Archive for June, 2014

Palisades Creek – Part 2

June 8, 2014

To continue … it’s a little after 1 PM on Wednesday, May 28. David and I have hiked four miles along Palisades creek (near Swan Valley, Idaho) up to lower Palisades Lake, where we have now parked our tired bodies on a flat rock for a rest and a snack.

We thought we might meet other hikers and even overnight campers up here, but we have the whole area to ourselves.

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The last time we were up here we saw three moose – a cow and a bull, and a young calf – grazing on the left bank of the lake. They crossed the lake to the right bank and sauntered away.

We don’t see moose today. We do spot a little chipmunk skittering around, peering up at us from several feet away. “We should throw him some nuts, to tame him, see if we can get him to approach us!” I say. David tosses out an almond. Sure enough, the chipmunk meanders around looking like he’s not the least bit interested, and then, cautiously hops right up to the nut, grabs it and starts munching …

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Then another chipmunk shows up –

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he too grabs a nut. Runs off with it.

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Soon there are three chipmunks. Or maybe four. It’s hard to keep track of them.

These little critters are more tame than we thought. One approaches us from behind. Oh how cute!

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Next thing, he’s hopped right between us and helped himself to our stash.

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Is he going for the beer next?

“Hey! Outta there! Scat, you little varmint!”

He moons us as he makes his exit.

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Should we check our pockets?

Here we have a chipmunk schooling humans on the art of eating a cracker. (No need to endure it to the end. We get the point!)

We’ve rested about half an hour now, our foodstuffs are gone (next time – pack extra in case of unexpected company). I photograph some trees around us …

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They look like something out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Heading back to the trailhead now, with David in the lead.

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Should take less time getting back than it took climbing up. Two hours to David’s estimation, you know, if we keep the pace…

At least we’re going with the flow (so to speak) this time.

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Soon we hear some clop-clopping behind us. We step aside to greet two riders on horses

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We engage in a friendly chat. They had ridden three miles further to the upper lake but had to turn around because the snow was too deep. We thought we were near the peak of the spring flooding but they allowed that no, there was much more snow to melt off and they thought the peak wouldn’t happen till the beginning of July. As we’re chatting away, the first rider’s horse chomps the end off a branch of a big prickly bush.

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We stop our conversation to watch the horse chew on it. We couldn’t keep from laughing at the way the horse’s mouth was curling up around the prickles, as she determinedly chewed away as if she’d pulled a coup snatching that knarly branch in the first place. I lamented to the second rider that “Awwwww, your horse missed out on her extra snack” – he allowed that “Nope, she’s watchin’ her figure.”

We bid a hearty farewell to the friendly riders, David commenting to me, “Shouldn’t they be back at the ranch branding cattle?” He, himself, would be working a full day this coming Saturday to make up for taking off today.

We stop here to take in the view of the canyon behind us that we have just passed through

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and to listen to the sound of the roaring creek. Creek? Yeah, it will be a creek again. “See that rock in the center of those rapids?” David points it out to me. “Notice it again later this summer. It will be completely exposed.”

The wildflowers are putting on such a show!

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What? Fall colors already?

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We bump into the riders again. And their horses.

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The riders had dismounted and were waiting for us.

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“We wanted to be sure you were aware of what’s up there on that ledge.”

“Mountain goats?” I ask.

“No.” He points up toward the cliff. “Look carefully by that tree up there on the left near the top …”

David and I both saw it at once. “A bear!”

“Yes, a cinnamon bear!” the rider exclaimed.

I snapped a photo.

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Can you see the bear up there on the cliff? Look carefully beneath that tallest tree on the left. The sun is shining on his cinnamon colored back – he’s a cinnamon bear all right, albeit, not your quintessential graham or gummy variety cinnamon bear reminiscent of childhood.

The rider pictured in the above photo is a wildlife painter who comes up here quite frequently. He knew a lot about bears. He said the small bear was a young black bear, probably two years old. The baby bears stay with their mothers until their second spring, when, after they come out of hibernation, the mother boots them out to forage for food on their own, and she goes off to have another baby. That bear wasn’t that far away, and it was clearly aware of us. And although undoubtedly hungry, it certainly couldn’t just come after us over that cliff! Thank goodness. Soon it had disappeared.

We motored on – crossed another bridge. I snapped a photo. Just for my brother Eric.

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This is the infamous bridge Eric descended toward on his mountain bike a couple of summers ago – Did a 360 flip right off the side, right there, right smack dab into the creek. Luckily it was during late summer when the water was running low. He pulled himself and his bike out of the water and rode on.

Somehow, the four miles back seemed like a much greater distance than it did climbing up.

The blazing sun set the trees aglow.

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At some point, a wind kicked up – I captured it in this video:

It’s 3:45 and we’re back at the trailhead. Sure enough, it took about 2 hours to get back from the lower lake. We stop and check out the maps on the bulletin board beside the parking lot. The first map shows the Palisades Creek trail leading to the lower and upper Palisades lakes.

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You can see from this first topographical map that you gain a great deal of elevation in those three miles from Lower Palisades Lake to the Upper Lake.

The second map is one of those “YOU ARE HERE” maps that I find so comforting. I linger at both maps for a while

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– all chatty with David, acting very interested in the information to be gleaned from these two awesome maps. “You can totally see how close our hike is to Palisades Dam!” was one of my brilliant observations.

This sort of thing is interesting, studying maps, you know, if this sort of thing interests you.

Frankly, what I’m most interested in, at this moment, is stopping and resting my body – my feet hurt, my legs ache and my knees feel shot. Can I muster the strength to make those last 20 steps across the parking lot to the truck? I suppose I’ll have to bend my knees at least one more time to fold my body into the front seat for the ride home.

Yeah, well, we weren’t attacked or eaten by a bear, we didn’t get our pockets picked by wily chipmunks, nor get washed away by a raging creek. We saw those crazy, active tent worms, and the wildflowers put on a veritable fashion show. The horses made us laugh and their riders made us wiser. Even though that hike did kick my butt, it was totally worth it. I’ll feel this way tomorrow, too, even if I am too sore to get out of bed.

Palisades Creek

June 1, 2014

One of my favorite hikes in southeast Idaho is Palisades Creek. We try to do it at least once a year. The hike is about an hour’s drive from Idaho Falls on Highway 26 toward Jackson, Wyoming.

It’s Wednesday, mid-morning, May 28 – and David and I are on our way.

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We figure the whole trip should take about 7 hours.

Dropping into Swan Valley now:

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The turnoff to the Palisades Creek hike is about 10 miles beyond Swan Valley.

A couple miles beyond Swan Valley we sail right past an eagle’s nest – but then realize there was some activity in it. “Hey, turn around!”

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Eagles are circling overhead, hunting for prey.

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There’s an eaglet in the nest!

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The turnoff to the hike is on Highway 26 directly across from the Palisades Lodge. You can’t miss it! We’ve just turned off and will soon be parked at the trailhead:

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We’re on the trail now. David explains to me, “It’s four miles to the lower lake, and it should take us about 2 1/2 hours to get there, if we keep a steady pace.” He jets off in the lead.

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Right off the bat, we pass this sign:

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“Bear attack?” I don’t ever remember worrying about bears on this trail. We’ve seen moose before, and I know to watch on the cliffs for mountain goats, but … bears? Okay, so carry bear spray, avoid hiking alone, don’t run … yeah, okay.

My goodness! Wildflowers have sprung everywhere along the trail. Of course, I can’t photograph every species, but I try:

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Hey, wait a minute! Those aren’t flowers! Wha..?

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EWWWWW! (as Jimmy Fallon would say). Tent worms!

Yes, turns out, there’s an abundance of tent worms. Oh how special. They’re hatching!

For your enjoyment, and to share this special event with you, I took these next two action videos. They do have musical soundtracks, well, virtual soundtracks – you’ll have to play them in your head yourself – (since I lack the technological expertise to actually upload the soundtracks onto the videos).

The musical sound track to this first video is “Gimme Some Lovin'” the 1966 smash hit compliments of the Spencer Davis Group. (What? You weren’t born yet in 1966? Oh. Huh? Your parents weren’t born yet either?)

Here we go – Get it going in your head:

“Gimme gimme some lovin’ (gimme some lovin) Gimme, gimme some lovin’ (gimme some lovin), Ev-er-y day – ba ba ba ba boom”

Turn up the sound! (in your head):

Gimme gimme some lovin’….

Are you totally groovin’ with the tent worms, or what?

Okay, retune your heads! This next video rocks to the 1962 debut hit, “Locomotion.”

Get it goin’!-

“Everybody’s doin’ a brand new dance now, come on baby do the locomotion…”

“So come on, come on, and do the locomotion with me – Ooooooo-oo- ooo- ooo- ooo – ooo”

“Enough with the friggin’ tent worms, already.” you say?

Okay.

Guess I sorta got off track with that “keeping a steady pace” thing we were supposed to be doing – taking all these photos and videos. Where’s David? I pick up my pace to catch up but he is no where in sight:

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I would have greeted numerous other hikers on the trail with gusto and gladness. But, so far, there are none – aside from the couple we met coming out as we started up the trail. I keep hearing something behind me, a rustling in the bushes, or something. I turn around to look – nope – no one behind me. Could the sounds I’m hearing be from the sloshing water bottle in my back pack? Or could there be a bear or something off in the brush? Something stalking me, ready to pounce? Geez, where’s David? Uh, let’s see now, what am I supposed to do if I perchance encounter a bear? Don’t be alone, for starters.(Great.) Carry bear spray (the last thing on my shopping list, like, it wasn’t even on my shopping list…) Don’t run. Don’t climb a tree (that one came to me of my own brilliance), don’t make eye contact (are you kidding?), make noise. “ROAR!” But if you don’t scare the bear and he charges after you, then … stop, drop, and roll! No, that’s not it … PLAY DEAD, if you aren’t already. AAAAWWLLLGG! I could get eaten by a bear right here on the spot and David wouldn’t even know, since, how far ahead is he?

I raced forward on the trail, not altogether convinced the only thing chasing me was my water bottle. Finally, with great relief, I did catch up with David.

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Peering at mountain goats through his binoculars. There was a pair of them clomping (one would guess) around on the cliffs above. We both looked at them through the binoculars. Quickfooted, they soon disappeared from sight. I took a video of the cliffs from where we were standing:

That’s the Palisades creek raging by. It empties into the south fork of the Snake River. We follow it almost the whole distance to the lower lake.

We’ve been gaining in elevation.

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David keeps gaining distance on me, period,

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although I argue that with his long legs – I have to take four steps to his three.

We are now traversing pools of water along the path

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and Palisades creek is over-running its banks.

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Our path is also a creek running parallel.

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We cross the roiling creek several times over solid, well-built, bridges. I am standing on a bridge now to take this photo:

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Then this video:

We’re guessing that the creek hasn’t peaked yet. There is still quite a bit of snow on the peaks.

We are near Lower Palisades lake now. Wow. A string of fresh horse manure!

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Now that’s a hopeful sight! Maybe some folks are camping on the lake – rode up the trail on horses packing in all their camping equipment – that sure is the way to go!

Nope. We’ve arrived at lower Palisades lake now, greeted by a very large empty campsite. We have it all to ourselves, and …