As we drove away from Salmon-Challis, Idaho Frank Church Middle Fork River of No Return Wilderness, a large herd of elk are moving through the grassland hidden by the low rising clouds. A minimum of fifty elk all running, walking, bounding at good speed, except for the ones in the road both in front and behind us, aren’t worth noting. I just really wanted to make that statement about the elk staring at me from the middle of the road when I looked behind me in the rearview. Moving along as this story isn’t about that hitch with an amazing ranch with its own runway; it’s about our latest trip to the Middle Fork of the Frank Church Wilderness in Salmon-Challis, ID. (Montana Conservation Corps in Idaho always seems odd).

Trying to find the sneaky road that leads to the trailhead we arrive at the summit of the ridge knowing the turn was nearby. Driving a little way we arrived on a lower ridge finding a sign for meadow we plan to camp at saying ‘thataway.’ We descend the ridge and continue straight down to the valley below. Well I’m glad that wasn’t uphill I think as I’m unloading my second run of tools and gear down a few miles to the camp site. This place was about as pretty as it gets with Indian Creek running by the large Rocky Mountains covered in evergreens. Completing the picture the fall-tinted meadow plant s made this valley quite the place to be. We work hard covering miles of trails making the corridor wide and safe enough of Abe Lincoln, hat included, riding a horse down this formerly treacherous trail. We used the ancient, American Indian method of clearing trail with the special-made steel crosscut saw. Traveling miles around the bending mountains going up, and heading back down to cross creeks leading to the river.  It made for night of well-deserved rest till the morning. The mornings had some surprises as well. With the bears forcing us to be on our toes with their ability to never be seen, we gathered food from our levitated bag. Bearing the cold weather bare handed, I ate the bears favorite foods, nuts, berries (dried)(also they were raisins), and honey; all wrapped in the coveted, riot inducing tortilla. We wolfed down our rationed meals and slept feet away from wolves.  The epic 16 day adventure in the Indian Creek Valley was full of great work and topped off with a last hike all the way back out and up to the trailhead that lead us straight down a mountain.  I did great work with great people in great places under rugged circumstances and had an experience of a lifetime. But I digress, this paragraph has just a little interlude in the feature story.

We hike our first load of supplies all the way up the mountain entering upon new visitors at the trailhead. As time goes on we find out the new residents of the trailhead are here to hunt the elk. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. We just spent 16 days not making trail for Abe Lincoln, hat included, on a horse, but for people to hunt the stunning, picturesque animal we saw in the low clouds leaving our last hitch, how sad. Well that’s not what I was thinking. But then I remembered the way that one elk creeped me out when I looked behind at the end of the previous adventure into the Salmon-Challis, Idaho Middle Fork of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and I thought meh serves that elk right, I’m glad I could help this chiropractor using our trail to hunt some elk. (Also note it almost felt like I needed a chiropractor hiking everything straight up hill a few miles back to our rig.)

Good luck hunters. Bag those elk and just remember treat the wilderness with the respect it deserves and I’ll be glad to give you good trail though the mountains.


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