Sloverlanding from the Tetons to the Sawtooths and along the Salmon River

General Route Since Last Post

Daily travel can get exhausting, but the benefits of us doing it together have been pretty profound over our first month. A month ago, we would each sort of do our thing around the house with infrequent conversations about the common issues. We both worked in different industries spending lots of time and energy in those individual areas. We are now forced to be in a position each day where almost everything is a common issue that needs to be addressed. From the basics of setting up and breaking down the rig and campsites, to the hand signals used to back the truck and trailer into a campsite, to the funtivites of hiking, biking, and running, and, less we forget, the high drama of the conversations around what’s next. We now communicate about everything these days, all while being compassionate, humble, and keeping a good sense of humor. The other day while stress was high (the A-liner water pump stopped working and then the plastic nozzle on the water jug broke), Lysette stopped me and offered a hug. After the much needed and appreciated hug, she said you have egg in your beard. I replied, and you have spinach in your teeth. We both had a great laugh together. These are all good things and positve growth along our journey. 

The celebration of our first month being full time travelers was June 21st. We started our planning with a basic budget to set financial expectations. For fun, consider the following:

  • Lodging averaged $21.36 per day. The extravagant lodging cost were the KOA’s and RV parks ranging from $50 – $75 per night. 
  • Food averaged $42.14 per day (includes beer, wine, and dog food)
  • Gas averaged $13.84 per day.
  • Other, which includes items such as Toohey’s meds, mails forwarding, and phone averaged $19.80 per day. 
  • The total average cost per day to live for the first 33 days was $97.12.

We did well, compared to our budget, with gas and lodging, but were way over on the food. This was somewhat surprising, and likely reflecting the poor budgeting number more than extravagant eating. “Ground” was in the name of most of the meats we purchase and a lot of the protein came from cans. All kidding aside, we did eat fresh meats and veggies most nights for dinner and 6 eggs per day between us for breakfast. Spinach was the most consumed leafy green. Toohey has also expanded his diet slightly as he has now assumed clean up duty of all non spicy dishes to help prevent bears from getting it. 

Analyzing money can ruin a good game though. It is way more important to emphasize the quality of things like the beautiful nature we have witnessed, the growth of our relationship, and the health and fitness we share. 

This episode of Travels with Toohey is quite long as we have been moving without wifi since June 17th. The following are the topics for a preview of the excitement to follow. 

  • The Worlds First Atomic City & Craters of the Moon
  • Introduction to the Sawtooths
  • The Engineer and the Wrench
  • Sleeping with the Tarantula
  • The COVID Refugee
  • Redfish Lake Area
  • The Link Between the Idaho Elk and the Central Idaho Snarl
  • Following the Salmon River to the Point of No Return

Stats and Stuff

  • From: Arco, ID, KOA Journey
  • To: Missoula, MT
  • Starting mileage: 146,924
  • Ending mileage: 147,845
  • Lowest documented MPG: 16.7
  • Temperature Range: upper upper 20’s – 80’s
  • Nights off the grid: 10
  • Cost of Camping: $50 for the Arco KOA/$16 for the North Fork Campground/$0 for Boondocking
  • Camp Host: Yes, we had KOA Kamp Host at Arco but they were mostly all business, no frills. Camp Host at North Fork campground was an extremely nice, helpful and friendly guy who named me Mr. Wrench. Read below for more. No camp host the rest of the way.
  • Connectivity: No cell service at No. 11 but good at the pump and water station across the street, about a mile away. Good cell service at the boondocking site at Redfish Lake and limited wifi at the General Store in North Fork ID, about 11 miles from our camp.
  • Reading list: Progress, but honestly, we aren’t spending much time in the books.
    • Lysette – The Ultimate Guide to Raising Farm Animals by 6 authors
    • The Kemp – Merles’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog byTed Kerasote – Disclaimer: a neighbor gave me this book about 8 years ago and I have been reading slowly, really slowly, so slow it was a permanent dusty fixture on my bedside table that I had forgotten until moving out. The book is relative because of his interest in dog behavior, he finds this dog while on a rafting trip in Glen Canyon CO, and he has stories of his outdoors life with the dog around the west. I must finish this!
  • Interesting notes about the areas:
    • Arco amused me which made it just plain interesting, Craters of the Moon was fascinating from a natural earth standpoint and visually different.
    • Sun Valley and Ketchum, not my thing. Ketchum is a posh little ski resort town that was a favorite of Hemingway who is actually buried there. The Sun Valley resort was founded on “posh” by a railroad tycoon who opened the ski resort to increase people traveling there. He featured news reports on the opening with many famous people. One famous person, the wife of the railroad tycoon, was none other than Winston Churchill’s mother. The nature outside isn’t posh and remains unspoiled and well managed even with the popularity. The mountains, known as the Sawtooths, are magnificent and you can easily see why they have been named such based on the ragged edges along the mountain peaks. 
    • Redfish Lake brings a more lake resort feel rolled up in a National Forest. It was extremely busy. All campgrounds, and there were many, were fully booked while we were here. Boats and jet skis buzzed around in the big lake but Little Redfish Lake and Stanley Lake were quiet. Hit the trails before 8am to have some alone time. After that you should be prepared for lots of hikers and horse trains. The mountain views all throughout the area and on trails were outstanding and those, by themselves, are worth the time here.
    • The Salmon River drive was extremely interesting with varied topography and views. There is a lot of history here with Lewis and Clark. The camp we had was extraordinary. Book a river rafting trip if you are planning a trip.
  • Our activities:
    • Sun Valley included Baker Lake hike, repaired water pump, biked Herriman trail, visit with nephew, slept with tarantula, Norton Lake hike, fly fishing, and photography.
    • Red Fish Lake activities included trail runs towards Marshall Lake and to Bend Lakes, lots of SUP time with Toohey in Little Red Fish and Stanley Lakes. Early morning photos of the peaks at sunrise. 
    • Salmon River was fly fishing, photography, relaxing in the outdoor, and a long drive along the river of no return. The camp simply captivated us into a lazy few days.
  • Firsts: Repaired water pump! Used the water heater for warm shower. Fly fishing in Idaho.
  • Next Up:  Heading to Missoula, MT for a reset, clean up, and maintenance break. From there back into Idaho to wander along highway 12, west to Oregon.

Arco, Idaho: The Worlds First Atomic City

Leaving the Teton valley was tough but the journey is about exploring new things, so off we go. The direction was west to see Craters of the Moon then into the Sawtooth Mountains for some more high altitude funtivities. We booked a site for two nights at the KOA Journey in Arco, which is AOK, for our regular maintenance of klean up and kontact with the world. After driving through the expansive Idaho National Laboratory desert filled with hills of scrub grass and skirting some mountains in the Salmon-Challis range, we entered the metro area of Arco. The first indications of things to come is when the directions tell  you to turn left at the Pickle’s Place. Great start. We turned left, down the road to a KOA in a field between Honey’s Free Dry Camping and a horse barn. No mistaken anything for light houses here. 

Arco, Idaho, with population on the sign of 876 humans, is quite interesting, as it holds the title of the Worlds First Atomic City. Seriously, a city powered by nuclear energy in the 50’s. If someone had mentioned that to me, I would conjure up images of George Jetson zipping around his modern age town in his gas globe car spitting bubbles out the exhaust with his dog Elroy, and Jane, his wife. Arco, ID is far from that. A quick web search and we learned that the only known US deaths from nuclear power were 3 soldiers in the 1950’s from Arco. Everything about this place is the result of nuclear energy research, Honey*, and agriculture. There is the tower to a nuclear submarine 666 in a road side park as you ride into town and signs everywhere commenting on its legacy as the first Atomic City. Their sister city, now reportedly a ghost town with 24 residents, is Atomic City located 30 miles from here. Unfortunately, it is in the wrong direction so what we know was pulled off a Google search. I suspect there are some really interesting things to be discovered there.

In the event that little tid bit of American History doesn’t drive you to book flights to Arco, there is also Craters of the Moon National Monument. The national monument is run much like a National Park with rangers, paved roads, lots of needed restrictions to protect it from us, and a fee. The place was formed from lava flows and is really quite interesting. Apparently, the earths crust is thin here which allowed lava to flow up and out, spilling along the area. The flow stopped sometime 2000 years ago leaving us something quite unique. As you look out and along the wide area, you can almost see the flow of lava as it reached out, and up in areas. The lava is sharp, yet fragile. The cool thing about the area and the time of year we visited were the small, colorful flowers blooming, creating really pretty colors through what otherwise appears dead. 

The entrance was staffed outside by several rangers standing under tents while wearing mask who were there to answer questions. There is a camp ground, which is listed at a dark spot based on the lack of lights,  is advertised as great for star gazing and likely a stop for us had the skies been clear. The road takes you on a 7 mile one way loop into the park where you can do one of several short hikes to see interesting things such as shapes created when the lava formed around trees, spatter mounds that formed when hot lava is shot out of the earth (think mini volcano slightly larger than the one you made for the science fair), and again, the interesting bloom of wild flowers. So, if visiting the Worlds First Atomic City isn’t your reason, then make sure this one rings your destination bell as it is unique. 

*Note for those penciling in the area for a family excursion. If you are driving through and need a quick night sleep and are carrying your own water and toilet, then check out Honey’s Free Dry Camping. We actually didn’t learn of this place until investigating the large sign stationed at the fence on the property line between them and our KOA, which is AOK. The sign is encouraging the KOA Kampers not to throw food over the fence because the Honey’s dog has severe food allergies. 

Honey’s Folk Art Directions

When you look closer at the property you notice the parked school buses which at first glance appear to be junk. They are, however, another mans treasure as faces of dogs are painted over the front of the buses and several other folk art style signs painted at the entrance leading you in and providing instructions on how to camp at Honey’s. Digging a little deeper into web reviews confirms this guy and his camp ground are part of the experience. Meeting Honey sounds rich and should be a part of staying in Arco.

Link to Honey’s Free Dry Camping

https://www.boondockerswelcome.com/hosts/13133/

Introduction to the Sawtooths

We motored the rig to the Sun Valley area up through Carey, Bellevue, Hailey, and into Ketchum, about a day’s stage coach ride. The housing cost rose like a bull market the closer we got to Ketchum. The funny thing to me is I have always heard of Sun Valley ski area, but unlike Vail, Aspen and other high end ski areas, I had never heard the town of Ketchum. Ketchum is similar to Aspen. Lysette and I discussed the relationship between cities such as Driggs to Ketchum. The one most fitting was Salida to Aspen. Driggs has a small town feel, people that enjoy the outdoors but don’t need a Lear jet, and a small nice ski resort sitting just up the mountain. Ketchum like Aspen, has the feel of being an outdoors town with lots of people wearing the brand names, fancy restaurants, and high end brand shops down cute little streets. Along with brand name merchandise comes brand name celebrities and cost. Neither are a bad thing, more about choosing the thing you want. 

The drive up the beginning of Sun Valley canyon is relatively flat to low grade along the Big Wood River and has high, mostly bare, green mountains along both sides with spots of pines and aspen. Where these mountains layers meet on their downward slopes provides you a glimpse of higher rocky mountain summits in the distance, of which we strain to see. As you continue up the valley, you begin to see more mountains and the awesome views of the Sawtooths, more trees, rocks and excitement. 

North Fork CG No. 11

We passed through Ketchum and continued up the valley until we found the North Fork campground with 20 something sites, water source, and pit toilets. Camp Host greeted us as we drove in. He was a really nice guy who has been coming to the area for over 40 years to fish, had been camp hosting for a few years, and living on the road, mortgage free, for 8 years. Lysette commented that we stopped here because we heard he was the best camp host, which brought on a quick smile. He suggested we check out number 11, 16, and 23 as likely the best for us and our rig. We chose No. 11, as it sat at the end of the road, on a loop, and backed up to the Big Wood River. Camp Host came by later in his camp host golf cart, walking his dog, Tanner, along side. We paid him while plugging him for information on the area. The conversation would always be light and jovial with Camp Host which we enjoyed. The dogs were both 12 years old and after their initial sniffs, pretty much just ignored each other. Camp Host would come around later each day, sometime with Mrs. Camp Host and Tanner, selling fire wood and free conversation. We would continue to enjoy his stops each day, and used his free advice on the area. Mrs. Camp Host wife was equally as lovely which added to the experience of camping at North Fork, No. 11.

We made a quick drive back to town which was about 8 miles aways to use the phone to call Lysette’s nephew who was planning to stop over for a camp on his way home from college to Montana. We grabbed some grub at a local market and headed back up canyon taking a few side forest roads into National Forest land to check out the area. While up Lake Creek, we stopped at a pull off to feed Toohey and stretch. There was one truck there with its owner down by a small pond and stream fishing. We wandered down to the stream so Toohey could have a drink and watched the small brook trout swimming along. We thought we should alert this guy with his fly rod so we casually strolled in ear shot of him to announce our findings. He tossed his trump card down, saying the pond where he WAs standing has hundreds of stocked rainbow trout all fighting for his fly. He casted and immediately pulled in a small fish. Humbled, we left.

First impressions of this mountain area is the place is beautiful, different in ways from other mountain areas with long wide valleys meeting striking high ragged rocky tops. We looked forward to spending some time here to slow down and enjoy it. We intend to move up valley to the Stanley and Redfish area possibly by Monday to allow for it to warm up just a bit and to miss the weekenders who occupy many of the camps in the area. After returning to camp, we ate dinner and as the cooler temperatures came, we retreated to the camper for an early night. 

The Engineer and the Wrench

While readying the rig to leave Arco after two nights we noticed water pressure wasn’t building in the lines. After further investigation we determined our water pump must be on the fritz. As the story developed, we continued to investigate locating a replacement pump and having it installed. This will take some time and will require the right narrow opportunity of locating the correct part and a service provider who can install it while crossing paths with the Huntbaums. Being without water wasn’t a grave concern as we have water, two 5-gallon water containers, so we are mostly prepared for this little inconvenience. But the inconvenience of knowing a system isn’t working weighs on my mind. I woke up the next morning having thought about all the options all night which doesn’t make happy travels for me. With this stress, we figured the best cure for the system blues and to create an answer was a hike to Baker Lake. 

Toohey retrieving sticks in Baker Lake

Baker Lake Trail is located at the end of Baker Lake Road which is a ~9 mile Forest Service Road lined with boondocking sites and cuts through an old burn scar. The trail was a 4 mile out and back up to an alpine lake. You hike through the an old burn scar for a period which turned out to be a highlight as the forest rejuvenation appeared healthy. The combination of scarred and torched timber with lush green grasses and wild flowers, pressed against the clear blue sky was beautiful. Toss in the backdrop of the snow-capped mountain peak looking over Baker Lake and you’ve got the recipe for an amazing little hike. We asked for more and Mother Nature delivered some snow on the ground from the previous storm, so Toohey got to swim and eat snow. And you are thinking, wow, too good to be true, but wait, there’s more. On the way home we came up with a solution to the water pump and it worked! Toss in a free set of steak knives and you have the perfect infomercial.

Burn scar with nice regrowth

My initial plan was to remove the pump, and then purchase a new one to install. Simple, as I had called a shop who had one in stock about an hour drive and a cost of $100. Shame on me as one of my pet peeves during my career was jumping too quickly to solutions, guilty. The engineer in Lysette however, did the normal, smart, and analytical thing by researching the pump on google. (Side bar is camp host told us about cell service next to the pump station about 1 mile from camp which made this easier). Her research found a really helpful video on the steps to take if your SureFlow pump isn’t flowing. Keep in mind that in this trailer, the water pump is located in the back left corner, under the bed, and sandwiched between the 11 gallon water tank and the wall. Thank goodness for the Tibetan Rites.

Mr Wrench

Our decision was to go back to the A-Liner and follow the troubleshooting steps first. We followed the suggestions in the video, first by removing the filter to make sure this wasn’t clogged. Second, not sure why this isn’t first, but bang on the pump with your heavy wrench. Last, and requiring that we remove the pump of all water and connections, remove the 8 screws holding pump cover to see if the check valve is stuck. The check valve was stuck. We reassembled everything, added water to the tank, turned the switch on, and the dang water flowed! Later that afternoon we saw camp host and told him of the story. He now refers to me as Mr. Wrench.

We took advantage of everything being open in the back to move supplies, repack for better organization, and hung close to camp the remainder of the day. An afternoon rain shower added more reason to do nothing. Later, after dinner and a few successful hands of Gin for me, we drove back over to the pump station to use the cell service to pay some bills and check emails. All in, a successful day!

Sleeping with the Tarantula

This new day with a working water pump was bike ride day. There is an 18 mile ride on the Harriman trail up the canyon. The trail is named in honor of the railroad tycoon who founded Sun Valley. Pamela Harriman, his wife, donated the funds and was also the mother of Winston Churchill. So we pulled the bikes from their corral, saddled them up, assigned Toohey his duty of protecting the assets, and set off on our ride on the trail made possible by Winston Churchill’s mom. The ride was all gravel, flat with a few really short rolling hills, passed through open meadows, pine forested sections, and along the river. The money shots were along the eastern flank where the spectacular Boulder Range stood proudly. We made it a whopping 14km before we needed to turn back to relieve Toohey of his duties. The ride was good, needed exercise on a well maintained trail. 

The afternoon took on a different task of getting ready to see Lysette’s nephew who was driving back to Montana from college at Cal-Poly. This branch of the Hunt family live in Billings, produced four amazing humans who are each individuals, equipped with intelligence, drive, adventure, and best of all, the Hunt sense of humor. They are easy going, interesting, and fun to be around.

We headed to town for groceries, beer, and my fishing license, the last of which has nothing to do with her nephew. We made it back to camp to tidy up and start the fire. He rolled in around 8:30, we drank a beer, ate fajitas, had good conversation, all around the fire. 

Frozen Nephew-in-a-Bun – Bear Food

The night had cooled down quite a bit and her nephew, even after offering him our tent, the back of the truck, and sharing lots of concern about him sleeping on the ground in freezing bear country, decided to sleep on the ground. This impacted our guilt way more than his concern, as this wasn’t his first “ground sleeping” rodeo. An Eagle Scout and experienced camper, he didn’t hesitate. Our guilt, while getting dressed for bed, was equally as determined, especially as the little gas heater fired up in the A-liner to warm our space. Our comfort, separating us from nature and 8 feet from where he laid; him, in a zero-degree sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping pad, and budget blanket protected him from certain death, if not from freezing, but surely from a wolf or bear. 

Nephew with Toby the Tarantula

Just before being done trying to persuade him of other options, Lysette told him that he should knock on the door if he needs anything, ANYTHING. The door knock came soon after and just before we had crawled into our warm secure bed. Our first thought was Nephew had come to his senses. But no, he had a question, and from the look on his face, it was going to be a good one. Anything starting off with “can my pet Tarantula…” gets your attention. For those in my TV dinner generation, immediate memories of The Brady Bunch Hawaii episode played through my mind. We finally made sense of his question that he was asking us to let his pet tarantula sleep with us, as he was worried about it being too cold in the car. We discussed tarantula death biting habits, human interaction with tarantula venom, reminding Lysette where we passed the local emergency room, and such before finally reaching a comfort level, and agreeing. Not really, it was an easy decision and an interesting one, especially given the guilt of us locking him outside into near death by sleeping on the ground in bear country while, us, the Huntbaums and Toohey, are tucked nicely into their warm locked A-Liner, with a large furry bug. In all honesty, the cute little… big hairy spider has a name, Toby, and lives in a Plexiglas-glass box world with dirt, a rock, several remnants of cricket, and quite frankly, never moved. 

Nephew, Toohey and Kemp’s hand

We decided that the perfect way to celebrate surviving a night with a tarantula was a hike up to Norton Lake with Nephew. This hike has significant elevation gain over just a few miles. The pay off is a beautiful alpine lake and mountain goats sprinkled over distant rocky ledges. There were a few stream crossings and even though the small parking lot was full, we encountered few other hiking humans along the way. The lake was clear enough to see trout swimming along and nice enough for Toohey to fetch a few sticks. On the way down, we took time to look at and create stories on the life of deformed evergreen trees with branches that suddenly turn to a 90 degree angle with no apparent break in the truck. We marveled at the large boulders stuck on the roots of upturned decaying trees, and stopped to take pictures of interesting wild flowers. We said our good byes to Nephew, sending him off with a new wave, the tarantula.

The COVID Refugee

Returning to camp needing to clean up, we rigged the shower, showered, then walked down to our neighbors camp, No. 12, for a chat. Neighbor No. 12, a vibrant, knowledgable lady traveling alone, had stopped by the day before to inquire about our camper, but secretly, wanted some good ole human interaction with other travelers. After that short conversation, I offered her a conversation anytime she felt, so just stop by, which gladly she did. Since we were in the midst of cleaning up, I suggested we come down to her camp after we were done, which she agreed. 

Neighbor No. 12 is a self proclaimed, and accurately stated, COVID refugee, van lifer without the van, and all around friendly human. She travels in a small compact Toyota, small tent, and camp chair with attachable umbrella, and based on our short time together, is in tune with herself and nature. She says her age isn’t important as Neighbor No. 12 reportedly stays healthy with good eating habits, daily walks, and seems to remain interested in life, says that she acts the age she feels which is youthful, and that is all that is needed. She proudly calls out the names of birds as they pass buy, flowers, and while sitting proudly in her camp chair, relaxed with her legs crossed, you feel as if you are sitting in her personal garden. She has told us of her past work with the National Park Service as an educator, and current as a life consultant, tapping into client’s creativity and face thumping to reach inner emotional issues. Of Irish decent (of which she has dual citizenship), she grew up in San Fransisco to a father who enjoyed sailing and gardening and a mother who gave her the relationship she knows and loves with nature. Back then she calls San Fransisco a middle class, affordable place to live where her father would plant seeds in vacant lots, of which, vacant lots don’t exist any longer nor do the affordable living of middle class. Her posture is tall and confident, she wears jeans, slip on swede hikers, t-shirts covered by a long sleeve collared technical shirt to block the sun, and best of all, a large brim hat that protects lots of beautiful smiles from her avoidance of harmful sun rays and heat. On the picnic table, to her right, sit several journals, two large bottles of water, and a black sun-warming water bladder with hoses designed for showers and dishes. 

Neighbor No. 12 takes pride in her love and connection with nature and shared a story that illustrated such an interaction. She talked about grieving after her father passed away. One day, she was walking along a beach outside of San Fransisco watching seals. She suddenly screamed out a seal noise and a baby seal, which seemed to be an orphan, as no mother was near, moved up the beach, out of the surf, and placed its head on her foot. A passer by stopped, commenting that what they just witbnessed was one of the most unusual things he’d ever seen. That night she said she wept for hours thinking of the connection of herself, now as an orphan, the same as the seal. This seemed to help her grieving process. Great honesty and courage to tell this story to us, two seemingly strangers, from campsite No. 11.  

Her experiences as a full time traveler are delivered with pride as she talks about her pre-COVID traveling exploits, then life as a full time COVID refuge. The outbreak and shutdown started for her while with a Canadian friend in the desert of southern Nevada. The park closed and kicked her out. Her friend went home to Canada with expectation she’d join, but based on current boarder closures, just isn’t likely. So she has bounced from camp to camp starting in March until now, always looking for the next open one while finding opportunities to sleep at times in hotels, and finding ways to simply live with the new rules. One morning, while staying at an open BLM park in Nevada with other refugees, a gentleman came to her car where she was sleeping and asked if she was okay, did she need a tent or something to sleep in. With confidence she tells how she responded with, “of course I am okay.” As if it is normal for a woman to be sleeping alone in her car. The response illustrates the confidence that defines her, not as a victim of circumstance, but as somebody living her life with purpose. 

She acknowledges that she likes this area of Sun Valley as it has lush foliage, has been damp (something she loves from her years in San Fran) and has like minded educated people. She staked a claim on a closed section of the local Starbucks where she writes, manages emails, and recharges her computer. She has never owned a smart phone but is considering it as an easy button for being a refuge. During our discussions, Neighbor No. 12 delivers information and news that she has learned from listing to NPR and also dialogues on topics such as climate, travels, nature, and my favorite, the power of the body and mind in healing. She did add that she is now considering plan B which might be an actual van. But she has no intent on stopping as she loves to travel. 

Neighbor No. 12 giving Toohey his favorite butt scratch

Lysette and I would talk about our conversations with her for several hours and days, intrigued by her life, stories, and comments, trying to understand who Neighbor No. 12 truly is as a human. For us, it isn’t about the specific politics, points of view, or curiosity around her stories. it is about trying to listen and understand her life story, of which, we find her fascinating. Her courage to be herself, to be alone, finding joy just being in nature, searching daily for a plug to charge her electric toothbrush while being denied that by a territorial magpie at a car recharge station, and simply, to make life work for her even as she always has a choice to live the “normal.” Maybe it isn’t really a choice for her as much as our checking out for a year wasn’t a choice for us, it simply had to be. I think she, or anyone in her position, can manage this life as long as they remain connected to other humans. I think our talks helped feed that need in her and Lysette, Toohey, and I were happy to deliver, as that need was certainly reciprocal for us. 

Following our time with Neighbor No. 12, we retired to the camp for drinks, dinner, a few hands of cards, of which I’m on a serious roll, and early to bed. 

Fathers Day, Fly Fishing, and Photography

Pretty flowers on run/hike

Today, June 21, is Father’s Day and the first day of my new life as an avid fly fisherman. But that was put on hold to allow time for all the Father’s Day pleasantries and whatnots. We drove to Ketchum and made phone calls to family, sent emails, and enjoyed connecting on this day where, I get all the praise! While riding that emotional high, we stopped off at Murdoch Creek Trail for a quick run. There was no information about this trail but the unknown proved to be a pleasant surprise. The trail follows Murdoch Creek up the narrow valley with large pines and small aspens providing cool shade. The creek was beautiful, small and flowing well, giving lots of lush green grasses and wild flowers nutrients. At about mile 1 this all changed with a sudden, short scramble up a hill then narrow path along the hillside. The path remained high for a while then came to a treacherous little area where the gravel had obviously slidden out leaving a drop of 40 feet, certain death, to the creek. Toohey and I, with nothing to grip, and him not having thumbs giving him to ability to grip, managed our way across. Lysette was having nothing to do with it, so Toohey, with no thumbs, and I had to dangerously make it back across the sandy ledge. At one point, my foot even slipped, pushing rocks down to the creek bed. The decision was made to turn back and enjoy the beautiful parts of the trail again, back to the truck. About this time, an older couple came walking towards us on the other side of this danger zone. Without hesitation and to our surprise, the two navigated it with the ease of a professionals. We watched closely as they would certainly die. They didn’t die. Confounded, we discussed this with the lady while watching her male companion finished crossing, as he was a bit slower. She indicated that it wasn’t bad for an 84 year old. Humbled, we ran back to the truck. (LH edit: The man was only 82. The couple had walking sticks and proper hiking boots, I had worn running shoes with little tread. Also, I am getting tired of 80+ year old men beating me uphill on bikes, in triathlons, and now hiking in Sun Valley!)

Kemp fishing

Lysette gave me a fly rod and some flies for my birthday in November. I purchased an Idaho fishing license a few days before, and we decided to take the afternoon to go fishing while she photographed stuff (me). We found a wide open, yet windy river along a dirt road at the foot of a small bridge. I rigged up the gear and started casting towards obvious fishing spots, small pools, beneath limbs, and everywhere I could imagine them being. None were there, and honestly, I have no idea if anything I was doing was correct, other than being by the river and getting my fly wet. Oh, and the smile. We all enjoyed it as a relaxing afternoon adventure. 

Toohey enjoys fishing

The afternoon came with a phone call to some friends in Golden, dinner, and bed. 

Today, the day after fathers day is a move day. We aren’t planning to go far, just 40 something miles up to Redfish Lake, just south of Stanley Idaho, to find a camp. We hear great things about this place and think Monday will be the best bet on finding a good spot to set up. 

Mr and Mrs Camp Host and Tanner on nightly fire wood rounds

Reflecting on the time at North Fork Camp No. 11, the place has been a perfect base to explore this area. The trails we hiked were interesting and beautiful, we got to meet up with Nephew, and meeting Neighbor no. 12 was a fascinating twist. We also enjoyed Camp Host, Mrs Camp Host, and Tanner the dog.

Redfish Lake Area

The extraordinary Sawtooths came into view as we moved the wagon train up and over the pass north. The mountains continued to look like their namesake, the teeth of a tree saw, standing tall over the beautiful valley beneath, rich with ranching, a small airport, and yes, the start of the Salmon River. We drove down valley past the Redfish Lake road, unsuccessfully trying to find a campsite off dirt roads on the other side of Stanley, along the Salmon River Scenic highway, as it turns more north easterly towards Salmon before realizing our main camp goal was to have a view of those magnificent mountains. So we looped back and into the Redfish Lake area. It was packed, as if it were a holiday weekend at Yellowstone. All campgrounds proudly displayed FULL on the entrance. We looped back towards the exit when we found a boondocking camp just off the road at the entrance. Score. It was a little close to the main road, a bit dusty, but just up the road from Little Redfish Lake, with views through small immature pine trees of the magnificent Sawtooths. 

Boondocking near Little Redfish Lake

After setting up camp, we drove into the small, no stop light town of Stanley to pick up some provisions. We managed some more eggs, a few cans of soup, beer, and ice, so we have the necessities to survive. We made a drive west from there to explore a bit turning up a dirt road towards Iron Creek. The drive opened up to some other boondocking spots, a small campground, and a trailhead at the end of the road. The area was definitely worth exploring but not worth moving camp. 

Toohey Solo Experience

With temps in the 80’s, it was warm so we returned to camp, donned our swimsuits, and headed to find lake front real estate to launch the SUP. We researched a bit of the area learning of a dog beach near the lodge, but as we pulled out from our camp spot we noticed a pull off by Little Redfish about a 1/2 mile from camp that included a path to the lake and no one around. We stopped, checked it out as perfect, unloaded the paddleboard and spent the afternoon playing in the lake. The added value of this lake was, again, the gorgeous views of the mountain range to our south. Toohey, loves his SUP even at one point just getting on by himself and floating off from the security of shore. Great fun, great times, and perfect for the hot afternoon. 

One of my favorite things is when we all 3 grab a spot sitting on the board for a slow float. Toohey likes this most, he relaxes as his whole world is there on that 11 foot inflatable raft. While floating, with feet hanging over, warmed by the sun, a girl who we’d seen earlier launching her paddle board came paddling back towards us, and shore. We made some small talk, learning that her family has a home in lower Stanley and she is visiting from Portland. We kindly probed for information on hikes and whatnots, and she delivered. Seeming to enjoy the opportunity, we said goodbye. After a later trail run was based on her information, Lysette would dub her a travel angel as what she offered was special.

Around 4:30, we drove deeper into the Redfish Lodge area to see what all the fuss was about and quickly realized the fuss wasn’t our thing. Crowds on small beaches, fast boats, and snarly looking people. We returned to our cozy little camp had beers, dinner, and short walk before retiring to bed for the night. 

Sunrise Photo of Sawtooth Range from little Redfish Lake

Lysette set her alarm for a morning photo shoot of the sunrise hitting the mountains, the alarm worked as she was up and out before I could scrub the night off my eyes. Toohey and I handled the normal morning ritual of him eating and me drinking coffee. After Lysette returned, we made our plan to do a trail run to Marshall Lake, a highly recommended route provided by our SUP’n Travel Angel. We also planned to take Toohey on this one, so we wouldn’t make the actual lake based on distance. We set off, leaving Redfish Creek Trail head and after several turns, were winding through aspen groves and wildflowers. A little more climbing produced a ridge line of the Alpine Trail that delivered spectacular views of the Sawtooths. We ran this ridge for a mile or so before coming up to a lone snarly hiker, the only person we would see on the outbound run. At this point we were reaching the limit of the hike for Toohey so we walked a bit further into the wilderness area, stopped and just listened. I’ve heard somewhere that while remote in the mountains, if you just stop, remain quiet, and just listen for 3 minutes, that the experience will produce itself. We did, and this small section delivered 2 does, a lone buck, woodpeckers, small birds, the screech of some birds of prey, and more forested beauty.  After enjoying all that, the wonderful solitude, and of course, the views, we headed back. The trails were way busier on the outbound run, we passed several horseback riding trail groups and hikers, until we got close to the main trail, where the experience was like a pedestrian mall. 

Failfie – failed selfie
Alpine Trail Run Sawtooth Wilderness Area

The run definitely fed our souls for getting out and being present in the mountains. We took some time midday for a quick lunch and then to the laundry to charge computers. The laundry is a building shared with the paid showers. There are benches along the front where you can sit and wait while the machines do their thing.

While there, sitting on the bench, we found a couple from Grangeville, ID traveling with their grandson. Actually, after reflecting on our conversation, I sincerely believe that we were the target. The senior male in the pack had several passes with no looks or commentary our way. He seemingly ignored us, as if we didn’t exist. Suddenly, while the towels were drying, he offered, “so what brings you two here from Colorado?”, obviously having observed our license plates when we visited the truck. We would learn shortly after, and upon reflection, that this is his interrogative approach reflected by him being retired law enforcement. What spilled out after made it obvious that he spent his time, not ignoring us, but gathering tons of information on us, building a profile of sorts before starting his questioning. Standard law enforcement training. The dude was jam-packed with information ranging from places to see along our proposed route to improving the trailer pulling performance of the Tacoma. His advice at one point was to feel the bearings on the trailer wheels after driving for a bit, if they are warm, they need adjustment. His keen law enforcement eye even recognized that I likely didn’t have the tools to work on it, and suggested I should find a mechanic. Sharp. 

They actually turned out to be another example of travel angels, a huge source of information and beyond, to the point of offering us a place to stay or just shower when we reach the area close to their home. He provided his name and cell phone number. When we offered our web site blog, he brushed that off by commenting that he has no wifi. On staying with them, he said, “the lord provided us all this so he intended for us to share it”, or something like that. True salt of the earth folks with no snarl.

After laundry, we headed to Stanley Lake which is a smaller lake down a dirt road off the highway leading towards Boise and about a 35 minute drive. Stanley Lake has a more public beach feel than the larger Redfish Lake with only one jet ski buzzing around to negate any natural sounds from nature.  We launched the SUP and enjoyed time cooling off with more spectacular mountain views. While doing our family float, with all three on the SUP, we noticed the travel angel from the previous day who provided the information on our morning hike, coming out for her afternoon paddle. We thanked her again for the great information and she returned the thanks with a few more bits of information. 

The next morning Lysette left early for more sunrise photos of the mountains while Toohey and I just did our thing. Upon her return and following a quick turnaround, we decided to follow the advice of our SUP’n travel angel and head up for another of her highly recommended suggestions, Bench Lakes. The big decision was whether to take Toohey along or let him protect the assets, but game time decision swung to bringing him along. He was still gimpy from the previous day’s activity, but the doctor said motion is the potion. So motion it was. 

The start was the same as the previous day’s trail run, from Redfish Creek Trailhead to the first left, which was timely as it occurred just before running up on the morning horseback train. This trail would have us on a low grade but steady climb through scraggly pine forrest up and along a ridge that followed the shore and views of Redfish Lake. This lasted about 3 miles which would be the normal turn around point for Toohey, but we did the normal, just one more curve….

Just one more curve, turn, to the next hill, is a way to justify going just a little further, to peak and see what lies ahead. This is NEVER a gamble in trail life as the worst that can happen is more of the same. The best is trail utopia. Because of the utopian possibility, we are likely to continue to each next curve, turn, over the next hill. 

Toohey swimming in Bench Lake 1

So, we took note of Toohey, the length of his tongue, position of his ears, energy level, need for water, and made the decision to go the extra curve. We rounded it, headed down a slight hill to the sign to bench Lakes, just a 1/2 mile. How many next curves could Toohey take? Well, the immediate need was water and a lake was 1/2 a mile so we pushed on. The views got much better, utopian to a point. We rounded a few more curves and arrived at Bench Lake 1. The views were ridiculously nice, but the shore line was muddy and marshy, so we followed the path, counter clockwise around the lake until we crossed a small stream allowing water to flow from this lake. Toohey had a good drink, then we turned back. We got to the main trail and Lysette suggested we go to Bench Lake 2. We took another inventory of Toohey, who was now more refreshed from the fresh drink of water and decided to go to the next lake, which was just over there. We came up on it within seconds of leaving the coast of lake 1 and the views didn’t disappoint. It was so good that the mozzies (Australian for mosquitos) were all there as well. We took some quick photos and turned back for the descent. On this trail experience we took the advice of a local and gambled on just one more curve, several times, and it rewarded us with a great run, 8 miles. Toohey’s longest run in a few years, and he is no more gimpy for it. 

Bench Lake 2

As a reward for Toohey, we came back to camp, he stayed in the Tacoma for some rest while Lysette and I refueled on lunch. He got cleanup duty with the lunch dishes and more rest. We finally decided to take the trail running pooch to the lake for some cold water, inflammation reduction stick chasing, and SUP relaxation time. We borrowed this time and space from Little Redfish Lake which. We shared some water with a few other SUP’rs and a family of humans floating about. After this nice, relaxing time, we ventured to the showers where you get 5 minutes of hot water for $2. Probably the best $4 we’ve spent as this was the first warm shower since Arco, 7 days ago. 

We returned to camp for numnums, beer/wine, and talk. After dinner, we took a drive all the way down FR 210, of which, our camp is at the start. This ~10 mile slow dirt road drive mostly rolls through damaged, scraggly pine forest that was either burned of decimated by pine beetle, or a lot of both. The last 4 to 5 miles is the money, as it opens into the valley floor along the Salmon River. Think Lion King and the scene where Semba is held up as a lion cub king and the orchestra hits the climax. Beautiful made even better by the dusk lighting.

We returned to camp and slept. Good day. 

The Link Between the Idaho Elk and Idaho’Sun Valley Snarls

On our drive out FR210, the last night camping near Redfish Lake, we spotted a small herd of elk in a meadow about a 1/4 mile away, along a tree line. One thing I have learned about elk is that all herds don’t act the same. The metro elk we have around Golden, west of Denver, just stand and look at the traffic. They wait patiently for traffic to clear, giving them the chance to move across, mostly, and they take over small towns like Estes Park during rutting season in early fall. They are comfortable and interact, in a way with the humans in the area as they seek to survive. Here, with the vastness of land, when you see them, they run and hide. Maybe, somewhere in here, explains some of the snarliness of humans in this area of the state. 

The Idaho Snarl, as I have called it, is definitely a thing we have noticed since being in the Sun Valley and Salmon River valley. We never noticed it in the Bear Lake area, nor the Driggs area, as people in those places were friendly, open to conversations, and always responded with pleasantries when pleasantries were offered. Having a self-acknowledged keen sense of behavior awareness, I’ve been noticing this since arriving into this area. You say hello, they don’t look or make any expression. No smile, but a snarl. Not a resting bitch face, not a frown like they are having a bad day, zero movement, a definite snarl face. I’m sure there is something behind this but I, the amateur behavioralist, haven’t been able to figure out what that is. We have even played that game, Snarl or No Snarl, as we approached people on the trail. 

An example of the snarl was the lone hiker on the trail to Marshall Lake. My expectations were that we would exchange normal pleasantries as most, well, I do when passing on trails. As I approached from behind, he nicely moved off the trail, I offered some pleasantries about the view, the trail, he in return, snarled. We kept on until we approached the Wilderness Area Permit box. We moved off the trail to allow the him to pass and to discuss whether we were going on. He offered nothing while holding a pro level constant snarl, signed his permit, and was off taking his walking sticks and snarl with him. This type of complete emotionless encounter has been frequent since entering the Sun Valley area. It has occurred on hikes, runs, bike rides, encounters with check out clerks at grocery stores, everywhere we’ve encountered humans. This place is amazing, we see the snarl in amazing places, so what reason do they have for being snarly. This doesn’t anger me, but has me, a people person, on the highly sensitive range of noticing snarl people versus those offering welcoming slow roast hugs, perplexed. 

Maybe the answer is in the elk. Maybe, they just aren’t use to social interaction with other humans, so they are uncomfortable with it and would prefer to run back into the trees when someone gets within a 1/4 mile, but maybe they have just now advanced to a point where they at least, don’t run, but snarl. Maybe the snarl is an all body effort to not explode into an all out retreat. Total and impressive concentration that should be admired.

I initially thought I could take on the lead role as the Ambassador of Hello while in this area of Idaho, saying a cheerful bold hello to everyone, that I could impact change during our few days here. But maybe, that would make me just another annoying person from, not around here. Maybe, just maybe, I need to respect the snarl, find some joy and admiration in it as another trait to this beautiful area of Idaho, and move on, much like we enjoyed the elk just before they moved back into the trees.

Following the Salmon River to the River of No Return

The Salmon River starts in the mountain valley south of Stanley and extends north, then slightly northeast passing through Challis and Salmon before making a sharp western turn at the not stop light town of North Fork, Idaho. About 30 something miles from the North Fork General Store, it hooks up with Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the river continues west into the area referred to as the Frank Church River of No Return. No land access other than by boat. Badass.

Middle Fork of the Salmon

If you pull out a map of Idaho, look around the center, you’ll notice a big void of anything resembling a town or road. Locate the Salmon-Challis National Forrest and on mine, in smaller print, Frank Church River of No Return. This is wilderness, remote wilderness. Idaho promotes that it has more wilderness area than any state in the lower 48 and I think we found the epicenter. Our limitation for reaching further into this wilderness, at the moment, is the Tacoma doesn’t float and the paddle board isn’t SUP for the challenge. If we had a boat, and someone who knew how to captain that boat, we’d be up for the float through this section as I have a feeling it would be amazing. So, we followed the road from the headwaters to the curve where it turns away from the river at the point of no return. 

We left our camp in Redfish Lake to find our boondocking camp off FR 030 (we’d learn later the locals refer to it as River Road), Deadwater Campground, which really isn’t a campground. This patch of land has a small picnic area with tables, fire rings, and grills, along with signs saying no camping in picnic area. Then, a large, flat area running west of the pit toilets, most likely used to park boat trailers after launching. It made for a nice flat area to easily set up home for the night. We were the lone campers at the end of that flat area along the deadwater of the Salmon river. We had no view of the river because of the large bushes that occupy the river banks, but we know it is there, lots of birds working the area, and the occassional trucks hauling boats and empty boat trailers up and down River Road.

The water looks like a lake, a stillwater here at Deadwater. As if the river bed grade increased and put the breaks on water that has had momentum for hundreds of miles. If you walk down river about 1/4 of a mile, it suddenly flows into action again. Sort of strange to see after following its fast moving flow for so long. 

From camp, we could see water birds flying down river and listened to lots of others singing and occasionally pecking wood. The place is pretty quiet other than the birds until a sudden onslaught of trucks pass, pulling boats and trailers. All this occurring while, as the information sign reveals to us, beneath the surface of the river in front of us, young salmon swim with the current in search of the ocean, passing the senior salmon, who have lived a life biologically morphing from living in fresh water, to salt water, and back to fresh water, fight up stream to their birth place to spawn, then die. As a side, the life of the salmon, the fish, is quite remarkable and one worth researching.

Pulley System for people & provisions

After setting up camp, we decided to unhitch the trailer and drive deeper into the area following along River Road and the salmon. Our scouting trip made it about 15 miles or so before turning back. We observed a small herd of metro elk (those that don’t snarl and run), a few deer, and the ghost town of Shoup. There were several cabins on the other side of the river from the  road that are only accessible by a pulley system to get themselves and provisions home. There were signs providing information on the travels of the scouting group from the Lewis and Clark expedition exploring this a the navigable waterway through the west. All in, an interesting place well worth the drive. 

The place is remarkable. But we’ve struggled to know what to do with it beyond being spectators. It is a rafting trip adventures dream with the mighty salmon and River of No Return, smaller rivers that run into it, unbelievable wilderness with tall rocky canyon walls and larger green treed mountains. So we woke up and decided to drive the 3 miles to the store at the only intersection in North Fork and ask a local (AAL). We did and it helped. We found one gentleman who had lived here his entire life. He was on duty with another lady checking boats for the invasive zebra mussels. He said the one drive out that we were considering was likely still impassable due to snow but the drive to the end of the road is well worth it. Another local offered me the right flies promising they’d catch a fish once I got them inside the fish’s mouth. His associate suggested a smaller side river to fish and a short hike along the river to a sandbar. 

As we left packed with this new information the first gentleman, who had walked past the truck, commented that he sees we got into the magnesium chloride, which we’d thought was just mud. We had seen the two-tanker truck on the road and were curious, but hadn’t realized this is done to mitigate dust. Magnesium chloride is also corrosive, salt, and was all over the bikes mounted on the roof. We made the quick decision to drive back to Salmon to clean this off the bikes as these could be impacted sooner than the truck. This cost us a couple of hours, but the day was long.

New camp

We returned to the area and made a quick, down river exploratory trip on River Road to see if an area we passed the day before had a better camp spot. It did, so we moved home about 7 miles down river, perched about 8 meters from the salmon. Think beach front property. It was perfect, a 5 star on the scale of perfect camps. Free, amazing views, funtivities that included fishing and swimming.

View from new campsite on Salmon

After setting up camp, we thought the drive to the end and stopping at the hike and fishing spot on the way back were good choices for the day. We drove the road which is about 35 miles long. The road is double wide paved quickly turning gravel. The magnesium chloride had dried considerably since the night before so it wasn’t being tossed all over the gear and there was no dust. The road at about mile 20 miles or so turns to single wide with pull outs for passing vehicles. The drop to the river ranges but at its highest is about 50 feet, straight down. It passes through some amazing scenery, simply striking.  At one point, deep into the wilderness, the river meets up the with middle fork of the Salmon. NOTE: From what I can tell, there is the main river, a middle fork and a south fork. I found a map just showing this and it resembled a large blob looking a like the letter M. At least an M based on my penmanship skills.

Big Horn Sheep

We saw an occasional rafting group go by on the river, but based on the number of trucks, there should be more. Our guess is that most are permitted for the 85 mile section starting at the end of the road. We came around one curve and 3 big horn sheep were grazing and weren’t skittish, snarless, allowing photographs from the window. They didn’t even jump when Toohey, the asset protecting dog caught wind and started loud barking. 

Even though this is a wilderness area, there are still small parcels of land owned by lucky locals. There is one spot that looks like an abandoned KOA, which isn’t AOK, with RV’s and kampers lined up, seemingly there to enjoy a weekend in the canyon, but empty. A sign suggesting cold beer and air conditioning in the bar and OPEN, but no takers. Interesting place.

The American Indian tribe call the Sheepeaters hunted the area. The road side information highlighted the pictographs they preserved in the rocks and discussed the tools found by student researchers from the University of Idaho.

River of No Return – Note the small single lane dirt road along the right side that runs about 10 miles into the canyon until it dead ends.

We turned back just shy of the end as the slow drive allowed the day to get on, and we headed back. We stopped at Panther Creek which was the recommended fishing hole, walked up it for a spell and realized fishing wouldn’t be good based on the flow, and somebody, me, forgot the flies. Hot and tired, we got back to the Tacoma and decided to go home, to our personal sandbar on the Salmon River. We did, and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon of cold water swimming, fishing, beer drinking, and simply taking in all the amazing stuff around our home.

Momma duck and flock

In the morning, Lysette and I just sat outside in our camp chairs, facing the river, watching birds do their thing, a momma duck and her flock of ducklings scurry down river, all this got me thinking about, why a river? What about water moving in mass volume in front of us, with amazing backdrops, and fresh air, that puts us in a relaxing trance? For me, my entire life from early on was surrounded by the salt water creeks and rivers of Savannah, Isle of Hope, and Tybee Island. From early memories of swimming the creeks, making slides in the mud banks at low tide, camping on Little Tybee, learning boating skills with the 13-foot Whaler, water skiing, it was mostly about fun. Then toss in the food. I crabbed, shrimped, and fished for the luxury of eating fresh seafood out of our backyards. Later, I would enjoy sea kayaking, camping, and swimming long distances in the Savannah rivers. Being around water makes me think of how much my mom loved to crab, my dad and me fishing once with my grandad, and our father/son camping trip on Dutch Island. There were many great memories with my children camping, crabbing, spending days on beaches along the coast of Georgia only accessible by boat.  One of my favorite recent trips was a sea kayak excursion off Vancouver Island were we camped for 3 nights and watched whales, otters, eagles, all along the waterways of the Johnston Straight. The rolling rivers of the mountains would hypnotize me further into a trance that followed me to adulthood. I realized quickly that I didn’t like being upside down in rushing white water during my brief time trying white water kayaking. Always finding a need to play, see, and watch water.

As we sat together, just being spectators to the water passing along on the Salmon River, this thought of why, what does it mean to me to relax as this show moves past. I sucked at science so I don’t believe it is the 2HO or the physics behind it. Could it be the knowledge of life that it brings to those who use it for sustenance or the livelihoods it feeds, from the rafting guides to the farmers downstream who draw it from the banks to irrigate crops to feed the masses? For me, I think it all starts with the wonderful memories mentioned above and the totality of nature, the chance to see a fish, a bird, or other wildlife come to the shore to drink. It is the deep thoughts of the possibilities down stream, where this piece of water just moving past me will end up or what great beauty it will pass along the way. It allows you to dream of the possibilities around each bend in the river. 

Although the great difference in the travels of the river water along the river is the water lacks choice. It is defined by the banks that hold it and the science that define its capabilities. We, on the other hand, can make the decision, the free will to choose where we want to be next, whether to go around the next bend, turn right, or just to stop and think for a bit. Stopping and just thinking is what we did this morning, and allowed these memories and thoughts to simply conjure up. 

So basically, we woke up and spent the day doing nothing extraordinary, but lived doing nothing all day, in the extraordinary. When I first moved out west I used to comment that I wanted to live in the view, not just see the view. Today, our campsite, 11 miles down River Road at the end of FR 070, our house sitting on top of a sandbar along the Salmon River, was in the view. If you have ever seen a photograph of something beautiful, and thought, I want to go there. Today, we spent the day in a photograph that we’d both have said, I want to be there. So the plan, do as little as possible but mostly, be present and take it all in.

Among the other characters that joined us on this extraordinary stage were a family of ducks, the mother and her brew of ducklings that we watched navigate up and down the river, her quacking out commands, and them mostly following. There were other birds feeding off the river’s insects, and providing a chorus of sounds as backdrop to what we lived. On our 22-mile round trip drive to the corner store to pick up dinner, we witnessed a bald eagle sitting in its nest perched high in a tree while its partner stood perched, on guard in another tree down river. A herd of elk grazing across the river in a pasture of green grasses, and a lone deer and one big horn sheep. A beautifully designed bull snake crawled into the bushes along the river, surely to cool off by the waters edge. 

We, swam in the river, read in front of the river, and watched the clouds build and pass over the canyon providing walls to the river. Lysette documented it through the lens of her camera finding interest in the smallest blue butterflies, the wildlife, and of course, Toohey and me. It was a day for doing nothing extraordinary, but be present in the extraordinary. 

Extraordinary comes with all kinds of emotions. Seeing daisies always reminds me of my mother’s love of nature. Seeing a lone duckling at dusk, floating all by itself, with the mother and her brew no where insight, reminds you that extraordinary in nature, gives and takes. 

Regrettably, today we leave this camp for a 120-mile journey to Missoula, MT for a few reset days. It is also timely as we are in for a few days of unkind camping, rainy, weather. Our dinner last night was a combination of “what’s left in the food box” soup and I’m officially now wearing clothes that aren’t clean. But this trip from the Teton’s along the Salmon River has been one great, memorable part of our journey. 

The exit from River Road, FR 030

18 thoughts on “Sloverlanding from the Tetons to the Sawtooths and along the Salmon River

  1. This journal entry is a lot to take in. The photographs are spectacular. Thank you for sharing. Why is food expense so high? That number surprised me, too. Plant-based eating may eliminate the worry about “ground” or otherwise. That being said, I was surprised only yesterday at how much I spent this week on groceries here in Golden. It may be trickier to save on the road. We are off for a two night backpacking trip and I am a little overwhelmed on how much coordination it is taking for Scott and I to prepare for that adventure. Your constant coordination observations hit home.

    1. Thanks Debbie and have fun on your trip this weekend. You’re correct with the difficulty in eating on the road. Although possible, we do get caught in places where we have to take what the local store gives. And we have found prices in the smaller towns with fewer options are high.

  2. Great adventures but I have too ask:

    Other, which includes items such as Toohey’s meds, mails forwarding, and phone averaged $19.80 per day.

    I can understand that you would pay for Toohey’s meds but shouldn’t he cover his own mail forwarding and phone costs?

    1. Great point Ed. We have approached this with him and told him that it was your idea so watch out.

  3. Fantastic to read about the great times you two are having. Life is so much more wondrous with adventure. Don’t forget that the Manly to Shelly swim is still here awaiting your next visit down under.

    1. Did you get my “Sun Valley’s for Losers” t-shirt before you left on your trip? Hope you’re wearing it Updog-style!

      Heading out to Valdez and McCarthy without you guys tomorrow – wish the Canucks would open the border! Have a great 4th!

  4. Thank you again for the reminder to stop and appreciate the wonder of nature. I get lost in these stories and even though I’m thousands of miles away, I am blessed to be a part of your journey. Hope all is AOK!

  5. Thanks for taking me on your journey. The best read I have had this summer! Safe and happy travels!

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