Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Elk Bar

I remember climbing a steep hillside and topping out on a bench. There was a cave of unknown dimension over on the edge of the bench, of course built-in or dugout or naturally occurring right on a cliff face. Big old Ponderosa pines dotted the bench. Other than the trees it was wide open, unknowable and unseen from the sand bar below where we were camped. I do not remember what inspired the climb up that steep slope, but I am glad we went. The revelation of that bench was like the discovery of some secret place that no one had seen prior to us emerging over the lip of the climb. I'm sure reality was/is different, especially now 25 years later.

I also remember a couple bighorn sheep jumping out of the cave mouth in alarm as they heard us approaching. The ease in their exit was impressive, especially after we tried to climb up to the cave mouth and really couldn't even get close due to love of life and lack of rock climbing skill.

A multi-paragraph lead up to the word of the day is getting to be habit. Hopefully the discerning reader noted the inclusion of the hint phrase "sand bar" in the verbose foreshadowing of today's word. Yes that sand bar, that gorgeous luscious bar of whitish sand next to the gorgeous luscious Middle Fork is Elk Bar, which is today's word.

As always, this is one of the actual real sites on the Middle Fork that our cast of characters float by and camp on in the course of the adventures taking place between the covers of River and Ranch. I am trying to use real places throughout this series. I am a big fan of geography, particularly this area of the USA, flyover country to most, Big Sky country to some and full of places a person can spend a lifetime (re)discovering. This book series is fiction with the exception of the land. Most of the geography did at one time reach up and trip me while I was walking by. I passed two amazing summers as a river guide on both the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon. I would be remiss in failing to mention that I am also an alumni of the University of Montana. The hootch that Cale and Lane live in is the house on Pine Street that I lived in. All the place names mentioned in Missoula exist and are as truly described as memory allows. Of course 25 years of winters, spring floods and development can also bring about significant changes.

A huge exception is the Lemhi Pass area. I had little occasion to go down Highway 28, past Leadore, Tendoy, Sharkey Hot Springs and the myriad gravel roads leaving the highway and going off up into the hills. Those real roads are the actual basis for the Cayuse Creek road leading up to the Turner ranch. The whole rare earth mining aspect (a plot give away hint hint) that is, in fact true in real time, as I write this blog entry, was a gleam in the eye of unknown people back in the early 90's when I was there, although the Last Chance vein was already a well known quantity in Idaho mining history.

Thanks for reading this far! The always mysterious letter "F" awaits your visit tomorrow!


  1. That would be a sight. Bighorn sheeping jumping out. I could imaging them chasing me back where I came from.

  2. Elk Bar sounds like a neat place. :)

    -Chrys Fey
    Tremp’s Troops - A to Z Co-co-host
    Write with Fey