Idaho Trails Association – South Fork of the Salmon River (Day 2), Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho

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The next morning at the South Fork Ranch we were treated to a hearty breakfast prepared by Nate and Jeramie. This is considered 5 star backpacking!

I had to take a picture of Wes’s yoga ball rack….. I think this pretty much summarizes Wes…. “A Sophisticated Mountain Man!”

Since Wes and the South Fork Ranch had been so generous to put us up for the night and help us with our trail project. We all decided to chip in and help with his morning chores……. feeding the stock. Later I asked how long it generally takes to feed that stock and implied that all of us helping must have saved him a bunch of time….. He politely chucked and said “not really…..” Turns out he was just patiently letting the city slickers have a ranch experience!

The plan was for the crew to head downstream for about 6 miles and work on a large trail washout, doing light trail work along the way. Wes had agreed to use his mules to haul our backpacks down to the first camp to help us save time. Since Wes uses these trail often, he was highly motivated to expedite a successful work crew. Right before we left, Wes asked for a volunteer from our crew to help with the pack string…… I threw my hand up as quickly as possible as an opportunity to learn first hand about pack animals is rare…. additionally, I had already assessed that Wes is a very interesting character and an opportunity to spend a day with a real mountain man should not be missed!

After a couple hours of saddling the mules and loading packs, we were on our way.

I quickly learned that my only jobs were to A) stay out of the way, B) hold the pack string while Wes pees, C) keep Wes company!

As we left the Ranch and headed into the Frank Church Wilderness, the views were amazing. I felt a little guilty as I knew the rest of my crew was already down the trail working their tails off while I walked along visiting with Wes and occasional making he and the pack string stop to set up photographs…..

I got lots of pack string photos….

And a couple good photos of Wes…..

Finally, after a couple hours of walking, we reached our destination for the evening, The Porphyry Bridge.

We unloaded the mules and sat and visited for a good bit.

The view from camp, not too shabby!

Wes headed back to the Ranch and it wasn’t too long before the trail crew began working their way back to the campsite. When they arrived they looked pretty dirty, tired, and haggard. After spending the day watching Wes work and noodling down the trail to camp, I was smart enough to act tired too in an effort not to draw the ire of the crew.

It wasn’t long before we had camp set up and we settled in for the evening.

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