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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, REI Boise teamed up with the Idaho Trails Association and the Boise District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to improve a one-mile trail that plunges from the southern Idaho, high-desert plateau a thousand feet to the Bruneau River below. The Roberson Trail is used by photographers, hikers and very determined kayakers who schlep their boats down the torturous path to the challenges of premier class IV and V rapids that last only a few precious weeks in the spring.

Bruneau Canyon Scenic Viewpoint

Bruneau Canyon Scenic Viewpoint

Over 30 volunteers, from 8 to 70+ years old, gathered early on a Saturday morning at the BLM office south of Boise and drove nearly two hours to reach the trailhead. The last five miles of jeep trail crossed country that had been charred by a hellish rangeland fire last summer. The land has been reseeded, but this is dry country and it takes years for vegetation to rebound. Dust swirled up and over the vehicles as they crept forward in a solemn line. After a safety talk which included warnings about tumbling loose rocks, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and poison ivy in the bottom of the canyon, the volunteers spread out on various portions of the trail. The group I hung with was shoring up slippery switchbacks by building rock stairs. We mined acres of lava rock that line the canyon walls. Large flat rocks were the prize of scrambling for footing, ever mindful of the looming precipice at our backs.DSC_0173


Don’t back up, boss!


Trail on the west side of the river was last year’s project.


If heights bother you, don’t look down. Volunteers are blocking off access to a riparian are down there.

DSC_0178 DSC_0181 DSC_0180DSC_0182Remarkably, there were no accidents or injuries, despite the lack of OSHA oversight. I’m really too pooped to say much more. I took a few photos, but really didn’t do justice to the immensity of this canyon and the unique beauty that is southern Idaho. I think its time for Ibuprofen. I’m finding muscles I’d forgotten I own.