Sunday, June 26, 2016

Weekend Hike

Zane read us the story of the big burn.
The skies had cleared after a couple days of rain when we met the Edwards family at the Albertson's parking lot. I jumped into the brand new 4Runner with Ryan and the kids and Holly settled into our Miata with Linda. The destination for our hike was up through Wallace, Idaho to a historic trail maintained by the US Forest Service.

Ryan led the procession and I navigated; we only made a few wrong turns and eventually we found the trailhead.

We unloaded and hustled over to the first historic kiosk and started reading the background for the amazing event that took place up Placer Creek back in 1910. The date should give you a huge hint about the event that devastated this region. In 1910 a forest fire of epic proportions swept through the mountains and valleys surrounding this drainage. The Big Blowup or The Big Burn torched over three million acres of forested land killing 85 people and destroying several entire towns.

As Zane read, the other two kids goofed off and explored.
The trail we were hiking led us up along the creek to a tunnel where “Big Ed” Pulaski led his 45-man firefighting crew when they became surrounded by fire. His actions saved all but six of his crew and secured his legendary status in the Forest Service and throughout this area.

We hiked up the trail and read each kiosk as we went. It was a great trail that led 2 miles up along side the rushing stream. At the top, we climbed down and crossed the stream where we could climb into the tunnel where Pulaski led his men.

Once we checked everything out at the top, we scampered back down to the cars. Ryan led us to a restaurant called The City Limits Bar and Grill where we had a nice lunch before heading back home.

Ryan and Holly had to go to Kellogg and do some work on the house they own and are trying to sell. Linda and I drove back to Coeur d'Alene, but I made a bit of a big mistake. I left my camera in Ryan's car!

Ryan held my camera for ransom and I had to take him a dozen donuts Sunday morning to get it back. When I uploaded the pictures of our hike I discovered a few more than expected. As you can see, the camera-as-hostage was a family affair. 

Anika pointed out this little snake.

The entrance to the Pulaski Tunnel.

Heading for the Bar and Grill.

Here are the photos I found on my camera that I didn't take!
There were many, many more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


This mid-week camping is the best! Now we just need the sun to shine a bit more.  Tom and Sarah Husby followed us up the St. Joe River to the Red Ives area on Monday for a little fishing and camping. We got a great camp spot right next to the river. Tom and I put on our waders and drove downstream to a nice- looking pool for a little fly time.

The water is running a bit fast, but it is still early season fishing. The water is actually low for this time of the year. Fishing was slow and we spent our time changing flies and looking for rising fish. We were back at camp about 5 PM where we ate dinner and watched darkness fold in on us.

The rain came in just after dark and it rained off and on all night. When we woke it was still wet so we all took our time getting ready for the day. Tom and I set a departure time of 11:30 AM; we figured the fish would be awake by then.

Linda and Sarah stayed in camp with the two dogs. They had visions of reading, walking and enjoying a relaxing day without us.

We departed and drove upriver. Tom had a spot in mind as we slowly drove the river road. Each bend brought nice-looking pools and great fishable run-outs. Each time we slowed, Tom would say “We’ll check that out when we come back down.” And then we would drive on.

At a campsite on a curve in the river, Tom and I ventured down to the water. We weren’t at the spot Tom was thinking about, but the lure (pun intended) of fishing got the best of us and we had to wet our lines.  I was the first to approach the water and I had a two nymph set up with a pink strike indicator on the line. Tom was tying on his chosen flies as I tossed my first cast.  Boom! A huge cutthroat hit my strike indicator and was gone. It was a massive fish and the strike was definitely not gentle.  Tom sidled down to the pool and started casting and within a few drifts, BAM, he had a hit on his strike indicator!

Why would a fish hit a strike indicator and not a fly?  We changed our gear and started floating foam bugs with droppers on them through the hole. We caught nothing!  This went on for about an hour and finally Tom said, “Let’s get going; I have a plan.” We loaded up and drove on.

The road widened and there was a pullout with a path leading down to the river. Tom stopped and looked at me with a grin. This was the spot. When he was guiding for the fly shop, he kept this spot in his pocket and used it if the client was not having a great day. The hole was a proven provider and it looked like we were the first ones in it for the day.

As we got ready, the sun came out and then disappeared into a sky of broken clouds. The weather was pushy, meaning that one minute it was sunny and the next, we were in cloud cover.  The run looked awesome; long enough for both of us to fish and not interfere with each other’s drifts.  Things started out a bit slow. We could see fish rising once in a while but nothing spectacular. We fished for about an hour. I had put on a big bug with a dropper and Tom was using a double nymph set up. Tom was the first to catch a fish. I was still having the luck I had been having on my two previous trips. I knew there were fish there, but they weren’t biting what I was throwing.

We hung in there at the run, but talked about moving downstream to other water. The weather changed and a few bugs started coming off the surface of our run. Now this is where you can believe me or just smile and consider this a fish tale.

Tom recognized the bugs coming off the water and gave me a pattern that he thought matched the hatch. Right away, on my first drift, I caught a fish. From that moment and for the next two hours we caught fish after fish. It was amazing! The weather would be sunny and then the wind would come up and it would start pouring rain. As long as the hatch was on, the fish were hitting the surface and taking our flies. Did I mention that these were not small everyday cutthroat trout? Most of the fish we were catching were 15 inches or better! HOGS!

The fish were in such a frenzy that they were striking from all directions. They shot upstream and if they missed, would swirl around and hit going downstream.  They shot out of the water to grab flies everywhere. All we had to do was get a drag free drift in their general direction and they did the rest of the work.

The hard part was sometimes getting the drift where you wanted it. At times the wind blew so hard that we were casting with all we had, trying to get the fly to land upstream in the current.  The rain came down so hard that we could hardly see up to the top of the run, but the bugs kept on hatching and we kept on catching.

We would have a few slow moments when the sun came out and sparkled on the water, but then it would go behind the clouds and the fish would pick up the bite again. As time went on another odd thing happened. The hatch changed from a tiny PMD to a much larger mayfly. The fish went crazy! We switched flies and kept on fishing. Tom crossed the river and got into a bunch of fish feeding in the current where we couldn’t reach from our original spot. They were truly big fish!

 At about 6 PM, the hatch slowed. Tom and I were cold and we were actually getting tired. We each landed a final fish and noted that the bugs were gone. It finally came to an end; the epic fishing frenzy came to a halt and we slapped a high five and returned to camp.

Linda and Sarah had a fire going when we arrived back at camp. We changed out of our waders and sat down to get warmed up. The story was retold several times during the evening and each time we high fived. Tom figured that we had landed fifteen fish that were over fifteen inches in length. I know we had more than six doubles - times when both Tom and I had fish on. Neither of us could give a good estimate of the number of fish landed throughout the afternoon.  All we could do was smile and know that we had experienced something that only happens a few times in a lifetime of fly fishing.

In the morning, we packed up and talked of our next trip with the Husbys. Then we drove home over the pass that leads through St Regis Montana and followed I-90 home. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Up the River, Again

Ryan and Zain getting ready for fishing.

Zane's new waiders.

Asher Erikson goes Joe Bob on us!
Linda wouldn't be out done as Joe Dirt.
Ryan in the morning, what a sight

Breakfast burritos. 

St. Joe River

We met up with Daren and Marcy Upchurch at Huckleberry Campground up the St. Joe River.  The weather looked like we could make it through the week without too much rain.

We fished each day but I would have to say that it was hard fishing. Daren caught a few, but I came up fishless. It was good to get out in the water all the same.

We had a great time each night cooking and eating. Tuesday night I baked pizza for everyone. The only pictures I took were of the pizza. I guess I am a little proud of my pizza, thus the photo.

It rained on Wednesday, I guess I should say it poured! There was hail and lightning. This lasted a couple hours and then the sun came out.

We left the river camp and drove home. When we got into cell phone range we got a message that Holly and Ryan Edwards wanted us to go camping up the Coeur d'Alene River, so we did a quick turn around to spend the weekend with them.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Half Marathon

Pre-race smiles.
Go, Bug, Go!
Focused and in control.
Done and done!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Memorial Day Moose

Deer across the river.
Monday was Memorial Day and historically the Memorial Day weekend is the official start of the camping season. Our observations have proven that you do not want to go near the woods on that holiday. There would probably be less people around you if you were to stay home and camp in your backyard.

The Bennett answer to this is to stay put and then on Monday afternoon, when everyone and their dogs are heading back into town, you drive up to the spot where you would like to camp. Then you can enjoy the wilderness taking some deep post-invasion breaths.

Our evening fires are the best!
As we drove up the Coeur d’Alene River, RV after RV lined the highway. The national forests were spewing humans in a mighty run-off, and we were heading upstream. We pulled off at Teddy Creek and Linda walked into one of our favorite spots to check and see if it was empty. It was. With a wave of her hand, she called me in and we set up our home for a two-day visit.

Looking out our camper door.
The evening was very quiet and we sat around the fire gazing across the river.  A deer came down for a drink; Linda and I watched in silence. Kobi chased sticks as we ate a late dinner. It was cold when we went to bed, the sound of the river brought sleep as soon as we snuggled in.

Linda woke up and quietly went outside, letting Kobi out of the truck and starting a morning fire. I made coffee and tea, and then sat down to enjoy the morning. As I took my first hot sip, I looked out the camper window and spotted a pair of ears sticking up across the river. A moose was looking our way, relaxing without a care in the world. I picked up my camera and stuck my head out of the camper and alerted Linda of the critter’s presence.

Just another big moose across the river.
It lay, watching us watch it, for quite a while. I moved out onto the steps of the camper and took pictures. The moose must have noticed me moving because it stood up. Low and behold, when SHE stood up, there was a tiny calf moose right by her side. She stood there and the baby nursed. Baby moose looked to be only about two days or so old, maybe less.

The cow moved into the river and stopped to go to the bathroom. I have a photo of the two moose relieving themselves in the river; baby mimicking mama exactly. It’s quite a sight. Once they were feeling better, they wandered across the rushing river and disappeared upstream.
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I took quite a few pictures as this all happened, so I hope you don’t mind all the ones I posted. We were pretty excited.

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We ate breakfast and I got my gear on and headed downstream fishing. Linda read a bit and then walked the dog. As I approached the highway bridge downriver, a moose came out of the thicket on the right bank and crossed into the river. This happened about 15 yards away. Needless to say I stood as still as possible and let it saunter across below me. When the bridge abutment blocked the moose’s view I moved so that I was in a safe area and let it disappear into the brush.

Linda and Kobi were walking to the bridge to see if they could spot me fishing and guess who came up and across the road in front of them? The moose! She said they stopped and backed away and let the moose disappear into the trees.

When Linda arrived at the bridge, I came up and we walked on together. We don’t know if it was the same moose as we saw that morning. The calf was not present and there were many moose in this part of Idaho.
Our walk took us upriver to the bridge above camp. Linda wanted to check out the campsites up there, and I wanted to see if there were any morel mushrooms available in this area. The morels have been growing like crazy due to a forest fire that had gone through this area last year. I have had friends that have been picking morels I wanted to give it a shot.

I climbed up the bank and immediately found some of those tasty little buggers. So I picked them. There were about a gallon that I put in my hat and brought back to the camper. I actually walked back to that spot and picked about two gallons total. What a find!

We ate dinner and sat around the campfire enjoying the evening. Both of us wondered if the cow moose and calf would come back to the bed across the river, but they didn’t. We slept well that evening and in the morning packed up to drive home.

We took a bit of a detour when we left Teddy Creek. We drove upriver and checked out our favorite moose spot above 16 ½ mile camp. As we approached Linda spotted another moose and took some pictures. We turned around and headed home. Halfway down the river another moose ran up the bank and out in front of the truck. I was able to slow down with no problem and it ran along the highway and turned up a logging road, moving quickly away from danger (us).  Our visit was productive as moose go. We added up the tally and found that we spotted 4.1 moose on this short trip. The .1 was the baby, but  it definitely was the cutest of the bunch!

Just part of my mushroom find. (Lookout, hat hair!)
The fourth moose of the trip.