The project was working for the Forest Service and assisting in implementing the newest Travel Plan for the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Our job began with an early departure from Moyer in an old Dodge extended cab 4x4 truck to meet our Forest Service Contact Ken in Salmon. Ken set us up with large maps of the travel plan, a packet of map enlargements with numbers indicating intersections and a long list of the hundreds of numbers with their corresponding road names, road numbers and road classifications. Our job was to post carsonite signs on all class 2 roads- unimproved dirt roads designated for 4x4 access. It’s amazing what they call accessible to 4x4 trucks! Our area of focus was forest surrounding the town of Leadore. A population of 90, but only maybe if you count the cows! The high school has 9 kids…total! We were fortunate enough to be put up in the old ranger’s house, an unfurnished 3 bedroom, stove AND refrigerator including STRUCTURE! By far the most posh floor/ accommodation we have slept on in 3 months.
Ken took us out on the first day to show us how to pound the carosnite, demonstrate the proper labeling methods, and explain the proper placement etc. He poked fun when we would get out and check shallow stream crossings or put the truck in 4-wheel drive. Apparently, we are more cautious than the average forest service employee, but he didn’t mind. The two of us would switch off driving and navigating. There are an ungodly number of roads traversing in and around the forest. Most of them unauthorized, so finding the designated route became a guess and check- hot and cold game with the GPS.
Our most exciting story of the excursion shadows the fact that we saw some of the most beautiful country, visited amazing campsites and enjoyed the thrill of stepping foot, for the first time, on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Nina spotted, galloping in the distance, (dum da DA)… A MOOSE!! The gate, size shape and color distinguished the beast from anything we had ever seen before. Its legs were so long that it simply walked/stepped over a 4 foot barbwire cow fence and lifted its hind legs over together without a thought. How Cool! We wished we could have been closer, but the gal was moving through the sage and we heard coyotes howling from its presence. We were both really hoping to see the northwestern king of big game and we did! Wahoo!
It was a great opportunity to see a lot of the forest, visit a few new campgrounds and sleep in a house. A half hitch of something new and heavily reliant on navigation skills was enjoyable. We are getting pretty good at planning routes, reading the map and GPS simultaneously and can rock crawl the truck over some serious terrain.