Chasing Light in the Wilds of Idaho

Chasing the Magic Hour in Idaho's Wilderness: A Journey of Adventure and Exploration.

I called out: “John, let’s go!  The clouds are forming and the light is popping.” 

John replied: “Yeah, I see it.  Let me grab my camera.”

I found myself outside of Salmon, Idaho, with John and other friends.  We planned an adventuring trip in the “Potato State” for a few upcoming magazine assignments.  Idaho features a landscape of vast forests, mountains, and raging rivers.  This land of true wilderness beckons the traveler to explore and wander.  The state encompasses the largest wilderness area in the lower 48.  Also, Idaho geography includes hundreds of natural hot springs.  Yes, Idaho offers an adventurer’s playground. 

John and I faded away from the evening campfire to chase light high in the Salmon River Mountains.  In early June the sun sets at 9:45. The shimmering, evening light, commonly referred to as Magic Hour, “dances” off the high peaks.  We desired to shoot video and photos of the stunning landscape and scene.  John and I rallied up the mountainside in my Land Cruiser and surveyed the valley and the Salmon River flowing north from high above.  We shot photos and video until all the light faded.  We returned to camp and warmed ourselves at the campfire, talked with friends, and watched the moonlight reflected in the Salmon River and the stars twinkling from the “black sea” sky.   

The following morning, we felt “lost.”  Well, not really, but a little disorientated.  I attempted to find a mountain bike trailhead outside of town. I thought I knew our location, but I felt compelled to double-check; so, I tapped on the mapping software loaded onto my iPad mounted with my ProClip tablet mount.  I enlarged the map, I confirmed that we were starting on the right path.  My Land Cruiser created a dust trail as I motored north on a dirt road.  Each of us found an adequate parking spot and prepped our mountain bikes.  Sam passed to me some chain lube to use as I got my helmet and biking attire ready.  I clipped into my pedals and pedaled forward.  The area is known as Discovery Hill, and we aimed to “discover” the singletrack of this area.  We pedaled and flowed downhill after hill.  The fresh scent of sagebrush teased our nostrils as we passed.   After a few hours of thrills, and luckily no spills, Sam and I returned to the trailhead to reunite with the others.  As we relaxed in our camp chairs.  The afternoon sun felt intense and wonderful at the same time. We basked, relaxed, and chatted for a while, enjoying our surroundings and time.  After packing our equipment and gear, we headed to the river.  Not to swim but to fish.

I encouraged my friend, Craig, to try a purple haze as he glanced into his fly box.  I previously, successfully used this stellar dry fly.  I scanned the Lemhi River for ripples and holes that would hold fish.  Sure enough, I cast my purple haze and watched it float across the water.  Would a fish swallow it?  Or, would I need to use something else?  Questions without any answers—just yet.  But, it really didn’t matter.  I enjoyed the wild river in the heart of Idaho with friends adventuring.  I created a good day.  It’s your turn….