Grouse Creek Pack Out Recap

Grouse Creek Pack Out Recap

Words and Photos by Melissa Hendrickson


How much trash can 12 adults, 3 pre-teens, and 3 toddlers pick up in 3 hours? Apparently the answer is 2 overfull dump trailers and a pick-up bed full! Or at least that was the amount a crew of BHA members and friends did recently at a shooting site in North Idaho.

I “discovered” the site on Easter, when our family went out for a bike ride on the road by the shooting pit. I say “discovered” in quotes because the site was not new judging by the condition of the bullet riddled vehicle gracing the shooting lane. The slow nature of the bike ride allowed us to see the mess for the first time on a road that we have frequented to go hunting. That day, we filled up my son’s bike trailer in less than 10 minutes and made a plan to set up a BHA clean-up for the near future.


Easter bike ride picking up as many trash bags as we had with us


The morning of the pack out, we left early enough to put up quintessential paper plates to mark the way as the meeting spot was a set of coordinates on an un-signed forest road. As we were stopped, a succession of 5 trucks, all being driven by teenagers a little faster than appropriate, flew by us. Weird. We proceeded up the road, leaving another paper plate at the junction with a private property driveway and another vehicle passed us. A little further, we pulled into the pack out site and found the source of the vehicles: the shooting pit seemed to have been the location for a drunken teenage campout marking the end of the school year. Several vehicles remained with kids in various states of packing up and the campfire was still burning. As more of the BHA member vehicles rolled in, the high school kids hustled their exodus. I was going to offer free lunch to anyone who stayed and helped, but they were all keen to exit the scene.


BHA volunteers hard at work 


Fortunately we had a 5 gallon jug of water with us which we were able to douse the smoldering burn pit with. In the ashes we found some of the biggest surprises: the skeletons of several couches among other unidentifiable metal workings. This was layered with years worth of pallet nails. Generational, as one of our helpers put it. Some kids came here and burned pallets, then they had kids, and those kids came here to burn pallets. We brought a truck over, hooked up a tow strap and made quick work of getting the large metal chunks from their temporary graves. The pre-teens then spent over an hour using a giant magnet to collect nails, their faces sooty from the effort. I’m sure they still missed at least a thousand nails.


Smoldering fire pit can be seen in the background


At this point, the first load went out to the dump, conveniently only about a 20 minute drive on back roads. While waiting for the trailer to return, the group got started on the pièce de resistance - the bullet ridden truck. The power tools were brought out at this point and the sparks literally started flying.  Impressively, those wielding the tools were able to dismantle the whole thing and get it into the now empty dump trailer. The remaining bags of trash were piled into the bed of another truck.


Bring out the power tools! 


Several baby wipes later, everyone was enjoying venison and morel chili accompanied by decked out German sausages and finished with s’mores over the charcoal grill.  During a previous summer 2023 pack out, the traveling Golden Trash Can Award was established. The group voted on the “best” piece of trash found that day: a pair of fuzzy dice. Unfortunately they were already in the bottom of a trash bag and didn’t make the picture.


The Traveling Golden Trash Can Award went to the finder of the fuzzy dice 


At this point, one toddler had already departed (with their mother) for nap time and it was getting close for the other two. We snapped a quick group picture and everyone dispersed for the afternoon. 



Special thanks go out to our pack out sponsor OnX and to Jetboil for providing the stove for lunch.



About Melissa Hendrickson

Melissa grew up in Northern Maine generally spending a lot of time outdoors. She started hunting after moving to Idaho for work in 2014. Melissa is a former public land hydrologist, current North Idaho Co-Chair of the State Board and SAHM.

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