Echo Rock Hot Springs

We planned to take the scouts on a hike along the Owyhee River in mid November, but the weather was predicted to be rain or snow for Saturday, clearing by late Saturday.  We woke up to snow on the ground in Boise, and 6 of our 12 scouts dropped out.  Were they the smart ones?  Maybe.  We decided to risk it, and six adults and six youth headed out on the trip in cold windy weather.  Its about a 2 hour drive to Leslie Gulch in Oregon, then a 3.5 mile hike up the Owyhee River.  This part of the river would be under the water of Owyhee Reservoir in the summer, but now its easy going on a well traveled road.

The colors of the cliffs were vibrant, made better by the slant of the November sun.  It was windy and cold, but the scouts were dressed for it.  I didn't see much of them, as I was bringing up the rear, hiking solo or with Tom Baskin.

The hot springs are wonderful, made of concrete with a fill valve and a drain valve.  The scouts and especially Erik Lund picked up a lot of beer cans and trash around the hot springs, and Erik carried out a full trash sack, earning him the nickname of The Trash Man.  The work on the hot springs was done by Owen Jones and friends, hikers associated with the web based hiking group Idaho Outdoors.  If every visitor took out as much trash as our group of scouts, it wouldn't be as trashy as when we got there.  Its such a special place, with the view and the perfect water temperature, if anyone is inspired to hike there please take a trash bag to carry out the trash of the trash leavers, whoever they are.

The water when the hot springs was filled is a perfect 102 - 103 degrees.  This is definitely the way to camp in cold weather.

Tom's pic below of some yutes and the trip leader Bill Kreisle enjoying the hot water, with a perfect view of the valley upriver from the hot springs.  I hope these kids realized what a special place they were camped in.

 Above: This is a view of the canyon from close to our camp, looking downriver.

Above: This is a view of the canyon from close to our camp, looking downriver.

Our campsite, below a feature we called "Jabba the Hut."  Thankfully, the wind died down after dark, and Sunday morning was cloudy, cold,  but calm. 

 Above: view from the hot springs in the morning.  You can't beat a soak in the hot springs before a cup of coffee in the morning.

Above: view from the hot springs in the morning.  You can't beat a soak in the hot springs before a cup of coffee in the morning.

 Above: the view downriver from near our campsite.  A cold but beautiful hike out. 

Above: the view downriver from near our campsite.  A cold but beautiful hike out.