After spending a week hiking the trails near Priest Lake and paddling the lake's Thorofare to Upper Priest Lake, it was a shock to come over Horseshoe Bend Hill and see the Valley smothered in smoke.
We didn't get into smoky conditions until Banks and had clear skies most of the week from Priest Lake all across North Idaho. The last night we camped along the Salmon River near Riggins and had a clear starry sky.
So if you're planning any outdoors adventures, head north toward McCall and beyond.
You can read more about hiking and paddling the Priest Lake area in Thursday's Idaho Outdoors.
By the way, North Idaho may not have smoky skies but they have plenty of bears and the be- bear-aware warning signs are everywhere. You can't even go into a grocery store without hearing stories of black bears raiding cabins or camps.
We stayed at the Osprey Campground on Priest Lake and the host said a black bear walked through camp in the middle of the day.
We didn't have any trouble, but we kept a clean camp.
The problem is that it's a dry year and the berry crop is pretty bleak. Bears are hungry and looking for a meal any place they can get it.
There have been problems with bears in campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Forest, too, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
We hunted around for huckleberries on our hikes but didn't come up with much.
The photo of the black bear was taken along the road on the west side of Priest Lake near Osprey Campground. I got the shot when the bear was sniffing around some cabins.
Good camping and head north.