The Continuing Adventures of IdahoPilgrim – April 2000

Bob and Mary’s Idaho Adventures continue……..

What a mild winter it has been. Snow being a novelty to us this past winter season, we had only ONE chance to get the snowmobile out and ride around in the pasture.  To see Bobby out there, former Ski Doo stunt man, I smiled just watching him fly around, spewing snow, instead of salty Gulf water! Of course there has been plenty of snow above 5500 feet or so, but Bob and I had hoped to be snowed in at least once this winter. Much to our disappointment, (but probably a blessing in disguise), this was one of the mildest winters ever seen in these parts. Brother Tom chanted to us from the time we arrived last May, “don’t get too use to this nice summer weather, cause before you know it, its going to be cold and wet”! Throughout the fall, we waited and waited for the beautiful weather to end.

When snow did fall, the visual experience was a sight to behold…almost surreal in the quiet beauty …moments that Bob and I enjoyed together

What have we been doing???

The McCall Ice Festival was a chance to get out of the house and wrap up in our warmest gear to see some interesting artwork, comparable to the beach sand sculptures in Florida. The businesses in McCall, a beautiful resort town between Grangeville and Boise, Idaho, gets cold enough to enjoy the sculptures for several weeks, displayed proudly by participating businesses. Here, Bob and I stand before a Buffalo sculpture that we particularly admired.

On another winter expedition, Valentines Day treat with my sweetie, Bob and I travelled to Donnelly, Idaho where ranchers havecreated a splendid experience for participants who want to get a close-up of a magnificent herd of elk. “Wapiti”, the term given to elk by the Nez Perce Indians, are enormous in size, and so majestic among natures creatures. The elk we observed were not concerned about the weather that day, which was miserable to the extreme, they only cared about filling their bellies with sweet hay. Beginning with a chilly rain, we endured the conditions that turned to sleet, mixed with loud bolts of lightening and thunder just for the chance to mingle with the elk. Among these creatures, large and small, atleast a dozen huge bull sported gargantuan antlers. Finally, we raced back on our hay covered wagon to seek shelter from pelting hail and cold wetness that froze us to the bone. Even though, our spirits were never dampened, for the wonderful experience that we have relished many more times in our memories of that glorious day.

Ripe for adventure… With spring upon us, Bob and I have been itching to get out for another adventure…. Kirkwood Ranch near Hells Canyon where the Snake River flows was our destination on this trip. We had the opportunity, one summer vacation in 1997, to take a jet boat ride down the Snake to the Kirkwood Ranch. This time though, we would travel by land to visit Kirkwood. We pulled out our best map, loaded the truck with one ATV, food and water for the day, our survival kit, the pups, and set out for adventure on a warm spring day in April.

From Lucile, Idaho, we travelled west into the mountains, crossing the Salmon River. The gravel road gets narrow, as we wound our way higher and higher, eventually locating a safe spot to park our “rig” (thats what you call your truck out west) and unload the ATV, where the real adventure began. Only a mile to the top, we began our descent into Hells Canyon, looking west on a beautiful, but quite barren landscape. Soon though, the gravel road turned into a trail that looked more like a creek bed than anything else. As the navigator, I’m in charge of the map and making sure we take the right turns and are headed in the direction we want to go. Bob is in charge of driving the ATV, and challenging the terrain that where we dare to go. Diesel and Pilgrim are in charge of sitting in back, and enjoying the ride. They love the adventure as much as Bob and I, and they travel well. After a grueling but exhilerating descent, dropping thousands of feet into the canyon on a steep rocky grade, we finally arrive in the cool depths of the timbered forest below, where the air is moist and cool.

We parked our ATV off the trail, and crossed several foot bridges to gain access to the Kirkwood Ranch.

A bit of the history of Kirkwood Ranch is written on this sign posted next to the museum. Kirkwood Ranch is presently cared for year round by volunteers who have been coming back year after year to enjoy the serenity and beauty of this small patch of land looking down at the Snake River in the midst of Hells Canyon.

The next hour we spent chatting with people who had volunteered the months of March and April every year for the past 13 years, and enjoying the excitement of our arrival. We ran into Roy, the jet boat pilot who had introduced us to Kirkwood Ranch the summer of 1997, and we picnicked next to the beautiful Snake River, enjoying the peace and serenity that came with our love of sharing such a wonderful trip together. .

Last fall, we ventured up toward the Gospel Hump Wilderness area, that lies directly south of us. We took the ATV and that trip as well was rugged and difficult, but the prize of such alpine beauty, hidden from those less willful, made the trip worthwhile.

There will be plenty of other tales to share with you this summer, as Bob and I have an itinerary of plans to see the hidden passages of the Wild West. To prove the seriousness of our intent, we recently bought a 21 foot travel trailer that will allow us to enjoy the outdoors while still enjoying some of the comforts of a more civilized lifestyle.

While Bob and I never stop thinking about our friends and family, and how much we miss all of those who we care so much about, our endeavors to live our lives to the fullest are part of the dream that brought us to where we are today! Indeed our riches are not in the things we possess, but in the love and friendship that we share with each other, our friends, and our families and the blessings of life itself.

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