It’s a couple of days after the trip wrapped up, but here’s the quick summary from Sunday:
After an early wakeup to watch the sun rise we ate extraordinary amounts of bacon at the lodge’s buffet, then packed up and headed out. The plan was to find cranes in the Stanley basin, but after a wildlife-free tour we headed back towards Boise. The lone stop on the way was in the former gold mining town of Idaho City where I may or may not have befriended one of the locals.
Had this guy not been chained to the porch, my carry-on might have been a lot heavier.
While looking at a woodpecker near the lodge today an older British couple walked up to us and started chatting. While talking about birds that they’d seen, the lady mentioned that she hadn’t gotten any pictures of hawks, but “there was this lovely hawk right outside of our cabin window yesterday, but just as I got out my camera someone walked under the tree and he flew off.” She paused, looked at me more closely, furrowed her brow and asked “Was that you?”
Today’s other adventures included a leisurely four mile hike along Fishhook Creek, ending at a meadow with a great view of the Sawtooths and a beaver dam across the creek. Along the way the trip’s first wild bald eagle made an appearance, thus fulfilling my eagle-finding pledge to Audrey. Since Northern Idaho requires at least two adventures per day we then rented a canoe and cruised around Redfish Lake, at all times exercising impeccable watercraft handling and perfect canoeing technique while also making sure to touch lots of logs and rocks. The plan for tomorrow includes getting up for sunrise and then searching for cranes in the Stanley basin before eating the lodge’s delicious breakfast buffet and making the scenic loop back to Boise.
Sawtooth Mountains, Fishhook Creek, and a beaver dam, not necessarily in that order.
Canoeing in Redfish Lake. I am that awesome. Photo by Audrey.
Audrey flew into Boise last night for a long weekend in Idaho, and immediately after landing I shuttled her to downtown to imbibe with co-workers. Many beers later I hadn’t yet been fired, and she can now put a face to the story when I tell her about the co-worker who turned his cube into a cardboard saloon.
This morning we drank sufficient coffee to banish any after-effects from last night, then headed off to the World Center for Birds of Prey because I’m down with the birds. After two hours, one rastafarian eagle, and one kitten-voiced owl we said our goodbyes and headed off through the mountain roads to Redfish Lake Lodge, where a log cabin awaited us at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains.
The next time I visit here, rather than spending a chilly evening sleeping in a car an advance reservation will definitely be made for a room in the extraordinarily cool Redfish Lake Lodge, which was built out of logs in 1929 and doesn’t appear to have changed much since then. Today’s adventures included hot coffee, hot bacon, and hot French toast at the lodge (did I mention they were all hot?) and some bald eagle watching at the lake. That was followed by a leisurely drive south through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and then back towards Boise, much of it with the car’s heater running on high in an effort to de-thaw from last night’s refrigeration. Mountain lakes, jagged peaks, and the occasional pronghorn made for a nice journey that was only slightly spoiled by the not-unexpected result of the Browns’ season opener.
This is what I look when 1) I’m happy, 2) I’m in a pretty place, 3) I need a shower, and 4) it’s 6:45AM and I spent the night sleeping in the chilly driver’s seat of a rented Dodge Charger.
Whatever its faults may be, America is a pretty spectacular place to live, as today’s roadtrip through Central Idaho reminded. In addition to experiencing the scenery on the trip up here, poor planning on my part combined with a dearth of local lodging options to lead to a night of car camping in a Dodge Charger, so the view from my “bed” includes the Sawtooth Mountains and the Stanley Basin, while my neighbors for the evening will be falcons, deer, and sandhill cranes.
The leisurely drive up here was filled with mountains, streams, trees, and a smattering of wildlife, including the first sandhill cranes I’ve seen since 2002. Interestingly, the thing I always forget about the mountains until I’m back in them is the smell – there’s something about the air that makes you want to just close your eyes and breath deeply for a while. A bum knee has limited the hiking, but just being able to get outside and stand next to a mountain stream, or to watch a dozen cranes from the roadside, has been a good reminder of why it’s important to leave the city and refresh the soul from time-to-time.
If there had been a chance for a better photo I would have hung out with these birds for hours, but they were heading away from me and I was pretty sure that following them would freak them out, so getting an acceptable sandhill crane photo remains on the TODO list.
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area brochure boasts that this area has the clearest air in the lower-48 states, but a nearby wildfire conspired to keep things hazy.
The caption for this photo would be something like “The Watcher” if I was an artist, or “Where the hell did the rest of the fence go?!?” if I wasn’t.