This past hitch the Selway-Bitterroot team went over to the Frank Church for a lesson in remoteness. Getting to our trail, Harrington Ridge, was an effort in itself. First, we drove 60 miles on the infamously rough Magruder Corridor to reach Salmon Mountain base camp. Then from the trailhead, we hiked 10 miles in to Swet Lake Cabin, which was just off the junction to Harrington Ridge Trail. The impending thunderstorms looming over the drive up provided dramatic lighting for an intensely dynamic landscape, one that alternated from dense walls of forests to wide open tracts of burned areas.
The Magruder Corridor is the sole divider of the Selway-Bitterroot and the Frank Church River of No Return Wildernesses. Together, these two wilderness areas make up the largest block of wilderness in the US-- and the views reflect this. This isolated location came with incredible views of seemingly unending wilderness and mountains. Stopping at Nez Perce Pass- the meeting point between Idaho and Montana- it was only mountains as far as the eye can see stretching from the East to the West. It was as if you could walk forever and only be climbing mountains.
The trip started with a night at Salmon Basecamp, under the cover of the season’s first thunderstorms.
These were not our only encounters with storms, the first half of our trip was filled with thunderstorm and hail. Not only that, but our entire route was basically composed of ridges so we were not only exposed to incredible panoramic views but also to the elements. This made being out and experiencing the views all the more worth it as the storms intensified the scenery, with billowing clouds that would speed overhead, oscillating the lighting from darkness to brilliance in a matter of minutes.
With this weather, we remained flexible and erred on the safe side, which translated to 3 nights in the cabin. The first two nights were wet and cold, and the cabin was a warm, dry haven. We ended up clearing 5.25 miles of quickly disappearing trail (due to its remote location is barely used/maintained) with our fantastic volunteers, Bryce and Josh.
Overall, this ridge trip was a reminder of how moving and powerful wilderness can be.
Vivian Ly - Stanford