Heavens Gate

My Night In Mcall, No Its Not A Bird

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My second glorious weekend in Idaho was spent in McCall, a resort town on the south shore of Payette Lake. I hope you all remember from my last adventure I am not used to altitude so being situated at just over 5,000 feet for the weekend still threw me. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why walking across the parking lot had me out of breathe, even if it was just a little. I can admit I was not in the best shape of my life, but also not in please Jesus save me walking across a flat surface shape at the time. I booked one night in the Shore Lodge and one night in the local Best Western. The Shore Lodge was beautiful with some added in room comforts such as a Keurig (AKA the don’t talk to me until I push this button machine), a patio overlooking a sparkling lake, and some higher end finishes which added to beauty of my current surroundings. There was a restaurant on sight as well as a spa (which I did not get a chance to take advantage of, that wont happen again). I sat on the deck and enjoyed my meal, which was good but maybe a bit overpriced. That evening the lodge hosted an activity of making s’mores on the beach with other guests.idaho 196 I woke up at the crack of dawn to go down to the lake in the freezing cold (I didn’t have a coat because it was September) with my coffee to catch the sunrise. There is nothing better then watching that warm sun eclipsing over the cool frosted mountain tops. I highly recommend it. In hind sight I am pretty low key and do not need such extravagance with my lodging but I wont lie every once in awhile it is pretty nice to splurge. I now tend to look more for clean, cheap, and if there is a free breakfast included that is even better.

Some coworkers had given me some tips for things to see while I was in the McCall area so off I went. There is a natural hot spring just 30 miles away in the Payette National Forest. Most of your drive will be on paved roads this time, your vehicle will thank you. It has been a few years since I visited but I believe only the last mile or two are a dirt road. While sadly the Burgdorf hot springs have been commercialized the rustic charm of the cabins, that have been renovated, remain simple. For a mere $6 you can take a soak in the tubs which have a rock bottom and are well maintained as well as clean in my opinion. The springs are fed at a rate of water churning 150 gallon/minute of hot water. There are two smaller pools that are 113 degrees while the larger pool is 100-104 degrees which is just about perfect to soothe those hiking muscles.

For me the smaller pools were a little hot, but the big pool was a small slice of heaven on the cool September day. Keep in mind that when you go plan your trip here or anywhere in Idaho you need to pay attention to the season. Winter in Idaho is going to limit what you can see and do. Unless you travel with your snowmobile. Which bring s me to my next point, Burgdorf hot springs are only accessible by snowmobile (which you can rent in the area) during the winter months. The winter months in Idaho differ from other areas of the country though so the road is closed from early November until mid-May. You can also get reservations for camping HERE. The cabins you can rent are pretty rustic and no frills so keep this in mind. From Burgdorf I decided to head a few more miles to Crystal Mountain. The road is rough so I took pity on my poor rental car and walked up the last portion. The summit is just under 7,000 feet and the view was beautiful! The jagged quartz mountain surrounded me and a view of blue sky and trees were endless.idaho 138

Sunday morning before I headed back for the dreaded work week I stopped at a local coffee shop for an amazing drink. The Barista at the FOGLIFTER Café  suggested a black and white mocha and it did not disappoint. I  took some time to explore by the nearby lake before heading to the Ponderosa State Park. I drove around aimlessly for a while before parking and deciding to follow a trail . The chosen trail was named the Lily Marsh trail because I liked the name (what can I say I am a girl). You can check out a list of the trails in the park HERE. Well it said the trail was a mile long and in my naive and rookie trail blazing mind I thought it was a loop trail. The distance wasn’t a problem for me until I was probably a half mile straight into the woods and thinking what crazy things am I going to encounter or going to encounter me? You see sometimes my mind can conjure up the worst that can happen and I set a new time record on getting back out of the woods (this is why it is always nice to have a hiking buddy, just make sure you run faster then them). I found the Lily Pond however and was worth every oxygen deprived step.idaho 219 But what made this trip different was at least this time I was a little more prepared with hiking boots, a daypack, water, food, and a first aid kit. I was starting to notice a trend in Idaho but you will have to check back in my next post to see what I discovered.

Heavens Gate

Life Or Death at 8400 ft?

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We figured there was no better way to introduce you to our love of travel and adventure than starting at the beginning. With that being said it all started out with me (Rebecca) traveling for work. I had already done my first assignment in Southern Texas, and moved on to Idaho for three weeks.
After arriving in Idaho I was given the typical white Ford Focus rental and that poor car had no clue what hell it was about to endure. I found my housing and decided the next day I was going to go find a place called Heaven’s Gate near Riggins, Idaho. Honestly, my research skills were pretty bad at that time and about all I knew was to make my way to Riggins. So I head out on Sunday morning with no real plan in place, no food, no water, my standard issue Nikon Coolpix camera, and a pair of well-worn sneakers on my feet driving my white rental steed into battle. I drove two hours from Weiser to Riggins and found a little restaurant for some lunch. Thanks to the friendly locals, I was told to get to Heaven’s Gate you take Seven Devil’s Road, with the warning of “it will turn to a dirt road after a couple miles. The journey at the base of that mountain began and even after I thought I missed it I was to keep driving….and driving. The waitress had informed me that it would be about 17 miles up and that there was a parking lot at the top with a manned fire watch station.

The road to Heavens Gate


About half way up the mountain (well past the point of having cell phone service) along the rough, dirt road I start to wonder was this really a good idea?!?! I mean there could easily be a crazed person at the top of this mountain or who knows what other unknown dangers that could be waiting for me, but I wanted adventure so the drive continued.
Once I arrived at the parking lot, there was a short hike up to the fire watch station. This is where the earlier mention of no water and wearing tennis shoes worked against me. You see I am an Ohio girl where elevation doesn’t really come into play. Also until this point in my life I had never had any real kind of hiking experience, so the importance of having water and maybe some oxygen with me at 8,400 feet was lost on me. While my tennis shoes did the bare minimum I would definitely recommend hiking boots to protect your ankles.
The reward however was worth it, the views from the fire watch tower were incredible. Picture this as you look out over three states in one view (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho), the Snake River gorge winding up into Montana, into the depths of Hells Canyon, and at the beauty of the Seven Devil’s Mountains, the site was breathtaking, or I guess that part could have been the altitude. There are trails and a campground you can take advantage of as well but being the novice I was at the time, I wasn’t prepared for all of that.
All it took was the thrill of this one adventure and I was hooked! That week I went to the closest town with a sporting goods store and bought my first backpack, and sorely needed hiking boots. My hiking boots were broke in by wearing them to work every day that week and my evenings were spent scouring the internet for what I could do the next weekend. I can’t wait to share the other adventures I had in Idaho and the many since that time.