A few days after we arrived in Idaho LC, Jamie and I took a drive on BLM land behind the house, eager to explore the area and eager to take a closer look at Big Butte.
The butte towers over Atomic City.
So big it looks to be only a mile or two away from our tiny community, but (according to the signs we followed out on BLM land) we were surprised to learn that it is actually 18 gravel road miles from home.
Loading into my truck we looked doubtfully at the gas gauge, but since the butte was only a couple of miles away (or so we thought at the time) decided to take it anyway because Jamie had not gone for a ride since we arrived and we wanted to take her with us.
Taking her with us turned out to be a mistake.
Within a few days of arriving at the house Jamie turned into a slow moving, long sleeping, sluggish, barely eating, sneezing, heavy breathing, cloudy-eyed and dry nosed pup.
Was there something in the air that was bothering her?
Was she allergic to something?
We did a whole lot of mowing and weed eating while our sweet girl wandered around in the fenced area of the yard. Had we stirred something up that was bothering her?
Was it something else?
In all these years I had never seen my dog like this and I didn't like it.
This early into her symptoms we kept her indoors where it was cool, let her sleep, kept her hydrated and watched and worried about her.
A few days of this and we took her for a drive on BLM land.
She needed help to get into the truck. Used to her excited barking at the promise of a walk or a drive LC and I listened to only her silence. She sat silently staring ahead of her. Handing her a crust from a sandwich brought an unenthusiastic dropping of the crust to the floor of the truck. Within minutes she was sleeping in the back seat of the truck.
Nothing about her actions or reactions was normal for this mutt.
Worried I took few pictures.
The picture at the top of the page is of a row of four silos on the outskirts of town.
Within a couple of minutes we were out of town and riding on dirt and gravel roads, traveling one small portion of the untold thousands of acres of empty land behind the house.................
From Tennessee to Alaska to Wyoming to Idaho I have taken pictures of shot up signs.
This one was found at a set of railroad tracks a couple of miles from the house.
Big Butte was in the background, beckoning us forward.
From Wikipedia about Big Southern Butte:
Big Southern Butte is the largest and youngest (300,000 years old) of three rhyolitic domes formed over a million years near the center of the Eastern Snake River Plain in the U.S. state of Idaho. In fact, it is one of the largest volcanic domes on earth. It rises approximately 2500 vertical feet (762 m) above the lava plain in southern Butte County, east of Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Big Southern Butte consists of two coalesced lava domes with a base diameter of 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) and a combined volume of approximately 8 cubic kilometres (1.9 cu mi).
BLM land is both familiar and different from what I am used to in Wyoming.
During this trip we saw less rock formations, less wild life, more vegetation than we were used to seeing in and around Cody.
We have been told that there are large herds of antelope, but did not see any during this trip.
We have also been told by a very nice lady in town that there are many coyotes and at least one wolf in the area.....................
There are roads all over BLM land.
We were traveling on a gravel and dirt road that was actually in better condition than the rutted out mess of a road that we lived on in Cody.
After a long and slow drive to the Butte we followed it as it circumnavigated this huge butte that towered over the predominantly flat vastness and emptiness of the Snake River Plain.
LC stopped the truck in the middle of the trail and climbed out.
As I grabbed for my camera I turned to look at my puppy.
She was partially and half-heartedly sitting up.
Usually she would be bright eyed and barely able to contain her eagerness to get out of the truck and wander.
Not on this day.
Before climbing out of the truck I leaned into the back seat, felt her warm and dry nose with concern, kissed her on top of her furry head and turned my attention to Big Southern Butte.
From a distance it appears as a humongous mound in the desert.
Up close it is a very compelling sight.
Winding trails, pine trees, endless ridges.
It is beautiful..................
Fifteen minutes later we knew that we had finally stumbled upon the base of the five mile trail that led to the summit of Big Butte...................
As my Mountain Boy and I stood at the base of the mountain I knew what he was thinking.
Because I was thinking the same thing.
We needed to see the top of this thing.
Both LC and I had watched videos of the journey to the top. Had seen videos of the peak of the butte. Had seen videos of the Snake River Plain and the towns of Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Arco and others that were all visible from the top of the hill.
As I looked up into the ridges that made up this butte I could tell that it had its own unique eco-system, that was very different from the world down where we stood on BLM land.
Look closely at the picture below and you can see the dust flying - stirred up by a handful of fun loving and mixed gender young dirt bikers and four wheelers who had stopped briefly to talk to us before enthusiastically heading up the trail.................
A look back the way we had come, only a half a mile or so up the trail..................
We made it only a mile up the trail before deciding to call it quits for the day.
Jamie wasn't feeling well. The trail was steep and we were driving the wrong truck. We had less than a half tank of gas left (with eighteen miles back to the house and 30 miles to Blackfoot to fill up).
We had been tempted but the Adventure Gods would have to wait on us for another day...................
We'll get up again very soon. Both LC and I want to know what is up there.
And my pup has had both good and bad periods for almost a week now and is heading to the vet tomorrow...................