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Save Copper Basin

Posted on by Mahlon Kriebel / Comments Off on Save Copper Basin

“Bandi! Bucx!” Lloyd Warr’s call drifted through a curtain of fog tangled in the sagebrush, shrouding the morning sun. Obviously, his mules had bolted. I had met Lloyd the previous day, when he arrived at Lake Creek Camp. He said he lived in Rupert and he and his companions from Buhl belonged to the Idaho Draft Horse and Mule Association.

I had always thought mules were untrustworthy, but Lloyd explained that breeders select mares and jacks for temperament. Anyway, it was too early to rise, as my four friends and I on this trip into Copper Basin, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, had talked well past our bedtime. The campfire, which had sealed us in from the cold night, had burned out, and none of my rough-and-tough storytellers had emerged to start the fire. “Bandi, Bucx …” receded as Lloyd made his way along the Copper Basin Loop Road.

“Bandi, Bucx … hay, oats.” Pulling on my boots, I decided to help. Ron had just begun to prepare coffee and Quint was kindling the fire. I called, “Breakfast can wait,” and gunned my off-road vehicle (ORV) towards the voice. To the west, Standhope Peak and Big Black Dome, both rearing nearly 3,500 feet above the basin floor, were pink and red in the morning glow of lifting fog. Driving up alongside Lloyd, I asked, “Can I help?”

Lloyd, about my age, seventy something, replied, “Damn mules, they’ve never bolted.”

I knew we could drive cross-country and, with luck, catch the feckless mules. “Hop on.”

Lloyd hesitated. “I’ve never been on one of these contraptions.”

“Well, this ain’t an ordinary ORV. It’s equipped with a passenger seat.” Continue reading

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Reel Recovery

Posted on by Mike McKenna / Comments Off on Reel Recovery

Cancer is a scary word. Whenever it’s uttered, most of us naturally recoil, if only subtly.

“When people hear you have cancer, they get scared, especially at first. They act like it’s contagious,” Jeff Entringer said last summer, as we bounced in my old pick-up down the dusty roads of Idaho’s spectacular Copper Basin, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. “The funny thing is,” Jeff said, with an easy smile, especially for a guy battling prostate cancer, “there’s nothing to be afraid of. Being afraid is the last thing you need to be around someone with cancer. What you really need to be is a friend.”

Those words were a reassuring and solid reminder for me, while I spent my first weekend volunteering as a “fishing buddy” for the Idaho chapter of Reel Recovery, a national program founded in Colorado in 2003. For three years now, thanks to the tireless work of Dr. Dick Wilson, Idaho has been hosting an annual fly-fishing retreat, free for men throughout the Gem State who are coping with any form of cancer. Each weekend-long retreat run by the grassroots nonprofit organization hosts about fourteen participants and at least that many volunteer fishing buddies, inspired by the simple motto, “Be Well! Fish On!” In between angling sessions, a handful of Reel Recovery staffers lead the participants in “Courageous Conversations.” And courage is something you learn a lot about when you go angling with cancer patients.
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