Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mountain specialties at Scott Mountain Lookout

At the end of June we made plans to go see Deadwood Reservoir for the first time. I’ve been curious about it for a long time, and it finally seemed like a good day to check it out. We headed up Highway 55 from Boise, hung a right at Banks down the Banks-Lowman road, and then took a left halfway between Garden Valley and Lowman onto the narrow dirt road that heads up to the reservoir. We didn’t know much about the road conditions before hand, but I’ve never let that stop me from trying to get somewhere new. Unfortunately, though the road was passable, the conditions were rough enough that our progress was slow, and the drive was taking too much time for us to still aim for the whole trip up to the reservoir. We made it a ways down the road, then decided we’d just check out this side road that said Scott Mountain for a few minutes, and then turn around. However, the road to Scott Mountain proved to be really beautiful, and I could see on the GPS that it actually wasn’t that far to go all the way to the end of the road.

Map

Google map of our drive from Boise to Scott Mountain.

Like I said, I didn’t really know anything about the area, so it was exciting when we turned one corner and could see a fire lookout on a distant peak.

IMG_1164

Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

The road in had some interesting twists and turns, and quite a few stretches that would make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. This stretch in particular was particularly nerve-wracking to see coming up. It looks like the road is on an almost razor-thin ridge, but it’s all a matter of perspective. When we got to the middle of this stretch of road, it was actually wide enough to pull the car all the way off the road with room left to walk around.

IMG_1165

Narrow road up to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

We spent awhile hanging out at the center of that ridgeline, debating whether or not to drive further. The road looked treacherously steep heading up the hill after the saddle, and we weren’t sure whether or not it was going to continue to be passable, as we’d seen several other stretches along the way that looked like they’d partially washed out in recent rainstorms. While debating, we did take some time to enjoy the amazing views, and a few birds.

IMG_1187

Looking south from the saddle on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1222 Stitch

Panorama of the view looking north from the saddle on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

There weren’t a ton of birds, but we did have a few fun finds. We heard, but couldn’t see, a Spruce Grouse clucking down the hillside. We had a handful of Olive-sided Flycatchers, a couple of Mountain Chickadees, and a Rock Wren. This was the highest altitude we’ve seen a Rock Wren at.

IMG_1178

Olive-sided Flycatcher on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1197

Olive-sided Flycatcher on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1239

Mountain Chickadee on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1253

Mountain Chickadee on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1243

Rock Wren on the way to Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

We ended up deciding to go further, and we were sure glad we did! The road ended up not being as steep as it looked, and there wasn’t that much road left anyway. We parked by a gate the blocked off the last part of the road up to the lookout tower, and hiked the rest of the way in. The trail was a bit steep, but very scenic. At each bend it looked like the trail just ended in thin air.

IMG_1411

Trail to Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

On the hike we had a couple of Clark’s Nutcrackers, always a fun find

IMG_1289

Clark’s Nutcracker near Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

After a short hike we arrived at the actual lookout, elevation 8,215 feet.

IMG_1340

Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

The lookout was very impressive, perched atop a knob of granite sticking out the top of the mountain. It was a gentle rise from the south facing slope, but shear cliffs on the north face.

IMG_1332

Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1414

Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

The views from the top were breathtaking! You could really see how this would be such a great vantage point for smoke spotting. Clear views in 360 degrees, we could make out familiar features in every direction.

IMG_1372

Looking east from Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1264 Stitch

Panorama of the Sawtooth Mountains from Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1350

Looking northwest from the Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

 

IMG_1378

Us (Ellen, Stoddard, and Nora) enjoying the view from Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

Of course we had to take a peak in and see what the living quarters were like. This is still an active lookout, and I think we had gotten there just before they started staffing it for the season. It looked like they had already stocked it for the season with the basic living essentials. On the ceiling you can see a giant map, and in the middle of the room is a tool to determine precise directions for any smoke that might be seen so the info can be passed along to firefighting teams.

IMG_1349

Scott Mountain Lookout, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

We didn’t regret not being able to make it to Deadwood Reservoir at all! We were as thrilled as could be with our new find, and plan to return regularly. This was really one of the most breathtaking places I’ve been in Idaho. We found out on the way down that there’s another lookout on a separate peak that can actually be rented out to stay in for the night, and we’ve made plans to to get a reservation as soon as we can! It’s incredibly popular so we’ve had a hard time finding any openings, but I’m sure we’ll find a chance sometime.

On the hike and drive back down the mountain we saw a few more good birds, including this Cassin’s Finch, a Chipping Sparrow, a couple of Mountain Bluebirds, a Steller’s Jay, and a Western Tanager. Not a bad day at all!

IMG_1311

Cassin’s Finch at Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1431

Chipping Sparrow at Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1160

Mountain Bluebird at Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1435

Mountain Bluebird at Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1453

Steller’s Jay at Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

IMG_1466

Western Tanager at Scott Mountain, Boise County. June 28, 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment