The Ridgerunner

As stated before, over the summer of 2009 my girlfriend Sarah and I rode our bicycles from Grand Rapids, MI to Portland, OR via the Transamerica Trail. During this trip, we rode through Northern Idaho, which unbeknownst to me is one of the most beautiful, remote places in America. We rode alongside the Lochsa River coming down off Lolo Pass, and into the Bitterroot Wilderness. We didn’t see a gas station for days, and in the thick of it met a man named Stacey who has been living off his bike for years (by choice), drinking water from these same rivers, fishing for his meals, sleeping on BLM land, and drifting where the fair weather does. We stopped at a small stand of cabins, and camped one night at the adjacent National Forest Campground. The cabins were packed, teaming with excited white water rafters and guides, the Lochsa roaring just across the road. In the morning we grabbed breakfast at the mess hall, and I bought this book in the lobby.

The Ridgerunner: Elusive Loner of the Wilderness by Richard Ripley:

“During the early 1940s in Idaho’s expansive Selway-Bitterroot wilderness, a few items disappeared from a tent camp, a lookout tower, and a ranger station. Eventually, the continuing loss of food and supplies at such isolated sites confirmed the presence of a mysterious solitary. For years no one saw him, even though he entered Forest Service quarters while employees slept. In the winter, when he did leave tracks, they were found on the most inhospitable ridges and earned him the regard of locals who appreciated the cost of survival under such circumstances. Once apprehended, the Ridgerunner proved to be both witty and ornery – a man who said he simply wanted “to live like a coyote,” and who was so woodswise and contentious that he vexed the government and a major timber company for the next 20 years.”

I’m just about to read this book for the fourth time. Grab it.

Photo: Moreland (The Ridgerunner) raising the flag in front of his shelter at Milk Creek.


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4 Responses to The Ridgerunner

  1. Craig Wheeler February 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    When I saw the title I thought to myself “Hey I wonder if this is the same guy I grew up hearing about?” Yup it sure was. The Ridgerunner tale was also told to me as a spook story to scare us during campouts. The story changed quite a few times from seeing someone standing in your trailer, scratching on the outside of your tent, or running just outside of the firelight in camp. Great memories! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Brian February 18, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Can this blog get any better?

  3. Chris February 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Thanks for the recomendation, scooped it up on Amazon. Been enjoying your site for a while now. Keep up the beauty and truth.

  4. Tammy February 16, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    I LOVE to read anything on the famous ridgerunner, William Moreland. Though now in my early 40s, I was LUCKY enough to live in a small town about 50 miles from Northfork of the Clearwater River. My mother grew up on the Northfork,,,as a very poor child with 5 other siblings. So my “roots” are very near and dear to the areas you have talked about. In fact my mom has many pictures of the Northfork and the beauty of it BEFORE the dam was built. My family and I and our friends often boat on the Dworshack reservoir and many of my uncles are like walking history books and could tell you exactly to this day where their and many of family’s homesteads are at…though they are beneath hundreds of feet of water. Finally, my dad actually work as a civil engineer for the Forest Service of the Northfork Clearwater area, we spent MANY nights in the summer time at Canyon Ranger Station….which is one of the buildings that the ridgerunner broke into multiple times. We camped all over where the ridgerunner had been known to be seen including the skull creek area, different Potlatch camps, Canyon Ranger Station area, Aquarius and Isbelle Landing area…and I can remember been in my teen years, etc. and always around the fire we would bring up old Bill Moreland and get ourselves really scared! Could share lots more….pretty amazing someone could truly live out there in those conditions and the very steep wilderness. :

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