This past August I took an extended time off from ICL and dedicated the month to wild Idaho. I explored from the Mallard Larkins of North Idaho to the Lochsa River corridor, from the newly designated Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and more. I traveled east, west, north and south. I spent more nights outside than in.

My husband Greg accompanied me for parts of the month, while some days were spent with friends and some alone. Greg and I waited out a fierce electrical storm in what felt like a perch on top of the world in a retired US Forest Service fire lookout in the St. Joe Forest. A backcountry pilot dropped me and my ICL colleague and friend Dani Mazzotta off at a wilderness airstrip and picked us up five days later.

Over the course of the month I laid my body down in free-flowing rivers, hiked along remote trails, and shared my time with bears, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, scores of birds-and so much more. I watched the season move from summer to early autumn. Wildfires burned fiercely throughout much of the month. Cell service was scarce, and that brought a calm and contentedness that is so rare in our modern time. It was a month of awe, adventure and beauty.

I knew I loved Idaho before my month began, but by month’s end I had a big sappy crush on this place that sticks with me through my days back at my desk in the ICL mother ship in Boise. At the end of the month, my sense of place and purpose were firmly rooted like a ponderosa pine. Not only is Idaho my home, Idaho is also my work. At ICL we work to protect all of the places I visited in August, plus so many more. I’ve heard our members ask, "Without ICL what would Idaho be like?" Think about it…

The holidays have snuggled in around us. This time of year I reflect on what matters most to me. This year Idaho ranks right up in my top three. If Idaho tops your list of what you are most grateful for, I hope you will show your love by making an end of year gift to ICL. What are Idaho’s free flowing wild rivers and millions of acres of public lands worth to you? Help the ICL team stay strong in our tireless work as champions for the very best of wild Idaho. Make your gift because you love this place. Thank you and happy holidays.