Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Adventure Idaho

This entry's been slow to write.  Don't know why.  Maybe because the photos speak for themselves and for some reason I've just felt uninspired after working all day.

Every year, since 1992,, Sam and I have gone camping someplace in the Clearwater National Forest.  This year, the camping trip got off to a somewhat rocky start when Allie decided to eat two loaves of zucchini bread Thursday night.  To say she was miserable on the ride up would be an understatement.  At any rate, we got up early Friday morning, hooked up the trailer, and by 7 a.m. we were on the road

First stop, McDonald's for some breakfast to go.  Couldn't go through the drive-thru with the 27 foot trailer, so Sam parked in the parking lot, and went inside while I waited in the rig with the dogs.  Rum and I got kinda bored waiting.

It takes three hours to get to the camp site we hoped was available.  On the drive up the smoke from the fire in Idaho County was quite visible.  We heard reports from friends that the fire in Black Canyon was 100% contained and the crews were now mopping up.  That fire was 20 miles from the camp site we hoped to get.  We arrived at our desired spot about 10 o'clock and set up camp.

This place is a favorite with us because it has a little singing creek right along side, so at night with the windows open I fall asleep to the gentle sound of the creek water traveling over the rocks.  Peaceful.  A little bit of heaven here on earth.  There are many small creeks in this forest.

Spent the day kicking back, relaxing and just enjoying the outdoors.  Took the dogs across the road for a cooling splash in Orogrande Creek.  Temps in the afternoon were in the mid 90s.

Saturday we decided to take a drive down Orogrande Creek to the North Fork of the Clearwater River to pay our annual visit to the Kelly Creek Work Center.  Each year we travel to Kelly Creek to purchase some of their T-shirts, which always feature scenes from the area.  Proceeds from the sale of the T-shirts benefit the widows and families of firefighters who die fighting wildfires.

On the drive up, we saw:

An osprey working on a nest.  As we drove away, I watched the bird and I was thinking how that angle was so much better when I saw the bird throw a large bunch of twigs or something over the edge, into the river below.  House cleaning, animal world style.  Wish the photo was clearer, but the nest was quite a ways away from the road and my digital zoom gets a bit grainy.

As we drove I was hoping we'd see a moose at Cold Springs.  In 13 years, I've only seen a moose at Cold Springs once.  Turns out, luck was on my side..

Cold Springs, where we saw the moose, was a hub of activity.  We noticed many semi-trucks and trailers for catering, showers, and equipment.  Base camp for the firefighters no doubt.  There was a lot of activity, not the type one would expect to see if the wildfire was no longer burning, as the trailers were traveling up the river to Black Canyon, not away from Black Canyon.  So we began to speculate that our friends' reports were incorrect and the fire was not contained.

If Cold Springs was busy, Kelly Creek was buzzing.  First thing we saw was a group of people rigging up a helicopter, which eventually took off with what appears to be a tent or duffle bag full of supplies.

Once inside we learned the fire is not contained; there are actually two wildfires burning.  Forest Service personnel advised us the first fire is about four miles west of another campground we usually camp at; it is growing in size and had reached the Clearwater River.  This is not good.  The road is open, but no one is allowed to stop or fish along the way.  The clerk who sold us our T-shirts rode her bike up earlier and said she saw burning snags (the tops of trees) falling at a rate of one per minute.  Staff advised us campfires are allowed; it was not the Forest Service who banned campfires, but rather the Department of Environmental Quality because of all the smoke and the ban only affected Idaho County.  One thing I noticed during the visit and inquired about was the lack of hummingbird activity; every year we visit the Work Center we see at least two dozen hummingbirds outside at several hanging feeders, but on the way in I only saw two.  Back at our camp, not a single one had visited the feeder and this is highly unusual.  The clerk indicated the fire is probably responsible, but also toward the end of August the hummers do start to thin out, as many begin to make the journey south for the winter.

That's all for now.  I will finish this entry tomorrow, hopefully, as there is much more to share.  :)


robinngabster said...

Oh man....these pictures are great!!!!!   WIsh I had been there too!

karebear4x4 said...

Wish i was there, except for your 90+ degree heat   it's a tidbit cooler here and i'm enjoying the daily breeze that has moved in  take care~kbear

dcmeyer420 said...

Thank you for taking me camping with your entry and pics. What a serene and beautiful place. I've never been to Idaho. Putting Idaho on my must see places before I croak...

kokoapuffy1 said...

Wow! The scenery and wildlife are amazing. Hope you are okay, and didn't have to relocate or cut your adventure short. Hope Allie is feeling better, and had enough zucchini bread for awhile. (At least it was just 2 loaves and not all 4!) LOL!

justaname4me2 said...

Beautiful pictures! I haven't really <embarrassed to say> visited the Clearwater Forest. I've been wanting too, I really have, and this has lent me some additional inspiration!! I've been there, it's just been a long time. Looks like a wonderful trip, even with the fire looming around. I have Hummingbirds pretty thick still at my cabin in Garden Valley. This next weekend when I head up there, I'll have to pay attention to them and gauge if they are heading south yet.

boiseladie said...

Your photos show off the area well.  I do not believe I've been up that way either, at least not as an adult.  My grandfather was quite the scoutsman, taking us all over Idaho when I was a kid, so maybe then, but not sure.  I have a friend in Stites, I should make a point to get up that way!