Outdoors

Inland Northwest offers early backpacking options

By The Spokesman-Review
Hiking precautions

Water – Take plenty of it, and perhaps a means of purifying water.

• Use sunscreen liberally and cover as much skin as possible.

• Ticks can be waiting, especially in sagebrush country. Take pride in a nerdy look: Tuck pant legs into socks and wear light-colored lightweight long-sleeve shirts. Check for ticks in hair, and other places.

• Rattlesnakes are just as eager as hikers to get about. Be alert for them on the trail. Watch for movement in the grass. They don’t attack unless provoked.

• Poison ivy infests many dryland areas, especially along river corridors, such as the Snake. While most hikers know the “leaves of three, leave it be” adage, some might not recognize the plant in spring, before leaves have come on. Watch for long or tall woody stems festooned with clumps of white berries. Contact with them can cause rashes.

• Carry a compass and a map of the area where you’re going.

• A trip itinerary should be left with a responsible person who will contact authorities should you not return on time.

Here are three more top picks for early-season Inland Northwest backpacking trips:

Kirkwood Ranch: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area:

No place in Hells Canyon packs so much great hiking, scenery and history into a small package as Trail 102, which heads up the Idaho side of the Snake from Pittsburg Landing west of Whitebird. A campground is developed 6 miles upstream at Kirkwood Ranch, an excellent historical site worth hours of exploration. Be sure to save some gas to go the extra 2 miles up the trail to a great view from Suicide Point.

• Info: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins office, (208) 628-3916.

Rapid River: south of Riggins, Idaho: Hike up to 7 miles in early season below the Seven Devils Mountains and along Rapid River, ranked as one of the coldest, clearest streams in the National Wild and Scenic River System. Enjoy blooming flowers and old-growth ponderosa pines.

• Info: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins office, (208) 628-3916.

Wenaha River: near Troy, Ore.: Hike upstream into the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness up to 22 miles one way with the river your constant companion.

• Info: Umatilla National Forest, Pomeroy Ranger District, (509) 843-1891.

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