What a way to kick off the season. The Middle Fork and tributaries were clear--highly unusual for this time of year--and relatively low. The wildflowers were blooming: Leopard lillies, arrowleaf balsamroot, scarlet gilia, stonecrop, larkspur, syringa, cinquefoil, etc... The contrast from the 2000 Pistol Creek fire and dead standing trees and the spring-green underbrush was astounding. Wolf scat was scattered on many trails and deer and elk tracks were ubiquitous. Osprey had their young perched high atop dead trees along the river. Mergansers flew up and down the river daily. We found a steelhead sitting at the head of a run on a Middle Fork tributary. It's size trumped the few visible Cutthroat nearby. And ticks were abundant... I have many more pics I'll be posting when I get off the river later tonight.
Here's the Middle Fork of The Salmon and Pistol Creek as seen from the air.
Moonrise light and startrails at 2:30 AM on the Middle Fork.
Not evident here, but our flying weather was poor and after trying to get in after an hour and a half of flying and probing each drainage for a gap in the low ceiling, we gave up and landed in Cascade. We made it into the Middle Fork the next day.
Our pilot, Mike, often just shrugged his shoulders after turning away from a potential but unsafe route due to a low ceiling into the Middle Fork.
Pistol Creek airstrip
The magnificent Leopard Lilly