A Summer Week at Upper Canyon Outfitters – By Rick Rice & Les Kodlick

A quick capture of the ranch from one of the ranch's favorite hikes
A quick capture of the ranch from one of the ranch’s favorite hikes

Upper Canyon Outfitters (UCO) is one of my favorite places to get away from the daily routine

and just relax. As an avid fly fisher, I always enjoy fishing the upper and lower Ruby River in

scenic Montana. Staying at the ranch makes the whole experience even better.

Next week will be my sixth visit since discovering UCO in 2003, and I’m not alone: my brother,

Todd, is coming for his fifth visit; my friend, Les Kodlick, will be arriving for his third stay and

bringing his better half, Carol, for a second time; and, Les’ father, John, will be coming for his

second trip and bringing his wife, Paula, who will be seeing the ranch for the first time.

Over the last 11 years I’ve gotten to know the ranch hosts, Donna (Tate) and Jake McDonald,

pretty well. Donna and I stay in touch even during the years I haven’t managed to get there.

They run a great operation and manage to hire wonderful people who enhance the guest


Since I have more than 35 years in public relations, Donna and I often discuss how to promote

the ranch and every once in a while I come up with a useful idea. Les has spent some time in

the communications business, too, recently retiring as a Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force,

where he headed up public affairs. So given our backgrounds, Les and I decided we might be

able to help Donna share what a great place UCO is by blogging about our experience while

we’re there.

Les and his family will be doing more than fishing this year, so he can share adventures that

happen away from the river, such as hiking and horseback riding. Todd and I just fish: fly fishing

is the reason we first came to the ranch and the reason we keep coming back, so that’s what I’ll

be sharing.

Full disclosure: Les and I are blogging about our stay as friends of Donna and Jake and fans of

their operation. This isn’t work for either of us and we’re not getting any special consideration.

We just want to share the experience. (Besides, Les is bored with the whole retirement thing

and has a new camera he wants to try out).

For anyone who’s been to the ranch before, we hope our posts will bring back some good

memories and maybe inspire you to come back soon. For anyone thinking about a new kind of

summer experience, we’ll give you good reasons to stop thinking about it and come visit.

Please share any comments or questions below. We’ll get back to you when we’re not off

enjoying ourselves somewhere. I’m looking forward to some great fishing and fun times. We

arrive on Saturday, August 9, so expect updates for the next week starting around the 10th.

P.S.: If you’re a hunter coming to UCO during the week we’re there, let us know if you are

interested in sharing your experience. Les and I will be happy to help you edit, proofread and

post your accounts.

Mountain Manners

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, here’s a few tips to keep in mind as you kick off your summer in the mountains!  When horseback riding in the back country, it may feel like you’re out there in the wilderness with no one around.  But, there are others!  Here are a few tips on maintaining YOUR mountain manners:


1.  Finding Camp.  Set up your camp away from trails and away from other campers.  Preferably 200 ft from water.  Edges of clearing along the trees are often the best areas.  Avoid wet spots.  Use existing fire rings if there, and, if you have to build a new one, be sure your fire is completely out and it’s torn down before departure.

2. Do not tie your stock to trees.  The scars can be visible for year.  A rope highline is a good solution.  You can also use hobbles, or set him up with a friend!  Horses get lonely, and having other horses with often eliminates pawing caused by hobbling.

3. Keep stock and toilets away from water – preferably 200 ft.  Think about the folks down stream of you.  Make sure to bury your poo before leaving.

4. Tie stock away from camp so as to keep manure out of campground areas.

5.  Keep a neat Camp.  Pack out your own garbage plus anything left by others.  Leave it cleaner than you found it.

6. Don’t smoke on the trail.  During fire season, stop in a safe place for a smoke break. Be cautious of stubs and ash.

7. Talk to people you meet on the trail.  When on horseback, if you see someone, speak to them.  Let your horse know someone is out there so they do not get spooked.

8. Give right of way to others when possible. Give hikers opportunity to get off the trail if you can’t.  Don’t crowd others, and don’t push.  And, when overtaken, let them by at the first opportunity on a trail.

9. Don’t crowd the horses in front of you.  This makes horses nervous – it’s a good way to get kicked!

10. Stay on trail, don’t take shortcuts.  Cutting on switchbacks can do a great deal of long term damage.

Written for the Lewis & Clark National Forest


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