In July 2008 we spent about a week at the Rocky Mountain Ranch near Stanley, Idaho. This is in the shadows of the Saw Tooth Mountains where there are large packs of wolves. Mom, Dad, Johnny and his family, Donny and his family were there along with Will and me. Each of our families had our own cabins so Will and I had one to ourselves. Jennifer and Allison did not join us on this trip.
The mornings were cold but soon warmed up as the sun rose above the mountains to our East. I had one of my old Nikons with me, so I enjoyed capturing the scenery around us. Breakfast was in the main lodge nearby and had everything you would want in a big meal.
One of the first days we went for a trail ride on horseback. The trail we chose took us near the Saw Tooth mountain range. The plan was to spot wolves which are known to roam in the area. We had to cross the Salmon River at a shallow place which was tricky since the riverbed was rocks. The horses had a challenging time keeping their footing since the rocks would roll under their hooves. We followed the guide trying to stay in the same path she took so our horses would not step into a deep spot of the river. Once we were across, we started up some steep trails that paralleled the river for about a mile before turning towards the mountains. Since I wanted to take pictures along the way I rode at the end of the line of horses. That way I could stop to grab a shot then catch up to the others. It was a beautiful place to ride. The guide stopped near a clearing to show us some wolf tracks. I rode my horse over to where she was pointing. As I looked down at the paw prints, I could tell they were fresh, maybe less than an hour old. I was amazed at how large the wolf paws were, they were about the same size as the hoof prints my horse was leaving. The guide told us that with all of us together, the wolves probably will not show themselves, but if one of us got separated, they would follow the straggler in a pack waiting for an opportunity to attack. So, we stayed together.
After a few hours of a wonderful ride, we started back down the mountain towards the river. As the land flattened out, we rode through a wooded area where you could see about 100 yards or so into the trees. I continued to stop to take pictures and would catch up with the others. I enjoyed letting the horse run to catch up. As we were going through that wooded area, I noticed my horse looking back. He had fear in his eyes which was something I had not seen before in a horse. I looked back but did not see anything. As we walked on, I saw something move fast through the trees about 30 yards away from us. I searched for what it might be but did not see anything. My horse was getting nervous and wanted to keep closer to the group. I watched the trees on both sides of the trail and would see a shadow move but could not tell what it was. Once we arrived at the river my horse seem to calm down.
We lined up to take turns crossing the river, but this place was a little deeper than where we crossed before. When I crossed, the water came up to my knees and could really feel the current. As my horse climbed up out of the river, I held my camera over my shoulder to get a picture of Johnny crossing the river. I kept looking ahead to see where my horse was going and was not sure of what kind of picture I got. Johnny’s horse stumbled in the middle of the river and the horse along with Johnny went under water. I caught the fraction of a second before they went under with my camera and did not know it until I looked at the images later. It was fun telling our stories later at the lodge.
One afternoon I was sitting on the porch of our cabin when I noticed a fox run past the lodge which was about 50 yards away. I went inside the cabin to grab my camera. Other people also saw the fox and were pointing where it went so, I took off in hopes to get a good picture. I ended up in some tall grass and before I knew it, I was standing face to face with the fox. We were about five feet apart and stared at each other. I almost forgot to take the picture as I was caught up in the moment of being so close to the fox. I slowly raised my camera and clicked off a few frames. I lowered the camera to enjoy the prolonged moment of staring face to face with the fox that was so close I could smell it. I slowly stepped back and as I did, he turned and was gone into the tall grass.
We did a lot of things that week but the horseback ride to look for wolves and the encounter with the fox were the most memorable to me. When we were on the flight back to Texas, Dad said that these trips we all take as a family eat into our future inheritance. I told him I had rather have the memories. I thought about that later and all the trips we have taken as a family over the years sure do make for wonderful memories.
View from our cabin
Johnny and horse about to go under water
Dad and Will
Will and me
Face to face with the Fox