Quite possible one of the more epic local “Idaho Adventures” is hiking to Pioneer Cabin. Krista and I have hiked the daunting 2,500 feet the last three summers and the hike (and subsequent sore feet, legs and pride), the flowers, the Pioneers and the view never disappoints.
This year, I convinced Krista we should tackle Pioneer Cabin from “Johnston Creek.” I had heard it was an incredible hike and the hiking book I have from 1994 made it seem pretty legit.
Now the hike was incredible and so much more scenic than the traditional route. We dragged our bodies straight up the dirt trail through loads of wildflowers (the lupine were breathtaking), saw a waterfall, enjoyed spectacular views of the Pioneer Mountain Range from a different view and got a bit of sunshine. But the hiking book led us seriously astray. There is a pretty good reason very FEW people hike to Pioneer Cabin from Johnstone Creek. It is ridiculously hard, long and fairly shadeless.
It was quite an adventure to say the least. Hiking to Pioneer Cabin is slightly daunting from Corral Creek. However, hiking to Pioneer Cabin from Johnston Creek straight up for 6.5 miles in 80+ degree muggy weather with no cloud cover is recipe for so much boob sweat (yes, that really happens), a fairly gross stinging nettle outbreak, ridiculously sore and shaky legs, hot spots on your feet, a Maude Pod that debatably had a slight anxiety/heat attack about 5 miles in, showing off our pure athleticism in jumping photos and that feeling you get when you could eat an elephant. We also ate our pride and called my mom (huge thank you!) from the top, since one perk of being at 9,000 feet is you have cell service, to come and pick us up from Corral Creek. Only hiking 3.5 miles (and 2,500 feet) down versus 6.5 miles (and 2,800 feet) down was worth being bailed out and the hour shuttle ride. No shame. But it was all still worth it. While we might not be ready to do it again tomorrow, on the right day, and even on the wrong day, it is a very worthy Idaho hike and of course, a must do!
Here is a look (please excuse it if we look like the hot messes that we felt like)…