This season, ITA is hosting two projects in the Gospel-Hump Wilderness, a 206,000 acre wilderness that stretches from the Main Salmon River to the South Fork of the Clearwater, between Riggins and Grangeville. With the Frank Church River of no Return Wilderness to the South and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to the East, the Gospel-Hump is part of the massive Central Idaho wilderness corridor.
The name comes from Gospel and Buffalo Hump mountains, which divide the Wilderness area into North and South zones along Bear Grass Ridge. To the South is the Salmon River breaks; steep and sparse slopes which drop dramatically down to the Salmon River from the 8,000 ft peaks above. Above the river, large ponderosas and even bigger views await the hikers making the long climb up from the Salmon River. On the North side of the wilderness, Johns Creek and Gospel Creek combine to form a large bowl, filled with creeks, dense lodgepole forests, and a lush understory; a marked contrast from the high-desert environment of the Salmon River side.
At Bear Grass Ridge, you can visit Moore’s Guard Station (an old Forest Service horse packers cabin), several fire lookouts, and the remains of Hump Town. This town sprang up from 1898-1903. While most of the humans have moved on to other endeavors, signs of the wild days of Hump Town can be found all over the basin below Buffalo Hump Mountain. Cabins, cable cars, stamp mills and mining carts are scattered throughout the area, untouched for over 100 years.
You can start your personal exploration of the Gospel-Hump Wilderness on an ITA volunteer trip this summer. Ten Mile Creek is a seldom used, remote trailhead off the old Sourdough Lookout road South East of Grangeville. The trail makes a gradual climb along the creek through dense thickets and open meadows, then makes a dramatic climb up the granite face to Bear Grass Ridge. The Halfway House/Lake Creek project will take you into the Gospel Hump from the East side near Dixie, Idaho. This trail follows Crooked Creek and then Lake Creek, which both drain into the Salmon River at Shepp Ranch. At the top end of Lake Creek is Fish Lake, a hidden gem of a camping spot overlooking Calendar Canyon and the Buffalo Hump mining area in the peaks above. We hope you will consider joining us on an ITA project in the Gospel-Hump Wilderness!