After exploring the wild northwest corner of Montana, I followed a suggestion and proceeded down to just south of Salmon Idaho, to visit the natural Goldbug Springs in Elk Bend. I was also curious about the area after reading about it in the book “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption Are Ruining The American West” by Christopher Ketchum. He mentioned Salmon Idaho as a hotbed of wolf hunting that holds a yearly derby to bag as many coyotes and wolves as possible. For one, I was attracted to the fact that there are wolves about in those mountains, and two, I just kind of wanted to see for myself and understand this hunter/cowboy mentality as much as I may find it abhorent. And man, I was not let down and shortly found myself closing down the bar with a group of local ranchers and hunters who bought me drinks all night. Without any hint of antagonism, I confessed my love for wolves, and they responded in turn by respectfully, passionately, and articulately explaining their side of things. We talked about all kinds of things: Indian artifact hunting, the BLM movement, Donald Trump, local history, wildlife, ranching, women, and of course, wolves. I don’t really want to go into lengthy detail about what they had to say in particular, but I will say that I was impressed by their awareness and integrity. They were not the thoughtless brutes I had expected. They were good, hardworking men who knew their land well and how to thrive in it, and they were passionately and fearlessly committed to defending their way of life and living as they see fit. They certainly have different values than I, but they stand by them. I certainly don’t condone the slaughtering of wild canids, but I must say, these cowboys won my respect. The hotsprings were amazing by the way, completely natural, hidden high up on the mountain. I had a wonderfully relaxing and theraputic soak while enjoying a gorgeous vista. The hosts at the campground were also incredibly kind and openhearted. All in all, in defiance of my expectations, I really liked the all the people I met in the Salmon area, and the land was majestic and enchanted. I’ll be back!
After Idaho, I spent a few days in Grand Teton National Park. Like all the other National Parks this odd summer, they place was quite crowded, especially for so late in the season, and the park officials were aggressively enforcing covid mandates and restrictions. As much as all that bothered me, the beauty and serenity of the land still managed to fill my heart with positivity and happiness. I enjoyed a few days exploring around on my motorcycle, hiking backcountry trying to see bears, and playing my flute and meditating. Then I had to hightail it back across Idaho and Nevada to make it to Reno by the 25th where I took my instructor-led, live ammunition, NRA pistol course to qualify for an Arizona conceal and carry permit. After so many weeks of solitude in the wilderness, it was actually quite nice to sit in a room all day with 10 other gun enthusiasts. The class was a mixed bag: a few soldiers, a gun shop owner, a latino carpenter and his young daughter, an avid female Trump supporter, a constitution loving cowgirl, and a former intelligence operative. Despite all of us being adults, all the same dynamics of highschool were present, and I found it all very entertaining. I passed, and really enjoyed the class. Now I’m just waiting to hear back from Arizona and the FBI to see if they’ll issue me the permit. A conceal/carry good for thirty or so states will simply make traveling with a pistol a whole lot less stressful. And I do like to carry a gun in most instances. I’m cool with open carry, but concealing suits me better and seems less likely to invite trouble.
I’m currently camped at a resevoir about an hour east of Reno. I wanted to avoid the city as much as I could and stay in a peaceful natural area while I took care of the pistol class. I love this place though. It’s all sandy like a beach with many cottonwood trees providing shade and you can camp anywhere you want. It’s a perfect place for long, contemplative walks, playing flute by the water, and yoga and meditation in the warm sand. Tomorrow I’m heading over to southern Oregon to see an old friend who has a hemp farm, and from there I’ll probably finally explore a bit of the Oregon coast, then proceed down to Mt. Shasta in California and visit whatever coastal redwoods are left.