Coming out of a summer almost no rain and far too many threatening wildfires, especially in Idaho, we were a bit leery about leading six journalists to the Middle Fork of the Salmon for a cast and blast trip with Far & Away Adventures. Luckily, the smoke came and went (and then came again), but the casting and the blasting were both out of this world!
Last week, Nick Brosnan and Kara Armano met Chris Solomon (freelance), Rachel Sturtz (freelance), Kristyn Brady (Field & Stream), Tom Bie (The Drake), Andrew McKean (Outdoor Life), and Ryan Krogh (Outside) in Boise where the trip started with a backcountry flight into the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness (yes, we returned amazingly enough!)
Once we landed, we loaded everything up, had a quick riverside lunch and set off. Half went fishing and the other half chased and shot chukars for the afternoon. We got to camp, tapped the keg and got to know each other a bit better before finishing the night off with perfectly cooked salmon steaks, wine and a riverside fire.
Waking up to the smell of smoke and and a hazy yet blazing red sunrise was a bit ominous - especially since we could see large plumes from nearby fires – but without much hesitation we loaded up and floated down the river to more great fishing for native cutthroats and even some bull trout. A quick stop to see ancient pictographs added to the area’s remote beauty. More chukars and plenty of fish kept us all entertained, but the highlight of night two was Loon Creek Hot Springs. After a quick mile hike, we were soaking, with beers in hand of course, in a pristine environment.
Day three brought warmer weather, perfect for backflips off the raft and over 100 fish for some of us. Combining hunting and fishing was a first time experience for a few of us, and the guides were happy to let everyone try a little of both.
One last night of camping on the banks of Camas Creek found every person on the trip becoming fast friends with promises to get together again to hunt and fish. Heading towards the takeout at Flying B Ranch, we were all a bit subdued recognizing the trip was almost over.
The thought of one more backcountry flight was thrilling enough to keep us all in high spirits (until we had to divulge our weight to the pilot). After a few questions of whether we’d make it out or not due to smoke, almost all of us were quick to volunteer to stay behind and hunt and fish just a bit longer. As the plane engines roared, we all had our fingers and toes crossed that no one was dishonest about their weight. In the very capable hands of our backcountry pilots, we made it back to Boise just in time to catch our flights back to the real world.
A huge thanks goes out to our brands that made this trip possible: Eddie Bauer Sport Shop, Revo, fishpond, Beretta, SmartWool, Big Agnes, Black Diamond, Boa, Polartec, Sage, Redington, RIO, Mophie, Trimble Maps, and Gerber. Without their support, amazing trips like this would not be possible!