Rapid River Trail #113 + Frank Wurl Trail (Idaho)
Every new adventure is also a new opportunity for learning, and this trail taught us some very important lessons:
1: DON’T DRINK ON THE TRAIL
(especially if you’re not totally sure how much further you have to hike)
I guess this should be backpacking 101, but when you’re out in the wilderness with friends, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals. We knew that the first part of the hike was 4 miles long, but after that information about the terrain and amount of time it would take to get to our campsite was spotty. We stopped in some lovely shade to eat and shed some weight we were carrying, not realizing that we still had about 3 miles of steady incline ahead of us. After our lunch / whiskey break, we were feeling groovy and totally stoked… for about 15 minutes. Then the hangover set in (Did you know you could get a hangover 15 minutes after you take a shot? Turns out, you can!) and we were left to trudge our way up a mountain in sad, uncomfortable silence.
2: BRING ENOUGH FOOD
Again, a backpacking 101 detail! We ended up having enough food to keep us somewhat contented, but all of us wished we had brought more in the way of easily accessible trail snacks (especially during those last 3 miles on the first day).
3. KNOW YOUR FUNGI, FOLIAGE AND LOCAL ANIMAL LIFE
This area is notorious for being a snake haven, so while we were prepared to see lots of slithery friends, we were less prepared for their variety. Our first encounter was with a large gophersnake (commonly called bull snakes by Idahoans), which we caught napping in the middle of the trail. It took us a while to get around him as he was reluctant to leave the sunny trail for the dense grass on the side! Two days later, on our way back to the car, we passed a coiled and ready to strike rattlesnake, sunning itself and rattling away on a rock about 2 feet off of the trail. That got our hearts racing, and made us extra cautious when we came across a large brown snake further down the trail. None of us could identify it at the time, but we now know it was a rubber boa, a usually shy, even-tempered and somewhat rare snake!
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but leave your dogs at home!
I’ve seen some reviews online that say this trail is great for dogs, but given the amount of snakes there are (not to mention horse traffic) we left our pups at doggie day care. We knew they were safe and happy, and we were able to enjoy the scenery without having to worry if one of them was going to get into a scrap with a snake.
We also happened upon some morel mushrooms growing all over our first campsite. No one wanted to be the guinea pig to test if they were actually morels, but after some research back at home we know that they would have been safe to eat.
This is a challenging hike that ends in some incredible views and the most picturesque campsite I’ve ever been to, and I’m looking forward to going again and heading even further up Frank Wurl Trail!