Thursday, June 7, 2012. I know you will all find this surprising; it gets cold in the Bitterroot Mountains, even in early June. My traveling companions are seasoned campers and find this exciting and invigorating (they live in Montana, I think that’s partially responsible). I put on my long underwear, tops and bottoms, and socks to make a mid-night relief trip. When I got back to my tent I left the extra clothing on and crawled back into my sleeping bag. This was a good idea. Perhaps, someday, I too will find all this exciting and invigorating. For now I was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing sleeping on the ground in territory that nearly claimed the lives of Lewis & Clark. Drew and Mac, sharing a tent, thought all was well with the world until they ventured out into the crisp morning air.

20120609-153220.jpg
Today was Mac’s 17th birthday. We had beds waiting for us a mere 50 miles away at the Lochsa Lodge in Powell. Tom’s oldest son, Dan, is a forestry firefighter stationed in Powell and was treating us to beers and dinner. Ginny was bringing a birthday cake and Ty would joins us also. All we had to do was cycle easily and enjoy the same old scenery.

20120609-154210.jpg
We stopped for lunch at one of several “pack bridges” used by hikers and hunters to get to trails on the other side of the Lochsa.

20120609-154531.jpg

Dan (wearing the neck brace and too long a story to tell here) had just gotten off duty and invited us into the bunk house kitchen. The fire fighters were wonderful, raucous, and gracious. They made us feel right at home and I was reminded of all the fun I used to have around the fire house kitchen. Then something occurred that my 33 years in the fire service never prepared me for; Dan opened the fridge and pulled out beers for Tom and myself. Dan explained to me that the crew was “off duty” and this was a bunk house, not a fire station. But it sure felt like a fire house kitchen to me.

20120609-155830.jpg