Idaho, Day Five

Beneath these same trees the Patron Saint of Skypark himself once stood, or rather sat. Previous reconnaissance of our new favorite airstrip in Idaho set us up for our current status: relaxing in hammocks underneath the tall pines that survived an apparent inferno years prior.

As if on some sort of program, the afternoon winds came roaring through around lunchtime, and the sun and its trek across the confined skies in the heart of the Loon Creek canyon reminded why we arise so early to traverse these areas. Cumulus clouds above traverse even quicker than the winds, gusting between five and fifteen miles an hour at the surface. The words of our elders and mentors ring in our minds about the perils of these conditions, and why being grounded in the afternoon is not a bad thing. This afternoon, we’re grateful those lessons were shared.

Tomorrow ends six days and five nights of flying the Idaho backcountry. The longest stretch I’ve done so far was made easier by a quick supply refresh from my soulmate Stefani, and a few dozen or so hugs from my youngest Oakli. Sporadic pings from the outside world keep me plugged into only the necessary things to be concerning myself with; friends and family in less than ideal situations that I will attend to as soon as I return and the whereabouts of my friends flying home from our fly-in earlier this morning.

Outside those contacts, the intentional disconnect from the modern world once again reminds me why these moments are so important. More than just challenging myself as a backcountry pilot, more than reconnecting with my extended backcountry family, more than just a few more species added to my life list. The soul aches for reflective moments, moments where perhaps physically we are absent from those things most important to us (read: family), but emotionally I’m closer than ever before.

Staring into the distance, gratitude fills my heart. Gratitude for the opportunity I have to see these sights. Gratitude for the privilege to get to fly into these less-than-traveled areas. Gratitude for the friends and family I’ve gained in this community. Gratitude for my father who gave me the chance to explore my passions and support me through them.

Tonight, I’m grateful that for the last five days, my best friend and I have spent countless hours talking about life, about airplanes, and about our next adventure. Also none of this would have been possible without my wife, whom tomorrow afternoon I’ll be thanking her nonstop for allowing my limited days off this month to be spent this way.

And again thanks to Mel for sharing this place with us. Hope you enjoyed our conversations, Captain.