Wildlife lovers have had the pleasure of spending time at Barney Hot Springs

Stopping in Barney Hot Springs to soak my tired feet from fishing rocks and hiking most of the day was a necessary break from driving as I enjoyed rolling the water 85 degrees on my filthy feet. While relaxing, I noticed flashes of orange in the deep water, so I took some bread from my dinner sandwich and tossed it in the water. The waters burst with 20 to 30 goldfish, hundreds of minnows and four tilapia up to 14 inches high battling over bread.

Located near Summit Creek on the Lost River Road that stretches from Howe on the south end to Ellis on the Salmon River, Barney Hot Springs is a popular campground during the summer. When I stopped there last week, there was not a single cart, not even any hunters. Summit Creek is the headwaters of the Little Lost River that flows toward Howe, while the Bahsimiru River flows north into the Salmon River at Ellis.

During the early morning, I intercepted deer, antlers, elk, and even skunks as they moved out of the water into the brush-covered flats. A few miles from Howe, I stopped at Big Springs Creek and saw the Virginia Railroad where I found some watercress breakfasts.

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A spiny-horned man pauses to watch the photographer as he chases him in the Bahsimiroy Valley. | Bill Chase, EastIdahoNews.com

About 28 miles north of Howe I took the Pass Creek Road and traveled a few miles toward the Lemhi Range Mountains to the Red Hills to collect some agate and jasper pieces. Having fished the rocks there for the past six years, I’ve gone up quite a bit on the hills, but found that most of the material was closer to the bottom.

Returning to the Lost River Road, I traveled to the summit of Summit Creek. I noticed that many cattle were on their way out of the hills and wooded mountain forests. The temperature had risen from 26 degrees to 42 degrees by mid-morning. As I approached the small community of Paterson, I passed several trucks trailing horse trailers with cowboys fitting in to check on their cattle.

Every time I passed some sagebrush flats bordering the hayfields near Patterson, antelopes could be seen filling their stomachs with luscious green clover. Although some hunts have been opened, dollars have been seen chasing females around. Their rut began.

Between Patterson and the small village of Mayo, mule deer become numerous along the hay fields bumping into the Bahsimiroy River. It was interesting to me as I approached Ellis where the river flows into the Salmon River, the types of deer changed from muleys to white-tailed deer. Both species are a few weeks away from their estrus, which generally begins in November.

After visiting friends at a camp on the Salmon River and hiking a few miles in search of agate, I returned to Bahsimiroy Valley and stopped at Barney Hot Springs to feed the tropical fish. Years ago, I actually fished in the pond and caught and released many tilapia. I didn’t catch her, but I found a lot of fun feeding her and watching them fight over the crumbs.

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A beautiful iron hawk hunts its prey in a meadow near Summit Creek. | Bill Chase, EastIdahoNews.com

At that time, I noticed seven iron hawks working in a meadow near the creek. They are among the most beautiful falcons I have ever seen. With their white bodies and wings contrasting with a tan, they are quick to identify as they gather to head south for the winter.

As the sun was setting over the Lemhi Range, Bell Mountain stood like a guard high above the Lost River mountain range. I drove about 60 miles without a single vehicle, but dodging several groups of deer, antelope and elk kept me alert. It was a very interesting day to see all the wild animals, including exotic fish, and to visit friends.

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Goldfish with minnows can be seen battling over breadcrumbs at Barney Hot Springs in the Pahsimeroi Valley. | Bill Chase, EastIdahoNews.com

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Bell Mountain is high in the Lost River Range as evening sets in the Pahsimeroi Valley. | Bill Chase, EastIdahoNews.com

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