Down into a canyon, out of cell range, or any noise of a car driving by; breathable air, quiet, a pause. We had found it. Our escape was down to Snake River, just over 40 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho.
The state of Oregon was suffering from one of, if not, the worst fire seasons in history. With about 1.2 million acres of land affected by the wildfires, staying put in 400+ AQI was not an option for us.
After a month on the road capturing images for The Loam Wolf: Season 2 Bike Park Tour, I was flying back from the East coast into Bend,Oregon.
“Dusten we can’t stay here… What are the most important things you need from the house? I’m going to Portland…”
“It’s not any better here… I don’t know where to go.”
I landed in Bend and promptly hopped in my truck to race to Portland where I was meeting Cat. From there we piled our most important things into the camper (in case we were to hear unbearable news that our home and things were lost in the fires) and started our drive east.
Respirators on, twenty feet of visibility, we drove into the night. East. Unsure of where we were headed, just knowing that the map showed where the smoke was and that's where we were not going.
A long slow drive across an entire state, we found ourselves pulling into Boise, Idaho. The smoke had found us there, but it was hardly anything to write home about. Not compared to the AQI back home and in most of Central Oregon being over 300. We were grateful to arrive in Boise and take some relatively deep breaths. We spent the day there; getting our bearings, updating ourselves on the condition of our home, and processing.
With better air and availability in our schedules, we prioritized the need to focus on ourselves and the pups.
We shared a hotel room with a friend who had caravanned with us from Portland, equally hunting for an escape. After tying up some ends with work, and a few quick meetups with friends, we parted ways. Our friends left for Central Washington as we headed South East, to public lands on the Snake River.
Forty miles out of Boise, at the edge rolling farms, we found ourselves descending quickly into a beautiful canyon that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. At the bottom we were greeted by the Snake River, which we followed for a while on dirt roads until we found a place to pull out and set up camp.
Endless swimming, never ending games of fetch, lantern lit cards, cast iron meals, whiskey for breakfast.
Our escape to Snake River was more than a hunt for clean air.
It was a time to be with each other. To wear the dogs out for days on end. To abandon the impulse reach for the phone. To count the stars and watch the sun rise.
By: Dusten Ryen