Ride into the Selway

Idaho mountains and river

We were eager for adventure, to take a ride and stir our soul. And maybe toss a
line into the deepest fishing hole.

I’ve heard old-timers carry on ‘bout where to get away. They talk of Central
Idaho, back in the lone Selway.

So, we heeded the old-timers, with a hint of what they knew. Then loaded Tess
and Einstein and our pack horse, Blacky, too.

We left the barn ‘fore daylight, we’d be driving to midday. Then ride out from
the trailhead to the picturesque Selway.

The mid November weather hadn’t seen a lot of snow. Yet the Nez Perce Pass
received its share, at least 3 feet or so.

And to worsen up our day, the Pass and forest road were closed. If you got your
truck and trailer stuck, I’d have to say you’re hosed.

We chained up my old Chevy, checked the horses in the rear. Then hugged the
frozen ruts while driving in a lower gear.

The Pass weren’t for the faint of heart. Thank heaven for our chains. What
brought us to this mountain top? Surely clabber for our brains.

So glad that I rode shotgun. I drive slower than I walk. ‘Cuz that’s when I heard
the driver say, “We’ve got to beat the clock.

“We need to get to camp ‘fore dark; no time to dilly-dally. Mother Nature has no
mercy.” And he said it quite profoundly.

We drove up to the trailhead. Loaded Blacky with camping gear. We had
enough provisions to feed us well into next year.

Our guide was packed and ready. He was itching for the trail. He said, “We’ll go
‘bout 15 miles. This ride ain’t for the frail!”

The view was most spectacular. The river at our side. I wondered what our guide
implied. So far, a perfect ride.

It seemed the guide was right about the long and crooked course. One slip and
you’d be bear meat right along your saddle horse.

So I rode Einstein inside the trail. I didn’t want to fall. But my mind was thinking
of campfire stew. I was hungry most of all.

Our day was coming to an end. We rode into the camp. I smelled beef stew and
biscuits; saw the cook tent’s glowing lamp.

That night while in my sleeping bag, I slept next to the heat. And fed the wood
stove cedar chunks. Could tomorrow be so sweet?


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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.



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