The window of opportunity is wide open and the Flying Hawkes need little encouragement to climb through it. With snow forecast and a storm system expected mid-week, they seize the moment and soon their Cessna’s shadow is but a speck on Hamilton’s choice airport. April and Brian would love to have soup and a sandwich at the Higherground Brewing Company, but it will have to wait.
Today they dine on incredible canyon views as they gain altitude before slipping through Bear Creek Pass, and descending to the spectacular Selway River, less than thirty minutes away. Life is truly elevated now, as a backcountry experience is hard to beat. It won’t just be imprinted on their minds, or inked in their logbooks, but digitally recorded as April learns to use the Go Pro Camera mounted on the wing strut beside her.
Alex Athens has invited them to North Star Ranch, the crown jewel of the Selway. In addition to being an accomplished backcountry pilot, Alex is also a flight instructor and has given Brian training on the short technical airstrip located on their unique private family holdings predating the Wilderness Act. April and Brian feel honored to receive a personal tour of the incredible property. Normally in January, North Star is accessible only by ski plane, but spring like weather has afforded this rare opportunity.
The late Kenneth “Punk” Wolfinbarger, a renowned outfitter, used a D2 Caterpillar to help construct the initial runway in the late 1950’s. Alex maintains the Cat in working condition and occasionally uses it for ranch projects.
April Hawkes at North Star Ranch
They return to the Bitterroot refreshed and invigorated, but look forward to their next aerial adventure. Lunch took a couple hours today out of their busy schedules, but a winter flight and landing in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness is hard to top. No cheese burger necessary today, as the Hawkes have received intense satisfaction from the opportunity presented visiting the remote real estate.