Mostly Dirt Every Day: Day 4
Morning came and the group started to gather, one by one, around a campfire that was holding off the last bit of darkness. You could already smell bacon on the grill of those early early risers, and tents were slowly coming down. We wanted to yell out, “Ten more minutes, Mom!!” but if we didn’t start getting up soon, we’d be late for Day 4 of the Mostly Dirt Every Day tour. Coffee was still being poured when one of John Mears’ ranch neighbor casually drove up in a red Chevy. After about 20 minutes, John came back. “I sold the ranch.”
You could sort-of get the sense that John was good at wheelin’ & dealin’, but this was the first real sign of it. Before the week was out, John would sell three pieces of property, acquire a fullsize stepside Chevy truck, and part with an old flesh-colored Wagoneer.
With John in an already good mood we took off for another day of exploration & adventure over the Sawmill Pass and into Lemhi Valley. It would be our steepest climb and highest elevation reached at 9,570 feet. This climb would spread out the group. Even with most of the bugs worked out of most people’s vehicles, cooling issues are hard to shake—especially on slow-going climbs. Hoods were up on Jeeps, Fords, and even a Land Rover that were spread along the ascent. We finally regrouped at the top and had a break to take in the view and to let our rides cool down for a bit. From there it was follow-the-leader along a narrow, rocky trail until we got into the Lemhi Valley and headed for the old mining town of Gilmore, Idaho. Here in Gilmore, John would auction off two more pieces of property that day, giving the proceeds to charity. He still has one more plot in Gilmore, if you’re interested, or you can buy a different one starting at $2,995, according to the sign on the side of the road as you drive into town. There are some still refusing to let Gilmore turn into a ghost town.
Seeing how far out the few remaining residents of Gilmore lived was enough to make our past few days’ wilderness experiences seem not all that impressive, and like we were going back home to giant overfilled hamster balls when we returned to city life.
With an appreciation for modern-day utility services, we left Gilmore and headed toward Tendoy, Idaho, for the night. After stopping at what we think was the only store in town, we headed up a dirt road to find a camping spot on Agency Creek. The temperature was dropping fast, and while it was still light out, you could tell that most of us would be sleeping in sweatshirts that night. Upon this fourth night of our trip, we’d already adopted our own common rituals and everyone was set up and around the campfire by the time nightfall came. It’s amazing how a good trip can exhaust you more than work!
• MDED TOUR: A TRIP LIKE NO OTHER
• MDED TOUR: DAY 1
• MDED TOUR: DAY 2
• MDED TOUR: DAY 3
The inline six-cylinder engine under the Wagoneer’s hood actually proved to be pretty peppy, and consequently it also liked to overheat just like its AMC V-8 brethren.