Helllooo from the middle of nowhere! I am currently esconced in the largest designated wild forest in the lower 48 states: the 4.3 million acre Salmon-Challis National Forest and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, which includes the famed Middle Fork of the Salmon River. This area is straight up WILD. It includes: the Salmon River (the largest undammed river in a single state and an nationally recognized Wild and Scenic River, known for its excellent fishing and rafting); Mt. Borah (at 12,000+ feet, the highest peak in Idaho); and Hells Canyon on the Snake River (the deepest canyon in North American, deeper than the Grand Canyon). There are wolverines, bears (mostly black, possible some transitory grizzlies, but it's unlikely), moose, elk, mule deer, wolves, mountain lions and many other incredible flora and fauna. We've already seen tons of mule deer and a herd of elk.
To get here, we drove about an hour and a half south from the town of Salmon, along a scenic dirt road that started out in the low sagebrush hills, climbed into the high desert (with red rock cliffs and crazy stone formations rising out of the ground and streaked with electric green minerals), entered a coniferous forest, and continued climbing to the top of the mountains, all pine green and bluebird skies and white snow. The snow was still really deep up there (up to 102 inches in some of the 10,000-foot passes) and you could see forever. Then we switchedbacked back down the mountain and along a creek to our base site, called Moyer, which was formerly a helittack base and training center. The area our base is in is a little dry right because it's at a lower elevation (well, still a mile high) and right now is surrounded by a few snowy peaks and a whole lot of dusty hills scattered with pines. We're at the convergence of three creeks ("criks," up here), and there's a huge network of beaver dams right behind our houses. Our houses are pretty awesome; we have a lot of space and privacy, but plenty of communal stuff too. There are basketball and volleyball courts, a woodfired sauna, a ping pong table, soon to be a firepit, and plenty of mountains and canyons and streams to explore. My roommate is actually a girl from Saxton's River, Vermont, which isn't too far from Chester/Andover.
The food has been mainly vegetarian (to save money) but healthy and good. The people continue to rock. We have a ton of instruments and lots of impromptu jam sessions. (My contribution is that of adoring fan, but I am dedicated to learn something this summer.) The weather has been warm and sunny, but apparently that's about to end and rain and some snow is in the forecast. Apparently, they can get snow anytime of year here, including the middle of summer.
We've been getting a lot of training... today, we took a defensive driving class and a 4WD driving test and I got certified to get my government drivers license, which means I can drive forestry service vehicles as well as qualify for a discount on my car insurance :) I also went 4-wheelin down this craaaaazy road and thought for sure we were going into the creek a few times! There was still a couple feet of snow on the ground in spots, and huge boulders blocking the road in other spots. We went in this kid Vito's 1986 military blazer, which is a Gulf War veteran, runs on 2 batteries and 2 alternators, has bullet holes and chemical resistant paint, and is basicaly a tank. It was awesome.
Starting tomorrow, we have 5 days off, and even though a few people are driving to Missoula, MO, I think I'm gonna stay here and camp and fish. Then we start our weeklong Wilderness First Responder training, which I'm reeeeeeeeeeally looking forward to, followed by our backcountry camping/"Leave No Trace" training. I'll keep you all posted! And sorry I can't post any pictures, but we still haven't figured out how to ration out our limited bandwith.
I'm off to play volleyball now!
By the way, I have a phone number now, but the schedule up here is still pretty crazy so I may not be around if you try calling. The best time would be at night, mountain time, so between 11pm and 1am EsT. the number is 208-756-5510.
Lovin life in the mountains...