Friday, July 26, 2013

Just another day (or two) in North Fork.

During the day Harold, Fran, Donna and I took a trip down to "Mother Chukars Cafe" on the Salmon River.

As usual we do see an occasional big horned sheep that browse the river area.

Once in a while we see an adult male with a sizable rack hanging nearby.

Beer, homemade chips and salsa...a mountain mans feast at Mother Chukars with Harold and Fran. It's always interesting talking to Jesse and Dan (owners) about the political and environmental problems that seem to plaque the little community.

We returned to the River's Fork Lodge because of the heavy smoke in the river canyon and Donna started catching up with Ken from Arizona. Ken and Toni had pulled in with their 40 foot fifth-wheel trailer while we were gone. We met Ken last year before the Mustang Fire Complex forced us all to leave.

Late in the day I had wanted to run down the river road for 45 miles to the very end, just for the fun of it. We spotted this nice herd of elk grazing half way down. 

I don't do it very often but once in a while I miss judge the size of a rock. This was an easy fix of pushing the plastic skirting back where it belonged and off we go.

This time of the evening we got some beautiful light on the hillsides.

We had watched them building this walkway over the Salmon River last year the and were surprised that #1 it's done and #2 it didn't burn up in the fires last summer. I'm not an structural engineer but if you factor in that 90% of the bridge is wood and a suspension one at that, I just think it's beautiful.

The bridge is the only bridge that crosses the Salmon River south of Panther Creek and allows access for hikers that want to follow the trail to Stoddard...unfortunately the bridge was closed by yet another fire in the area today but that won't stop Donna from going out and looking at the river down below.

At the end of the road, on the river of no return, is a backlog of rafts ready to make the run in the morning. It is a six day, 100 mile run to the town of Riggins, Idaho from here with no 7/11 or McDonalds along the way, nada...nothing!

The worst thing about staying here at the park is saying goodbye to good neighbors who need to hit the road.

But saying goodbye usually encompasses either pizza or chicken wings get together...both of which are good. Harold, Donna, Elaine and Elaine's father Bob are enjoying pizza from Josephines just up the road.

Here are Bud and Cheryl, the guests of honor who will be hitting the road in the morning. There is always a good chance we will see them again next travels gang!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mushroom hunting...about the only "hunting" I am equipped for.

Tony, who is the area mushroom buyer occasionally goes out hunting himself at times and took us under his wings.

First lesson from Tony for Donna and I was....this is a morel mushroom, if it doesn't look similar to this then leave it!

Donna and I followed Tony and Elaine to the "secret" spot...:-)

Little did we know that we'd be going back to the same area were Donna and I had visited a few days ago just for abandoned fire look out on top of Mount Ulysses.

Just as soon as we get there Elaine jumps on the "abandoned" fire tower and climbs straight to the top. Even my daredevil wife only went up two floors, which happens to be "two" floors more than I would go!

There is a reason why it is called an "abandoned" fire tower....because it is not maintained for safety...which is why I question the judgement of "tomboy" Elaine in climbing the tower. It's not like the forest service checks flooring, anchoring or the wire guides that hold it up yearly...which is the reason why it is called abandoned!

Elaine took this great photo from the top of the fire tower....awesome!

The tower base was 7635 feet in elevation so the top must be 90 feet more, sitting at 7725 feet in elevation...

Well, off everyone goes down the fire break (that didn't work that well) to find some virgin mushroom land.

Donna finds her first morel mushroom and that was very exciting.

For us amateurs at mushroom hunting, finding a tree or two that all the other many hunters have missed is like the mother lode!. If you find one mushroom in that area you can expect to find others very near.

We saw many trees with this glob of resin and Tony explained that it was the trees defense when the bark beetle attacks, the tree tries to push out the beetle with resin...apparently it's not working if you look around the forest.

It is so exciting when you spot a mushroom, partly because it was missed by another person and partly because they taste sooooo good.

Despite the bleak environment, this is the best mushroom nursery.

Our poor CRV should of come from the factory in this condition since that is how it usually looks.

This is Donna and my haul for the day. Although we only got about 1/15 of what Tony and Elaine collected, we ere very happy and looking forward to some great flavors.

This is Tony's tent that other pickers stop by and sell their mushrooms to him. Today's rate is about $15 pound of wet mushrooms and $100 a pound for dry mushrooms. It takes about 6 to 8 pounds of wet mushrooms to make one pound of dry morels.

Tony has a drying box that has a big fan running for at least 24 hours to dry out the morels.

Benji is eyeing $2000 or more of mushrooms in Tony's tent.

Elaine is having Tony weighing her haul for the day. She and Tony did much better by hiking further than Donna and I could, and thereby finding a virgin field of morels.

Elaine shows me a "two headed" morel!

At the end of the day, this is my favorite habit and the best way to rinse off the burnt bark, dust, heat and sore feet and enjoy the Salmon River.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Week #2 at North Fork, Idaho

Week two at North Fork was filled with a trip to Darby, Montana and a couple of float trips.

It's hard to find a better place to call home for a few weeks then the River's Fork Lodge. The owners, Ken and Elaine, go out of their way to make your stay a memorable and comfortable one.

The North Fork of the Salmon River borders the lodge property and provides some pretty good fishing right where it meets the Salmon River.

Bud and Cheryl from New Mexico are some of the first to pull in...Elaine has fun with the camera while the lab "doolee" and Donna look on.

Fran and Harold, our long time friends from Palm Springs, were the next to check in.

The park is starting to fill up this July but with only eight spaces facing the Salmon River it doesn't take much to put up the "no vacancy" sign.

Elaine and I snuck off for a float on the river before most of the guests checked in. Donna was kind enough to take over the office while we cooled in the water.

It's not that often that Elaine can get away and cool off in the river and we were glad to help out.

Trapper Peak in the Bitterroot Mountains on the way to Darby, Montana still has more snow that I saw last year in Glacier National Park.

Fran and Harold joined us for the trip to Darby during it's famous "Logger Days" which we did not participate in. We did have lunch and look over some property in the area.

After lunch apparently Donna was still hungry and giving the "evil eye' to a friendly but innocent turkey. 

Other than the Logger Days, Darby's other claim to fame is the Double HH Custom Hat Company

 A quick peak into Jimmy's work area showed me his tools of the trade.

Jimmy lays back against the register molding a horse hair hat band. Harold and I  thought about picking up a belt or hat until we saw the cheapest horse hair belt was $500 and beaver hats started at 700 dollars...but they are beaver!

Back at the lodge, Elaine pointed out a nest of American Robins who add just recently hatched on her porch...noisy little buggers!

Speaking of birds...right near us were a pair of trumpeter swans. Funny thing is that three days later the local Salmon paper had an article about how Idaho is trying to reintroduce the swans to the state. When they killed or broke up most of the beaver ponds years ago they also destroyed the swan habitat. There are only 15 pairs in Idaho and we have one pair right in front of us...awesome!!!!

This time it is time for the girls to get out of the heat and float the river. I dropped off Fran and Donna 4 miles up the road for Fran's first trip down the Salmon.

Off they go on the river that is named as the "river of no return"...hopefully this will not be the case because after all, Harold and I still need someone to cook dinner.☺

Two hours later the girls showed up in front of our lodge with memories of seeing deer, bald eagles, osprey and a golden eagle...go girls!

Bob, Elaine's dad who is visiting for a few days, comes over to give us a few tips on fishing here.

Fran is showing the rest of us how to fish...with bait.

While Fran was fishing Harold, Sofie and Donna are looking up the mountain across the river for bears...none seen.

Harold hooks 1/2 of breakfast with this nice cutthroat.

Sofie had other ideas about saving the fish for breakfast, she wanted it now...I mean now!

I can't think of a better way to end a busy day than a great dinner and a glass of wine while overlooking the river of no return.

   Till next time...good night.