Snowpack and starry skies for the Summer Equinox

Hitch # 1 Blog Post – by Kelsey Johnasen

Hitch 1 for the Bitterroot crew turned into three shorter hitches, which meant we were able to work in three amazing places. We removed down trees from the trails and inventoried campsites. Our first trail was Bear Creek, where we worked through rain and eventually snow, and were rewarded with a beautiful alpine lake, in the afternoon of day three. The crew spent the evening hiking towards the pass above the lake, but unfortunately the trail was under snow and we had to turn back. We made a fire back at camp and Juraj shared a pot of hot chocolate with the rest of us. The next morning the sun finally came out and we hiked out in pleasant weather.

Our second trail was Canyon Creek. The rocky canyon had spectacular views and once again we got to see an amazing lake. The trail had less trees than expected so we finished up two days early and moved on to Sheafman Trail. We camped under a full moon on a rocky outcrop overlooking Hamilton. This job is taking us to some incredible places!   

"Slip on the ice, fall in the mud and dust yourself off....that's the Frank."

Hitch #1 Blog Post - by Brian Roach

“Snow, wind, rain, thunder snow, frost, graupel…what else can Frank throw at us?” said Wilderness Ranger Harrison Stone on the 5th day of our inaugural hitch in the Frank Church Wilderness.

How about some 90+ degree heat about 32 hours after a water bottle icing overnight frost? Yes, it was piping hot, too.

As the saying goes….“Slip on the ice, fall in the mud and dust yourself off….that's the Frank”.

Our “cut and run” mission in the Frank was memorable for a number of reasons, but mostly for the diversity of the weather.  There were morning and evening campfires 3 of the first 4 days to dry drenched socks, gloves and boots and thaw numb fingers.  While the last 2 days were all about hydration, finding shade and watching for sunbathing rattlesnakes.

The hitch started with a lung busting 4500’ climb over 6 miles several miles down the Salmon River from the popular Corn Creek raft launch.  The elevation gain was on par with the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon yet a couple miles shorter in distance. Fortunately, the Forest Service has the foresight to know that objective of the hitch wasn't the climb and provided full pack support courtesy of Ranger Geoff Fast, Ajax, and a team of 4 mules.  (On the way down, we weren't so lucky.)  

Over the following 6 days our team of 3 worked our way along 2 trails that border with the Bitterroot National Forest mostly through an area heavily damaged by the 2012 Mustang Wildfire. Colleague Bob Myers and I were on the crosscut while Ranger Stone prepped trees in advance of us.  In all, we removed over 200 trees blocking the trail.  Just like the diverse weather we saw an incredible range of situations of what happens when a tree falls across a Frank Church trail.  

The hitch was successful both in terms of what we accomplished, but also in terms of what we learned.  The Wilderness Ranger team back at the North Fork District saluted our results with a couple of cold beverages in bustling downtown North Fork, ID the evening of our return. With 4 more hitches to go I think Bob and I are 100% more prepared for what the Frank will bring this summer.  We’re up for the challenge and look forward to its unpredictability.  

'Tis the Season for Training at SBFC

Author:  Mallory Scharf-CFLR Trail Crew Member

All seasonal SBFC staff have officially started their seasons, and we took this opportunity to convene for staff training in early May at the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station in Idaho. Joined by Program Director Coby Gierke, we spent a week orienting ourselves with the history and mission of SBFC, completing a bridge maintenance project on a nearby trail, and taking turns teaching lessons to our peers. We saw a bit of each other’s unique interests and experience shine through as we learned about edible and medicinal plants in the area, discussed the importance of good ergonomics and mindfulness in our daily lives, and debated details of our personal commitments to Leave No Trace ethics in Wilderness travel.

More training is ahead in May and early June as some of us brush up on our first aid training in Missoula and then we all return to Lochsa once again to train our interns! Our hard work now will pay off mid-June when we disperse into the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church – River of No Return Wildernesses to steward the precious lands we’re lucky enough to call home for the summer.

Axe(wo)manship Course

Eric Schweitzer (Moose Creek Liaison) and I, Steph Wright, (Trail Crew Lead) were lucky enough to start our SBFC season off with a bang! We spent 5 days at Ninemile Wildland Training taking the complete axemanship course, taught by Doug Olive. This course went through everything from proper chopping technique to re-handling tools, even felling trees using crosscuts and axes. We learned the correct way to sharpen an axe, different axe types, and where and when to use them. It was an informative class that gave me a lot of confidence about our upcoming season. It was also productive for SBFC; the tool cache has 2 new very sharp double-bit axes, a beautiful new single-bit axe (Thanks Doug!), and we re-handled a total of 5 pulaskis. We also made connections with other folks in the class, and was offered a large space locally to re-handle any of SBFC’s tools if need be. I look forward to our staff training next week so that Eric and I can take the knowledge that we gained and teach our own folks!  

Win a Trip for Two on the Lower Salmon!

Chad Case Photography

Chad Case Photography

Picture yourself and a guest spending a relaxed week with great company, dining on delicious food and in one of the most beautiful places on earth!  Purchase a trip for two raffle ticket (or several) and you have a chance to do just that.

Row Adventures is our 2016 Grand Raffle River Trip donor. Thanks to this outfit for donating a fabulous trip down the Lower Salmon – trip name – “Riviera of the West”. 

ROW Adventures is the life passion of owner Peter Grubb and his wife, Betsy Bowen. For over 36 years they have poured their heart and soul into creating adventure travel experiences that enrich lives and exceed expectations. Peter and Betsy have an intimate connection to every adventure they offer and have personally researched and developed all the vacation itineraries. While they began as an adventure travel company with a focus on white water rafting trips, they've grown to a company with an eclectic collection of adventures around the world.


This year’s “Riviera of the West” trip is a classic “pool and drop” river meaning that at the end of each rapid is a slow moving pool of water inviting you to jump in for a swim.  Stops along the way include historic sites such as Native American rock art, pioneer homesteads and Chinese rock houses.  Wildlife is plentiful.  Rafters get frequent sightings of golden eagles, mule deer, river otter and an occasional big horn sheep.

Put in is at Lewiston, and on the last day the rafts arrive at the confluence with the mighty Snake River in Hells Canyon.  At that point there’s 20 miles left to go, through the tail end of Hells Canyon to the take-out place called Heller Bar where the Grande Ronde River joins the Snake.


For more trip details:

To purchase your raffle tickets email or call 208-861-2010.

Winner will be announced at the Hamilton Fundraiser on April 9 @ 9:00 p.m.

Spring into Stewardship!

As the snow melts we are preparing for a magnificent season of Stewardship in the Selway and the Frank.  If you haven't already, please go to our Get Involved page and sign up for one of the many interesting trips we have planned for the summer.  One of the many trips we have planned is the Centennial Trail Project August 28-September 3.  We are partnering with Idaho Trails Association to open the Marble Creek section of the trail.