Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yankee Fork & Custer

Yankee Fork is one of my favorite places in Idaho. It's just outside Stanley and very near the Sawtooth Mountains. It's got gorgeous mountain scenery, a crystal clear river, a dirt road, remarkable mining history, and a ghost town to boot. These photos are from last summer, in July of 2012, when I was photographing campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Forest for my second-to-last Forest Service trip. Soon after I left, lightning started the Halstead Fire, which forced the closure of Yankee Fork and the ghost town of Custer. And this year, other fires worked their way around the area, some forcing evacuations at Redfish Lake. Fire changes the landscape time and again, but it'll always be a place I love and want to visit.

On this trip to the Yankee Fork, I had no assignments and no time constraints. I drove up alongside the river (the Yankee Fork of the Salmon) and stopped wherever and whenever I wanted. I wandered down to one of the ponds left by the Yankee Fork Dredge (in the third photo) and saw a giant snake skin. I screamed (of course I did) and then quickly climbed back up to the road. Ugh. I wandered around the dredge a bit and really wished I'd gotten there in time for a tour. I drove a little further up to Custer for a self-guided walking tour. I was the only one there, and being in a ghost town in the Idaho backcountry, it was a little unsettling, but cool nonetheless. 

I headed back to Stanley for the night before the sun set, and caught a beautiful view of the Sawtooths (above). The first time I saw that little cabin, I wanted to stop for a photo but had no time. The second time it had about 6 feet of snow on it. The third time was in late spring and was pouring rain and throwing out an occasional wet snowflake. But fourth time proved to be a charm. The fifth time was so smoky it was barely visible. Good thing I stopped on the fourth visit!