Category: IdaHoles

Molly’s Tubs 

We didn’t see any spawning salmon on our latest trip with our own spawn into the wilderness last weekend, but we found a great summer swimming hole. Molly’s Tubs, a popular hot springs on the South Fork of the Salmon River is known as a good place for a hot soak. But in the middle of summer? When it’s blazing hot outside? You bet your toasty buns it is.

For those soaking, you fill the old bathtubs on wooden palettes with hot water coming out of the pipes, cooled to the right temperature by dumping buckets of cold water from the river. This time of year, however, it might be better to crawl over the logjam just upstream to access a tiny little sand beach, perfect for laying out and for the kids to build a sand castle. This time of year the water is quite low and, while still cold, is tolerable once you submerge yourself. In fact, it’s quite refreshing on a hot day.

For those seeking a little more sun on their bodies, a short walk upstream yields privacy enough for a skinny dip and a way to lose those tanlines. During the day the tubs get a lot of traffic and nudity is rare. But this time of year, in the early morning and later evening as it cools off you might encounter a few “bares” in the tubs.

From Boise, go North on Hwy 55 to Cascade. Take Warm Lake Road to FR 474 (on a blind curve, so keep an eye out) to Stolle Meadows. Go approximately 1.3 miles south and look for a car park on the right.

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A Dip to Cool your Heels: Quinn’s Pond

You know it’s hot when the soles of your feet begin to sweat. Beads of perspiration form on your hariline, dripping down the back of your neck. Dunking you head in the city fountain didn’t do the trick, and the chlorine and God knows what else has turned your hair green.

The only thing that will satisfy your craving for cool is a dip. We’re not talking about a lazy float down a teetotaled river, our speakeasy nalgene bottles filled with hooch. Nosiree.

We’re talking about full immersion-feet no-touchee the bottom, water over the head immersion.

A concrete bottom pool just won’t do. Oh my, you don’t want to have to spend more than 20 minutes driving up into the mountains to find your salvation. You’ve got to have it now!

We’ll tell you of a not-so-secret little dip. Recently, the city named the the Bernadine Quinn Riverside Park with the 22-acre Quinn’s pond. It is also known by some as the Clocktower pond. A new pier on the north side of the pond provides easy access in and out of the water.

A little warmer than the river, a dusk dip and swim is the perfect end to a long day.

Shoshone Ice Caves 

As summer heats the Idaho landscape to a blistering 100-plus degrees, you can be thankful you don’t live in Death Valley or Las Vegas, which is experiencing record temperatures this summer. It’s still too hot for us northern folk, so it’s time for a summer trip to one of the most scorched landscapes in Idaho so you can chill out.

Just two hours from Boise, the Shoshone Ice Caves-rated by Sunset Magazine as one of the Northwest’s best point of interest-is a hybrid between a kitsch roadside attraction and a historical location. Yes, there’s a big dinosaur with a caveman and a 30-foot-tall Native American, totem poles and a gift shop, but the cave itself is, pardon the pun, the coolest thing there.

During the 1880s, the caves were an ice source for the nearby town of Shoshone, which boasted 23 saloons and restaurants and was the only ice-cold beer for miles around before the invention of refgrigeration. The caves were also a favorite spot for robbers hitting stagecoaches filled with gold heading to and from Idaho mining towns to the north. It was easy for bandits to escape across the surrounding trackless lava fields (which are the largest unbroken lava fields on the North American continent, covering approximately one-third of the state).

Accessed through a sinkhole, the 1,000 foot cave (in some areas 40 feet high) is the remnants of lava activity stretching back 30 million years. They are not as pretty as Carlsbad or Mammoth, but the feature isn’t stalactites or stalagmites, it is the ice. Hovering between 24 and 32 degrees, water at the back of the cave freezes year round. During the 1940s, however, a cave entrance was opened and new airflow patterns melted all the ice. New owners in the 1950s restored the old airflow patterns and ice returned to the caves in 1962, but during the summer, the doors are kept shut to prevent melting. Bring a coat. It’s cold down there.

Shoshone Indian Ice Caves: 1561 N. Hwy. 75, 17 mi. N. of Shoshone. May 1 to September 30, Daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tours 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 208-886-2058.

EMPTY STRINGERS 

My grandfather taught me how to catch a grasshopper with a baseball cap and where to pierce it along its back with a hook. We would fish in a little “crick” on the back 400. Calling it a creek would have been too gracious. The only reason little perch were in there managing to survive was because of the constant influx from a leaky windmill well. The “crick” was only about 300 yards long and the channel mainly served as a flood control for his prickly pear-infused South Texas ranch. Those memories of fishing in that “crick” and his stock tanks for catfish are some of my fondest. After taking my own spawn plus the nephew-spawn fishing last weekend, I have newfound respect for my granddad’s attempts to take his five grandchildren down to the “crick.” I wonder if he had the same thoughts of throwing us in the water too.

Out near Star on the Boise River there’s a pull off with slow moving water and easy access to the river. I’ve fished there before with moderate success and it’s a popular spot because the river isn’t running too fast. Three kids excited about fish is a sight to behold—contained fusion energy—but it’s a delicate orchestration to keep their attention focused on the objective.

With no grasshoppers to catch we relied on the old standby using worms bought from Megalo-Mart. I’ve known for years that taking kids fishing doesn’t qualify by any definition as what grown adults consider fishing. It is an exercise in patience. Each spawn had their own short rod and closed-face reel to avoid tangles. Each was equipped with it’s own bobber, shot-weight and single hook. Each had the attention span of a monkey.

For kids, catching a fish is frosting on the cake. What interested my crew more was poking at the dead rotting fish on the riverbank, seeing how many worms they could hold in their hands before one fell off, and throwing rocks in the river were much more exciting. I did manage to get the older two spawn to hold their rods and watch the bobber float slowly down the river … for all of 60 seconds or so. In the end, we caught four sticks, snapped our lines six times, and managed to bother at least three other anglers.

Their inability to resist reeling in the line and wanting to cast over other lines, tree limbs and each other, I remembered a trick my own father used with me. I retied their lines with only a weight and told them to cast on land. The mere action of just casting and reeling was enough of an experience for them and on the positive side I didn’t get any hooks in my ear or back of my head. Other than teaching the spawn the meaning of fishing is not always catching fish, they practiced their casting and it got us out of the house for an afternoon. I felt lucky. A day spent fishing, even with the spawn, is a day well spent. And I didn’t have to clean any fish that afternoon either.

Send your fishing tips and tall tales to bingo@boiseweekly.com. Suggest where the fish are biting or where to try someplace new.