There and Back Again

Hi!  We’re back from our Thanksgiving adventure up in the Sawtooth Mountain range and I wanted to do a quick pictorial tour of our journey there and back again.  John of Going Gently once did a post with a pictorial tour of his village in Northern Wales, and it was such a great idea it inspired other bloggers to explore their towns, take photographs, and set up virtual tours of their own.  It was fascinating to me, exploring different geographical regions with their histories, through the eyes of the people who live there and love them.  While the town that I live in is as rich and worthy of exploration as any, I’m afraid my deepest affection is reserved for the natural world.  So I thought I’d put together a little photo tour of our journey up to the family cabin and back instead.

Here are some winter photos of the Sawtooth Mountains, Highway 21, the Lowman to Banks highway, and Highway 55 down into Boise, Idaho.

A succession of winter storms passing down the mountain range the day after we arrived.

A shot through the window during the cold snap (-25 degrees Fahrenheit)

The first blush of dawn on the morning we were leaving.

…the blush deepening…

First rays of sunlight hitting the peaks.

And finally, morning has broken.

This is where I really wish I was a better photographer…as the rising sun hit the landscape, it’s reflection off the snow caused a brilliant, sparkling effect.  Everything looked like it was embedded with diamonds.  It was magical and breathtaking.  This photo falls sadly flat by comparison but at least it gives you an opportunity to exercise your imagination.

This is the beginning of the three hour drive home on winding mountain roads with patchy snow and ice.  We came home a day early to try and beat the next winter storm (which would have closed this pass completely.)  Here are some lovely winter scenes along the way.

The creek which flows along the highway and eventually feeds into the Payette River.

A waterfall which flash froze during the cold snap.

Most of the highways through the mountains around here were built over the original dirt logging roads.  Here’s a spot where, years ago, the road builders blasted away a huge part of the rock during construction.  It’s always amazing to me how nature takes these wounds and, over time, creates a new beauty.

There’s a significant amount of geothermal activity throughout the northern tier of mountain states and Kirkham Hot Springs, here, is just one of many, many hot springs to be found.  The heated water bubbles up out of the ground through springs on the mountainside above the river, then forms into small streams that eventually cascade down in numerous waterfalls here.  It’s a popular spot all year round.  If you look very closely you can see a couple of tiny, half-naked people in the far right of the photo.

The mountainside in the background was devastated by a major fire about seventeen years ago and the pine trees are just starting to grow back now.  The story of the fire is an interesting one.  We get a LOT of  big motor homes lumbering around on the two lane roads through the mountains and they’re generally pretty slow.  They’re supposed to pull over and let others pass if they get five or more vehicles following but sometimes the drivers can be stubborn.  In this case it was a retired man (with wife) from out of state who refused to pull over.  The line of cars behind him had gotten really long which inspired some honking and general annoyance but he steadfastly ignored them all.  Then, one of the double back tires blew on the fifth-wheel rig he was towing and the metal rim of the wheel started a stream of sparking as it rolled along the asphalt.  The driver however was somehow unaware of the problem.  (Perhaps he was so busy infuriating the people behind him he didn’t notice his rig was pulling heavily to the right.)  It was the height of summer and the sparks flew off into the dry brush along the roadway and started fires everywhere they fell.  The traffic behind him  went nuts, honking and yelling and trying to pass him on dangerous turns to get in front of him, but he just wouldn’t stop.  In the end he went for something like eight miles before they finally managed to pull him over.  The fires he set off were catastrophic and devastated hundreds of miles of forest.

I wanted to get a picture of the deep, river gorge that runs parallel to the road here but this is as close to the edge I dared get.  Right past the snow at the bottom of the photo is a cliff with a thousand foot tumble down into never-never land so I opted for caution over a fabulous photo op.

Coming up on the left is the Dragon’s Spine, a series of  rock formations coming down the mountainside that look like plates on the back of a gigantic stegosaurus.

Closer…

…and closer…

…and here’s the top of the Dragon’s head.

The cliff at the right is where the Dragon’s head comes down to meet the Payette River and you can see how the water has frozen over where the bend slows the flow.  (Not the greatest camera so not the greatest photos but it’s the best I could do.  Sorry!)

And lastly, here’s the Thunder Mountain train.  It’s running on tracks that are part of the old railway system the timber companies built through the mountains to export the felled trees.  There used to be accidents where trains would go off the rails and dump their loads into the river, creating massive log jams.  The only trains that run here anymore though belong to the Thunder Mountain Line, a tourist affair serving either dinner, or wine and cheese, depending on the time of day.

That’s it for today.  I hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend!

copyright Dia Osborn 2010

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3 responses

  1. You’ve done a nice job of representing this small slice of Idaho. I felt like I was in the truck with you! I was also trying to place the location of your family cabin. Is it anywhere near the road to Iron Creek CG? How lucky you are to have the most beautiful place in all of Idaho to get away from it all.

    • Hey Linda! No, we’re by Fisher Creek Road, up on a mesa there. Cal’s mom founded and ran the rural medical clinic in Stanley for 28 years and the cabin was her home base. Now that she’s retired and living in Boise, the kids take turns going up to there and using it/looking after it. There were a couple other simple cabins built on the mesa back in the day, too, but the newest influx has been of multi-million dollar vacation homes built as overflow from Sun Valley. What a juxtaposition of worlds, eh?
      Of course the same thing draws us all…as you say it’s one of the most beautiful places in all of Idaho. Some things are both priceless and available to us all. I love that!

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