Tag Archives: Idaho

Arrowrock Dam GUSHING Spillway!

After I posted the video I took in May I went up to check on how the spillway at Arrowrock is doing now.

We had a very wet winter and the snowpack in the upper watershed is at 200% of normal. For the last several days we’ve had our first real warming trend, with temperatures getting into the 90s. Seems the water is coming down!

Here it is running —

running INT.jpg

Here’s the a short video of it gushing —

Atlanta to Alturas Lake #8: New Boots

In all the planning Dad put into our first trek across the Sawtooth Mountains, one thing he made sure to do was think of footwear. We kids were outfitted with the popular Converse “tennis shoes” of the time, a modern cobbler’s approach to canvas uppers on rubber souls. Being heavier, Dad got himself a good pair of stout leather hiking boots.

Brand new stout leather hiking boots.

Half way through the first day of the walk from Atlanta to Alturas Lake there were blisters coming up on Dad’s heals. Some extra padding helped but the blisters were not to be abated.

By Alturas Lake Dad had blisters inside of the first blisters, including some on toes. I remember them being popped to make room for his foot to get back in the boots.

Well, folks, there are no cobblers or shoe stores at Alturas Lake, so the walk back to Atlanta was faced with the knowledge more skin would be rubbed raw in the future. And it was.

1954 new boots

Meanwhile we kids were prancing about in our thin canvas shoes with nary so much as a red splotch to show for it.

I’m not sure if those boots found the nearest trash can when we got back to Atlanta or not, but my dad was not one to toss out anything that had any life left in it. There is a photo from hiking in the Sawtooths the next year that has him wading barefoot in a creek while holding a pair of boots that look similar.

1955 Old boots

One thing I do know — he never again wore new footwear of any kind when taking off on a mountain trail. And I’m pretty sure he considered an extra pair of very comfortable shoes worth packing along just in case.

Golden Moment

On Sunday, August 14, 2016, I took a little stroll up Camelback Hill just up the street from my home. On this path I usually stop at a favorite spot for a little thanking the Gods for their beautiful existence. Just as I got to my thanking spot the sun emerged from the overcast.

sun

The light caught the dried grasses of our southern Idaho hills and turned them golden.

north

northeast

And did a fine job of lighting up Boise.

city

Fortunately I took some photos before pausing for my thank-yous. By the time the Gods were properly greeted the sun was again behind the cloud and the golden was gone.

gone

Alturas Lake #7: Choppy Water

The white caps are the strongest memory of my encounter with Alturas Lake.

Alturas Lake is two miles long and stretches along the valley of Alturas Lake Creek. There is a relentless flow of cool air settling from the Sawtooth’s high peeks down to the floor of Stanley Basin, the site of Alturas Lake. With two miles for the wind to blow along the surface of the lake, the water was always riled up. Choppy swells covered the lake like meringue on a lemon pie and I was introduced to the term, “white caps.”

What better place to rent a tiny boat and take the family on a putt-about?

life vests

It was all perfectly safe, we were assured by the man behind the counter of the Alturas Lake Lodge. The boats were all steel, which would sink like the Titanic. But at both the front and back of the boats were compartments sealed shut with strong welds. The trapped air in the compartments would float the boat should the choppy waters cause it to capsize.

front end

At the time I did not know of the Titanic and its unsinkable compartments. Nor do I remember the man behind the counter making the comparison.

It was a lovely time on the choppy lake, being beaten on the butt by the metal seats and sprayed in the face with the wind-blown icy water of glacial melt. We frolicked on the beach at the far end of the lake for an afternoon and then headed on the two-mile journey to the lodge.

beach

Checking out my Dad’s slides, I did seem to have an encounter with the lake on the return trip. We were not at a pier or sandy beach, so perhaps my sisters, mother and I were being let off near the campground while Dad returned the boat. I vaguely remember a mass of leaves, logs and twigs luring me off the boat. With no experience on lake water, it looked perfectly solid but was, instead, floating in some two feet of water.

My dad caught my nine-year-old reaction to being shocked at the unexpected results.

crying

Atlanta to Alturas Lake #6: Alturas Lake

The gentle, blue-blooming saddle between the trails of Mattingly Creek and Alturas Lake Creek is a ten mile hike from Atlanta and seven miles from Alturas Lake.

The ten miles from Atlanta were filled with all variety of gentle and steep trail, narrow and fairly open areas, and views up rocky peaks. All I remember of the seven mile trail down Alturas Lake Creek was a gentle slope on reliable sand and gravel. All down a wide mountain valley.1 wide valley

I also remember when the trail became a dirt road with two ruts rather than the one option of the path. I was convinced the lake could not be far away and remember my disappointment when the lake never seemed to appear.

2 road

But appear it did, although still a long way in the distance. And, once we did finally get to it’s shores, I found out there was still the walk along the north side of lake to get to the campground. It was a long, long walk.

3 lake in distance

4 north side

The campground was filled with trucks and cars and all sorts of tents and gear. We made quite the entrance, walking through with three horses, three kids, and Mom and Dad. We had barely settled on a spot and started pulling the packs off the horses when other campers were joining us and asking questions.

5 in element

My Dad was in his element!

Now that I think of it, these sixty-two years later, I’m not sure but what the attention Dad knew awaited when he came into the campground, fully loaded as a horse-packing family, was one of the reasons he’d drempt the entire trip up.

Just sayin’.

Atlanta to Alturas Lake #5: Surprising Ridge

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 1.09.01 PM

On our Sawtooth Mountain trek from Atlanta to Alturas Lake, one surprise for Mom and Dad came half way into the trail.

They had been looking forward to crossing a steep ridge at the saddle between Mattingly and Alturas Lake creeks. Yet as we got close to where the saddle should be they saw a pretty blue lake.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but to most of us lakes belong in valleys, not straddling mountain ridges. Call me crazy, but water is supposed to run from ridges like caribou scamper from wolves.

Yet there, in the distance, was a lake right where a rocky ridge should be!

Getting closer we came to realize the ridge was not straddled by a lake. Nor was it a rocky spine. Instead, at 8,300 feet, a gentle curve crossed between the two creeks. And that meadowy curve was covered with a vast cluster of the bluest little Alpine flowers we’d ever seen.

ridge flowers

It was a treat.

into Alt Lake Creek

Years later, when the Idaho Transportation Department was looking for a direct route from Boise to the Sawtooth valley, Dad wrote many letters encouraging the route we walked that day. I’m sure he mostly wanted an improved, paved road to Atlanta, but his letters pointed out the advantages of the Atlanta – Alturas Lake route, including: 1) it was the most direct, 2) it was the most scenic, going right through the heart of the Sawtooths, and 3) building the route was simple, crossing the ridge in a gentle, flowering meadow.

The road was built by extending Highway 21 past Grandjean, around the north end of the Sawtooths, and into Stanley. But you can’t say my Dad didn’t do his darndest to talk some sense into them!

Dad's box of letters

Dad's Map

Dad's %22letter%22

Atlanta to Alturas Lake #4: Breaking Camp

After a long mountain climb while leading horses and corralling three needy, rambunctious kids, I can’t imagine facing the work it must have taken to make camp. But camps must be made and dinners must be cooked.

Heavy tarps and blankets were pulled off the horses, then heavy wooden boxes packed with skillets and canned foods were hoisted off the pack saddles. Before anything else the horses had to be tended to, so Dad got busy with that. We kids were put to work gathering wood for a fire and blowing up our air mattresses. Now that I think of it, the mattresses were always flat by the time we got to bed — were they brought along just to keep us busy?

These days, with light mountaineering equipment and scores of Sawtooth hikers, I don’t know if there is wood for camp fires or not. But in 1954 there was abundant dry wood laying on the ground and hanging as snags from the trees. It wasn’t long before we kids were through with chores and were entertaining ourselves by bareback riding the horses around camp.

Meanwhile Mom arranged what rocks she could find so they would hold the Coleman white-gas camp stove and spent rest of the day cooking, feeding, washing dishes, and reading aloud by fire light as we snuggled under blankets watching the stars come out.

The next morning, after breakfast was cooked and the dishes were cleaned, the hard work of unpacking was reversed. But everything had to go back on the horses, so camp was broken.

Breaking Camp

One camp ritual I had forgotten until looking at my Dad’s slides was our daily bath.

bathing in creek

We did not have a tub to heat water in, so Sawtooth Mountain “bathing” always consisted of a washcloth in the creek. What with the sweat and dust of the trail, I remember the concept of a bath being most welcome. I also remember these being extremely quick approaches to hygiene. Even in August, those mountain streams were snow just hours earlier. They were cold!

Those washcloths never approached my body with enough water to run, I’ll tell you that. I soon learned to get them just damp enough to wipe off the grit and get the bath done.

August Snow