The Great Salmon Run
The cold penetrates to my core. I am lying underneath my giant Forest Service map as a rogue thunderstorm bathes the canyon, an intense deluge that lasts about 30 minutes. ...
Photos by Matthew Irving
The cold penetrates to my core. I am lying underneath my giant Forest Service map as a rogue thunderstorm bathes the canyon, an intense deluge that lasts about 30 minutes. Ty Draney, my good friend and ultrarunner extraordinaire, who is under the other map that we brought, sounds like he is getting some rest. I am incredibly envious that he is able to doze off, as I am shivering far too hard to coax my body into even a light sleep. The rain quickly passes, and I endure the shivering for another 10 to 15 minutes. Then I crack. I wake Ty and again we force our depleted bodies to move.
Several years before I found myself sleeping under an oversize map, I worked on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River as a raft guide. That summer I often pondered what it would be like to travel through the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness along the river on the trail. I didn't run at the time, and it seemed impossible—80 miles of travel along the river followed by another 40 or so to get back to civilization. Yet the seed had been planted.
Then, a year ago I brought up the idea of running the Middle Fork to Ty, who is always up for adventure. We planned on hitting the trail in July, but due to an exceptionally large snowpack that persevered into late summer, the Bighorn Crags, incredible granite peaks and alpine lakes in Idaho’s remote Frank Church Wilderness, were impassable. Undeterred, we postponed until late September, hoping to catch a break in the weather before old man winter returned.