2 1/2 day N. Idaho adventure into big-river & dark-forests


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Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 18, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
Thanks to all those that posted enjoyment of my adventure report. Always great to see your thoughts.

Timidtoprope: re your mention about a book that chronicles the huge fire that burned most of North Idaho & W. Montana in 1910:

"The Big Burn" is a great read. If you haven't already read it I highly recommend it.

I've read the book in the past, but I really should read it again.

My main college girlfriend, and post-college occasional girlfriend, was a grandaughter of the Forest Service Ranger responisble for that area during the 1910 fires. He was a Eastern college-grad, and was quite young at the time. The family shared a little history on his career with me at the time. I think he ended up 2nd in command of the USFS.

I do like how the Kokanee brighten up the river.

Trad climber
Spokane, WA
Sep 18, 2013 - 10:11pm PT
Regarding the anorthosites:

The Idaho Geological Survey published a 1:100K scale map of the area. You can get a pdf at:


I spent the summer of 1991 at the Kelly Creek workstation when we were doing the geologic mapping for a project that was a precursor to that map.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2013 - 12:01am PT
struneberry: Thanks for the map-link.

One of my many hobbies is mineral collecting, and I've always been a student of geology, but have not studied the more intricate parts of Geologic Lore.

A short trip to Wikipedia, and I can now nod sagely at their explanation:

Archaean anorthosite[edit source | editbeta]Smaller amounts of anorthosite were emplaced during the Archaean eon (ca 3,800-2,400 Ma), although most have been dated between 3,200 and 2,800 Ma. They are distinct texturally and mineralogically from Proterozoic anorthosite bodies. Their most characteristic feature is the presence of equant megacrysts of plagioclase surrounded by a fine-grained mafic groundmass.

So???? Really old? 3.8-2.4 billion year old ---nearly---"basement rock"?

I followed your map-link and I am overwhelmed by the complex geology of that area.

To sum up my thoughts about the map: A "schistpot" of basement & near-basement rock. Bless you for trying to figure out that incredibly-difficult geology.


Sep 19, 2013 - 01:12am PT
spud- I've spent many a happy day catching cuts on the upper St. Joe and Marble Creek. This time of year, fall, the cuts come down out of the creeks and pack into the big holes in the St. Joe. Lots of good fishing. Elk hair caddis almost always works. Fritz better get up there.

St. Maries is home in many ways. I worked in the Regulus Mill there and my dad and brother went to high school there.

Trad climber
Sep 19, 2013 - 07:07am PT
It's been a long time since I went on that kind of road(?) trip. TFPU.

California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
Sep 19, 2013 - 09:34am PT
Loved this Fritz! My fav photos were the "Idaho Accessories" and that last kokanee shot. Looked like a Monet on caffeine.

Such beautiful country...I haven't fished in many years, but can totally appreciate the joy of standing by a river, immersed in the delicate sounds of nature, waiting for a strike.

Keep it coming, my friend. Your TRs are good for the soul.

Sep 19, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
Yes, Banquo, I have many great memories of fishing on the St. Joe and St. Maries rivers, jumping off railroad trestles into the river, inner tubing on the rivers, catching perch in the little lakes...My grandmother would take the rowboat out on the river and my siblings and I would swim alongside the boat for a few miles, hanging on to the boat when we needed a rest. One of my earliest memories as a kid is camping up Marble Creek. I also remember digging for garnets.

Latest news from the SM Gazette Record tells about a cougar(s) stalking the Heyburn Elementary School!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 19, 2013 - 12:14pm PT
It's fun to see folks posting up that have also visited this reasonably remote area. All memories are good to share.

L! Thanks again for your appreciation! Purr,Purr!

Since Banquo mentions the next big river system to the north, I did have an adventure drive there in Sept 2012. Of course I shared it on ST, but did not mention the name of the river.

4 mtns, 10 Cuts, & 100 miles of ridgetop dirt road in Idaho!

Back to Sunday morning on the North Fork. Rain was predicted by afternoon, I couldn't catch another Kokanee and I was a long way from home.

I started back down the road, & took some river photos along the way.

After one stop, my eyes were suddenly drawn to the largest paper-wasp nest I've ever seen. It was about 50 feet above the road, and must have been about two-feet long.

When I reached pavement again, I had logged 140 miles of dirt roads, and it was only 395 miles home to Choss Creek, up the Clearwater, over to the Salmon, up the Salmon, down the Weiser and then east across the S. Idaho Flats.

Home by 10:30 PM.


Social climber
May 26, 2015 - 06:11pm PT
I spent two weeks on th eN.Fork of the Clearwater two summers ago--2013. What a great place. six foot diameter cedars, crystal clear water--the Black Canyon--can't wait to get back.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - May 26, 2015 - 07:02pm PT
hobo_dan! Glad you enjoyed this tale, with your local's knowledge of "deepest Idaho."

Of course as some locals like my nephews Zach & Griz say:

Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
May 26, 2015 - 09:45pm PT
We did a family vacation in the Black Canyon way back when in 1970. I was just a young man discovering the new religion of fly fishing.

Great place.

Also learned about how a testicle can reascend if the water is cold enough. Damn cold water coming down through there.

Also my cousins. Uncle Fritz taught us all how to surf the basalt talus down into the river.

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