This May, our President, Bill Watkins, and our Founder, Bubba Albrecht, along with their buddy, Trevor Shirk, embarked on a grand adventure into the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness – an area deemed the most remote wilderness in the lower 48.
For nearly 12,000 years, this land was home to Native Americans including the Shoshone and Nez Perce tribes. In 1980 the area became protected as a wilderness area after Senator Frank Church pushed for its protection.
Bubba, Bill and Trevor set out with a plan to spend two and a half days trekking approximately 28 miles through the wild country. Due to the extreme remoteness of the region, a single-prop plane dropped them off and picked them up at backcountry “airstrips”. Here is the trip in their words...
Bubba: There is a special kind of stoke that emanates from within when embarking on an adventure somewhere new. Don't get me wrong, re-visiting familiar stomping grounds is most rad and necessary to appreciate the fine details of a place and how it changes over time...but to go into a completely new zone brings about a childlike wonder that can't be artificially created. Bill, Trevor, and I headed out to unplug, explore a new place, and knock around thoughts on the the big questions in life.
Our goals were simple and few: have a blast exploring a new river system and scope out surrounding territory for future fishing and hunting potential. I was reminded that "backpacking shape" isn't achieved over a weekend, and was humbled by mama nature in the best of ways. In addition to soaking up the scenery and grooving down the trail to the soundtrack of the river, we dove in deep to discussions about friendships, relationships, starting a company, our goals, and what challenges we're facing in our pursuit to give our all to that which we’re driven to do.
The conversations and experience are woven into memory along with the smells, sights and sounds of a unique place in the wild. To me, this combination creates the best opportunity for reflection, future growth, and clarity about what’s most important. While my body was hurtin' fer sher, my spirit and mind were rejuvenated and recharged, and all the food eaten from my pack was replaced with gratitude for the comradery of an experience shared with two bad asses I was lucky enough to join in the wilderness of Idaho. Until the next trip...keep given'r!
Bill: Trevor and Bubba picked me up at 4:00 am so we could make it to a diner in Salmon, Idaho in time for breakfast. After breakfast, we headed to the airport where we hopped on a small bush plane. Since we’d be backpacking, we prepped our gear to be as lightweight as possible.
We boarded the plane and got our first view of the Frank Church Wilderness from a bird’s eye view. I sat in the copilot seat and soaked up the beauty of one of the wildest places in the world. We landed on a small grass air strip in the zone where we’d begin our 28-mile journey. We spent approximately eight hours a day hiking and spent time after our daily trek fishing, keeping an eye out for bears and wolves, and playing “backcountry baseball”—a game suggested by Bubba that involves hitting river rocks with large sticks.
Before going to bed we’d wash down our advil with whiskey and a cigar to celebrate. I left the Frank Church Wilderness eager to return and proud of the work we’d put in. Hey at 67, I could just spend my weekend in a lazy boy -- but that’s not the Give’r lifestyle!