From the front seat of the Cessna 208, flying low over the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, it appeared that the modern world with its fluorescent lights and paved roads was but some distant memory. In every direction mountains sprawled. Unnamed peaks cascaded down to drainages that may not have see a human for months, years, or perhaps up to this point, ever. Flying over a ridgeline, a herd of elk were barely visible alongside the shores of a high alpine lake, grazing far from any town, road or trail. They were the lucky ones.
Deeper still we flew into the wild heart of Idaho and over the roar of the engine the pilot began pointing out landmarks memorized from a lifetime of flight over this place. Finally the grass and dirt landing strip was visible, an open pocket among trees and varied topography in every direction. The plane bumpily landed. Bags and bodies exited the cabin and we turned to smile and wave as the plane, with a final roar of the engine, took off back to town, many miles and seemingly centuries away. The sudden silence lasted but a moment until the steady hum of the wilderness filled our ears: birds, the breeze, running water. We shouldered our packs and began walking.
Now, years later, I’m finally headed back into the Frank, taking a ride in on that same little plane that dropped me off years ago. My plan is to spend a week hiking, observing and simply existing in Idaho’s wildest of wild places with the hope of coming back and sharing details and photos of the trip with others, inspiring continued appreciation and protection of this incredibly special place, along with a menagerie of other public lands. With long days and grueling terrain certain, Kate’s Real Food is my go-to when it comes to staying happy and energized in Idaho’s backcountry, and purchasing from Kate’s means I’m also supporting a local Idaho company. For me it’s a no-brainer.
Public lands, which include Wilderness areas, make up over 60% of the land mass in Idaho. Hiking, hunting, fishing, climbing and a slew of other opportunities are available on public land to every single person who so wishes to step foot onto them. And whether you go there for recreation, solitude, to put food in the freezer, or a few of the above, one thing is for certain: they are what make the west, Idaho included, the deeply cherished place that it is and their importance is far more crucial than many could imagine. In a few weeks, having been fueled by Tram Bars, clean water and fresh air, I’ll be back to talk about the trip and I’m excited to share it all.