Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We were fondly remembering all of our fun outdoor adventures in the northwest the other night and the outcome is that I am motivated to continue my plan to outline and review some of our favorite spots. Lake Pend Oreille doesn't technically fall into one of our hiking hot spots but since it is one of our all time favorite places we have ever been I thought I should include it anyway. We have been up to Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho multiple times and were awestruck by its beauty every time.

Green Bay Campground.

Fees: none
Open Season: May-October
Camping in Green Bay was our first experience with Lake Pend Oreille. After attending the Sandpoint International Draft Horse Show (see below) we headed out in our sporty red Dodge Avenger to camp at this Forest Service primitive campsite. In the dark. Situated about 15 miles south of Sandpoint (a cute little Northern Idaho ski resort town) on Garfield Bay Road, Green Bay Campground is best searched for during daylight hours. After a much longer travel time than expected (and several u-turns) we finally found Garfield Bay Road and re-discovered that the Forest Service doesn't exaggerate when they describe their roads or campsites as primitive. Fortunately I had tested out my little Avenger sports car on primitive beach roads while working for Mass Audubon so I knew it was up for the task. We survived the deep trenches and roots in the "road" (aka beaten dirt path in the woods) and made it to the dead end. We assumed that this was the campsite. Using our car headlights we set up camp, brought the rifle into the tent as a precaution against night time visitors and went to sleep.

We did have early morning visitors but we were both too tuckered out to sneak a look through the tent flap. I am assuming that they were deer or elk. The best part of our camping experience here was when we emerged from the tent in the morning sunshine and saw, for the first time, the beautiful deep blue of Lake Pend Oreille ringed with tall pines and craggy rocks. We were the only people there, except for a guy on a sailboat who stopped by later for a breakfast picnic on shore. But his boat just added to the scenery. We took a short pre-breakfast hike along the shoreline to explore our surroundings. During the warmer summer months this would be a nice swimming spot too. Well worth the adventure of finding it!

Sandpoint International Draft Horse & Mule Show

Fees: $3 for parking / $8-9 for adult single show pass
Location: Bonner County Fairgrounds

Held at the end of September (see here for the official website and current information) this event is a winner if you have any interest in horses. Especially big, strong, impressive horses. We attended both years that we lived in Idaho and have even talked about returning sometime in the future from Missouri! Show events include log skidding, team driving, ladies street driving, four-up and six-up driving and conformation contests, pulling contests & gambler's choice (an obstacle course which can get very exciting!). You can also just pay the parking fee and spend all day wandering around the barns petting horses and being amazed by their sheer size and ogling over the thousands of dollars worth of shiny harnesses and fancy wagons. Which I always enjoy as well.

Schweitzer Mountain

Fees: $59 for full day lift tickets plus any needed equipment rental & lodging

From my limited downhill skiing experience this is the most picturesque mountain you can ski on. Beautiful Idaho scenery just south of the Canadian border with Lake Pend Oreille at the base. You just can't get much better than that. Usually the lake's characteristic deep blue color is evident from the mountain but the day we brought our camera there was low cloud cover sitting above the lake. Still stunning.


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