Day 5 of 2020 Idaho Trip, Pioneer Cabin

Fifth day of my Idaho trip, I would be leaving the town of Hailey for Moore today, in preparation for next day’s summitting of Borah Peak. But before that, I would hike Pioneer Cabin Trail in Sawtooth National Forest.

Pioneer Cabin before Mountains


Pioneer Cabin before Mountains

Finally, it’s my last day in the Sawtooth forests. There weren’t a lot of hotels/airbnbs along US93 that fitted in my plan to summit Borah Peak the next day, fortunately I found one in the town of Moore.
It only took 1.5 hours to drive from Hailey to Moore, and as for what to do for the remainder of the day, I had a few options. I originally planned to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument, but unfortunately I left my NPS pass at home. And since I missed a day of hiking in Sawtooth by resting in bed, I had a few choices left in the region. At the end, I chose to hike Pioneer Cabin Trail.

Pioneer Cabin was built in the Pioneer Mountains by Union Pacific Railroad as a ski hut in 1937, and still served as a shelter for winter skiers and summer hikers till this day. On way to its trailhead one would pass the town of Ketchum / Sun Valley, with visible ski tracks covering surrounding mountains.

The last 6km of forest road, once off Trail Creek Road, was unpaved. It’s in much better shape than other unpaved roads in the region, though.

Footbridge

 Creek
Footbridge across Creek
Just like Hyndman Peak Trail, this trail started where a dirt road terminated at a creek.

Pioneer Cabin could either be reached via an out-and-back totaling 12.9km, or adding Long Gulch Trail to make it a 14.2km loop. At first, it seemed weird to me that most online comments recommended the out-and-back version. Until I tried out the first 20 meters of Long Gulch Trail and found it pretty overgrown, and retreated to the out-and-back Pioneer Cabin Trail.

Here’s GPS tracking:

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail
The first 600m of the trail was on a gentle incline like this.

Aqueduct


Aqueduct
600m from trailhead, after which the trail entered a series of switchbacks climbing up mountain. Despite this improvised aqueduct, water was still spilling over.

Trail


Trail Trail
Trail
While taking the series of switchbacks, the trail entered dense forest like this and picked up incline. Despite that, the entire trail was still in great condition, I even encountered some mountain bikers on my way down.

Forest


Forest

Switchback

 Switchback
Switchback

Mountains

 Mountains
Mountains
2.8km from trailhead, one briefly emerged from the treeline with views of surrounding mountains.

Trail

 Trail
Trail

About 3.3km/2mi from trailhead, one finally come out of the treeline, to a scene of prairie with blossoming wildflowers.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

And this was what hiking among that prairie looked like.
2min15sec video, 1.25x speed, 121MB for H265 source, 160MB for H264 source.

Onlooker


Onlooker

Distant Mountains beyond Prairie

 Distant Mountains beyond Prairie
Distant Mountains beyond Prairie

Trees

 Trees
Trees

Mountains

 Mountains
Mountains

Prairie

 Prairie
Prairie

Access Road


Access Road
A 6km unpaved road winding in the valleys.

Trail

 Trail
Trail Trail
Trail

Finally, a little bit over 2 hours since start, Pioneer Cabin emerged before the backdrop of soaring mountains.

Pioneer Cabin before Mountains


Pioneer Cabin before Mountains

Most of my hiking route three days ago were blocked by the mountain in the foreground, leaving just the tips of a few mountains visible.

Ridge


Ridge
Between Old Hyndman Peak and Cobb Peak

Hyndman Peak


Hyndman Peak
All but the tip blocked by the mountain in the foreground. I summited Hyndman Peak three days ago.

I gave the cabin a quick tour, which consisted of two small rooms and a few bunk beds, saving backpackers the need to pack tents.

Table

 Table
Table

Apart from all the amenities for backpackers, like a stove and fireplace, I found some loving touches of the cabin, like a guitar and boardgame, that really gave it a home feeling.

Bunk Beds

 Bunk Beds
Bunk Beds

Mountains


Mountains

Mountains

 Mountains
Mountains Mountains
Mountains
From ground level (left) and from drone (right).

Here’s my drone’s tour video of Pioneer Cabin and surrounding mountains.

Mountains from Pioneer Cabin


Mountains from Pioneer Cabin

And after about half an hour at Pioneer Cabin, I traced my steps back to the parking lot.

That’s when I got the opportunity to observe other forms of life along the trail.

Intriguing


Intriguing
One trunk forked into three in a strange way.

Flowers

 Flowers
Flowers Flowers
Flowers Flowers
Flowers

Unfortunately, the blossoming flowers attracted lots of bees, one of which mistook me for the flowers. So what should be a comfortable breeze downhill turned out to be a frantic dash as I tried to outrun that bee. Unfortunately, the bee’s better at flying and it took 10 minutes for him to find an actual flower that smelt better.

Moths


Moths
That I encountered just before parking lot. It seemed that they only congregate at the final section of trail close to water.

So a little bit over 4 hours later, I was back at the parking lot. And by the time I drove back to the town of Hailey, it was 3pm, just in time for a late lunch, before I went on the way for Moore, Idaho.

Farmland along Country Road

 Farmland along Country Road
Farmland along Country Road
South of Bellevue, valley widens up into patches of farmland, not much given most of the state was arid.

Road Giants


Road Giants
Along US 20/26, oversized trucks or farming equipment like this often created a mini traffic jam behind them.

Lost River Valley


Lost River Valley
Approaching Arco, Idaho. Borah Peak as the mountain I planned to summit the next day among the mountains in the right.

And I reached my overnight Airbnb just before 6pm, time to call it a day before tomorrow’s epic summitting of Borah Peak.
END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Day 5 of 2020 Idaho Trip, Pioneer Cabin by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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