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Old 04-15-09, 09:15 AM   #1
BigBlueToe
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Weather on Lolo Pass - Lewis and Clark?

I'm planning on flying into Great Falls, Montana and heading west on the Lewis and Clark route to Portland. I have the summer (I'm a teacher.) I'm just wondering when the optimal time would be to avoid rain. I know there are no guarantees, but I'd appreciate advice on when bad weather would likely be over. I could start as early as mid-June (I'll be chomping at the bit to go) but should I wait until July?
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Old 04-15-09, 09:24 AM   #2
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Here's the official weather data for Lolo Hot Springs -
http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?mt5146

June is wetter than July - esp/ early June.
You may get some rain, but snow is unlikely after June 15th.
You MUST plan on overnighting at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs.
http://www.idahohotsprings.com/desti...nson/index.htm
Natural springs about 15 miles west of Lolo Pass.
Take the footbridge across the Lochsa River.

PS - Oops - Jerry Johnson is closed to overnight camping since people partied too much and trashed the place. When I was last there somebody broke a beer bottle and cut their foot real bad. Aachkh! Such is what we do to special places. Camp on the river and hike in the 1/2 mile.
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Old 04-15-09, 09:30 AM   #3
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I haven't done the L&C, but isn't it usually pretty dry east of the Cascades?

We started June 11th on the TA from Florence in 2007 and it was hot and dry on Lolo Pass. I think we actually went over Lolo Pass on June 30th 2007 (my 56th birthday). It was a fine birthday btw, with a good soak in the hot springs at Warm Springs Creek near Jerry Johnson Camp. Jerry Johnson Camp sucked though.
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Old 04-15-09, 09:41 AM   #4
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PS - Oops - Jerry Johnson is closed to overnight camping since people partied too much and trashed the place. When I was last there somebody broke a beer bottle and cut their foot real bad. Aachkh! Such is what we do to special places. Camp on the river and hike in the 1/2 mile.
Are you sure? I thought it was closed due to falling trees (root rot) and reopened after the trees were all cut down. It was definitely open in June of 2007. Was the closure you mention since then?
http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/nor...erry%20johnson seems to think it is open , but I get "Forest Service Website Is Currently Unavailable" at the Forest Service site (http://www.fs.fed.us/) so I can't verify.

We didn't like the camp much and would have preferred to wild camp anyway given that there were almost no flat non rocky spots to pitch a tent and everything seemed to be over grown.
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Old 04-15-09, 12:01 PM   #5
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Are you sure? I thought it was closed due to falling trees (root rot) and reopened after the trees were all cut down. It was definitely open in June of 2007. Was the closure you mention since then?
http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/nor...erry%20johnson seems to think it is open , but I get "Forest Service Website Is Currently Unavailable" at the Forest Service site (http://www.fs.fed.us/) so I can't verify.

We didn't like the camp much and would have preferred to wild camp anyway given that there were almost no flat non rocky spots to pitch a tent and everything seemed to be over grown.
The Forest Service site says it's open. I was there in 2005 and it was an ugly clear cut. Can't have changed much since then.
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Old 04-15-09, 04:27 PM   #6
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If I can trust my memory, the hot springs are closed to camping, but there are campgrounds nearby that are open. (In other words, jamawami is right....)

The last two times I toured up/down the Lochsa River, half the campgrounds were open, half were closed. And each time, the list was different. I think the two issues were availability of water, and downed timber.

But then, I don't always trust my memory.

I do remember that we met lots of people who said the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs was one of the highlights of their trip. But, in the middle of a 70-mile ride, I never could talk my wife into hiking a mile into the woods for hot water..... Dang.

-- Mark
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Old 04-15-09, 04:46 PM   #7
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I think the only campground close to the springs at all is Jerry Johnson and it isn't much. It was far and away the worst campground we stayed at on the entire TransAmerica. They cut all the trees and hadn't mowed in ages. In the entire camp we found only one flat non rocky spot big enough for our 4 man tent. The only other folks there camped on an asphalt drive rather than any of the actual tent sites.

The springs were up the grade a way and then maybe a mile hike. They were wonderful, but it depends on the creek level. If the creek is too high they are washed out, but if they aren't washed out the springs are a do not miss. It was a great way to spent the morning my birthday. Birthdays don't get much better than soaking in a wild hot spring in the middle of a long tour.
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Old 04-15-09, 05:03 PM   #8
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OK, not to hijack the thread (not that it isn't already) but what do you do with your bike and gear when you hike back into the woods to soak in the springs?
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Old 04-15-09, 05:15 PM   #9
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OK, not to hijack the thread (not that it isn't already) but what do you do with your bike and gear when you hike back into the woods to soak in the springs?
I never worried too much. We each carried a cable lock, so we just locked the bikes together and to a post usually with more than one lock. Beyond that I just chose not to sweat it other than in urban areas.

We would miss too many cool hikes if we were afraid to leave our bikes. Most places we left them for less than an hour, but sometimes (like at the springs) longer. We did many short hikes to overlooks, waterfalls, springs, or whatever. Most times the hikes were less than a couple miles each way.
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Old 04-15-09, 05:57 PM   #10
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You would lock them to a post right next to the road or would you put them back in the trees a bit?
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Old 04-16-09, 04:53 AM   #11
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You would lock them to a post right next to the road or would you put them back in the trees a bit?
Judgement call... We parked them in the little lot locked to the Forest Service sign. We typically did that, never hiding them. My theory is that hiding just puts them in a place where they can be ransacked more easily.

At trail heads and in small rural towns I think the risk is low. We always took the handlebar bags with our electronics, money, and plastic with us. I do worry in larger cities and take any precautions I can when there.
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