Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Return To Me

I have loved you my entire life.
From the moment I was old enough to be aware.
From a time long before you ever existed.
From the moment I realized that I was a woman and that one day I would create another life.
From the moment I understood the promise of you.
From the moment I knew you were inside me.
From the moment I first saw you.
I have loved you my entire life.
I miss you.
I embrace the sadness.  
The sadness replaced you and I hold on to it as tightly and protectively as I held you for your whole life.
I can feel the sadness as I felt you.
And now the sadness holds me.
It keeps me close.   
To you.
I will always miss you.
I will always love you. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fire Of Volcanoes - Part 2

If you enlarge the picture below, you will see the natural trail that Kory and I had been following for well over an hour.
The grassy trail weaved its way around walls and hills of cracked, buckled and bowed lava rock.
The trail was easy enough for me to follow, and the rock hills were engaging enough for my athletic dog..............
After climbing up a steep rise using jutted rocks for natural hand holds, I stood in the shade of a leafless tree for a moment, looking down at this undulating rock and then the hole in the ground that was filled with new growth.
As I took a few sips of water I absently studied these things.
I had never seen anything like either one of these two in my life.
And now..........8 miles from town............I was standing in front of these two sights, in awe as always, of uniqueness of it all.................
Click on any picture to enlarge...............
A look at one more canyon.
This particular lava field is huge.
The last time I walked this field with Kory was last spring when there was still a covering of snow on the ground.
At that time I had never explored this place, had no idea what to expect, and no idea how long it would take me to explore it and then find my way out of it.
It ended up taking about 4 hours.
On that day I climbed many lava hills and was continually surprised at how wide the crevices at the top of the hills were.
I had expected that I might be able to climb or jump over the cracks and drop down into the canyon on the back side of the hills.
The spaces were wide and long and impossible to navigate.
I climbed a few hills in succession before finally realizing that (now I was in the middle of the lave field) the only way I had to get out was to go back the way I had come or continue to forge ahead.
The adventure racer in me compelled me forward.
My pup and I ended up following this trail for at least another mile before it circled around and headed south west.  Eventually we ended up picking up the train tracks and walking them back to the Tahoe.
A long walk.
But a good walk...........................
We had been walking for about 90 minutes when I had to make a decision.
I could continue to follow the natural trail until I came to the very last hill in this field, then follow the trail to the back side of the hills and begin to head back in the right general direction.
It was a route I had taken the last time I was here.
Or...........I could veer east and pick up one more trail beyond the lave field and into the sage bushes.
I had never gone that way before, so chose to begin working my way east, veering off trail and climbing up and over lava hills big and small.
I would see what I would see.
Looking around for my pup I yelled her name.
And then again.
And then once more.
Until my happy puppy came bouncing over the rise of a hill barreling in my direction.
Smiling at the sight of her I carefully laid my found-treasures (the arrow and the metal bar) on the ground, dropped down to one knee, unscrewed the water bottle that I had stashed in the side pocket of my pants, and cupped my hand in anticipation of a thirsty dog.
I need to start carrying a pack and water bladder again because inevitably puppy drinks more water than I expect and I get less water than expected.
Must bring pack and bladder from now on..............
One of many caves in the lava field.
 I keep my distance from them in truth.  
Also in truth they creep me out because I don't know what's in them.
I don't go out into the desert unarmed.................
One I veered away from the trail, crossed over the rocks and began to wander among both lava rock and sage, I quickly realized that I should have just stayed on the trail I had been following all along.
That trail had been much more interesting, much prettier, much more rugged and mysterious (although I DID find a snatch strap in the dirt - which I added to the increasing bundle of treasures I was going to drag home with me)........................
A good trip.
A much needed trip into the desert on a spring day that was meant for exploring.................

 People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring..................Rogers Hornsby

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Fire Of Volcanoes - Part 1

The weather forecast for yesterday afternoon was calling for overcast, cold and very windy.
As is usual for this time of year weather is still all over the map.
Cold.  Sun. Snow and rain.  Wind.  Sometimes all in the same day.
We have it all.  All the way through the begrudging Idaho spring.
When I got up yesterday morning it was already windy and cold, but the sky was endlessly blue.
And on this day I was endlessly restless.
I hadn't explored lava fields since last fall.
We had so much snow this past winter that we couldn't get out that far.
As I quickly drank coffee in an effort to quickly wake up, I decided that I wanted to take my pup and explore one of my favorite lava fields.
It is located about seven miles from town.
Just before the tracks. 
Only a mile from Cedar Butte.
I have to smile when I look at the pictures immediately above and below.
Over the past few years we have lived in Tennessee, Wyoming, Alaska and Idaho, and have traveled across the country a couple of times.
We have seen these bullet ridden signs all over the country.
When I see them I smile.  And in my mind I can hear the good natured laughing of the guys invariably in their trucks, doing their guy things and engaging in big game sign hunting................
There are lava fields scattered throughout the desert.
The unmistakable sign of the hot and violent land that this used to be eons ago.
Some of the lava fields are small and sporadic, but others are huge.
This was one of those.
A lava field that takes hours to explore.
Where hills of buckled and bowed rock, that spewed across the desert and then cooled into tortured shapes, rise all around you.
The ground is uneven, tough underfoot and when I explore these lava fields I wear sturdy boots.
I have lived in five different countries, have never experienced terrain like this, and it is rugged and compelling................
After parking the Tahoe in a wide open area across the road from this lava field, Kory and I crossed over the gravel road and headed for the rocky lava hills.
Quickly we veered to the right, worked our way around to the back side of the first hill and picked up a natural trail that wanders and meanders (as I found out last year) for hours.
This natural trail is surrounded on one (and sometimes both sides) by more rocky hills that seem to continue forever.
Within five minutes of hitting the natural trail something colorful caught my attention.
Curious, I walked towards the unexpected color and found this arrow laying on the ground.
Smiling at my unexpected find, I picked it up and carried it with me for the entire trip..................
I probably walked five miles during this trip.
Kory (who climbed every rocky hill in our travels) probably probably walked 10..............
One section of the lava field..........
At the top of one more hill.................
The desert is getting greener and greener by the day.
Plenty of snow and ice through the winter.
Regular periods of rain through the spring.
In a couple of months the desert will be brown again.  Endless beige and endless heat and little (if any) rain.
I'll enjoy this while it lasts.
Throughout the lava field were small bushes with fragile yellow flowers, and these lush and green bushes, all growing up through the cracks in the rocks......................
When you first delve into the lave fields everything looks bland and boring and monochromatic.
But if you look closely there is intrigue everywhere you turn.
As I continued to follow the natural trail in and around, up and over lava rocks I could hear the explosions, and see the smoke and molten lava that created this place in a distant time in our history.
And as I continued to wander I found the bright green bushes and the bright yellow flowers, the skeletons of trees that burned during a wild fire back in the 80s, wide rock crevices, the snow capped mountains in the distance, the buckled and bowed and twisted lava rocks, the animal caves, the rocks with colored fungi, and the brief sighing of an antelope that quickly ran across a field in front of me and then disappeared almost before I had realized what happened.....................
And one more unexpected find.
30 minutes after finding the arrow laying on the ground, I found this metal bar.
And for the rest of the trip I carried the bar with the arrow........................
A dead end.
Kory and I ended up climbing up to the right and picking the trail back up on higher ground...............
Looking back the way we had come.................
Looking towards the direction we were headed.
At the end of this box canyon we climbed the hill to the left and continued on with our journey..............
Remind me that the most fertile lands were built by the fires of volcanoes..........Andrea Gibson, The Madness Vase

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Across Country To 8 Points

Nine days ago it was snowing.
A couple of days later I walked out on BLM land with Kory while wearing shorts.
Spring (as it always is here in Idaho) is coming in fits and starts, but it is irrevocably marching towards warmer weather and the world is quickly becoming greener all the time.
With both me and my dog embedded in serious spring fever, and with both of us feeling restless, I loaded my sweet dog into the Tahoe and headed for open land.
We didn't go far.
In fact, we drove only a mile before turning onto Big Butte Rd, and then quickly turning off the road and hitting a dirt and rock filled, partially rutted out double track trail.
We did not drive very far on the trail.
In fact, after negotiating a couple of very deep ruts, and after negotiating a couple of very rocky sections I wondered "what the heck am I doing??".
Pulling the Tahoe off the trail I parked the vehicle in the middle of.............well.............absolutely nothing.
A HUGE expanse of wide open land.
By the time I opened my door my dog was barking hysterically in barely contained ecstasy.
 We were going for a walk.
We were going for a walk RIGHT NOW.
And she knew it.
Opening the back door of the Tahoe I quickly moved out of the way and watched in amusement as my pup instantly leaped down to the ground.
A quick sniff of a sage bush and she was off and running across country.
The world was hers, and she loves her world.
Abandoned Tahoe in the middle of a wide swatch of empty land, with Atomic City a mile and a half away in the background...................
We were headed for the 8 Points.
8 Points is a series of large rock hills (8 of them of course) that rise quietly in the middle of the desert.
When LC and I first found them not long after arriving in Atomic City back in August of 2013 we were caught off guard by their presence.
The terrain in this part of the Snake River Plain has a few small rises but it is mostly flat, and as we found ourselves exploring this new place we came across these hills.
The are all clustered close together, are rocky and challenging to climb, and stand in contrast to the sage and desert grasses that surround them.
We visit this place a few times a year.
Certainly at least once each season.
This was the place we first let Kory off leash to run free, about a month after we picked her up at the Boise airport.
After walking her on leash for over a month LC and I drove out to the 8 Points and set her free for the first time.
The trail and the desert were both covered with snow.
As soon as we let her off leash she began to run.
She ran past me.  She ran past LC.  She ran past the Tahoe and she kept on running.
Sprinting without thought, without slowing, without having any idea where she was or where she was going.
LC and I watched our new dog disappear over a rise, and then looked at each other, stunned at what had just happened.
Quickly regrouping we loaded back into the Tahoe, turned the vehicle around on the trail, and headed back down the snow covered trail hoping to track down our new pup.
Very quickly we saw her on the trail.
She was half a mile ahead of us, still on the trail, and still in a full sprint.
We eventually did catch her, and it was only months later, as we continued to get to know this dog and the ways that are only hers, that we began to understand what had happened.
We wondered if we had given her too much freedom too quickly.
Wondered if she was not bonding to us as well as we had thought she was.
Both of those things were probably in play.
But I also think that (because she had been leashed for a month) that this young, athletic dog just badly needed to run.
As simple as that...................
I didn't do a lot of zooming during this short trip.
There were few features to zoom in on.
Instead, as Kory and I wandered quickly off trail and then headed straight across country, I simply snapped pictures of the vastness of our surroundings.
Click on any picture and it will enlarge...................
Looking back towards town.................
30 minutes after abandoning the Tahoe, we reached the 8 Points.
Kory knows this place well.....................
I already miss winter.
Over this past week temperatures have been in the 60s.
The sky is beautiful.  The sun is beautiful.  The slowly increasing green is beautiful.
But summer is coming.
My least favorite season of the year.
Last summer LC and I were busy helping an elderly lady move out of town.
It took the entire summer.
This summer we will camp more.
If we can be close to water then maybe summer will not be such a burden for this cold-loving woman.
The wall of mountains close to us are still filled with snow.
Cedar Butte snow is just about gone.
Big Butte still has much snow and the trail leading to the top will be closed until the middle of next month....................
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade...................Charles Dickens