Llama Packing The South Fork Snake:
Gormer Canyon

June 16 and 17, 2001
by George Cole and Rob Jones
(Text by George and Photos by Rob © copyright by these authors)
Click on the thumbnails below for the full size images. They will open in a separate browser window.
George at overlook
George and llamas overlook the South Fork Snake River
south fork
the South Fork Snake River rolls along below camp at Gormer Canyon
Michael and George
Michael, George, Alphie, Cicero, & Snow cross a ridge
Sego Lily
Sego Lily
Cicero says "let's go hike!"
Bruce rolls down the trail
Garney in camp above the S Fk Snake
Snowball hums a tune in Gormer Canyon
Camp in Gormer Canyon
George, awaiting dutch oven cobbler
Cicero lounges in Gormer Canyon
Paul directs the dutch oven cooking.

    On Saturday, June 16th, the Whickhams (Bruce, Lori and Micheal), Paul Worth, Garney Hardy, Rob Jones, Kristen Kinjo and her sister _____, Linda Petersen, my two sons, Alex and Zeke, their friends Bryce and Aron Taylor, dog Trixie, and llamas Alfie, Snowball and Cicero met at MacDonald's on Yellowstone Highway and took off for Gormer Canyon. Gormer Canyon is located along the South Fork of the Snake River east of Heise Hot Springs in the heart of the south fork canyon. This area of the South Fork is one of the north's popular bald eagle wintering areas but we were too late in the season to see any. We arrived at the trailhead in Black's Canyon before lunch, packed up and hit the trail, with the kids taking off ahead.

    The trail starts at Black Canyon immediately crossing a small ankle-deep stream. The Forest Service sign gives the distance to Gormer Canyon as 2 miles, but the topo map and 1-1/2 hour hiking time suggest it is closer to three miles. The trail is mostly shaded by the forest and follows the river for the most part, although river access is limited. It first gently ascends a few hundred feet (vertical) before swithcbacking down to the river. At the top of the hill there is a marvelous view of the Snake River as it winds through the canyon. After switchbacking down to the river, the trail wanders through the forest above the river offering glimpses of the water through the underbrush. At about two miles the trail moves away from the river and climbs again over a low pass before descending to the wide sage and grass covered Gormer Canyon. A short side trip at the top of the pass overlooks the river. Once you reach the bottom of Gormer Canyon, follow the cow path toward the river. A BLM designated campsite lies along the river, with plenty of space 20 feet above the campsite to set up additional tents out of view from passing floaters. The top part of the canyon showed evidence of having been grazed many years before, but the lower canyon along the river has been fenced off and is ungrazed. From the overturned rocks in the canyon, it was evident that a bear had recently preceeded us.

    After resting in the shade, lunching and rehydrating, Linda, Kristen and ____ headed back to Idaho Falls. The remainder of the crowd relaxed in the shade while Alex, Zeke, Micheal, Bryce and Aron busied themselves along the riverbank and looking for caves along the canyon walls. Trixie took an interest in a rattlesnake that escaped harassment by crawling under a rock. While the kids played, the adults all gathered around the kitchen for an extended happy hour, shared jokes and stories and prepared dinner. George whipped up a delicious fruit cobbler in the dutch oven which we all enjoyed later. As it was getting dark, the adventurous boys climbed the canyon walls with flashlights in hand to explore the cave they discovered earlier. Scrambling up the canyon side hill, they dislodged a few rocks, some of which came to rest a safe 50 feet from camp.

    The next morning we all crawled out of the tents one-by-one, made breakfast and lounged around before packing up the gear and heading for home. The weather this weekend was very accomodating with lots of sunshine, but a little too hot for my taste. Saying "goodbye 'til next time", we climbed back into our cars, returning to Idaho Falls around 4pm. - George Cole

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     Rob's note: For a limited time, these photos are at the resolution right out of my camera (i.e., they are not squashed or compressed). I will probably be required to squish them when I add the next report... so, enjoy. Alternatively, you may explore a trip report on the Wild Vagabond site (button above), or one on the Idaho Alpine site (link below).

     And, my thanks to George Cole for sharing his trip narrative.

     cheerio, rob