When you get to the cache site you will find a thermal seep (a natural salt lick). It is a part of the Lochsa Geothermal System and is located near the edge of the Bitterroot lobe of the Idaho batholith. The rocks in the area are a type of granite with quartz, albite, microcline, clay minerals, serpentines and chlorites. Water flows to depths of 2.2 to 3.9 km reaching temperatures of 106 degrees F. One view of the development of the thermal spring results from the decay of radioactive elements contained in many of the minerals which commonly occur in the granitic rocks. It could also result from the deep circulation of ground water in fault zones. Thermal water rapidly ascends to the surface along conduits formed where permeable shears cross major shear zones.
Colgate Licks is one of five thermal springs (stanley, Weir Creek, Colgate Licks, Jerry Johnson and Lolo) that discharge along a shear system with numerous transecting, vertically dipping shear zones, which control recharge, flowpath and discharge in the Lochsa Geothermal System and define the course of the Lochsa River.
This area was named for George Colgate, who died near here. Back in 1893, George accompanied a party of hunters to the flats working as their camp cook. When he became so ill, the others in the party decided that they should take him to civilization. But an attempt at rafting the river felled and threatened the lives of others in the party. He was delirious and near death. The others in the party started the return trip to the licks leaving George by himself near the river. A search party found the group near death themselves from exposure and lack of food. An uproar at the time resulted from his abandonment. Some claimed it was George's own fault for not bringing the necessary medical supplies with him on the trip. Others denounced the party for abandoning him. Colgate's body was recovered the next summer and buried across the river from the natural lick. I guess the moral of this true story is: ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
To log this earthcache:
- Taking a picture is no longer allowed as a requirement for logging an earthcache as of 1/1/11 but would be greatly appreciated. If you choose to do a picture, please take a picture of you with your gps with the lick site in the background.
- Name three minerals that make up Colgate Licks.
- What created the lick holes you see nearby?
- Compare the temperature at the lick by the stone steps to the temperature of the water at the parking lot. What is the difference?
The mile loop is very informative. There are signs along the trail that tell about the history of fires that burned this area and about the wildlife you might see if you are quiet walking the trail. Please stay on the designated path. You do not need to get off the trail to do this earthcache.