Sarah has been railing about trail maintenance, even fired off a letter to the editor on her I-Phone, lambasting Idaho’s Congressional delegation for their failure to fund recreation needs for America’s Greatest Idea and Treasure – its public lands. Trail crews, facilities maintenance and nature interpretation in our grand natural settings is a “Great America” work opportunity for the nation’s youth to do vigorous, healthful, soul satisfying work. Rather than consuming trenches of death and the economic rat hole of a 15 year unwinnable war, let us send our youth to our mountains, prairies, forests, deserts, and coasts from sea to shining sea.
DEALING WITH DOWNED TREES AND SNOW SAFETY
So yeah, down trees across our trails has been a huge challenge for our party of three seniors, father and 8 year old Jonas, plus three llamas, but we’ve persevered in reaching our high lake objective through grit, frequent pow wows, and scouting. Not until the approach to our final gem, those secret lakes, did we have diverging opinion that required a five hour scout to resolve differences and desires. Snowfields and cornices were the chief concern and the ability of the llamas to safety navigate five to ten foot deep wind sculpted drifts with steep faces and to cross snow bridges without collapsing. The latter happened once to a friend guiding a family trip. The snow bridge collapsed and a child was lost.
WE BACK OFF
We back off. Everyone had a vote, including Jonas, our 8 year old llama handlers, off-trail scout and backpacker toting 30% of his 50 pounds of body weight the entire way of each trail day.
ICE, HEAT AND FIRES – SO MANY CONTRASTS
Lagging behind the entire scouting party on the final ascent of the northern pass above Sawtooth Lake, I am jarred by the extremes Mother Nature can confront us with. I look down upon the beauty of a lake still 25% ice covered that is surrounded by jagged peaks whose north and east slopes are snow covered. At the same time, I am panting under the glaring sun and 17 straight days of scorching heat even at 9,000 feet. To the west, there are plumes of two wildfires. The last image in this canvas of disbelief is Sarah standing on the snow cornice with her IPhone in hand getting information on the Yellow Pine fire which potentially threatens our route through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.