In the Midst of "A Forgotten Wilderness"

Brundage Snow Blog
July 5, 2011 by

The summer season is in full swing here in the McCall area. Thousands of visitors spent the weekend enjoying the lake, the Fourth of July fireworks and also, the party scene.

But these summertime staples are not the only attractions in our area. Many long-time visitors will tell you that it’s the quieter outdoor activities that really make our area special.

If you are one of those folks who enjoys slowing the pace to listen to the sounds of nature and to feel the earth’s rhythms, I have a treat for you.

A brand new book is now available in bookstores and shops around the McCall area (and a few Boise locations, too).

It’s called “A Forgotten Wilderness” and it provides a special glimpse into what makes the area around McCall and Riggins so uniquely amazing. It’s not just the powder-light snow that falls on the slopes or the rare opportunity to forage for morels and huckleberries that makes this such a special spot to explore.

Author Matthew Deren takes us on a journey of discovery through the 176 gorgeous pages of this one-of-a-kind book.

“I noticed a convergence zone in West Central Idaho that no one had really discovered before,” Deren says. “It’s a point where the south meets the north, the dry meets the wet, and where civilization meets the wild. It’s the largest temperate block of wilderness in North America.”

Deren spent more than two years taking photographs of nature, birds and wildlife in this convergence zone, and he came up with rare photographs of bobcats, mountain lions, wolves and black bears by backpacking into the most remote country he could find and setting up four sets of dual motion-triggered remote cameras.

“This book is not just a collection of beautiful pictures of the flora, fauna, and birdlife of West Central Idaho. It is an outstanding educational presentation,” four-term Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus wrote in the foreword.

Even those who’ve spent years hiking and exploring the area are bound learn something new on virtually every page of the book. I was astounded by the insights on relationships between weather, landscape and wild critters.

For example, Deren teaches us that bird song increases the growth rate of pine trees by 25 to 30 percent, compared to pine trees that grow in the quiet, and shows a photo of a red-breasted nuthatch, whose “gentle honking is one of the most common sounds of our forests.”

Deren became entranced by the wilderness of Central Idaho when he worked clearing trails in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for the Payette National Forest. After spending weeks in the wilderness on his own, he said he frequently made new discoveries. The more he learned, the more humble he became.

“After spending two months in all of that emptiness, I realized that this place is one of the only places in North America where you can experience what it must have been like two- or three-thousand years ago,” Deren says.  “I felt weak compared to the animals and plants that exist out there … the big game animals are like the finest athletes or dancers … they move through the wilderness with total grace and ease.”

By trying to teach the public about nature in the book, Deren hopes that people will gain a more complete understanding of the critters and interrelationships that exist in West Central Idaho. “I hope it’ll change the way they view nature as they become more connected with their wild surroundings.”

The book is published by the Brundage Nature Foundation, a new non-profit group founded by Deren and the DeBoer Family, owners of Brundage Mountain Resort.

The photographs in the book are spectacular and take you through a four-season journey of learning. And if you like to spend time in the wilder areas around McCall, the new things you learn will surely enhance your next adventure.

The book retails for $35.  It is being released to book stores throughout the Boise and McCall areas at the present time.

For more information about A Forgotten Wilderness: Nature’s Hidden Relationships in West Central Idaho, go to

– April