Wannabe Mountaineer By Shelley Ridenour, ChalliS

I didn’t get my first glimpse of the Lost River Range and Valley until about seven years ago. I was road tripping from my home in Kalispell, Montana, to Salmon and then Craters of the Moon.

The entire drive on the Idaho side of the mountain was sort of dangerous because if I wasn’t staring at the Salmon River in the canyon, I was gawking at the giant mountains along Highway 93. I didn’t even know the name of the Lost River Range then, nor that it was home to so many of Idaho’s giant mountains. I just knew it was stunning and a massive driving distraction.

Photo by Shelley Ridenour

That was a short vacation and I didn’t have any extra time for additional exploring beyond what I’d planned. So, it was really just a lot of looking, a few stops to shoot photos and back on the highway.

Eighteen months ago I saw the Lost Rivers again as I drove from Idaho Falls to Challis to check out a job possibility.

I'm all about the journey, rarely the destination, when I’m in a car. If it takes most people three hours to drive somewhere, it’ll take me at least four and more likely five. It’s how I roll, or not, as my friends say.

Photo by Shelley Ridenour

This time I stopped a lot, shot way too many photos and videos, texted and emailed them to my friends and tiptoed around in the dirt between the highway and the base of the mountains. (I was dressed for a job interview after all.) It was a long, awe-inspiring drive. I spent an equal amount of time driving back to Idaho Falls a couple of days later. Seriously, almost missed my flight back to Phoenix.

The job came about and a month later I was driving past the range again, moving to the valley. Highway 93 is a road I’ve already spent a lot of time on and it still takes me a pretty long time to drive it. Now that I’m more familiar with the route, I know when to expect to get my first peek at Borah. I chant a little song I made up as I get closer. I still gasp at that first glimpse.

Like thousands of other people, I’ve claimed Borah as mine. Of course, I haven’t trekked up it, so I’m sure the real mountain people would tell me I can’t make that claim.

That won’t stop me.

Photo by Shelley Ridenour

I’ve developed some strange connection to Mount Borah. I still stop at least once every trip up or down the highway and take photos of Borah. Low-cloud, foggy days, so far, are my favorite times to capture images.

I send every one of those photos to my friends David in Florida and Jason in Arizona. They’ve pretty much fallen in love with Borah, too, and they haven’t even seen it. But they are both planning their trips to the Lost River Valley to experience the magic themselves.

The inspiration I find in Borah can be found in countless other places in the Lost River Valley. People who are in far better shape than I am find it climbing up a rock face near Howe or trail running in the never-ending mountain ranges or rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The bold ones face Big Borah straight on and start hiking. I dream of that, but in reality it probably won’t happen.

Whether I walk an inch or miles of Borah, it will remain my inspiration, my mountain. And I’ll continue to draw some inner peace from it. I’m sure thousands of other people will too. Today, finding that peace is ever important for me. I’m grateful to live in the shadow of beauty.

Photo by Shelley Ridenour

(All photos by Shelley Ridenour)

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