Thursday, July 19, 2018

Buffalo Bill Reservoir And Carter Mountain

We have lived in our new home for less than 2 weeks but have already made multiple trips to the lake and are loving living where we live.
I loved the wide openess of living in a tiny desert community in Idaho, 30 miles from the nearest town.
It was easy to be alone there, and I needed to be alone often. 
LC, Kory and I knew every inch of every lava field, every hill, every valley, every rock crevice, every cedar tree, in our area.
We had explored them multiple times on foot and in vehicle, but often we looked longingly at the mountains 30 miles away and wished that we were closer.
Closer to mountains.
Closer to water.
A river.  A lake.  Just.........water.
There are two kinds of people that live in such isolated communities.
Those who want to be left alone.
And those who can't make it anywhere else.
It turns out the Atomic City was dominated by the latter.
It was difficult to reconcile that realization, and as time went by it became only more and more difficult.
To ignore.  To be left alone.
With the writing on the wall we finally had the push we needed to make the move.
It all happened so much faster than we ever imagined it would, and we have lived a whirlwind life ever since.
But in hindsight it was all worth it.
We love it here.
It feels right.................

We found the teepee (above) unexpectedly on a recent trip to the lake.
It hadn't been there on the previous trip, but magically appeared on THIS trip.
Reaching into the side pocket of my shorts I eagerly wandered down to inspect it, while LC and puppy drove down to the end of the dirt driveway.
We had seen a group of boys happily playing in the water on the last trip and wondered if THEY had made this interesting structure.
We didn't know.
But we loved that "someone" had taken so much time, had put in so much thought and effort..................
LC had driven down to the end of the drive in order to avoid an unknown dog, but as soon as he sprung Kory from the bondage of the vehicle, she immediately ran back to where I (and the unknown dog) were standing.
Within seconds the two dogs were fast friends and playing together in the water.
I watched them for a few minutes, unaccustomed to my dog playing with other dogs but smiling inwardly because it seemed to be working and both pups seemed to be happy.
It was like watching your small child on a play date..................
While dogs were playing together I snapped quick pictures of the unexpected drift wood structure.
Brody had worked hard on this place.................
Low benches on either side of the teepee and a Welcome sign in back...............
Even a pathway lined with rock, leading down to the water.
A week later the teepee still (mostly) stands, but it is now standing in water and the rock pathway is gone - underwater now that the lake is so much higher than it was.................
A young family (and owners of the dog Kory had befriended) was walking on the beach.
Young mom was picking up interesting pieces of drift wood with her daughter while the young dad skipped rocks.
A few minutes later he and LC were skipping rocks together.
Talking quietly together and skipping rocks, and as I wandered with the woman and the girl I relished in the quiet and uncomplicated joy of the moment.
Both LC and I needed a simple life.  This moment was a simple moment and it felt good...............
He's pretty good................
Late the next afternoon we found ourselves turning off the South Fork highway and climbing ever higher into Carter Mountain.
Carter Mountain dominates the South Fork, but can be seen for miles in every direction.
It is huge.
Almost monstrous in size.
Bigger than Heart or Rattlesnake or Cedar Mountain.
Bigger by far, and we turned onto the Carter Mountain access road on a whim while simply going for a drive.
Which was dumb.
It was late in the day and we had no supplies with us - no food, little water, no extra clothing, no headlamps or flashlights, no blankets, no first aid or medical supplies, no nothing.
We were just going for a little drive we told ourselves when we set off.................
90 minutes later we were in the middle of unbelievable silence and beauty.
We were also in the middle of straight up bear country.
We did not have anything else with us, but we did have bear protection, and thankfully we did not need it on this trip..................
When we pulled off the highway the terrain had been very hilly, but also very barren.
An hour later we had climbed our way into a straight up alpine environment.
Pine trees, lush grasses, and wild flowers of every color and description blanketed huge meadows.
It was gorgeous..................
After parking the vehicle on the side of the gravel trail we had been following since leaving the highway far below us, we all three picked up a narrow single track trail and slowly followed it on foot through a grassy meadow.
A look back at the vehicle and the mountains behind us................
Puppy finding shade and water.
It was seven in the evening (possibly later) by this time, but still very hot.
We were all having a hugely enjoyable time, but I was aware of the hour and aware that if we wanted to be off this mountain before dark, that we needed to start thinking about heading back to the vehicle very soon...............
I look at Kory in these pictures and they make me smile.
It is not only us that have opened up a new world since moving to the South Fork.
Ever since we picked Kory up from the Boise Idaho airport she has been a desert dog.
That is all she knew with us.
And now the mountains and the water have given her different environments to enjoy and explore.
She is a happy, healthy, well adjusted dog.
Sometimes I cannot believe the different world we are in.
Our house is less than 10 minutes drive from Cody...................
After loading back into the Tahoe, LC told me that he was going to continue straight ahead rather than turning around and heading back the way we had come.
Just a short way.
Just to see what was around the next bend in the road.
Eager myself to see what else we could find on this mountain, I agreed.
One bend turned into two bends turned into three bends, until eventually we both came to the same conclusion - that we thought if we stayed on this road we would eventually find another way off this mountain.
To both of us that sounded like an exciting proposition - seeing new terrain as opposed to retracing places we had already seen.
A beautiful herd of contented and healthy cattle grazing on knee high grass.............
Long shadows as the sun began to set and as we continued to work out way back down the mountain.
Or so we thought................. wouldn't YOU have thought that you were making your way down the mountain??
We certainly did.
But as we continued to drop on the double track trail, the brush on both sides of us began to close in.
The trail continued to get narrower and more rutted out with each passing bend, until eventually we came to a quick and surprising halt.............
Standing in the middle of the narrow and gnarly trail, LC and I looked at each other in unexpected recognition of what we were going to have to do.
The trail had suddenly ended.
In front of us was a deep and muddy creek, with large pond on one side of the trail and a washed out and steep drop-off on the other side.
There was no safe way to get through. was what it was.
We turned around and headed back the way we had come, suddenly and unexpectedly focused on getting off this beautiful mountain.
No more messing around..............
It was a beautiful and unexpectedly long trip, but we managed to get off Carter Mountain before dark.
On the way home we smiled excitedly at each other and talked about the beauty of Carter.
And we talked about the fools we were to not have supplies with us.  
It gets close to freezing even at this time of year.  We had nothing with us.  
Likely we would have been just fine if we had spent a long and cold night up on this mountain.
But our luck will run out one day if we keep pulling stupid stunts like that so we will endeavor to be smarter next time, and do all the things we know we are supposed to do before heading out into the wilderness................

I love the fact that we are surrounded by this spectacular natural beauty that routinely strikes us dead.  Hikers walk off into the woods and are never seen again.  And still we tug on our fleece and skip off into the wilderness, not a care in the world................Chelsea Cain
I love the fact that we are surrounded by this spectacular natural beauty that routinely strikes us dead. Hikers walk off into the woods and are never seen again. And still we tug on our fleece and skip off into the wilderness, not a care in the world. Chelsea Cain
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

South Fork End Of The Lake - Part 2

It was just like flipping a switch.
On July 4 it got warm.
And right after that it got hot.
And then it stayed hot.
We moved into our new home last Friday and it was sunny and 95 degrees.
It has been in the mid-upper 90s every day since then and I am already over it.
This Norwegian girl doesn't do heat very well.
Thank goodness that LC found a huge swamp cooler.
We needed a big one to keep a 1650 sq foot home cool, and he found one on a local Face Book classified site just in time.
It keep the house at 68 degrees and that works fine for both of us............
This is one more section of the South Fork end of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, and these pictures were taken while still shuttling gear down to the house prior to the big move.
As is usual for the west, the weather was all over the map that week.
Cold.  Windy.  Overcast.  Sunny and very warm.  Even snow up in the mountains.................
A large grassy section of land was behind us, but we elected to sit at a picnic table for a time, trying to wind down from the increasing tension and anticipation we were both feeling about the upcoming move.
Sometimes we both have a lot of trouble dialing it back, and we sat and excitedly talked while looking out over the calm lake and monitoring the wandering-progress of our wandering-dog......................
20 minutes after parking in this place we decided to load back into the truck, and make our way down to the trail that took us right to the lake.
We were above the lake in this place, looking out over it but also looking down on it, and we had no water with us for Kory.
After happily wandering for 20 minutes she was thirsty and overheated, and so we climbed back into the truck in search of water..............
Five minutes later puppy was playing in the water...............
This is the same section of the lake as in the previous blog entry.
What a different the weather makes.
One day the sky was overcast, the winds were strong, and the waves crashed into shore as if we were walking along the edge of the ocean.
On another day the sun was shining, the sky was endlessly blue, the water was calm, and the mountains greeted us with welcoming beauty................
Looking for rocks to skip.
Something he did often as a boy.
Something he even did often when we lived in Alaska, but which I haven't seen him do since.
The man has skipped rocks often since we started wandering down to the South Fork..................
And a dog who has spent the past almost-five-years with us, being a desert dog.
All of a sudden I see my lake dog.
My lake dog loving the water.
A runner by design, by breeding and by instinct.
Still not a strong swimmer, but a water lover anyway.
A sweet girl who wanders into the water often.................
We heard them for a while before really paying attention to them.
A group of boys happily yelling at each other and playing in the lake on a very hot day.
From where we stood it appeared that they had found a log to float on together.
A makeshift boat - heavy, unable to be maneuvered, but floating anyway, and as we watched them LC and I smiled.
Enjoying the sight of a group of young boys just being young boys.
No play dates, or organized sports, or expensive toys or helicopter parenting.
Just boys finding something, grabbing something, creating something, being noisily excited about something.
A log that floated.
An instant boat.
Boys just being boys.................
The back side of Cedar Mountain to the right.
To the left?
Maybe part of Rattlesnake Mountain?
I'm not sure.
Still not used to viewing mountains from this perspective...............
A boy's story is the best ever told..............Charles Dickens