The Old Train Tunnel of Bear Gulch Idaho
A Family Hike To An Old Abandoned Train Tunnel
Documented by admin-treasures
On July 21st at 3:18 I was sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight to meet up with my family in St. Anthony, Idaho. The family had gone up a few days prior to being able to spend more time on their vacation. I had to work so I stayed behind a few more days to get some work done and out of the way so I could go and have some fun with them.
Fast forwarding to Monday, July 24th:
My family and a few of my kids’ friends were with us that day as we were driving to do some hiking and sightseeing. After about a 20 minute drive from St. Anthony, we reached a small little town called Ashton. At the heart of this town, we turned right to head up a canyon that many have taken to see the breathtaking waterfalls at Mesa Falls that are about 30 minutes away from West Yellowstone Gate.
As we drove further up the canyon the landscape had become even more beautiful. It was greener and the pine trees were surrounding the road. The river was to our right and the hawks were flying all around the area. I was feeling excited because I knew there were only a few more minutes until we reach our first stop, Bear Gulch. When the car stopped at the parking lot, we all got out and grabbed Chloe’s baby stroller and a couple of backpacks. It was just about a mile and a half hike to the old train tunnel. LeeAnn and I walked together too much the
After a few minutes of taking in the fresh air and scenery, we headed off on our way to the train tunnel. It wasn’t far and I could see the tunnel up ahead. At this point, the kids had made their way to the tunnel already and I decided to take a few photos of the group’s approach to the opening. As we arrived, we noticed that a gate was installed about 20 feet into the tunnel. The kids noticed that the tunnel had been collapsing over the years and it wasn’t safe for anyone to walk through it anymore.
I knew this was my moment to walk around to get some photos. What can I say, I enjoy snapping a few shots so I can share our adventures on Facebook, Instagram, & this website. Even when I’m on vacation, I’m thinking about the people that enjoy our social media posts and blogs. The only thing is, I may have gone too far with trying to get that great shot this time.
As I was outside of the tunnel snapping shots, I noticed a certain angle of the lumber structure. I became adamant that I get the right shot of this. I spent a few minutes setting up the shot only to find that it still wasn’t what I wanted. I knew I had to move further back, but there was a cliff that dropped about 400 feet behind me. I crept closer and closer to the edge as I was facing my shot. I knew I was getting close to the danger zone, but I know what I’m doing, right? I’ve been an outdoorsman for some 30 years now. “I can push it just a little bit further,” I told myself. I looked over my shoulder as the right heel of my shoe was not quite at the edge of the cliff just yet. I made sure that I was balanced right before I faced my shot once again.
I held my breath as I pushed the action button on my phone to take a shot. I took a total of three, inching my phone closer and closer to my face to get the distanced I wanted. The last thing I remembered was looking at the last photo thinking, that’ll do…
The next thing I knew was that dirt was flying in the air. My phone fell out of my hand and my sunglasses were falling down the cliff right above me. I used my feet to try to slow my fall down. And at the midst of it all, I started reaching for my glasses with my left hand and reached for my phone my with my right. As I looked up I notice that I was falling further and further away. All I could see was dust in the air from my shoes digging into the cliffside and all of a sudden, I stopped!
I did, I stopped about 55 feet down the cliff. Not a peep came out of my mouth as I was falling and the only thing I said one noticed that I wasn’t falling anymore was a quiet “Oh Shit!”
I landed on a few big rocks on a shelf that was holding my weight for the time being. I looked to my left and saw that I could walk a little to an easy way up that has eroded the cliffside with water after time. It only took a few minutes to get back up only to see that the dust from my shoes was blowing over the top edge to the tunnel where my wife was. LeeAnn had that look on her face that I’ve never seen before. She looked at me and said, “Did you fall?” I replied with a quiet and startled yes. She looked at me and said ” You gave me a heart attack. One minute I saw you there and the next I saw dust everywhere and you were nowhere to be seen.”
I’m sure you can guess where that conversation led after that. Yes, dear, it was dumb of me, No I don’t do that kind of stupid stuff when I go out with the guys. I’m sorry I scared you, I’ll be more careful next time. Luckily, she didn’t make too much fun of me and we were quickly making our way back to the car. On our way back, I did a lot of that being in shock talk a little something like this, Did you see the dust? That was a lot! Did you see me fall? That rock ledge stopped me, what if it didn’t stop me..?
Now I hope you guys can take this story and learn from my mistake. I have been in the mountains since I was 6 years old and I’ve never done anything like this. I’m big on safety and getting home in one piece. But you never in control if you take risks out in the wilderness. Mother nature will leave you in the dust, pun intended if you are not careful. Take it from me, no photo is worth risking it all! Be safe out there guys and find your adventure!