MY SPICY LIFE

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Archive for the tag “Outdoors”

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.

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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The smell of pine trees in the dark

Ahh…another interesting evening in the mountains, although this time wasn’t supposed to be as interesting as it was.  I had agreed to go on a hike with a friend to explore a new area.  The goal was to find a hike/trail that we could make into a group venture later in the summer.

Our hike started out nicely with a good trail and a beautiful views, it quickly turned into an adventure as we came upon a creek.  I think the hope was to be able to follow the creek on what should have been an established trail.  That didn’t happen.  There was an established trail, but the creek was following it, or rather the trail was the creek bed.  We tried going up and over bushwhacking our way over the hillside, but quickly turned back down towards the creek again as it looked a bit more promising and was our original intended route.  We didn’t want to get lost, you know.  As we followed the creek it became harder and harder to stay “dry”, making the alternative of walking in the creek much more appealing.  I tried to walk on top of the water for a bit, it didn’t work so well for me.  I think this is when I twisted my knee and ankle, making the rest of the hike a little slower.

As the evening went on (and yes – I mean evening as the sun was making a wonderful showing over the mountain tops) we bushwhacked a bit more until we ran across a trail that seemed to be following in the direction of the next waypoint loaded on our GPS.  But wait…something must go wrong…GPS batteries that is your cue to die.  Yes, they died but a spare should be in the pack on my hiking partner.  Spare batteries were there, but he wouldn’t find those for a least another hour or two.  You might be wondering now “an hour or two? What the heck were you doing” or “oh my, it must be dark by now, they’d better hurry up off that mountain”….I would be.  To answer your questions, I’m not sure what I was doing, I was following the direction of my hiking partner who promised me earlier he had never really been “lost” and did this type of exploring all the time.  Oh and yes, it was dark, very, very dark, and the thought of a Mountain Lion crossed my mind more than once!  A rattling (like a large cat) in the bushes is much scarier when you can’t see anything!!

Now, since it was dark and the trees and hills blocked any light we might have received from the city or the stars it was time to get the lamp out and walk with some artificial light.  OK…I guess it’s a good thing I carried a light…my partner forgot his.  No problem, one light should be plenty if you don’t consider the second person would have to wear his sunglasses to vaguely see a tiny bit because he was practically blind otherwise. His clear glasses were thought to have been left in the car on accident.

We trekked along, stopping to look at the map more than once.  All the while discussing how this trail seemed to be going the general direction we should be headed, west.  West, I believed would take us to a road that would then lead us back to the car.  But wait…didn’t I say we found some batteries later for the GPS? Oh yes, and that was a problem…as much as it might not seem that way.  Now, my job became “no…I really don’t want to lead a blind man through the forest (with downed trees/rocks/and everything else) in the pitch black with only one light to a trail we MIGHT run across.  Can we please stay on this trail where I already have to make sure you don’t trip on a rock, fall and break your ankle (again)?”

Eventually he listened to me and we stayed on the “safe” trail, which ultimately did lead to a road that led us back to the car.  The car looked so nice and inviting (not to mention warm – I was in a tank top and shorts), when we finally saw it at 3:00am.  How is the blind man going to drive me back to my car with sunglasses on?  Turns out the glasses weren’t in the car…they were in his pocket the entire time!  Oh well…now for the 70 minute drive down the mountain to my car so I can go home and call in sick to work and nurse my injured knee a bit.

The exploration hike turned into an adventure (for me at least) very quickly.  I’m not sure I was ever in any real danger but the extra food and water we brought were gone, I should have had a jacket (but his poncho worked as well as it could), extra batteries and glasses might be a good thing to carry, and one should always carry a light.  We were less than 10 miles from Boise, but it just proves that you really can never be over prepared.  Safety gear will come in handy at some point and you really should have it with you.  I’ll be stocking up a bit more in the future.

From what I could see, the terrain seemed to be wonderful and I can’t wait to go back and see it in the daylight.  Our goal was achieved and I/we will take hikers on a part of this trail sometime this summer (not the whole 10 miles, of course).  Just need to figure out what to call it, “lost hikers trail” or “blind man’s trail”?

Avimor

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!

Full Moon

Hulls Gulch

Hulls Gulch

On Sunday I went on a new hike, Hulls Gulch Interpretive hike.  My plan was to be out for the sunset and then hopefully get a shot of the full moon.

Now, don’t let the hike name fool you this was a 7 mile interpretive hike, the longest I’ve ever seen, and it did have some great views.

I was glad I brought my nice camera.

Well, the group I went with hiked fast and my plan to see the sunset didn’t really work out.  The sun was still well above the horizon when we returned to the trail head.  I was able to get a few nice sunset shots but what I really wanted was the full moon.

Sunset

When the group dispersed, I chased the moon.  I climbed a hill on the other side of town to get myself a nice view of the moon over Table Rock.  I played with the setting on my camera for a while, trying different options.  Eventually I was satisfied and went home.

Anxious to see my results I looked at the moon pictures right away (forgetting about the beautiful hike I had just done) and a few of the pictures actually turned out. Yea!!

Full moon over Table Rock

Lucky Peak Summit (Shaw Mountain)

On Memorial Day I thought it would be fun to conquer something, so I choose a peak.  This peak was relatively mild at 5,904 feet.

Overlooking the Treasure Valley

Overlooking the Treasure Valley

This is considering that there is a 12,668 foot summit (Mt. Borah – the tallest peak in Idaho) in my near future (August 2012).  None-the-

less, this one, Lucky Peak, is within a 10 minute drive from apartment.I set the hike up for  my hiking group and away we went, all 16 of us.  It was a beautiful, grueling hike with view of the Treasure Valley and the surrounding area.  The six miles UP HILL were blister happy, but I continued on.  Reminding myself as we walked that it was time for new hiking boots – even taking my boots off for awhile.

Summit Marker for Lucky Peak.

There were a few ways to come down the mountain making the total mileage either 11 – 14 miles based your route.  There ended up being several groups of us as we split-up based on ability to climb and our individual desires to climb quickly or not.  Ending the hike back together at a local place, Lucky 13, for a beverage, food and chocolate chip cookie!

My hike in the end totaled 14 miles, a bit of an accomplishment for me considering that not long ago 4 miles was a great day!  I loved my 14 miles, blisters, sunburn and all.  It was another great hike that I look forward to doing again one day soon!

Silver Creek Kayaking

Off on a trip with Chelsea to who knows where…kayaking.  I take her word that these places are going to beautiful when she invites me out, but again it’s Idaho so there isn’t many places that aren’t beautiful.  Plus I get to be on the water!!

This time we headed up north towards Ketchum and Sun Valley to a place called Silver Creek. It was another Starbucks morning, but a great one. The sun was shinning and we were well prepared with food and smiles!  Once we arrived it was a beautiful location with the mountains in the backdrop and the birds chirping.  The float was amazing!! The water was flat and easy to maneuver. The wine went down very well too.

Kayaking in the snow!

A day I will never forget…it started with me regretting the commitment to go kayaking at 6:00 in the morning because I didn’t want to get up.  It quickly turned to “we are going to do what?”  I’m not one to back down from a commitment.  In fact if you know me well you know that I am always busy.  This is partially because I have a “NO” problem and then I don’t want to back down once I say “yes”.  So when the alarm went off that morning, I got up…when I saw the snow falling I made a call.

“Of course I’m still going, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to”, Chelsea said on the other end.

Well, now…I’m not going to turn down an adventure so I got in the car and went to meet her, stopping at Starbucks for pick-me-ups along the way.  Besides it was only snowing a little bit, not even enough to stick.  If it got really bad we would be close enough to turn back fairly easily.

We packed the truck, snowshoes included (because I was worried), and went to meet the rest of the kayaking group.  And wouldn’t you know it there were lots of people who joined us that March morning.  They were ready to go with wet suits and all.  Chelsea and I had our hats and our gloves but really were we going to do this??  Really, in the snow??  On the hour drive up to the put in we ran into something that we thought might change our plans…a snow storm.  I was white out but we kept driving and it eventually stopped as we neared our put in site.

As the boats were prepped, cars and people shuttled the weather was COLD! So cold that it started to snow again as we were putting the boats in the water.  We’re not looking back now…and away we went.  It only snowed for a few minutes and it was a really nice flat water float that ended with the sun shinning, hot chocolate and a great new friend!

Kayaking in the snow!

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