Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pass #3 - Pass Creek - Part 2

One thing that always holds true when you live in the high desert - you can always tell where the water is.
As we continued to slowly wander through this most extraordinary piece of the planet my eyes continually moved from the pine tree covered mountains down to the yellow leafy hardwoods that very obviously followed a good sized stream.
I wondered (as I always did whenever we found an up-til-then undiscovered beautiful place) how we could have lived within 50 miles of here and have not found this pass before now.
Regardless, I was very glad that we HAD finally found it.
I was sitting in the back with Kory (who continued to happily hang her head out of the window), while at the same time I was greatly enjoying our trip and greatly enjoying the easy banter between LC and his brother.
They were having a great trip as well - pleased to be where they were, in each others' company, on this beautiful day and sharing a great adventure.................
We had stopped one more time so I could snap a couple of quick pictures, and as I stood in the middle of beautiful I looked up ahead of me.
Unexpectedly, it looked as though the scenery was about to change.................
Within a couple of minutes we were deep inside a long canyon section.
High rock walls on both sides of us.
We had been in the pass for a couple of hours by this time, and in that span had seen vast changes in the scenery.
Once we had turned off the two lane highway and picked up the dirt/gravel road that led up onto the pass, we had been in the high desert plain environment that I had become so accustomed to over the past few years.
After cresting the top of the pass we had dropped down just a short way, into increasing green, hard wood trees and streams.
And now here we were in the shadows of a steep rock canyon.
It had been a long day but it had turned out to be a very good day.
A good day that was still not done..............
Not far from the end of our adventure through Pass Creek Pass we made one last stop.
After traveling through the long canyon section, the terrain had suddenly opened up again.
Almost immediately we found a large semi-circular driveway beside the stream and pulled into it, eager to wander one last time.
By now it was late in the afternoon, and we knew that once we pulled out of the pass and then drove down to pick up the highway again, we would find ourselves on the north side of Mackay.  
A little over 50 miles from the house.
We were all starving.
When we left that morning we had brought plenty of water but (aside from a few snacks) no food, because honestly we had no idea that we would be gone for so long.
Just as importantly, our dog must have been starving as well.
Aside from a few bites of people-snack-food she hadn't eaten anything all day.
As we climbed out of the Suburban one last time we resolved to stop in Mackay to eat, and to get something for Kory, before heading home...............
We all wandered.
LC.  Gary.  Kory.  Me.
Drawn to the water.  Drawn to the huge rock wall faces that surrounded us.  Drawn to the bright yellow trees and the sky that was so blue and so beautiful that it could make you cry.
A few miles back we had passed a sign for a campground and lake.
We drove by it before we saw the sign and didn't turn back to check it out.
I had no interest in the campground but was curious about the lake.
Along our route we had also bypassed a good number of places where vehicles and campers could pull off the road and primitive camp.
This was one of those primitive camping sites.
As I looked around me I realized that I really did want to come back to Pass Creek again and primitive camp.
We were in the process of fixing up our old beater camper.
Maybe we would camp here.
In this very spot.
Beside this very stream, looking at this very rock face.
Yes.............I would like that..................
Small fish in the pools of this stream.............
I almost forgot................
After stopping at this stream for a long time we loaded back into the Suburban.
A few minutes later we reached a long, marshy section that was filled with bushes that were as tall as me.
She appeared and then disappeared in the brief moment it took me to get out the word "Moose!"
The bushes lined the road, and as I looked to my right a moose appeared from out of the bushes.
She pulled out of a clump of bushes in an easy run and then immediately dove back into the next clump of bushes, obviously a moose with a destination in mind.
There was no time for pictures.
Not even remotely.
LC stopped the vehicle, and we could all see movement deep inside the lushness of the marsh, but our moose never made another appearance.
But there were moose here, and that sighting and that knowledge just as we were getting ready to pull out of this pass, made all of us smile with delight..................

She ate part of a sub sandwich and then this pup (who usually eats dry dog food) found out that she loves Alpo.
With all four of us full from our meals in Mackay, it was finally time to go home.
Gary had been with us for a week but it was time for him to head home to Minnesota the next day.
All the way home to Atomic City he talked about everything he had seen over the past week.
The falls in Idaho Falls.  Arco Pass, Antelope Pass, Pass Creek Pass, and his trips into the desert in back of our house.
He had a good trip and LC and I were both sorry to say goodbye........................

my love
for you
will always be
like a mountain stream.
Sanober Khan, A Thousand Flamingos....................

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pass #3 - Pass Creek - Part 1

After dropping down off Arco Pass we drove the winding gravel road to the highway and turned left, heading deep into the Little Lost River Valley.
30 minutes later LC slowed the Suburban near the tiny community of Clyde and turned left, heading down yet one more dirt and gravel road.
The last time we were here was last winter, and after slowly driving for 20 minutes we eventually turned back, disappointed that we could go no further after hitting deep snow.
Even though we talked about it a few times LC and I had never made it back, and we were both excited on this day, knowing that we were finally going to make it up and over Pass Creek Pass.
This day was turning out to be nothing like we had planned.
LCs brother tires quickly, and after a couple of busy days of exploring Antelope Pass and the Idaho Falls Greenway I had suggested that we simply go out into the desert and circle around Cedar Butte on the day before his trip back to Minnesota.
Instead we had headed up and over Arco Pass.
And now - instead of heading home - we were continuing further with a new adventure on our second pass in one day.
How extremely cool (and extremely surprising).
But on this beautiful early fall day, here we were.
On our way to the base of Pass Creek Pass, all of us eager to see what we would find.................
We had been gradually climbing for half an hour and decided to stop briefly so Kory could wander and so I could snap a few pictures,
We were still in a world of high desert plains, but I could see the mountains up ahead of us................
I guess I am used to fall looking like this now.
Many evergreens, and hardwood trees all changing color, all bright and beautiful and all yellow.
For a long time I missed the falls back east.
After the heat and humidity of a south eastern summer, fall was always a stunning spectacle of reds, oranges, browns, yellows.
Endless color.  Electric color.  Blue skies and cooler temperatures and the wonderful array of colorful trees that the western side of the country could never hope to challenge.
I first noticed the difference when living in Juneau.
I missed the reds and oranges of fall that I was so used to.
But after living in the west for a few years now, I have found enjoyment in what we have here.
A different kind of wonderful, but wonderful none-the-less.................
If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you may be able to see the scratch marks on the tree trunks, made by...........what?...............
By this time it was mid afternoon and the sun was shining so brightly that the entire world felt as though it was glistening...............
My pup loving the hell out of her new found freedom................
I had expected a steep climb similar to the other two passes we had traveled over the past few days.
Instead, from the moment we had turned off the black top, winding, two lane highway, we had gradually been climbing non-stop.
The climb was so gradual that if you weren't paying attention, you almost missed it.
Once we hit the top of the pass (just as it had with Antelope Pass) the world instantly changed.
One moment we were in wide open and mostly treeless high desert plains, and the next moment we dropped down into a world of more rugged and tree filled mountains, creeks and streams, and yellow leafy trees.
The transition was surprising in not only how different the terrain looked, but also how quickly that transition occurred
In this whole new world we stopped often.
Every few miles.
To walk, to wander, to picture take, to allow Kory to drink.
This was a beautiful trip, and WE (LC and I) were discovering it for the first time, along with LCs brother.
It was turning into a pretty awesome day...................
When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome. Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean............Wilma Rudolph