The weekend of 12 Aug 11, Tracy and I headed up to Idaho and Montana to check out the
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. We stayed Friday night in Idaho Falls; I wanted to drive further,
but there were no hotels any closer to Salmon, ID, and I didn't know any places to camp. On
Saturday we started driving...and driving, and driving. Our first stop, after several hours of
driving, was a trailhead along the Nez Perce Forest Service Road. This remote dirt road is the
only break between the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the
1.3 million acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. So the road marks the northern-most boundary
of the Frank Church and the souther-most boundary of the Selway-Bitterroot. Well, not only
was it a long drive to get to the boundaries, but the area had been burned out, and it was
really dry and hot. We hiked a little way, but there was no wilderness boundary sign, and it
was just uncomfortably dry and hot, so we decided to try another trail.
So we drove all the way back to the highway and headed to Bear Creek Trail to backpack.
After more driving, we finally made it to the trailhead...where we were accosted by hordes of
mosquitoes. Undaunted, we headed out. After a couple of miles, though, we were thoroughly
unimpressed by the area. The bugs were bad, the undergrowth was thick, and it was hot and
humid. It felt more like a bad day in the south than a day in the Rockies. Not only that, we
discovered that Tracy's water bladder had leaked out, and she didn't have much water. And
then it also looked like it was going to storm on us. So, we were daunted. We turned around
and headed back to the car. We drove back down the road some and found a campsite for
the night. The next day we checked out a couple of places further south near the Frank
Church, and it was much nicer. The road by the Salmon River was pretty. But we decided to
call it a weekend, and we headed back home.
This weekend taught me a couple of things: it's a LONG drive up to the Bitterroots, and they're
not really worth it. They're at a lower elevation than most other Rocky Mountain ranges, which
makes them hotter and drier. I'm not a big fan of the Sawtooths, either, but the Salmon River
Range between the two seems to be pretty nice. It's also a long drive, so I'm not sure it's
worth going up there much, but their remoteness definitely makes them enjoyable.