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The Phoenix

(Written by Isaac Walden - November 5, 2015)

The inspiration behind the idea was simple, a late night burn out operation around the town of Featherville, Idaho. Waking up on the dirt, early one morning in a snowpark choked with smoke, a topographic map of the Trinity Ridge Fire with twisted contour lines packed tight like tree rings. Just like that the seed of adventure was planted.

The follow through would prove to be a little more trying. We set out from the snowpark in the dark on snowmobiles. The dirt had been replaced by snow and the smoke had been replaced by condensation from our breath in the cold air. It was snowing. The navigation was easy until we hit a long broad ridgeline; with little or sometimes no landmarks to go by, the pace slowed to a crawl. Check the GPS. Try not to get stuck in wind lip. Then, a Forest Service sign: Big Trinity Lake, we made it.

Logistics on the fire line is simple: a whole Division can order up every thing they need by numbers, “I’d like to order up three of #14, five of #15 and ten of #53,” is what a radio call might sound like. Here, now, on our own and in the dark, we are roughly 90-road miles from the closest fast food menu. And we would still have to make another trip down to the snowpark in similar conditions. We need to set up the wall tent. The wall tent needs firewood, I need food and for Gods sake man … don’t let the water freeze. The good news is that the campground shitters are unlocked. I think it was fair to say by the time we finally bedded down for the night, we missed the support structure that fire can provide.

By morning the snow had stopped. We had camped in the middle of a fun land mini golf park. Bench after bench of “one-hit wonders” lined the foreground and with a little more exploring and some intrepid snowmobile driving, we found larger spins and steep tight couloirs. We would ski, sled, drink beer, break ski boots and shoot guns. All told, we spent 4 days and 5 nights at Big Trinity Lake without seeing another soul. It would prove to be not enough time.

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