High Creek to White Canyon. The High Creek group left the trailhead just after 9:00 a.m. and found the trail very user friendly. We saw a hairy woodpecker and had many stream crossings, although they were not difficult. There were a few cows and we encountered one gate, and we saw a rubber boa, too.. As we climbed we were encouraged by some good views back to the west in spite of the smoky haze from distant wildfires.
We found the need to rest a couple of times and eventually came to the switchbacks which brought us to the ridge as a red tailed hawk came into close range and circled above us. Our group was first to the top, but a call on the walkie-talkie radio found the others only 15 minutes away. We all ate lunch together in a meadow on the ridge and exchanged car keys.
After lunch we continued our separate ways, although Dave P went back down to High Creek with the White Canyon group. The trail was easy to find at first as we started down through some trees, but then we had to "bushwhack" a few times as the trail faded in and out. Having been on this section before, it was easy to find the way - along with the help of GPS waypoints.
On the way down we heard elk calling on the hillside above us, but we did not find the large group that the others saw. There also were mushrooms (see photo) on the trail. Bryan and Dan found garbage along the trail and took it along to be disposed of. The group arrived at the car before 3 p.m. and back to Logan at 4.
White Canyon to High Creek. The White Canyon group arrived at the trailhead, where we found a few other vehicles and a "sheep camp" wagon. We started hiking about 9:30 a.m. toward the east, with the white rocks t hat give this canyon its name visible in the distance. The gentle grade made for easy hiking at first, although several times we had to detour around fallen trees that were blocking the way.
We did not see any livestock, but we did run into a large herd of elk. There were several dozen cows and calves, but no bull elk were seen. Our route apparently caused the herd to split up - we could hear them calling all around us as we hiked.
After about 3 miles we left the drainage and headed uphill to follow the ridge on the north. This was the "right" way, but the trail here was so faint and seldom-used that we lost the track several times. Fortunately we knew where to go, and met the other group on the main ridge about 12:15.
After lunch, we continued west, down the North Fork High Creek trail. The loose footing caused us to carefully pick our way down this steep trail but conditions improved after about two miles. We arrived at the High Creek Trailhead and our vehicles about 3:35 after a number of stream crossings and a few cattle encounters. We were back in Logan about 4:20.
Late-summer wildflowers added variety to our hike: yarrow, pollen-loaded western coneflower, shiny red baneberry, tasty gooseberry currant, fragrant coyote mint, bright yellow goldeneye and attractive asters and fleabanes.
Trail notes: The White Canyon trail is entirely within Idaho. It is no longer maintained, with many trees down across the trail. The upper mile is indistinct due to lack of use (and it is infested with annoying stickseed, too). The North Fork High Creek trail is mostly within the Naomi Peak Wilderness of Utah. The trail is fairly steep, especially the upper two miles, where loose and rocky tread can make difficult footing for downhill hikers. Multiple paths, caused by cattle, are confusing a portion of this trail.
Thanks to Dan and Dave W for the narrative, Dan, Dave W., Nick and Bryan for photos and Dan for the GPS work.