I joined Bruce Reichert and his Outdoor Idaho team of videographers and a group of wilderness explorers earlier this month in the Gospel Hump Wilderness in the Nez Perce National Forest south of Grangeville.
Our task was to capture the beauty and allure of this mountain wilderness on camera for Outdoor Idaho’s December program “50 years of Wilderness.” The trek into this amazing place is unique because you start from a road on the top and drop down into the lakes and steep mountains within.
So in the case of Lower Gospel Lake we hiked down an unmaintained trail about 750 feet over the course of a mile and then up another 350 feet in elevation in a little more than a half a mile. It wasn’t a long hike but the climb in and especially out was tough on the legs.
I have been in every wilderness in Idaho but in most cases have seen just a small part of a resource we are one of the rare places left in America that has a lot of. The East Fork of the Owyhee River in the Owyhee Canyonlands was by far the hardest to get in and out of, but the Frank Church-River of No Return has places that are equally remote. The Sawtooth Wilderness has its distant destinations, as does the Selway-Bitterroot. Craters of the Moon, of which I've only been on the edge, is perhaps the hardest to explore in depth.
But few areas place you into wildness quicker than the Gospel Hump. And once you are in it's hard to get out.
We also shot a campfire discussion just outside of the wilderness with retired Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor Tom Kovalicky and Wilderness Watch board member Gary Macfarlane, Kay Johnson, Allen Powers and Rick Gerrard. Aaron Kunz and I picked a few short exchanges that focus on the future of wilderness, which is the subject of a story I wrote that will run in the Idaho Statesman Labor Day week. It’s part of a series produced by the Idaho Statesman, the Post Register in Idaho Falls, the Lewiston Tribune and the Spokesman Review on the anniversary of the Wilderness Act that begins Saturday.