Driving south from the Lewiston Roundup Grounds through
Grangeville, Idaho, for three hours and 107 miles puts you
at Moore's Station in the Gospel Hump Mountains. The scenery
from these granite peaks is something everyone needs to see
Moore's Creek Railroad Tie Packout was to be a 2005 project
(signed in 2004) but because of fires it had to be postponed
Nez Perce Forest personnel allowed us to use the cabin to
rendezvous at and headquarter out of.
Saturday morning found the crew throwing saddles on mules
and horses with a few tools thrown in. A half mile back down
the road is the trailhead for the Moore's Creek Trail (#312).
We were to off-load the ties at the trailhead and the Forest
Service would truck them out.
This trail is in pretty good
shape and starts with a series of switchbacks, fairly
open which renders some beautiful views of the valley
hillsides. You just know there's a moose in that swampy
meadow where Moore's Creek originates.
Leaving two people
to off-load the rest of the crew wound its way down
the hill to the creek crossing. The railroad ties were
as a puncheon
crossing but when the creek moved, they were left high
and dry. Sixty-eight four-footers and eight full-length
were piled up for us. Quickly weighing enough of the
short ties to make a go-around, the confusion started.
hitch had to be determined. The barrel hitch won by
a wide margin. Because of the steepness of the trail
trips we only packed two ties per animal. Dave Favor
brought a scales that topped at 120 pounds and many
of the ties went
Don Uhlman and Dave Favor have developed a unique pack
bracket for packing long posts, planks and, in this case,
ties. The units hang on each side of a decker saddle. Balanced
on protruding posts, they are secured by a binder on each
side. By the end of the packout, the off-loaders said, "We're
only going to unload the binder loads instead of all the
rope cocoons!" They do an impressive job of securing
and holding a load with a minimum of effort. They also
allow you to drop singles from multiple loads without a
Once the first load left with some support riders, three
of us weighed and marked the next loads. Getting down to
the full-length ties produced the 'misery whip.' The generation
gap showed as the older guys did well but the younger fellows
followed such advice as "Quit bearing down," "Don't
jerk it," "Slower," "Let the saw do the
work," and "Quit pushing."
The job was estimated to take two days but with the number
of pack animals and the enthusiasm of the group, it took
less than one day.
The crew was treated to a steak dinner, potluck and dutch
oven Au Gratin Potatoes by Rick Wilkens.
Sunday, rides in all directions. Moore's Lake was visited;
Plummer Point gave a great view of the Salmon River drainage.
A group was going to make a loop of 383-305 and 312 but
it took a little longer as they got lost! I think getting
should be rated the same as a "buck off," which
The Forest Service spent a bundle on improved, hardened
campgrounds. They have nice toilets, hitch rails and meat
poles. When I first saw them, I thought they were a little
tall for high lines.
This area lends itself to a lot of good riding. The road
does require a four-wheel drive rig if you're pulling much
of a load but there is another way to get your stock to the
top. Off of road 444 is a trailhead for trail #313. This
trail goes by Slate Lake and up a grade to 444 again. Part
of this is the historic road to the mining district at the
Humps. It's approximately 6-7 miles long.
Hats off to the crew for a very successful project.
P.S. Two factors that led to a quiet orderly job were Larry
Taylor bought a nice, well-trained mule and Rod Parks and
his mule, Bebe, had somethin