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Archive for the tag “Nature”

Magical Idaho

Photo taken by my friend Hao.

Photo taken by my friend Hao.

This past weekend we had a snowstorm provide some much needed snow in our area. Fearing/predicting it might be close to the last time a good snowshoe could happen this year some friends and I planed a trip to the mountains for a snowshoe hike. In addition to the hike, we made plans to enjoy a dip in a hot springs after the hike. It was to be a first for my friends, as they had never visited a natural hot springs before.

The snow was wonderful, powdery and beautiful. The views were amazing, with grand magical mountain tops in the distance. It was a great snowshoe…but the real joy in the day came afterwards in the hot springs.

We climbed around the waterfalls crashing from the rocks above us to find an empty rock formed pool. After a short walk we found a pool tucked underneath a falls and we settled in only then really taking the time to look at our surroundings.

The hillsides were charred from a forest fire that ran through the area years earlier. New growth of the forest was beginning to show again. It was close to sundown when we arrived and we very shortly began to see the signs of dusk, with one of us spotting a herd of elk grazing on the hillside across the road that was nearby.

As the sun began to set a bit more a few more signs of nightfall began to appear. We talked and looked at the river that flow next to us as something caught my eye in the sky. I looked towards it and a majestic bald eagle few 20 feet above our heads. He followed the river, presumably looking for his evening meal.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the awe of such a bird in such a setting still consuming us my friend squealed in excitement.  “They are right there, you guys, they are right there!” Confused by what she might be talking about the rest of us looked in the direction of her pointing. After a few seconds we spotted what brought her such delight. An elk head was peering our direction not 50 feet away. We sat there as she grazed for several minutes then another head then another popped up. After several minutes we knew they were not afraid of us. We each took turns standing up to get a better view of the six elk that grazed for their evening meal not far from where we soaked in the lava heated water.

It was an amazing experience and one that I know is not uncommon here in this great state. I’m so glad to be back and excited to share my stories and adventures with my friends, new and old.

How do you challenge yourself?

This past weekend was an adventurous weekend full of a few wonderful exportations & challenges Idaho has to offer in terms of outdoor summer activities. These satisfying but rewarding experiences that were sometimes a bit terrifying but they give me the chance to test myself over and over. Exploring new ways to challenge myself and test my limits. (And, part of the reason I started this blog…)

After my accident on Thursday I needed to take my bike in for a tune up and a once over to make sure it was in good working order.  I had planned on a long bike ride Saturday morning but that is now out of the picture so I needed something to do on Saturday morning. There was a concert, festival rather, with multiple bands, in town. It was going to be hot that day thou and it just didn’t sound like a great time in the sun and heat. What did sound like a good plan though was heading north for a day on the river…so I made last minute plans to join my good friends, Chelsea & Jocelyn on the water instead.

We headed three & ½ hours north of Boise to Stanley, Idaho and camped out on Friday night. Along the way we experienced a summer lightning storm and the fires they often cause.

The bright red glow over the hill from the highway lit up the otherwise dark sky reminding me that there are some very powerful things out of our control.  When I awoke in the Sawtooth mountain range I was reminded of one reason I love this state.  It was quite, cool and we were surrounded by snow covered jagged mountain peaks.

The put for the float was north of Stanley in the Salmon River. This stretch would have class II rapids for us to have a little bit of fun on in our kayaks. Only the third time in a small boat for Jocelyn, Chelsea and her family were taking a newbie and a semi-newbie on the water for some good ol’ fashioned water fun!  And it was just that, great fun with AMAZING views!!

The girls and I headed back to Boise that evening to prepare for another day of adventure and beauty on Sunday morning. Jocelyn and I were going with some other friends to repel in the desert canyon lands of Idaho. I wasn’t really certain what I was going to run into with this experience, but I still wanted to go. I’m afraid of heights and I tend to not remember this little tidbit until I get to a spot where I am terrified.  It’s not a limiting fear, but I do have to make a conscious effort to move past the fear.  I’m sure I’m just reacting to the basic human instinct that falling is not the best idea, but it can still cause a few problems.

The hike to first repel was up and over a hill, down into the canyon where a stream was running.  We were to follow the stream from where it entered the canyon to its exit point.  Along the way the stream created several waterfalls.  A few of them were traversable by scrambling the rocks along the canyon wall while there were two that were not so easily done.

For those two waterfalls we repelled down with nothing holding us from falling but a line

connected between a harness around our waist and a boulder. It was a great experience that really tested my ability to set free and relax. A quality I sometime have difficulty doing. The hard part, stepping over the edge without letting go of the line to hold on to the rock…I failed at this task and scared everyone above me out because that was really the one thing keeping me from falling, my right hand on the line. I recovered quickly and had a wonderful repel.

Both activities this weekend were wonderful experiences and ones I hope to continue for a long time to come!

Boulder Lake

Last weekend I was privileged to have in my company the mountains of eastern Idaho, specifically the Pioneer Mountain range, and 9 other friends.  On Friday afternoon, several of us started on the four & ½ hour drive to the middle of nowhere and we were all VERY excited.  The main goal of the weekend was to complete an 8 mile hike to a high mountain lake named Boulder Lake.

Our group car camped at Wildhorse Campground in the Salmon-Challis National Forest (7,350 feet) Friday and Saturday night.  Saturday we did the hike, taking most of the day to complete it.  Boulder lake lies at 9,520 feet making our climb a steep and strenuous one for a short 4 miles one way.  It was a great hike with tremendous views, 2 river crossings, steep switchbacks, bouldering, and snow on June 30th.  I can’t wait for my return trip!

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There are many reasons I LOVE hiking with my groups. That I don’t have to hike alone, make decisions alone and there is usually a good laugh or two along the way, at least with the people I typically hike with, are among my top reasons. Last night was one of those times I lead a group hiking adventure and it was grand!

Of the 17 people who joined me on this hike, one had been in the area we were hiking. One of seventeen of us! and many of us hike quite often, sometimes multiple times in a day, so it was new territory for all of us. I was glad to provide a new venue to those who had signed up, but nervous at the same time. Would it be a good hike? Would it be long enough, hard enough, pretty enough? All these worries cross my mind because I don’t want to be disappointed myself but, more importantly I didn’t want the rest of the group to be disappointed.  

It turned out to be a hike none of us imagined it would be. There was a good climb in the beginning (steep hill) getting our heart rates up with some unexpected views that couldn’t be beat as the reward, very little sagebrush (which seemed to be a wonderful thing among the group), and there was a nice ‘rolling hill’ terrain make each turn a wonderfully different site. In addition, some wildflowers were still blooming!

I was a bit uncertain as to the direction and location of the trail since I had never done the hike myself, but all in all that was really a non-concern.  (Until that one spot…but we won’t mention that.) In the end many of us found a new trail/hiking location to add to our rotation for many springs to come!

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