Journey of Change 2016

The smell of sage is pungent in the early Spring mornings before the Sun dehydrates everything to a crisp by 10 am. Our Hero is making his way North out of Elko, Nevada on old State Route 225. His destination:

Unknown Places within Wilderness of the American West.

Plastic bags tangled in old barbed wire fences along the roadside are a mockery of the tumbleweeds that once did the same not all that long ago.

As he enters Idaho. the terrain becomes more volcanic in nature, scars from a distant violent time. The Snake River Canyon being the deepest cut,. the Perrine bridge, like a Band-Aid connecting the two sides. A trust arch spanning 1500 feet in length and 486 feet above the Snake River. It is a Meca for those crazy BASE jumpers.

From Twin Falls he is lured East into the strange lunar like landscape of the Craters of the Moon National Monument. The vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush represents one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. A stark blackened scorch of Earth that oozed from deep within the bowels of fire and brimstone. Rumored to have been the reason the Blackfeet Indian’s were named such as they were making their way to richer lands across this desolate waste ages ago. But there is Life here as the vibrant desert blooms splashing the vistas on an otherwise black canvas testify too.

 Universes before me….. Each Unto Their Own.

Although Craters of the Moon may appear lifeless and unchanging, the high desert ecosystem is continually in flux. Weather, climatic shifts and geologic processes, including volcanic eruptions, will continue to shape the landscape as they have for thousands of years. Sometimes when I am so high like a cloud with no constraints I drift throughout. Settlement of the Snake River Plain brought about rapid environmental change, and as a result native animals such as big horn sheep, bison and the grizzly bear have disappeared from the area. More recently, human-caused factors such as air pollutants and invasive introduced species, have had an increasing impact on natural resources within the remote lava fields of the Great Rift. Clean, dry air traditionally afforded clear views of Great Rift landforms and the high mountain ranges surrounding the Snake River Plain. Emissions of air pollutants from distant sources are now being carried to the Snake River Plain and are beginning to obscure these views. Invasive plants, including spotted knapweed and leafy spurge, have been introduced into North America from other continents. Lacking their normal complement of predators and disease, these plants have spread widely across the Intermountain West, displacing native plants and reducing food for wildlife. The remote and undeveloped landscape of the Great Rift still provides an ideal place to study how various environmental factors affect desert ecosystems, and to help people predict what changes might take place in the future.

I notice my temperature indicator is pegged on redline and I pull over to let it cool. I have no cell service and pray I didn’t crack a head. I know the entrance to the monument is within a few miles so I take a chance and limp towards it, pulling off from time to time when it gets too hot. Once I’m at the camp ground I let it cool and pull the thermostat out and don’t experience any more overheating. Mental note: make sure to replace before winter. This landscape is so crazy. Miles and miles of twisted formations that would make a great scenario for a spiritual journey.

The following day, I make my way Northwest where the famous author Ernest Hemmingway lived in Ketchum, Idaho where I am checking out the ski area Sun Valley.

Old Ernest was a war correspondent and seen many things. An avid outdoorsman who helped spur Hollywoodians to go to the new Sun Valley ski resort. He also loved his drink and would come back to this place and put a bullet in his head after the fall of Cuba to Communism. A act of political desperation perhaps although he was known to have suffered in later years from chronic pain that he experienced after two separate plane crash landings on a African Safari Lion hunt. He lived a full life and would use his outdoor experience to inspire a lot of his works, much like Jack London had done many years before. I keep some of their work in my van and drink a toast to both.

The Sawtooth Wilderness

The Wilderness is comprised of hundreds of jagged peaks, 50 over 10,000 feet in height, with nearly 400 high alpine lakes dotting the predominantly rocky terrain.  Also hidden within it’s boundaries are deep, secluded valleys covered with enormous stands of trees. These mountains hold the headwaters of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Boise River, the South Fork of the Payette River and contributes significantly to the headwaters of the Salmon River. I drink deeply of these springs.

This is one range that has eluded the Mountain Freak for sometime, who cant rest until he taste the creeks and sleep within those secret places. Now on the backside of this range enjoying the rustic Sawtooth Lodge and it’s hot springs along the river.

Established in 1927, the Sawtooth Lodge offers a hard-to-equal vacation for lovers of the outdoors. Easily accessible on the South Fork of the Payette River. Situated on the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness Area, it maintains all the serene beauty and rugged grandeur of the unspoiled American West.

 If you’ve never been to this mountain range, you are missing out on one of the most epic mountain ranges in the country.

Once, millions of Salmon would make it up to these high mountain streams to spawn.

You’re probably familiar with store bought Salmon, but the Sockeye Salmon referenced here are part of an endangered group which lives in the Snake River-Salmon River drainage. Due to dams, over-fishing, and other environmental impacts, we’ve seen the returning population dwindle over the last several decades. This culminated in 1996, when “Lonesome Larry” became the legendary, lone returning Salmon to Redfish Lake. They may have to rename the lake to, No Redfish Lake.

Salmon are anadromous – they start their lives in freshwater lakes, streams and rivers, then migrate to saltwater where they spend, according to species, from two to seven years at sea before returning to freshwater to spawn. Why go to sea? Freshwater lakes, streams and rivers are nutrient poor. To grow big, salmon need the abundance of food the sea provides.

When they return to spawn, salmon become a veritable conveyor belt for nutrients. For example, an adult chum salmon returning to spawn contains an average of 130 grams of nitrogen, 20 grams of phosphorus and more than 20,000 kilojoules of energy in the form of protein and fat; a 250-meter reach of salmon stream in southeast Alaska receives more than 80 kilograms of nitrogen and 11 kilograms of phosphorous in the form of chum salmon tissue in just over one month.

As the bodies of spawning salmon break down, nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients become available to streamside vegetation. According to Robert Naiman of the University of Washington, streamside vegetation gets just under 25 percent of its nitrogen from salmon. Other researchers report up to 70 percent of the nitrogen found in riparian zone foliage comes from salmon. One study concludes that trees on the banks of salmon-stocked rivers grow more than three times faster than their counterparts along salmon-free rivers

There is a valley I drove up to where the very old Dredge that decimated the drainages looking for gold, lies abandoned in neglect. Even after all these years there are only mounds of rocks with no topsoil for miles and miles what were once prime spawning grounds.

As the Pacific Northwest population has grown, its salmon have dwindled. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon in the Pacific Northwest, Snake River sockeye, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In the next few years, 16 more species of salmon were listed as either threatened or endangered.

By 1999, wild salmon had disappeared from about 40 percent of their historic breeding ranges in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California.

In Washington, the numbers had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in nearly three-fourths of the state.

There are many things that have contributed to the decline of salmon populations but they generally can be put in two major categories:

Human influences

  • Loss, fragmentation, and destruction of salmon habitat
  • Land uses that pollute waterways and degrade habitat
  • Dams
  • Over fishing
  • Hatcheries that produce fish that compete with wild salmon for limited resources

Changes to the natural environment

  • Fluctuating marine conditions
  • Climate change
  • Increases in predators

Reversing the Trend

The federal Endangered Species Act, and Washington State law, require development of recovery plans to recover salmon. Washington residents have been working for more than 10 years to reverse the fate of salmon, and those efforts are beginning to pay off. Learn more about Washington’s unique approach to salmon recovery planning. Learn more about how salmon are doing in Washington and in your community by visiting the State of Salmon in Watersheds Web site, which gives you detailed information and data about the numbers of fish, watershed health, and implementation of salmon recovery plans.

I take full advantage of:

Free Forest Service Maps/Disbursement Camping from Rangers even though they discourage disbursement campers since a lot of vagrants just fuck it all up with trash & abandoned cars, etc.

I make my way south east to where I used to live in Driggs, Idaho when I was operating

snowcats grooming ski runs up at Grand Targhee 15 years before. It was interesting driving through the old town that has seen some change since I was here in my old 1973 FJ40  Landcruiser known as the Ghjost, full of backcountry gear. Back then,  I came prepared for a Epic Season with all kinds of Nor-Cal Dank, which tripped all my co worker and roommates out that I had that much hash since it was a class A felony to possess in Idaho. So I calmly told them we had to smoke it all. I spent a lot of time up on Teton Pass backcountry splitboarding. I once picked up a guy hitchhiking who was wearing all the latest ski trends of the day when my heater hose blew and doused him with scalding anti-freeze. He didn’t seem all that happy so I booted him out & coasted back to a brewery I am now headed to.

I met an old friend from Alaska who works at that same micro brewery as the head chef and is doing well for himself with a beautiful dark haired woman who gave him a lovely daughter and is baking one in the oven as well. He cooked me up a great Pecan encrusted Rainbow Trout that was absolutely delicious. Afterwards we proceeded to drink as much of the micro brews as possible. We got lost on the way back to his place a few times and he would throw himself onto the road screaming he was just going to let someone run him over. I would stand him upright, brush him off & give him a pep talk where invigorated, we would proceed to get lost worse than before. We got separated somewhere in a condominium complex that was like trying to navigate out of Dungeons and Dragons.  I awoke in my van where I found a owl feather, horsehair and piece of rawhide with a picture of a mountain scene etched on it, along with a key to Vision quest, a gift from my buddy. I took off in the wee hours of a brand new day without waking him and his beautiful family.

Back when I was on the Extreme Couch Surfing/ Snowboard circuit, Jackson Hole ski resort used to be on my “Snowboarding to do” list. Known for it’s steep couloirs and chutes wuth no shortage of badass terrain. What I found was pretty much the same thing at Squaw Valley, Park City & Vail. Huge euro style villages that are way over priced and devoid of a sense of community. It reminded me more of a social club where people hung out to impress themselves. In building these amusement parks the price of a daily ticket exceeds over $100 which makes it unattainable for most your everyday people which in turn affects the demographics across the board of who lives here.

On this journey I am checking out different ski towns that are more about skiing/riding for just that, not what gear you have, clothes you wear or car you drive. Alyeska has had a few years of warming conditions forcing them with multiple closures and doesn’t even have the decency to reimburse pass holders with free mountain biking or something to offset the loss.  Once again the Corporate Ski Mountain model takes it to the small guy. Darkness, rain, freeze, melt, rain, freeze, melt, seem to be the new norm there. Not to mention that town has been going in a direction like many of the so called ski towns I have lived in. Many of the homes are vacation rentals or second homes for the wealthy and remain dark and lifeless most the time. This drives overpriced housing cost and a widening gap for those who can’t afford to even live there at all, once again which affects the demographics of the town itself. I cant tell you how many kids I know who have grown up in these places and could not afford to go and never learned how to ski or ride. A Travesty. I’m out bitches.

I am in search of a Mountain with consistent snow and a small town that has not been bought and sold yet, so if it exist- I will find it and if not, I will keep on searching overseas if I have too. So far, the small town of Liitle Glacier and ski area Mt. Baker is looking very good but I want to go check out some other places I have never been to as well.

Alas” all things shall pass.

Even worse than Jackson Hole is the legendary Yellowstone Club which requires would be members to be within millionaire status in order to join. I think I can safely say I wont be a part of this non sense.

I stare over the old western town of Jackson Hole reminiscing of simpler times when the town had a few ski bums and ranchers who drove mostly old pickup trucks, not so many high end SUV’s that now scramble out of the endless onslaught of condominiums where sage brush grew and the Buffalo once roamed.

The Grand Tetons. no doubt, named by some lonesome French fur trapper longing for a woman’s breast. Is by far one of the most incredible mountain ranges in North America. The first time I came here was in 1977 with my Dad. I think back decades before when we were fishing for the elusive Golden Trout somewhere in a river I can no longer recall the name of. He wasn’t having all that good of luck as his mood could attest to, so I scampered off with my little Ronco Folda-Rod. (As Seen On TV) As I was walking along the riverbank I found a depression where a bunch of these beautiful Golden Trout were hanging out. I put a worm online and commenced to pulling out a few which I brought back to my Dad who just stared at me in disbelief, then he took them from me. I think back fondly of this time and always thought of this fish as a native of the Rockies but it is in fact an introduced species from Northern California. I intend to find the true home of these fish someday.

The cute ranger talks me into purchasing a National Parks Annual Pass which will prove to be invaluable in the weeks to come.

What more can I say about Yellowstone that hasn’t been said before? It was here, as a young adolescent that I found a book on the early French Fur trappers and the Indians that inhabited that region. I was transfixed on this lifestyle and would later attain to learn all I could of their ways through rendezvous held in the mountains of the West:

Men like Jedidiah Smith, Grizzly Adams, Kit Carson, Jim Beckworth amongst many others lived in a time that was on the cusp of change. I envied that time and felt as if I was born to late.

John Colter (c.1774 – May 7, 1812 or November 22, 1813) was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806). Though party to one of the more famous expeditions in history, Colter is best remembered for explorations he made during the winter of 1807–1808, when he became the first known person of European descent to enter the region which later became Yellowstone National Park and to see the Teton Mountain Range, Colter spent months alone in the wilderness and is widely considered to be the first known mountain man.

Those old Indian tales intrigued me and what they had to say:

“I have heard it told on the Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the Seminole camps in the Florida Everglades, I have heard it from the Eskimos north of the Arctic Circle and the Indians south of the equator. The legend of the flood is the most universal of all legends. It is told in Asia, Africa, and Europe, in North America and the South Pacific.” Professor Hap Gilliland of Eastern Montana College was the first to record this legend of the great flood.

This is one of the fifteen legends of the flood that he himself recorded in various parts of the world:

He was an old Indian. his face was weather beaten, but his eyes were still bright. I never knew what tribe he was from, though I could guess. Yet others from the tribe whom I talked to later had never heard his story.

We had been talking of the visions of the young men. He sat for a long time, looking out across the Yellowstone Valley through the pouring rain, before he spoke. “They are beginning to come back,” he said.

“Who is coming back?” I asked.

“The animals,” he said. “It has happened before.”

“Tell me about it.’

He thought for a long while before he lifted his hands and his eyes. “The Great Spirit smiled on this land when he made it. There were mountains and plains, forests and grasslands. There were animals of many kinds–and men.”

The old man’s hands moved smoothly, telling the story more clearly than his voice.

The Great Spirit told the people, “These animals are your brothers. Share the land with them. They will give you food and clothing. Live with them and protect them.

“Protect especially the buffalo, for the buffalo will give you food and shelter. The hide of the buffalo will keep you from the cold, from the heat, and from the rain. As long as you have the buffalo, you will never need to suffer.”

For many winters the people lived at peace with the animals and with the land. When they killed a buffalo, they thanked the Great Spirit, and they used every part of the buffalo. It took care of every need.

Then other people came. They did not think of the animals as brothers. They killed, even when they did not need food. They burned and cut the forests, and the animals died. They shot the buffalo and called it sport. They killed the fish in the streams.

When the Great Spirit looked down, he was sad. He let the smoke of the fires lie in the valleys. The people coughed and choked. But still they burned and they killed.

So the Great Spirit sent rains to put out the fires and to destroy the people.

The rains feil, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded valleys to the higher land.

Spotted Bear, the medicine man, gathered together his people. He said to them, “The Great Spirit has told us that as long as we have the buffalo we will be safe from heat and cold and rain. But there are no longer any buffalo. Unless we can find buffalo and live at peace with nature, we will all die.”

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded plains to the hills.

The young men went out and hunted for the buffalo. As they went they put out the fires. They made friends with the animals once more. They cleaned out the streams.

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded hills to the mountains.

Two young men came to Spotted Bear. “We have found the buffalo,” they said. “There was a cow, a calf, and a great white bull. The cow and the calf climbed up to the safety of the mountains. They should be back when the rain stops. But the bank gave way, and the bull was swept away by the floodwaters. We followed and got him to shore, but he had drowned. We have brought you his hide.”

They unfolded a huge white buffalo skin.

Spotted Bear took the white buffalo hide. “Many people have been drowned,” he said. “Our food has been carried away. But our young people are no longer destroying the world that was created for them. They have found the white buffalo. It will save those who are left.”

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded mountains to the highest peaks.

Spotted Bear spread the white buffalo skin on the ground. He and the other medicine men scraped it and stretched it, and scraped it and stretched it.

Still the rains fell. Like all rawhide, the buffalo skin stretched when it was wet. Spotted Bear stretched it out over the village. All the people who were left crowded under it.

As the rains fell, the medicine men stretched the buffalo skin across the mountains. Each day they stretched it farther.

Then Spotted Bear tied one corner to the top of the Big Horn Mountains. That side, he fastened to the Pryors. The next corner he tied to the Bear Tooth Mountains. Crossing the Yellowstone Valley, he tied one corner to the Crazy Mountains, and the other to Signal Butte in the Bull Mountains.

The whole Yellowstone Valley was covered by the white buffalo skin. Though the rains still fell above, it did not fall in the Yellowstone Valley.

The waters sank away. Animals from the outside moved into the valley, under the white buffalo skin. The people shared the valley with them.

Still the rains fell above the buffalo skin. The skin stretched and began to sag.

Spotted Bear stood on the Bridger Mountains and raised the west end of the buffalo skin to catch the West Wind. The West Wind rushed in and was caught under the buffalo skin. The wind lifted the skin until it formed a great dome over the valley.

The Great Spirit saw that the people were living at peace with the earth. The rains stopped, and the sun shone. As the sun shone on the white buffalo skin, it gleamed with colours of red and yellow and blue.

As the sun shone on the rawhide, it began to shrink. The ends of the dome shrank away until all that was left was one great arch across the valley.

The old man’s voice faded away; but his hands said “Look,” and his arms moved toward the valley.

The rain had stopped and a rainbow arched across the Yellowstone Valley. A buffalo calf and its mother grazed beneath it.

Pretty potent fodder for the Soul no doubt.

I love driving early spring or late fall into places that would otherwise be bumper to bumper with tourist which allows me time to take my time and smell the flowers, as it were. After checking out all the sights and sounds of the park I was driving out and came through a section that was burnt back in 1988. I remember back then, people were freaking out calling for the Forest Service to extinguish the fires because we were losing a National Treasure. We now know that fires are a natural cycle of any healthy forest and I’m here to tell you that it may have yet to fully recover with large Lodge Pole Pine stands, but is doing just fine supporting a whole new cast of flora and fauna.

From there, I drove up to Big Sky ski resort just to check it out and found pretty much the same thing as Jackson Hole. The fake climbing walls, ziplines and other bullshit seemed a bit glitzy and fake to me. Although meet a nice lady at the chamber of commerce who told me some cool spots to disburse camp. She also told me of a cool Western Bar she hangs out at and likes to two-step, not particularly my forte’ but I’m sure I will figure it out.

The next day I drove into the college  town of Bozeman and up to Bridger Bowl ski area where I spent the night high up on a ridgeline overlooking the valley below. This is simply a mountain for skiing’s sake known for its backcountry accessible terrain and no frills amenities. Just what I’m looking for. I shall return when blanketed in snow.

Somewhere in the mountains I drink from the headwaters of the Missouri River, clear, clean and invigorating unlike the fluid downstream that has attained the title of the second most polluted waterway in the U.S. by the time it reaches the Mississippi River, which coincidently is the number one most polluted, 2300 miles to the East.

From there I made it down to Dillon Montana where I met up with a few Alaskan gals I knew back in Girdwood. We danced, sang, reveled at a old watering hole until closing. I was supposed to meet them back at one of their cabins for a night to remember. Somewhere along the way she lost me on these confounded dirt roads and I veer off into the soft.

I awoke in my van in the middle of a pasture, cows chewing their cud, looking at me like I don’t belong or something. So, with no memory what so ever of where the girls were, I drove off through old mining towns and railway depots of Montana until I found I could get back over into Idaho from south of Dillon Montana, through Lemhi Pass.

The pass gained importance in the 18th century, when the Lemhi Shoshone acquired horses and used the route to travel between the two main parts of their homeland. From the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 until the Oregon Treaty in 1846 the pass marked the western border of the United States. On August 12, 1805 Meriwether Lewis and three other members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition  crossed the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass with assistance from the Shoshone Indian Interpreter Sacajawea. Lewis found a “large and plain Indian road” over the pass. This was the first time that white men had seen present-day Idaho:

We proceeded to the top of the dividing ridge from which I discovered immense ranges of high mountains still to the West of us with their tops partially covered in snow

The next day Lewis met Cameahwait and his band of Shoshone, and returned with them across the pass to meet Clark. On August 26, 1805 the entire expedition crossed the pass.

In the early 19th century the pass was regularly used by the Blackfoot people.

I got two separate flats atop this pass, thank god not going down as I would have been SOL. I pulled out my doughnut spare and found that it only had a little bit of air in it so I coasted down the Western side until it peeled from the rim near the spot where Sacajawea gave birth to her baby while in route to the Pacific Ocean.. The next day I rode my bicycle into Salmon Idaho where I got a tow truck to help me out with a used tire. People just gawked at me on my lowrider beach cruiser in Good Old Town USA. I had to get into the Lochsa no matter what.

The Lochsa River ( pronounced ” lock saw”) is in the mountains of north central Idaho. It is one of two primary tributaries (with the Selway to the south) of the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River in the Clearwater National Forest. Lochsa is a Nez Perce word meaning rough water. The Salish name is Ep Smɫí, “It Has Salmon.” Although I am not sure how many if any return to their traditional spawning grounds without assistance nowadays. The Lochsa was included by the U.S. Congress in 1968 as part of the National Wild and ScenandRivers Act.The Lochsa and Selway rivers and their tributaries have no dams, and their flow is unregulated. In late spring, mid-May to mid-June, the Lochsa River is rated as one of the world’s best for continuous whitewater. I just missed the all to short spring runoff season in another drought year caused by thin snowpack but had a great time swimming and checking out the geology.

 Just southwest of Missoula, highway 12 runs through a grove of large and ancient Western Red cedars. Past this grove flows Crooked Fork Creek to join with White Sand Creek about two and a half miles downstream to form the Lochsa River. For many years this grove could be reached only by driving over a narrow gravel road that ran from Lolo, Montana over Lolo Pass and ended at Powell Ranger Station. During that time this grove was called the Big Cedars and the Forest Service maintained a public campground there for hunters, fishermen, and others who came to enjoy the forest. Scenery is beautiful through the corridor, ranging from dense forest to burned out steep sections. I was tempted to drive on the Lolo but have had enough adventure with the flats over Lemhi Pass. besides something is always nudging me onward with an inescapable sense of urgency.

On September 11, 1805, Lewis and Clark with the Corps of Discovery began one of the most difficult and demanding legs of their voyage to the Pacific Ocean – the 120-mile trek across the Bitterroot Mountains. They followed the Lolo Trail, an ancient travel route of the Nez Perce Indians. One of the responsibilities given to Lewis and Clark before their epic journey west was to study the flora and fauna of the United States’ newly acquired land. They collected hundreds of plant specimens with approximately 170 being new to science. As a tribute to their efforts, several species are named for them.

The Bitterroot Mountains form a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana. On both sides of this border is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. Only the 600 foot wide Nez Perce Trail (the Magruder Corridor), an unimproved dirt road, separates the Selway-Bitterroot from the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Except for the high crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, the area is dominated by ridges broken with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. Hidden low valleys are rich with old-growth cedar, fir, and spruce, with Ponderosa Pine dominating open grassy slopes along the rivers. Few humans visit the huge trailless portions of this Wilderness, which makes it all the more appealing for the Selway elk herd, plus abundant deer, moose, black bears, mountain lions, and wolves. Approximately 1,800 miles of trails wind through the area providing access to both the Montana and Idaho sides of the mountains, but many trails in the area are unmaintained and rugged. Travel by foot and stock can be challenging, but rewarding, in the heart of this large wild area. Mostly within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Wild and Scenic Selway River rushes out of the mountains of Idaho and is joined by flows from the Moose Creek drainage and lower down the Lochsa River. The Selway is a premier whitewater river offering a wild, remote, and self-reliant river experience.

This is as close to Shangri-La I have bee n in some time and I feel no troubles on my brow. Since my river raft guiding days, I have always introduced myself when approaching rivers, for what reason I cant say, just a habit. I listen intently to the river and let the Sun caress me while concocting a plan to bring my new FJ40  on the Magruder Corridor scouting for whatever lies about and pretty much breaking it in. She has been waiting for me, this place….

Selway River at the Goat Creek rapid
CountryUnited States
SourceSoutheast of Stripe Mountain
 – locationBitterroot National ForestSelway-Bitterroot WildernessBitterroot Mountains
 – elevation6,857 ft (2,090 m) [1]
 – coordinates45°29′49″N 114°44′37″W / 45.49694°N 114.74361°W [2]
MouthMeets Lochsa River to form Middle Fork Clearwater River
 – locationLowellNez Perce National Forest
 – elevation1,453 ft (443 m) [2]
 – coordinates46°08′25″N 115°35′58″W / 46.14028°N 115.59944°WCoordinates46°08′25″N 115°35′58″W / 46.14028°N 115.59944°W [2]
Length100 mi (161 km) [3]

Course of the river
Location of the mouth of the Selway River in Idaho
Wikimedia Commons: Selway River

The Selway River! a large tributary of the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River in the U.S. state of Idaho. It flows within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Bitterroot National Forest, and the Nez Perce National Forest of North Central Idaho.The entire length of the Selway was included by the United States Congress in 1968 as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The main stem of the Selway is 100 mile in length from the headwaters in the Bitterroots to the confluence with the Lochsa near Lowell to form the Middle Fork of the Clearwater. The Selway River drains a 2,013-square-mile basin in Idaho County.

 Idaho County Road and Forest Road 223 follows the wild and scenic Selway River through rugged country known for its extraordinary scenery, exceptional water quality and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. A stop at historic Fenn Ranger Station, which is on the National Historic Register, is an easy five-mile drive from Lowell. The east end of the Selway River corridor provides access to three trailheads entering the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. A 42-mile sightseeing drive from Lowell to Selway Falls and back offers the traveler an opportunity to appreciate the pritine beauty of the Selway River, a Wild and Scenic River, as well as picturesque Selway Falls. I just missed the Morel mushrooms that bloomed in the old forest fire burn areas but was enticed to stay here for awhile. I roam through some really majestic stands. This is the last place I thought I would find ancient Cedar, Hemlock and Engelmann Spruce. A unique micro climate allows these trees to survive and thrive here. Absolutely Gorgeous Country.

 MOSCOW,  Idaho -I meet up with old hunting buddy from Oakland CA.. We talk of Fall Elk Hunt and bullshit about the good old days. This guy has more guns than most and loves to talk about them but more so, actually shoot them, not without a dissertation on the caliber, powder mixture, prevailing winds and uncertainty of the hunt itself. He just cant fathom how I don’t own any and distrust most who don’t. His family came to Idaho years ago, most likely from the French fur trade. How the fuck we ever made it out of Oakland is beyond me yet here we are up in Idaho 25 years later-what a trip. He gives me some Elk to nourish me on my journey.  Many years ago he introduced me to being a steward of the Earth. I must admit all was good to have friends along the way to acknowledge our time on this planet together along the way. Once again though, I leave when Venus whispers for me to arise, I hate goodbyes.

 Purchase two more tires w/ rims. I now have three spares on roof since I need to get the ones I bought mounted on old rims. Ridiculous.

The city of Coeur d’Alene is pretty cool yet has grown significantly in recent years, in part because of a substantial increase in tourism, encouraged by several resorts in the area. The Coeur d’Alene Resort takes up a prominent portion of the city’s downtown. It is also located near two major ski resorts: Silver Mountain Resort to the east in Kellogg, and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort to the north in Sandpoint. I didn’t have time to stop here but I’m sure I will be back with the landcruiser this winter to ride. I kick it on the beach of this huge deep lake that was created by some pretty cool dynamics and take it all in.

I call some folks who relocated from Girdwood and kick it on their farm where we ate some Elk my buddy gave me and some catfish & duck my friends had. I was so wore out by this time, just road weary I guess. I have such a reputation to being a hell raiser, I think it surprises most when I’m retrospective and mellow. My buddy here is also a landcruiser nut and we can just talk about what makes them so badass. I left a flower head wreath not wanting to rouse her from deep slumber.

Blackfeet Country

I made my way North East once again towards Glacier N.P. Montana. I couldn’t wait to see what remains of the namesake in this changing world of ours.

In Glacier National Park (GNP), MT some effects of global climate change are strikingly clear. Glacier recession is underway, and many glaciers have already disappeared. The retreat of these small alpine glaciers reflects changes in recent climate as glaciers respond to altered temperature and precipitation. It has been estimated that there were approximately 150 glaciers present in 1850, and most glaciers were still present in 1910 when the park was established. In 2010, we consider there to be only 25 glaciers larger than 25 acres remaining in GNP. A computer-based climate model predicts that some of the park’s largest glaciers will vanish by 2030 (Hall and Fagre, 2003). This is only one model prediction but, if true, then the park’s glaciers could disappear in the next several decades. This could be argued as a natural process but you have to be plain stupid, ignorant or simply disregarding the facts that prove Man’s actions and addiction to Fossil Fuels are accelerating it.

I don’t know if I am tripping but some kind of pattern seems to be emerging no matter how far or fast I go. I stand out there gazing across that which cannot be seen, only felt. I cant seem to shake this forbidding sense overcoming me.

Going-to-the-Sun Road!! a scenic mountain road is the only path that traverses the park crossing the Continental Divide through Logan Pass at an elevation of 6,646 feet, which is the highest point on the road. Construction began in 1921 and was completed in 1932 with formal dedication in the following summer on July 15, 1933 by the CCC. The road is the first to have been registered in all of the following categories: National Historic Place. National Historic Landmark and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as the Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet of the road per day. On the east side of the continental divide, there are few guardrails due to heavy snows and the resultant late winter avalanches that have repeatedly destroyed every protective barrier ever constructed. The road is generally open from early June to mid October.

The two lane Going-to-the-Sun Road is quite narrow and winding with hairpin turns, especially west of Logan Pass. Speed limits are 45 mph in the lower elevations and 25 mph in the steeper and winding alpine sections. So I usually punch it through these sections since there is hardly anyone up here, when the clouds close in all around to where you lose all sense of what’s up or down, forward or behind, I just laugh my ass off- near Death yet never more Alive.

I drive through another trendy town of Whitefish near Big Mountain Resort. You know they all have the same stupid T-Shirts and tourist shit as the ski town over the pass does, only with their respective logos. Cookie Cutter Cut & Paste. I had to get out of there and get up to the Mountain. It was so green up there and I have heard good things about this mountain although it doesn’t have double black diamond runs, it makes up for it with uninhabited acreage.

I got a call to go back to work so I have to get to Bellingham ASAP to fly out of. I really wanted to stay awhile longer and look up my old Swedish family who live up here but it will have to wait. On the way back, I am heading West to the Pacific over yet another awesome High Country place in the Mt. Baker National Forest of Washington.

North Cascades N.P. Washington

Some of our most amazing mountains and forests are in the North Cascades. While some of this amazing habitat is protected in North Cascades National Park, there are too many fragile places next to the park that are not protected from logging and mining.

That’s why we’re working to protect over 200,000 acres in the Cascades, including:

• The Baker Rainforest, a rare American temperate rainforest, where visitors can stand at the base of ancient trees 15 feet wide, and

• The incredible Skagit River and its headwaters, where hundreds of salmon, including the endangered Chinook salmon, come to spawn.

Right now, there’s virtually nothing to stop timber and mining companies from clear-cutting and otherwise spoiling these ecologically important areas of the forest.

Critical habitat for salmon, bears and elk

We have the opportunity to permanently protect irreplaceable habitat for salmon, bears, elk, and more. That’s why we’re working with recreation organizations, local conservation groups and elected officials to protect one of Washington’s wildest places. Now we need to build and show our leaders the public support we know it takes to win approval. We’re urging Congress to permanently protect 200,000 acres of critical land.

We know we can protect our forests because we’ve done it before. Thanks to our members and activists, we convinced our leaders to protect the Carbon River Valley Rainforest within Mount Rainier National Park, one of the last inland rainforests in North America. And this year, we won our campaign to protect 1,000 acres within the San Juan Islands when President Obama designated the area a National Monument.

I put on a few more thousand miles throughout some of those high places I dreamt of as a boy. Reading stories of mountain men and the Natives who dwelt amongst the Wapiti.

I wonder if they would recognize some of their homelands since the covered wagons came from the east.

Everywhere I go it seems that things seem to move faster towards a uncertain future.

The Mountains though, they remain true as Sentinels, unmoved by Mans device. Although I have found evidence of his presence through what he leaves behind in the form of plastics. Even in some of the most remote places I have been. Discarded food packaging, spent shotgun shells and a lot of water bottles & broken glass. Plastics have some well intended purposes but we have to get out of our disposable habits if we are to salvage what we can of a Natural World.

I am leaving my van in Bellingham to fly back to Alaska for a few weeks up on the Tanana River.

When I come back in the Fall I will continue through the volcanoes of the Cascades down to where the Redwoods dwell in the Sierra’s.

Tune in next time for more adventures:

Prophets of Rage

Mt. Rainier N.P.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Shasta


Yosemite N.P.

Golden Trout Wilderness

Sequoia & Kings Canyon N.P.

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