As part of my Work-At-Home job, I have been transcribing oral history interviews all summer. For hours upon hours, I have listened to people telling stories about the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, stories about wildfires, stories about animals, stories about dangerous mountain rescues. They have told stories about July snowstorms, and about the community of people who have lived in the wilderness, who have influenced the laws made to protect the wild land. They tell stories of fishing and stories of hunting and hiking and flying tiny Cessna 170 "tail-dragger" planes into wild, backcountry airstrips.
All of these stories have only whetted my appetite to go experience this amazing place for myself. When we found out that Ethiopia would be postponed until October, Hubby said, "well, why don't you plan a trip down there, then?"
So, that's what I did. I invited Mom along to go flyfishing, since she loves the wilderness as much as I do. We also decided to take Curly along for her first wilderness trip as well.
I printed out directions, and we set off. Two-and-a-half hours into the drive, I groggily asked where we were. "Kooskia," was Mom's answer. She was driving, and I wasn't paying much attention. We'd see the river divide into the Lochsa and Selway, and we'd turn up the Selway River Road.
Another hour passed. I commented to Mom that something wasn't right. We should be there by now. She replied that she had been driving a little on the slow side. I frowned, but didn't comment. Surely not that slow?
Another 45 minutes passed, without a single recognizable landmark. We passed several campgrounds, but since I hadn't brought a map of the area (nor did we have anything so sophisticated as a GPS) we did not know quite where we were. All at once, we found out that we were at the top of Lolo Pass and were poised to enter into Montana! We had driven over 80 miles past where we should have turned! We turned to each other in dismay, and then broke into helpless laughter. When you get lost that badly, there really is nothing else to do!
We ate dinner there, and then backtracked another hour and a half until it got dark. Finally, we found the turn, and decided to camp there rather than drive the last 20 miles of gravel road in the dark.
This changed the character of the trip significantly, since we had to break camp again in the morning, and I was really tired by the time we finally did get to Meadow Creek. I had been hoping to hike quite a few miles into the SBW, but I ended up having time and energy to only do two. Still, I got to be there, to see a part of that place, and to add my own story to the many stories in my head of the beautiful Idaho wilderness.
As a bonus, my daughter had a blast, learning to fish. Her fishing pole had a release button on the bottom that made casting quite similar to playing with the Wii. As a result, she was eerily good at it, and caught several trout. I didn't get pictures of her fishing, however, as I didn't take my camera. The two scenery pictures above were captured with my iPod while hiking.
Still, we had a fun three days of it, and left just as another wildfire began to make the air too smoky to be pleasant. I hope I can go back down there soon, and stay more than one night.