Boy Scouts backpack to Seven Devils
By Brad, Blaze and Tate Berdoy
On the weekend of Aug. 16-18, Boy Scout Troop 638 of Cottonwood spent three days and two nights backpacking and exploring the Seven Devils Mountains of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
Troop members Anthony Karel, Carson Schmidt, Jared Coppernoll, Hunter Chaffee, Blaze and Tate Berdoy and four adult leaders, including Scoutmaster Shari Chaffee, enjoyed three days in Idaho’s remote wilderness watching wildlife, swimming in mountain lakes, eating huckleberries and freeze dried foods and carrying heavy packs.
On Friday, the carpooling vehicles experienced a breakdown. The group spent two hours at Slate Creek Forest Service Fire Management Office learning about fire fighting equipment and waiting for the trip to continue. After the short delay, the group checked into the Riggins Ranger Station and started up from the Salmon River to Windy Pass, elevation 7606 fee. We continued a short way farther to Heaven’s Gate. After a “short” .2 mile hike from the cars to the manned lookout, we could view four states, the deepest gorge in North America, Hells Canyon, and the Seven Devils Mountains, where we were headed.
Peaking at Windy Pass, the group put on heavy packs and headed downhill. That would mean trouble on the return trip. It was about 3½ miles to our destination, Lower Canyon Lake. This nice mountain lake sets at 7200 feet and has several great camping spots around it. The group arrived with sore feet and hungry bellies. After tents and camp were set up, dinner was prepared. It was beans for some and freeze dried for most. The evening included swimming, filtering water, and drawing plans for the next day’s hike to Upper Cannon Lake. The night sky was full of stars.
Saturday morning, after a backpacker’s breakfast which included fresh huckleberries, the group started up the canyon with just daypacks, to Upper Cannon Lake. There is a faint climber’s trail that the group followed and we gained about 1100 feet when we arrived at Upper Canyon Lake. The lake sits in a small old glaciated cirque at the base of The Ogre, one of the Seven Devils. The boys enjoyed a long lunch and swim. The lake was colder because of the higher elevation of 8200 feet. It is only another 1100 feet to the summit of The Ogre. Someone pointed out that the weather was changing.
We returned to the lower lake and enjoyed more swimming and exploring. After dinner, around 7:30 p.m., a short but severe thunderstorm rolled through the area. Everyone stayed dry and that second night had four Scouts sleeping in a three person tent.
Sunday morning included a wonderful sunrise and final backpacking breakfaster of oatmeal and freeze dried. The group packed up and put on heavy packs for the return trip to the cars. The last ½ mile included the 400 foot elevation gain and it was draining. Only two boys made it back to the cars still carrying their packs. The others, including the adults, had dropped their packs at the old ranger guard shack and picked them up after returning with the cars. The three day trip included about 11 miles of trail and crosscountry hiking with both full heavy and day packs. On the ride home, we stopped at the River Rock Café, in Riggins, and had great burgers and ice cream. I dream of returning to the area again.

Troop 638 at Heaven’s Gate Lookout, their first stop before heading to the Lower Cannon Lake Trail Head. Lower Cannon Lake would be their base camp for the next couple of nights. Shown are Shari Chaffee, Brad Berdoy, Anthony Karel, Carson Schmidt, Tate Berdoy, Blaze Berdoy, Jared Coppernoll, Hunter Chaffee and Keith and Aleta Coppernoll.

Boy Scouts hiking up the Seven Devils Mountains to Upper Cannon Lake. Shown are Jared Coppernoll, Carson Schmidt, Tate Berdoy, Anthony Karel, Blaze Berdoy and Hunter Chaffee. Once over the top a couple of the boys saw a bear in the distance.

Jumping into Lower Cannon Lake are Tate Berdoy and Anthony Karel. Observing is Blaze Berdoy and Hunter Chaffee. Photo by Shari Chaffee.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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