Voices in the Wilderness: Consumed in the Yaak

Print Article

  • Riley Egan (Courtesy photo)

  • 1

    Riley Egan (Courtesy photo)

  • 2

    Riley Egan (Courtesy photo)

  • Riley Egan (Courtesy photo)

  • 1

    Riley Egan (Courtesy photo)

  • 2

    Riley Egan (Courtesy photo)

I am a consumer. I take elk, deer, trout, firewood, mushrooms, grouse, berries, experiences, memories, insight and perspective. I take all of these things selfishly, albeit reverently, from the Yaak Valley. I tout the phrase “The Yaak provideth” as if speaking part-Shakespearean part-biblically. I serve huckleberry margaritas while I tell stories of trips into the cedar and larch filled forest. It is in this rather small part of the world where I exist in the fullest. There is no distinct separation between hiking, fishing, hunting, learning or living for me out there. I am purely being.

I was late to discovering the wonders of the Yaak Valley relative to all the other unique and wild places I’ve explored across Montana and Idaho. While many other places entice me, the Yaak captivates me. It captivates me in part because it eluded me for so long, but also because it has eluded many others.

For me, the Yaak has mystery, both in the individual places I have yet to explore, but also in the things I don’t know. What side streams do the Brook trout spawn in? How many lynx are still cruising around? Where did the last woodland caribou cross into Montana, and can they utilize this area once again? Where is the greatest spot for a 360-degree view of the valley and the lands beyond? All these things I am eager to know, yet in no defined rush to consume the answers. It’s the discovery I’m most interested in. A journey I can only take in the wild places such as the Yaak.

Obviously the Yaak Valley has not eluded those who live in or around Libby, Troy, Bonners Ferry or Yaak. This area is utilized by a myriad of recreationists, workers, ordinary people and eclectic folks — all consumers in one way or another with varied loves, interests and needs. Some need quiet, undisturbed places; some need family sustaining jobs and income; some need a way to transcend the day-to-day and reach a place of mystery and exploration. Thankfully, I see things such as the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Agreement, and I can hope for a place that will continue to allow me to be the sustainable consumer that I am.

When I am not in this particular part of the world, I still find myself pretending I am. I am drawn to incorporate its parts into my daily life — the elk roast I eat, the wood I burn, the hucks I cook with, the stories I tell, and the thoughts I ponder.

I am a consumer in the Yaak, but sometimes I wonder if it is me who has been consumed.

Riley Egan is an avid outdoorsman who spends most of his time on the rivers and in the woods of Western Montana and Idaho. A graduate of the University of Montana, he enjoys teaching others how to catch their first fish or shoot a bow and arrow. Voices in the Wilderness is written by your neighbors and friends in Lincoln County featuring memorable personal experiences in wild places. If you have a tale based in untamed country (it doesn’t have to be local), write for guidelines, or just send it along to sandy@scotchmanpeaks.org.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Resorts doing more to highlight danger of tree wells

January 05, 2018 at 8:14 am | Western News By PATRICK REILLY Daily Inter Lake A snowboarder’s death at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Saturday underscored the risks that trees can pose when shrouded in deep powder snow. According to the Flat...

Comments

Read More

Gianforte supports bill that would allow bikes in wilderness

January 02, 2018 at 7:57 am | Western News Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte said he supports a bill that would allow bicycles and wheelchairs in designated wilderness areas. Earlier this month, Gianforte voted for H.R. 1349, a bill that ...

Comments

Read More

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness announces upcoming classes

December 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | Western News The Western News As part of its continuing series of free adult education classes, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has announced that expert tracker and wildlife researcher Brian Baxter of Lib...

Comments

Read More

Changes made to Kootenai avalanche forecasts

December 22, 2017 at 8:53 am | Western News The Western News The Kootenai National forest will provide two avalanche forecasts this season. One will be in the Whitefish Range which includes the Ten Lakes Area, and the other for areas west ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 293-4124
311 California Ave.
Libby, MT 59923

©2018 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X