Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Big Southern Butte ID - Part 3

The sun was "up there" - the way we were headed, and after resting for a few minutes and hungrily eating sandwiches, LC and I set off again, happy to be walking less steep hills than we had been for seemingly forever.
As soon as we stood up and began to move again though, I immediately remembered something that I thought I would never forget after having raced all over the eastern half of the country.
Once you stop, it is VERY hard to get started again.
Muscles had already begun to tighten up.  Warm muscles had become cold muscles.  Heart rate that had finally gotten into a rhythm of moving suddenly bounced all over the map again.  My brain had transitioned from "keep moving" to "sit and eat a sandwich".
Yes..........I had forgotten all of that.
We both restarted our cold engines and put one foot in front of the other............
The scenery (as I had hoped that it would be) was gorgeous.
The desert floor had finally cleared completely and now looked more familiar to me, and I stood at the top of one more hill again looking out over the endless mountains to the north for a moment before continuing on.
The world was silent.
No traffic or plane or bird or train sounds.  Not even the wind.
It was very cool but warming rapidly and I was very glad - after ice and mist and screaming lungs and argumentative leg muscles - to be exactly where I was at that moment............
About a month ago LC was snaking the drain. 
Through a quick series of mishaps (that you would think could only happen on television sitcoms) he broke his little finger.
Still in small metal cast, he spent a lot of the time during our hike trying to keep the thing warm...........
The trail we were walking on now was wide open with steep drop-offs, and filled with switchbacks, steep inclines, flat sections, even a couple of small downhill sections as it meandered in and around hill sides.
LC and I have wandered around a number of buttes since we arrived in Idaho.
Without fail they have all been bigger than they looked from the house.
Most have included a number of hills connected by a number of trails.
But THIS butte was a whole different animal.
As I stood at the top of one hill preparing to switch back along the ridge line of another hill, I looked around me.
Big Southern Butte is a mountain.
A lone, solitary, whale-like, stand alone mountain in the desert.
There was hill after hill after hill.
Climb after climb after climb.
Wide swatches of sage covered hill, and wide swatches of pine-tree covered hill.
Large plastic pipes made frequent appearances on the trail at the point of switch-back, and deep washouts were visible along the sides of many hills.
Which tells me that there is much snow on this butte during the winter.  I can only imagine what the spring melt must look like.................

View of the trail up ahead of us.............
A video of a hang glider who took off from this spot.............
Me standing as awkwardly as ever for a picture.
I prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of it..........
We were about a mile from the top by this point, and the scenery was nothing short of spectacular.
It was a clear day.  
And you could see forever.............
I've taken thousands of pictures over the past three years in a number of states, and what has held true in the past also held true on this day.
My camera shows pretty pictures.
But it just could not capture the vastness and magnitude of what was before me.
The whale we were slaying was huge.
The entirety of Snake River Plain lay out in front of us 60 - 70 - 100 miles in all directions.
The mountain chain to the north, to the west, to the south, to the east - they were all there.
It was an amazing place to be standing............
A look back at trail we had already hiked............
The angle that we were hiking as I snapped this crazy picture................
Another look at trail we had already covered............
When we look out our front window at the house we can see the Twin Buttes directly in front of us.
We hadn't seen the twins that morning because of the icy mist, and hadn't seen them all morning as we climbed higher onto and into Big Southern Butte.
So as we crossed over one wide open and very windy stretch of flat trail I was surprised to look to my right and see the twins.
We were close.
I could feel it............
I believe that the ascent of mountains forms an essential chapter in the complete duty of man, and that it is wrong to leave any district without setting foot on its highest peak............Sir Leslie Stephen

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