Posts Tagged ‘In The News’

Into The Wild Scotchmans

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

This piece was originally published on  in July of 2005.

Imagine you’re a movie camera, focused on the broken edge of a sunlit surface of reddish-gray stone embossed with ripples of a 750-million-year-old sea bed. In your field of view, a sun-browned hand appears, getting purchase on the rock. A boot appears on the rock. The hand flattens and muscles flex as it pushes off, and the other boot lands beside the first. You, the camera, move away from the rock and the owner of the boots is revealed; first her, and then three other humans with packs traversing wrinkled stone. They are not wearing day-packs, but packs made for days of hiking.

You continue to pull away to a view of the hikers trudging up a steep, narrow ridge. The perspective grows and grows until the four are bits of color moving on a huge bulk falling to both sides in leaps and bounds and arching runs of glaciated sedimentary stone.

That movie has been running in my mind today, but now, the dryer’s buzzing, and, I have to leave the theater. I fold a newly-washed cappeline shirt. It no longer smells of wood smoke and sweat from countless thigh-burning steps up one and down rock-strewn, bear grass-laden, goat-trodden ridges. Most of the stains came out of my hiking tee-shirt. My Carhart shorts no longer have a patina of Phil’s killer camping spaghetti sauce, charcoal and dirt from Elk Ladder ridge. My boots are nearly dry – nearly. We got plenty wet, we who just returned from a trek through Scotchman Peaks wilderness: Deb, Phil, Jonathan and I.

The Scotchman Peaks haven’t been declared wilderness by an act of Congress yet, but I defy anyone to find a better descriptive noun by which to name this faulted, glaciated, jumbled, contorted, inaccessible, steep-ass, dangerous and completely, extraordinarily, awesomely beautiful chunk of planet.

Three otherwise intelligent folk followed me into that wilderness near the Montana/Idaho border last Wednesday. The wilderness, after trying mightily to eat us, spit us out at Spar Lake on Saturday afternoon. We aren’t bright enough to avoid being swallowed up, but we’re too tough to chew, and that country chewed on us a great deal. Besides trying to drown us on a couple of occasions, it provided us with some dandy guerrilla hiking.

“Trails?” we said. “We don’t need no stinking trails.”

The hike leader fell from grace daily, but there was no mutiny because the wilderness came through with spectacular rewards for the travails we suffered. After an hour beating through soaking wet tag alder and devil’s club, for example, we walked out into a semi-vertical garden lush with purple penstemon, bear grass, arnica, bone white flax, Indian paintbrush and yellow wild columbine growing out of rock that seeps water fresh and cold as space itself.

The wilderness also provided good camps, the best in a soft, grassy alpine meadow at the top of a ramp of pinkish rock that still shows scratches left by glaciers 12,000 years ago, with a trickling stream of snowmelt, ensconced by cliffs rising 700 feet. In return, the group did not stone me for leading them for ten and a half hours (just five and a half miles) along straight-up-or-straight-down ridges; cliff-dodging, boulder-climbing, back-tracking and bush-whacking all the way.

There was also the small matter of walking back up 500 vertical feet to get to that camp. I am grateful for forgiveness, and that the wilderness gave us a lowering sun, great slabs of raw rock with all those same flowers growing in their cracks and a rambunctious stream beside us to escort us up the hill.

As we lowered our packs into the grass of that little meadow under the cliffs of a mountain we had stood at the top of hours before, I felt another Presence with us.

Wilderness is Creation exposed; God’s work unfinished, magic, magnificent and unaltered by our species. In the heart of wilderness, the pulse of the universe becomes audible, palpable, complete, ponderous and vital. In wilderness is a great hope for our species, for it may be a place that we can go and reconnect with this orb that has spawned us through the miracle of evolution.

It is an old rule of navigation that if you want to know where you are going, it is good to know where you began, and we began in wilderness; a place where we might believe that we are not so safe as we are in our automobiles and living rooms; a place where the earth will eat us, given the chance.

But in a world without wilderness, we will become more disconnected from the planet than we are already. With no connection to the planet, it may be impossible to find connection with our neighbors. With no pastures to lie down in together, we are likely condemned to fight about where to put the fences.

There are no fences in wilderness. There are, however, awe and peace and a chance to remember where we came from and perhaps get a better bearing on where we might go from here.

As for personal navigation, I will roll that movie again as I need to. It will sustain me until the next time I give the wilderness a chance to eat me. I will go willingly, for to be digested is to be softened, made more pliable, less rigid; and thereby less fragile and less easily broken.

Sandy Compton
The River Journal
July 13, 2005


2014 Winter Wolverine study.

Posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

DeMotteCochraneGrossDid you see the snow caps on the mountains recently?  That means Wolverine work is starting up soon!  Surf through, er, rather… snowboard through our website and learn how you can help this extraordinary effort at establishing baseline populations of keystone forest carnivores in 0ur incredible wilderness.  Here are some great places to start:

Wolverine Project History

Contributions make this project possible!

Sign me up!

For further information, please contact



Friends’ movies coming to Seattle.

Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

13.09-BallardShowingFriends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness’ executive director Phil Hough travels to Seattle in the first week of September for meetings with Woodland Park Zoo officials and a chance to show the two films Wildman Pictures has produced about the Scotchman Peaks proposal. The Ballard Branch of the Seattle Public Library will host the free September 5 showing of En Plein Air and Grass routes: Changing the Conversation. The showings are cosponsored by FSPW and Conservation Northwest. Both films were shot in and around the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and highlight how FSPW works for wilderness designation for the Scotchmans.

En Plein Air features the unique art outreach of the Extreme Plein Air, a backcountry painting expedition ala Thomas Moran, focusing particularly on two artists who can take credit for helping create the event. “Jared and Aaron came to me and said they wanted to paint in the back country,” says FSPW Program Coordinator Sandy Compton, “and I was happy to oblige them.

Fine artists Jared Shear of Thompson Falls, Montana, and Aaron Johnson of Moscow, Idaho, are featured in En Plein Air. The second film, Grass routes: Changing the Conversation, concentrates on the outreach, stewardship and advocacy of Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and how they lead to some unconventional partnerships in the quest for national wilderness designation.

“We depend heavily on community consensus,” says Hough, “and we find that the way to achieve that is to start from common ground. Most people have many things in common. By starting there, it’s amazing how we can minimize our differences and come to agreement about things that are important to all of us.”

The films will be shown beginning at 6 p.m. at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library at 5614 22nd Ave. N.W. in Seattle. The library number is 206-684-4089. For more information, contact

September 28th – Friends of the Forest Day!

Posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

trail workJoin the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and the National Forest Foundation during National Public Lands Day, September 28th!  To celebrate, we will be tackling trail work on Morris Creek trail, a tributary to the beautiful Lightening Creek Treasured Landscape, and working our way back to an end of the summer BBQ at the trailhead.

We will begin at 9am at the Morris Creek trailhead (trail 132, access from FS rd 419), north of Clarks Fork, ID, with a safety talk and then get friendly with our public lands as we sculpt a pathway through the forest.  All tools and safety gear will be provided.  After a little sweat, we will convene back at the trailhead at 3pm for a mid-afternoon BBQ in appreciation of our National Forests and Wilderness Lands and the community who supports it!!

Join us for part or all of this event!  Sign up to attend this event at this link.  Or for more information , contact us at


Winners announced for 2013 Scotchman Peaks Essay Contest for high school seniors.

Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness received over 50 entries to their 2013 essay competition for high school seniors from Bonner, Sanders and Lincoln Counties. A cash award and certificate were awarded to student writers from Troy, Libby, Thompson Falls and Noxon, Montana, high schools; as well as Sandpoint, Clark Fork and Lake Pend Oreille High Schools in Idaho.

The winners were Alex Walt, Thompson Falls (best overall); Alexandra Kremes, Sandpoint; Brandon Piazzola, Noxon; Makayla Cichosz-King, Libby; Kieri McCommas, Lake Pend Oreille High; Cassidy Smith, Clark Fork; and Michaela Curry, Troy. Analisa Armbruster of Sandpoint received an honorable mention.

The theme for the essay contest is “a most memorable wilderness experience,” which may be a first-hand account of an experience of the author or one related to the author by a friend or relative. The experience may have happened in any Wilderness, designated or proposed, and must portray traditional wilderness activities such as backpacking, camping, hunting, fishing, berry picking, or horseback riding.

“The great thing about the theme for this contest,” says FSPW executive director Phil Hough, ” is the personal nature of the essays. It’s not about abstract ideas. It’s about how wilderness has affected someone’s life in a real way.”

The winners for each high school, plus an honorable mention from Sandpoint High School are all published on our website, you can read any or all of them by following the links below:

Alex Walt — Best Essay Thompson Falls High, 2013 Essay Contest overall winner.

Alexandra Kremes — Best Essay, Sandpoint High

Analisa Armbruster — Honorable Mention, Sandpoint High

Cassidy Ann Smith — Best Essay, Clark Fork High

Brandon Piazzola — Best Essay, Noxon High School

Kieri McCommass — Best Essay, Pend Oreille High School

Makayla Cichosz-King — Best Essay, Libby High School

Michaela Curry — Best Essay, Troy High School

Wilderness First Aid Certification Course

Posted on Monday, June 10th, 2013

              LWM Logo copy  

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and Longleaf Wilderness Medicine Institute present

Wilderness First Aid Certification Course

June 25th&26, or June 29th&30th

at the Waterlife Discovery Center on Lakeshore Dr, Sagle, ID

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness are training our Project Lead Volunteers who will be directing volunteer crews in stewardship activities in the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area.  And because we can, FSPW would like to take the opportunity to open enrollment for this course to any of our Friends who may be interested!

Longleaf Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness First Aid is an introductory level course and is perfect for outdoor adventurers, people who hunt and fish, Scouts and their parents, and anyone who would like to increase their ability to respond to emergencies when help is more than just a phone call away.   During our Wilderness First Aid courses, you will learn how to assess patients, provide basic life support, treat common injuries and illness, and decide when to call for more help. You’ll learn strategies for prevention of injuries, as well as hands-on skills like splinting, wound care, and managing spine injuries.  The WFA course is 16 hours, taking place over two days. In addition to hands on skills practice, several realistic simulations will occur during the course to refine your skills.   After the course, you’ll walk away feeling more prepared to handle medical emergencies, treat minor problems, and improvise solutions when help is not available.   Longleaf’s Wilderness First Aid course is recognized by the American Camp Association .
Prerequisites    – 16 years of age or older      – Hold a current Adult CPR certification

The cost of this course is $150.  There is a CPR certification session available on the evening of 6/24th and 6/28th for those who need it.  If you have any questions regarding this course, or if you would like to attend, please contact for more informantion.

Thank you so much for your support!

Friends of Scotchman Peaks, Cabinet Resource Group, Forest Service and Avista plan June 9th cooperative National Trails Day event.

Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Trail work, campground cleanup and potluck planned for Bull River Campground.

3960 BullRiverTrailWorkers Web

Trail work started in May will be continued on June 9 by FSPW, CRG, the Forest Service and Avista in celebration of National Trails Day.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness will host their annual Sanders County Picnic beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 9 at the pavilion at Bull River Campground, (MP 13 ± on Montana Highway 200) their traditional picnic venue. As in past years, the picnic is a potluck, with FSPW bringing burgers and beverages. FSPW exec Phil Hough and board member Doug Ferrell will also provide an update on the state of the wilderness proposal, which has gotten a boost this year from the March release of the movie Grass routes: Changing the Conversation from Wildman Pictures.

“Exciting things are happening around the movie,” says Hough, “and more than ever before, it feels like the time is now for a bill for the Scotchmans.”

In addition to the picnic, and in celebration of National Trails Day, FSPW and the Cabinet Resource Group will team up with the Forest Service and Avista on cleaning up the campground for the coming season. Workers will also continue work started earlier this spring on a trail running north along Bull River from the campground.

“We’re clearing brush and rebuilding tread on about a half-mile loop starting at the Pavilion that has fallen into disrepair over the years,” says FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton. “It will make a nice amenity for the campground, as well as making the fishing a bit more accessible.”

Joining FSPW on the trail work — as well as the picnic — will be volunteers from Cabinet Resource Group and Forest Service workers. “It’s great to have CRG as well as Avista and the Forest Service working with us on this project,” says Compton. “CRG is really the old hand on conservation in Sanders and Lincoln Counties. CRG’s help early on made starting the Friends much less difficult.”

The trail work at Bull River Campground got a jump start in May when the Forest Service, Friends of Scotchman Peaks and the Continental Divide Trail contingent of Montana Wilderness Association used the old pathway as a demonstration project for a weekend trails skills class on May 11, 12 and 13. Instruction on the use of chainsaws, crosscut saws, Pulaskis, McCleods and other trail building and maintenance tools, as well as trail-building methods and specifications were utilized in hands-on sessions on the campground trail as well as the historic Star Peak trail reconstruction.

“The picnic is open to anyone who wishes to come, no matter which state you live in,” says Hough, tongue in cheek, “but if you want to have a good appetite for the picnic, come swing a Pulaski for a while.” Picnic-goers are asked to please bring their own table service as well as a dish to share.

The National Trails Day event kicks off at 9am MST with coffee, rolls, and tools of the trails. Trail and cleanup workers should wear stout boots and denim pants (no shorts), and come prepared with a long-sleeved shirt, rain gear, lunch, water and high-energy snacks. FSPW will provide hardhats, gloves and tools. The picnic begins at 3 p.m.

To sign up for the workday or for more information, contact or call 208-290-1281.

Treasured Landscape Plant Surveys

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

SpringBeautyRegistration for our 2013 Treasured Landscape Plant Surveys is now open!!!  This year, The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness are partnering with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) to conduct restoration in the newly designated Treasured Landscape Lightening Creek drainage complex.  This project is in its Step One phase, which entails several botanical surveys throughout the drainage.  We need volunteer assistance for two types of surveys, you may volunteer for all types or simply pick the one you are interested in:

1.) Adopt a Trail.  This survey involves identifying noxious weed encroachment along one of nine trails of concern.  Volunteers will be assigned a trail to survey, be given specific instructions on conducting the surveys during a two-day Weed ID course, and then perform the survey by the end of July.

2.)  Alpine Surveys.  This survey involves hiking up into alpine ecosystems.  There are single day events as well as multiple day backpacking trips available to choose to participate in.  Volunteers will be assigned a date and a crew to perform the surveys, attend a three day course on plant identification and survey techniques, and then see through the survey on the date they are assigned.

If you have not yet filled out the Application of Interest for this stewardship project, please follow the link and do so now.  Approval of your application by FSPW staff is required before continuing the registration process.

Our official Treasured Landscape Plant Surveys Registration Form can be found at the following web page:

We look forward your involvement in this incredible opportunity!