Way back in May 2005 I flew into Moose Creek, Idaho, in a Piper Super Cub. This is the epitome of backcountry airplanes, the design of which is basically unchanged since the 1940s. We departed Missoula and flew along the Bitterroots before hopping over the border and descending into Moose Creek. This is a true backcountry wilderness airstrip with no margin for error.
Moose Creek (1U1) is situated at the confluence of Moose Creek and the Selway River at 2454 feet elevation. The airstrip has two runways, 1/19 at 4100 feet in length, and 4/22, uphill and 2300 feet. The plan was to overfly the airport toward the south, turn downstream on the Selway River, then do a teardrop 180-degree turn, hug the south canyon wall and land uphill on runway 4, which comes into view just before powering off for landing. Tense for sure, but the Super Cub is amazing and our roll-out was estimated at less than 300 feet! (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! –Wrong-way Corrigan)
On the return trip we overflew still-frozen Fish Lake (which sounds better than it is- no frozen fresh fish fillets for fellas) The airstrip is at 5646 feet! This backcountry gem has a one-way in, one-way out configuration with a lake right at the end of the runway. What that means for non-flying folks is that once you commit to the landing, there’s no other option. Apparently there’s at least a couple planes in the lake – this strip is for experts for sure!
Apparently, a popular trip is to charter a one-way plane into the lake and then backpack out to US Highway 12 along the Lochsa River. Try it!
Although Fish Lake looks like a High STF (Sphincter Tone Factor, TRADEMARK) airstrip, it pales in comparison to the mining-claim strip we observed right after take-off on runway 1 – It’s maybe 700 feet long on the side of a hill. Look closely at the bottom of the strip, you can see ‘X’ marks the spot! No thanks, unless I’m in a chopper!
On the return trip to Missoula we moseyed along Lolo Creek. Super Cubs go low and slow. What an amazing trip!