Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vibrant Desert - Part l

We had planned on going camping again beginning this past Monday.
Envisioning a few days of kayaking and fishing and biking, on Sunday evening I finally thought to click on NOAA, plug in our zip code, and check out the upcoming weather forecast.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
Overcast and fair chances of rain each day.  Highs ranging from low 50's to low 60's during the day.  Lows all in the 30's overnight.
After weeks of sunshine and warm days bordering on dryness and hotness, and with us being into mid-June, the forecast displayed in front of me was the last thing that I had expected.
Someone just called us today to tell us that the mountains close to Arco are expected to receive snow.
By Thursday it will be sunny and into the 70's and by Sunday it is forecasted to be 85 degrees, and so Thursday it is.
Such is summer in SE Idaho.................

This morning, on a very windy and very cool day, LC and I loaded Kory into the truck and headed out onto BLM land in search of a good walk and visions of something new.
Five minutes on gravel road and we turned right onto Big Butte Rd.
10 more bumpy minutes and LC pulled the truck off the gravel road and onto a dirt single track.
I had walked with Kory on this road over the weekend, but ended up cutting the walk short.
I had brought water with me but foolishly left it in the truck on a very hot and very dry day.
A few days later LC and I were bundled against the cold wind and after pulling the truck onto the side of the trail we all eagerly climbed out, eyed the rocks in front of us and headed towards them on foot, curious to see what we would find...............

As we headed towards the rock I looked down and snapped this quick picture of a hole in the ground.
I have no idea what dens up in the ground out on dusty and dry Idaho BLM land, but these holes are all over the place.
Sometimes Kory eyes them curiously before quickly moving on to something that is more interesting to her.  Other times she spends more time investigating, and I wonder sometimes just how long it will be before some unknown desert critter bolts out to bite my curious pup on the nose............
As we moved closer to the rocks I looked down at the ground and smiled.
Small clumps of daisies, and delicate cactus blooms growing straight out of rock.
And that meant only one thing - that we were headed for volcanic rock..............
I looked up from the blossoming cactus in search of my dog, and smiled again when I realized that she was already enjoying herself.
For a few moments I watched her running, climbing, jumping, scrambling, simply.........being.
Doing all the physical things that I intrinsically know that she loves and needs to do.
I think that she gets bored wandering on BLM land close to home.  This place was MUCH more interesting.
For her and for me.............
More flowers.
We had been in this place for only a few minutes and already I had seen three different kinds of flowers in the desert..............
I have walked to so many different parts of the desert close to home, and Kory and I have checked out every single rock within a two mile radius of Atomic City.
But as LC and our dog and I continued to wander the outskirts of THESE rocks I began to really realize that we had found something unexpected and special.
This was much more than some random volcanic rock.
 This was an entire volcanic lava field.
Visible remnants of the violence of nature.
The rock undulated (a word I don't think I have ever used in my life before now, but somehow it seemed to fit what we were finding).  
It rippled like waves.  It sat in tortured shapes.  It created hills and valleys and caves.  It crumbled in our hands.  
The area was huge, and as we continued to battle strong and cold winds LC and I began to wander in and out of sections of volcanic rock, in awe and wondering just how we could have missed this place so many times before.
The richness of the soil was obvious.  There were cactus, tall grasses, tall and fragile yellow flowers everywhere we looked, remnants of trees that had burned during a wildfire years ago and which had never recovered,..............
Our dog having a great time investigating nooks and crannies and passageways of volcanic rock..............
One of the Twin Buttes in the distance.
I was mesmerized by the green of this place.
Not the dusty, faded greens so typical of the Snake River Plain.
Actual green.  Lush, deep, wonderful actual green................
We had been wandering the lava field for 30 minutes, in awe of this awesome place.
I had been busy for a few minutes, snapping pictures of the area, and when I turned back I realized that LC was laying against a volcanic rise.
Resting for a moment and enjoying a reprieve from the wind.
I watched as Kory returned to him, and then stood over him, I'm sure just wondering what the heck one of her people was doing.
I smiled as I watched them, enjoying the quiet interactions they were sharing together.
A wet nose to a cheek.  
A hand reaching up to rub as furry face.
We are all bonding well with each other.
Learning to trust each other.
Reassuring her that this is her home, we are her people, she is our dog, we will always be together...........
And a small slice of ever-present hot dog.
The treat of choice.............
Looking down at one of many huge holes in the rock that we found.
Always filled with sage brush and bright yellow flowers and dark and healthy greenery.
Such a fascinating place.............
One of many low-to-the-ground caves that we found in the lava field..............
Having spent the night and morning drenched in transfixing beauty, neither of us could stomach the thought of erecting our tent in the campground, so we gassed up and headed for more remote desert.... Nothing stood between us and the vibrant desert. Staring at the unlimited space fanned out before me, I felt magnified and ethereal, yet grounded.... I'd forgotten how enlivening it could feel, seeing clearly and far. Aridity frees light. It also unleashes grandeur.... Desert beauty was "sublime" in the way that the romantic poets had used the word—not peaceful dales but rugged mountain faces, not reassuring but daunting nature, the earth's skin and haunches, its spines and angles arching prehistorically in sunlight. ~Julene Bair, The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning, 2014

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