On to Lewiston, Idaho at the western edge of Idaho where the Snake River divides it from Washington state. Here the Clearwater River meets with the Snake River. We’d planned only two nights here and when we saw the beautiful Hells Gate State Park we wished we’d planned a few days more. Our trip over was uneventful until just before reaching Lewiston. We had ignored the route the GPS gave us as it routed us through Washington and added over an hour to the trip. When we reached the mountain pass north of Lewiston we understood. Having no choice we started down the seven mile 6% grade using our lowest gear. A tense period but we landed unharmed. Little did we know that more challenging hills awaited!
Our primary reason for coming here was to visit the Nez Pearce National Historic Site. We’d been to Big Hole National Battlefield while in Montana. This area of Washington and Idaho had been the traditional homeland of the Nez Pearce but after gold was discovered miners and settlers flooded the area following the philosophy of Manifest Destiny. Previous treaties were revoked and gradually land granted to them shrunk and shrunk. In 1877 some renegades sought revenge and killed settlers. The Army responded and “the war no one wanted” was on. Chief Joseph led his people on a long, long march through Idaho and Montana trying to avoid further conflict. The Battle of Big Hole on August 9-10, 1877 where both soldiers (31) and Nez Pearce (90) were killed is a sad reminder of the clash of cultures. The Nez Pearce continued their flight hoping to reach Canada but were stopped just shy of the border. After capture the leaders were incarcerated in Oklahoma. They finally returned to the homeland after five years. The entire Nez Pearce Trail has 38 historic stops spread over four states. One we found earlier near Lemhi Pass shows where the Nez Pearce Trail crosses the Lewis and Clark Trail. Lewis and Clark met and traded with the Nez Pearce. The museum at Nez Pearce NHP has many interesting exhibits. One that caught our eye was the only remaining silk ribbon from one of the Peace medal carried by the Corps of Discovery given by Lewis to Chief Cut Nose. Also in the museum were several photographs, paintings and drawings of Nez Pearce life and tribal members. One of the rangers, a current member of the Nez Pearce, showed us two photos of her family members. (To see detail in pictures or maps just click on picture to bring to full screen.)
Following our visit to Nez Pearce NHP we did what we do so often just driving backroads to see what we can find. Besides the beautiful scenery shown above we found this “dead bug” with a tree growing through it. Then we found wild plum trees just loaded with ripe fruit. There were yellow ones, red ones and purple ones. After sampling a few we picked a quart bag full of yellow plums. They were soooo sweet! We had them in our salads for four nights and wished we’d had gallon bags with us.
We made one more stop at Dworshak Dam on the Clearwater River. I’d seen announcements for volunteer positions for this site and wanted to check it out. We spoke with current volunteers and the head ranger about volunteering here in the future. Before leaving we viewed one of several movies they have about the area. This film was about the last log run on the Clearwater River before the dam was built in the mid 70s. Talk about cold, wet and hard work! The volunteer position looks very interesting combining Visitor Center work and leading tours of the Dam. Right now Steve doesn’t want to commit to more than three months and this requires four and a half months service. So we’ll put it in the to be consider pile. Whether as volunteers or just on our own we will definitely be back.