Saturday, March 29, 2014

Buckle Up

A few days ago my Mountain Boy, my dog and I went exploring.
This week has been a rude reminder that winter is unwilling to totally release its tight grip on the area, and that spring (although it felt recently as though it had arrived) is still actually little more than a promise.
On this day it was cold, grey, windy, ugly.
Not a perfect day to explore and seek out potential fishing spots, but it was the day we chose anyway.
Driving dirt and gravel roads from Atomic City we weaved our way all the way to Springfield, which is a tiny community half way between Blackfoot and Aberdeen.
There is little in Springfield - homes, endless fields and irrigation equipment and silos and cows.
It is straight up potato farm country.
But as we drove back and forth over the past few weeks while cutting wood, we had seen a number of small, brown and white signs, pointing the way to public access areas - potential places to picnic and fish and possibly kayak and be in the sun near water.
Springfield Lake was located in this area, and we turned off the Blackfoot-Aberdeen Highway (Hwy 39) and followed the sign only for 1/2 mile before pulling into a large and wide open gravel parking area surrounded by a childrens' play park on one side and a good sized lake on the other.
We had barely pulled into the parking lot before Kory was excitedly barking in anticipation of a walk.
I handed our pup off to LC while at the same time digging into the side pocket of my pack in search of my little digital camera.
Unlike our quick pit stop at the reservoir a few days before, this day was grey.  Almost colorless.
The wind blew coldly and there were waves in the lake, and somehow none of that seemed to matter.
We had found a nice little place..................
I snapped a number of pictures of this home because it was so lovely and situated in a location where it could easily overlook the lake on both sides of the narrow (barely) two-lane winding paved road.
A huge pseudo-A-frame, it had balconies on three levels of the house.
How beautiful!................
On Hwy 39 there is a small campground-restaurant-bar, and the whole ramshackle mess overlooks this same lake.
The section of lake that it overlooks is circular in shape with a large island in the center, and that area is popular with early-spring fishermen.
The campground is called Homers Place, and one of our neighbors used to live close to Homers and told us that at one time it was a well kept, well maintained, welcoming and family-oriented facility.
Now..........not so much.  
One sunny day we will stop and take pictures of Homers Place, but the circular portion of the lake is located through this opening and to the right.
It is not a huge lake, but as we walked and wandered with Kory while battling the wind, we knew that this place was doable................
After loading back into the truck we drove back through the parking lot, turned right onto the road and stopped briefly so that I could snap a handful of quick pictures of the lake on the opposite side of the road..........
Now on a back road we had two choices - either head back to 39 and continue to follow signs as we found them, or continue driving the back road, fly by the seat of our pants, and hope that we would find water in our travels.
Seat of the pants..............
After winding our way back, and then further back on rural roads that we had not driven before, we finally caught sight of American Falls Reservoir and turned towards it.
We had already found one small lake where both LC and I could occupy ourselves while enjoying water and the out of doors, and by this point were simply and greatly enjoying the area.
One huge farm after another.
One small farm house surrounded by endless acres and huge irrigation equipment after another.
Eventually, we were so close to the water that LC and I began to search in earnest for a way to get to it, and on the spur of the moment turned down an unmarked and rutted out dirt road.
1/2 mile later we pulled to a stop at the top of a cliff, climbed out of the truck and looked out over this.............
Working our way down the loose-rock hill, we quickly found ourselves standing on the shore and looking out over big water.
While looking out over the partially submerged bushes, my first thought was that the reservoir looked flooded.
Which made no sense.  
This area is not officially embedded in a drought, but all regional water levels are lower than they need to be and many are disappointed at the little snowfall we received this winter..............
Ducks flying just above the surface of the water...............
For the first time that day I really wished that the sun was shining.
Pictures would be prettier.  Sky would be blue.  So would the water.  Mountains (many of which still have snow) would not be obscured by clouds.  What little color there was in the vegetation would show up in pictures.
I was glad that we had found this place, and wanted to come back on a sunny day.................
There was water flowing over the rocks to our right, and through the bare trees I could see a small pond.
Working our way across sharp rocks and through leafless vegetation, we three explorers made our way towards the pond...................
As I watched Kory wade into the water, I wondered if she remembered swimming in lakes in Florida................
The reservoir I could definitely kayak, but THIS little pond was a gem.
Surrounded by trees and solid shore, and isolated from the larger body of water, I could easily envision spending a morning or afternoon here with my guy and my dog.
We had found something special here, but this early in the season I wondered just how busy this little pond would get during the summer.
I guess time will tell..................
Heading back along the shore of the reservoir, before making the steep climb back up to the truck.
When we arrived back at the parking lot we stopped for a few moments to talk to an older man who was gearing up to begin his fishing escapades.
He told us that only a few weeks ago most of what is in this picture was dry land.  The water was beyond the straight weed line that was now a hundred yards into the reservoir...........................
Close to the reservoir, locked down on this day, and I will have to call to learn when the hatchery is open to the public.......................
Soon the world will be green again.
And soon this irrigation equipment will be working over time and fields will be filled with crops................
Continuing to follow winding back country roads LC and I surprisingly found this river access.
After pulling onto a single lane, rutted out dirt road that was surrounded on all sides by private farm land, we found ourselves standing directly beside a narrow and slow moving section of the Snake River.
Looking up and down river we realized that there may or may not be easy-to-get-to fishing spots, but regardless, these two desert rats were just very pleased to be close to water..............
Three places to find water.
There were many more that we did not look for and therefore did not find, but on a very cold, damp and windy day, both LC and I were pleased to learn more about this new area in which we live.
Big Butte visible in the background even from here.
So....................... Buckle Up and Eat More Potatoes...................

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