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Harley Kuehl

South of the Red Light district of Wallace Idaho

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As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve always been a fan of the panhandle in Idaho.  My folks had the honor of meeting a gentlemen who used to work the firetowers for USFS, and in turn was responsible to turning us onto some of the best trout fishing I’ve ever known.  Of course I’m talking about the North Fork St Joe River east of Avery Idaho.  It was HIGHLY remote back in the 1960’s.  The one of maybe two or three accesses we used was driving to Wallace Idaho and taking the then one lane dirt road with pulloffs over Moon Pass.  Logging was huge back then, you kept your eyes open for clouds of dust around each bend in the road, and bloody well grab the pulloff giving them the right of way.  Camping there in the National Forest was a pick between the formal USFS campgrounds; one was just a couple miles outside of Avery, or take a pick from several “hunter campgrounds”…wide spots off the road, big enough for a vehicle or two, couple tents, and usually they would have a chunk of ground dedicated for a campfire.  So basically, with your closest camper being a mile down the road, it was just you, your campground, the critters of the forest, and the river.  The river was glacier cold, always great for fishing.  Huckleberries were always a delight to find and pick…tossing them into a batch of pancakes whenever possible.  The Milwaukee Road mainline was overhead, and even as a railfan back then, it was always with great drama hearing those locomotives SCREAM with horsepower climbing the pass up into Montana.  Our stays would be for the better part of a week back then, which meant a trip or two into the grocery store at Avery basically for ice for the coolers, and replenish the more easily spoiled foods…milk and meats.  As you see in the pictures, the canyons were brutal.  Stormy weather could funnel in, and with a flip of a coin, you could be witnessing the violence of a great thunderstorm and not get wet, as the canyon next to you won that lottery….or you spend some serious time in the tent if you were the unfortunate ones.  But one thing for certain…it was never boring!  Made for some great memories.









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