August    Lemhi Pass to Lolo Hot Springs, MT.
21-29:     I got an early start on Monday, hoping to get on the Lemhi
                 River for a quick paddle down to Salmon, ID.  Before leaving
                 the pass, I saluted one last time the Beaverhead, Jefferson,
                 and Missouri Rivers to my east, then I turned to the west
                 and started down to Tendoy.  About a mile down the road I
                 came upon my first westward flowing stream.  “Hello
                 stream,” I said.  “You going to the Pacific?  Me too.”  Shortly
                 after that I twisted my ankle.  It was a harbinger of things to
                 come.  I hiked another ten miles down to Tendoy on a sore
                 and swollen ankle, picked up my kayak, and put in on the
                 Lonhi River, figuring I’d have an easy paddle down to
                 Salmon.  I went no more than 100 yards before the bottom
                 of my kayak began grinding on the rocks, and I realized I
                 would have to get out and walk my boat down the river. 
                 After a month of pulling my boat upstream, the last thing I
                 expected was to have to pull it downstream!  I struggled for
                 a couple of miles on the Lemhi.  When the channel was deep
                 enough for my kayak, the turns were too tight and the
                 current would drive me into the tree limbs and brush on the
                 banks.  When it wasn’t deep enough, I got out and walked
                 the boat downstream, a process which was more awkward
                 than pulling it upstream.  Finally, in frustration, I pulled out
                 at a bridge, walked back to Tendoy, and found someone to
                 portage my boat to Salmon.  I then got a ride back to
                 Tendoy, and hiked the remaining 18 miles into Salmon.  This
                 didn’t do my ankle any good, but I was determined to do
                 everything possible to complete this journey under my own
                 power.  I limped into Salmon, discovered the campsite I was
                 planning to use was shut down due to the fires, but was
                 fortunate enough to find an open motel room across the
                 street, where I was able to ice down my ankle.
                 On Tuesday I put in on the Salmon River (which did have
                 enough water) and cruised down to North Fork, about 25
                 miles in half a day.  After Monday’s disappointment, this was
                 a welcome relief.  I took my gear over Lost Trail Pass to
                 Connor, MT, returned the U-Haul, camped at North Fork, and
                 set out to cross Lost Trail Pass on Wednesday.  All along the
                 route across the pass I met firefighters, all of whom
                 cautioned me against camping.  It turns out that on Tuesday
                 all Federal and State lands in the area - including all of the
                 Bitterroot Valley - had been closed to the public because of
                 the fire hazard.  Had I been a few days later reaching Lemhi
                 Pass, I wouldn’t have been able to get across.  I lied to the
                 Firefighters and said I was hitching across to Missoula, and
                 occasionally stuck out my thumb when they were in eyesight
                 and a car came by.  Fortunately, no one stopped to offer me
                 a lift.

                       Clear, beautiful skies ahead...

                 Wednesday night I camped at Lost Trail Pass, near the
                 intersection of Rt. 93 and Rt. 43, but I was careful to find a
                 campsite that was hidden from view so that I wouldn’t get
                 kicked out or arrested.  The air has been thick with smoke
                 the last few days, and today the visibility was less than ˝
                 mile, even at the pass.  I feel like I’ve been smoking a
                 carton of cigarettes.
                 Thursday I hiked down to Connor through some of the most
                 desolate, charred country I’ve ever seen.  Both sides of Rt.
                 93 in the Sula, MT area are burned out, the remains of
                 several buildings were still smoking, and the air was thick
                 with the smell of fire.  Fire crews and barricades are
                 everywhere, and once again I cautiously hid myself from
                 view when I set up camp.  I feel like a fugitive or a criminal
                 when I do this - actually, I am a criminal if I camp on
                 Federal or state land - and I’ve decided to scrap the idea of
                 floating the Bitterroot River to Lolo.  The water level in the
                 river is marginal at best, all the campsites along the way are
                 closed, and I would run the risk of getting kicked off the
                 river, arrested, and fined if the authorities saw me.  I’ll leave
                 my kayak here, hike up Rt. 93 to Missoula, and return to get
                 my gear later.

                        Richard shows off.

                 Friday and Saturday I hiked about 55 miles from Connor to
                 Lolo.  It was an uninspiring trek.  Under normal conditions,
                 the Bitterroot Valley offers breathtaking vistas.  To the east
                 lie the gentler, friendlier Sapphire Range, while to the west
                 the craggy Bitterroot Mountains rise like so many rows of
                 jagged shark’s teeth.  Because of the fires, both ranges are
                 completely obscured by smoke.  What’s left to see is Rt. 93,
                 with its string of McDonalds’, Dairy Queens, Conoco stations,
                 highway litter, and whizzing vehicles - hardly my idea of a
                 hiking adventure.
                 From Lolo and Traveler’s Rest I hiked halfway up Rt. 12
                 toward Lolo Hot Springs, then hitched into Missoula, picked
                 up my Enterprise rental car, hauled my kayak from Connor
                 to Orofino, ID, and returned to Missoula in time to have
                 dinner with the Grinsteiner family, who had offered to give
                 me a lift up to Hot Springs.  On Tuesday they drove me up
                 to the springs, and I finished hiking the trail to this point. 
                 Now I’m relaxing at the Hot Springs motel, soaking in the
                 hot springs, and awaiting my next leg of the journey, a six
                 day horseback trek across the Lolo Trail to Weippe, ID.

                    Click here for days 145 - 153 of Richard's journal