Saturday, October 22, 2016

September in Basin and Range Country: Part II (Idaho’s Boulder Mountains)

(Remember that you can click on the photos to see a slideshow, and then hit "escape" to get back to the text. Also, a note on the photo credits: as always, both Felice and I took these shots, and many of my shots resulted from her suggestions.  I do the photo editing using Lightroom; my goal is to reproduce just what we saw, as faithfully as possible.)

         Sept. 9:  We arrived at an RV park near Ketchum in the late afternoon, dropped the trailer, and took the truck up into the Boulder Creek area, north of Ketchum, to find a boondocking site for the next day.  Success!

         Sept. 10:  We towed the trailer slowly and carefully up Boulder Creek Road, which is about twelve miles north of Ketchum.  The road was very rough, with lots of big rocks (Boulder Creek, right?).  The site that we picked out was isolated but was less than a mile from Highway 75, with good views of the surrounding mountains, right next to the creek.  This photo of the trailer was taken from a moraine about a quarter mile away – the trailer is in the top center of the shot, at the base of the treeline:

         Boulder Peak, at about 11,000 feet, hovered over the campsite:

         We immediately set up our cocktail and snacking area on the bank of the creek – the trailer is visible behind us:

         In order to get that shot, I had to set up the tripod in the middle of the stream.  The bad news is that I accidentally walked barefoot through a patch of stinging nettles while setting up the shot.  The good news is that the water was so cold that it stopped the stinging right away.

         That night, the moon was bright, but we could still see the stars pretty well.  In this shot, we are both peering out of the front window of the trailer – I used our radio remote to trigger the camera from inside:

         Later, we took a walk on the nearby forest road.  We set up this 30 second time exposure with the tripod; I didn't know we had captured a meteor (actually, two!) until we got home and looked at the photos on the computer:

         Sept. 11:  We took the North Fork trail, about 8 miles and 1300 feet of elevation gain.  As we ascended the canyon, there were great views of the Boulder range:

         Although the first part of the day was brilliantly clear, we knew from our little portable NOAA shortwave radio that a small storm system would be arriving in a day or two.  We started to see some very unusual swirly clouds forming over the mountain tops:

         After four miles, the trail petered out in a high meadow:

          By the time we arrived back at the campsite, dark clouds had gathered – the slanting September light hitting the aspens and cottonwoods was very cinematic.  The trailer is in the bottom center of this shot:

        (That picture might be worth clicking on -- it captures the feeling of a little trailer in a big landscape.)

         Sept. 12:  The storm still had not arrived, so we decided to try the Norton Pass trail, about 7 miles and 2300 feet of gain.  The clouds seemed to accentuate the jagged metamorphic ridges:

         The flat light was not great for photography – this shot does not do justice to the emerald color of Upper Norton Lake:

         The trail up to the pass was tough but not impossible – lots of switchbacks, fairly well graded.  Felice had a touch of vertigo, but she persevered.  It was worth the effort – we sat on the ridge at about 10,000 feet, overlooking Miners Lake and the Sawtooth area to the north:

         Just as we started to head back down, it began to snow lightly:

         That night, we got a mix of snow and rain at the campsite, which was at around 7,000 feet.  We were hoping that there would be a dusting of snow on the nearby peaks in the morning.  Being warm and comfortable, all buttoned up inside a well-insulated trailer in bad weather, is indescribably pleasant.  The Danish have a word for it -- hygge, pronounced hoo-gah.  It is like "cozy," but more intense.

         Sept. 13:  A gorgeous, cold morning, with a little fresh snow on the mountains:

         We decided to use the day to scout for boondocking sites north of Galena Summit, in the Salmon River area.  Our progress was slow – we kept having to stop for pictures.  This was taken in the Baker Creek area, not far from our campsite:

         This short video was taken from the south side of Galena Summit:

         Our first view of the Salmon River/Sawtooth area north of Galena Summit was very promising:

         After some fun scouting, we found a great campsite right on the river, near Fourth of July Creek.  We stopped off at Pettit Lake on our way back to the trailer:

         We also took the short Titus Lake hike, at 3.6 miles and 700 feet of gain.  Much of the morning’s snow had already melted, but the dark clouds hinted of more to come:

         This is an “extreme zoom” shot – I am standing several hundred yards from Felice, with Titus Lake in the background:

         Sept. 14:  It was a dark and stormy morning.  When the going gets wet, the wet do chores.  So we took the truck down to Hailey for a fun day of laundry and grocery shopping.  (Pizza for lunch – a red letter day for me!)  We spent some pleasant time in the Hailey Public Library and were very impressed by the helpful staff, the comfortable facilities, and the excellent collection -- how does such a small town fund such a great library?  (Answer:  there is a special assessment as part of the property taxes.  No Proposition 13, evidently.)

          Late that afternoon, when we got back to the trailer, the clouds had lifted a little, revealing fresh snow on the mountains just north of us:

         These mountains were to our west, in the Baker Creek area:

         This is another in a series of “door shots,” showing the view from the inside of the trailer:

          That night, we peeked out of the door to find that the sky had begun to clear.  Just as we were both looking out toward the snowy hills to the west, a brilliant “fireball” meteor streaked across the dark sky, lighting up the landscape for an instant.  It looked like a hunk of melting gold, leaving a visible trail – really memorable.

         A little later, we took a walk in the moonlight.  The snow was brightly lit:

         Sept. 15:  We were up by daybreak, which is fairly rare for us.  The mountaintops were just catching the first rays of the sun.  Felice walked up the forest road:

We took the Taylor Canyon Loop trail, about 4 miles with 1300 feet of gain.  There were excellent views of the surrounding ranges, with a dusting of snow on many of the peaks:

         We pulled out of our campsite near Boulder Creek in mid-afternoon and headed up to the Sawtooth area, north of Galena Summit.  

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