Category Archives: Hiking

Livin’ in the Boonies … Crackin’ Ice

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Perks of Rural Life

Holiday preparations … started. We headed for the hills on our annual Christmas tree hunt. What is so cool about that? First, the permit cost only $10 and, well, we had ours already staked out.  You see, it’s like this, while we were elk hunting  we kept saying “that’d be a great Christmas tree”, “Oh! Look at that one” so Sweetie said let’s do this …  out came the Garmin Montana and he way-pointed the trees.

On a sunshiny blue sky Saturday last Sweetie tossed the saw into truck shell, Mala into the backseat, and I filled the old Thermos with hot chocolate before we hopped into the truck cab and turned on the GPS … easy peasy.

One & 1/2 hours later, 2 trees cut & tagged and we were sitting on the tailgate drinking chocolate & tossing logs for Mala to chase into the still running not frozen stream below the road. There are some very nice perks for living in the boonies.

Which makes for days where it doesn’t take much to keep me entertained … this was my afternoon the other day. Ice crackin’ and listening to ice melting. Living near a town of less than 800 people situated in the middle of a beautiful view on a pile of burnt dirt and rocks in the high desert with snow covered mountain tops (snow covered now, sort of … not enough to ski yet) … what else to do but go ice crackin’ and watch drippin’ icicles.

It’s the season my friends … get out there and crack some ice!

 

 

Indian Summer … “I gather sun rays”

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Taking a break …

My prayers have been answered! Indian Summer keep on coming!! On Wednesday in the warm sunny it was a little fishing while Sweetie went bird hunting and Monday if the weather dudes have it right we’ll be wadin’ a river, tossin’ a line savoring time.

Today Mala and I took a short hike over the hills and dales on a chunk of state property behind the pastures out back. No hurry, no rush just wandering inhaling the perfume of broken sage, sun warmed soil, and listening to the pop and rustle of die-hard grasshoppers.

Leaves are almost gone from branches, seed heads are dipping toward the ground in the slight breezes and deer tracks wander wraith like through the grasses. It’s a good place for a walk. I am grateful for this moment to build memory for the dark and snow filled days ahead, like Frederick by Leo Lionni “Frederick, why don’t you work? they asked. I do work”, said Frederick. “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days”. When the darkness of winter closes the doors with drifted snow, and colors are hidden by white piles and grey clouds I will remember this day; the dusty motes of sage floating in the golden rays of sun, the brilliant reds and oranges of leaves letting go of branches to drop into piles below, the green tops of carrots lonely in the garden box, red globes of tomatoes in shining jars, and I’ll remember turquoise blue water bumping a sandy shore while my fly line drifts gently with the river’s tug.

Take a moment and find Frederick, read it today then read it again in the darkest of winter days and your heart will spill out all the brightness of this Indian Summer day.  Until later my friends, I’m reveling in another day of Indian Summer … such days are truly a blessing.

 

 

 

Summer Over? No! I’m Not Ready … I’m in Denial

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North Fork Clearwater River … in the smoke at sunset … River on Fire

I hope you’ve been out doin stuff … We’ve been doin’ losts of fishing stuff these last months of summer and I’ve not been writin’ about doin’, oh I thought about it, but  why write if I could fish, or hike, or … but it really is fall now, isn’t it? Well, I’m not ready for summer to be over …  I’m in Denial! I’ve started praying for a long, lovely Indian Summer.

Sweetie and I have packed as much into the last months of summer and first weeks of fall as I have filled bottles and freezer bags with the abundance from our garden. Whereas the jewel filled jars of peaches and Sweetie’s tomatoes sauce, and grapes are bottled shining reminders of those summer days, I took few photographs to jog my memory of these past weeks and months, but lots and lots of memories. (uhh, like watching Wade submerge in the Owhyee, hat only floating atop the water … or me submerged LOL).

I can tell you that here out west we were still dealing with the awesome winter of 2016-17  until mid-August or so … the rivers were scoured out; river beds and banks torn asunder and high water debris in many places 10-20-30 feet above the water line. Powerful and mighty torrents of snow melt crashed through these canyons. There was little to not very good fly fishing until mid-summer, but then woah! Nelly.  We hit the road, and went into fishing mode full time. Did we catch fish? Lots of fish (catch & release folks), except for one rainbow who became dinner.

Jill & Me on the North Fork with Maggie & Mala dogs

After early August fish camp  and the total solar eclipse we really got down to summer business.  Leaving Sweetie at home working, my fishing friend Jill and I headed to the North Fork of the Clearwater River in northern Idaho for a girls only trip … for those of you who couldn’t come this year, remember the invite is open for next!

The fishing was exciting and I lost as many flies and line on BIG fish as I caught … thinking about it makes my heart pump a bit faster. The air was smokey from the huge fires that burned through Montana and Oregon all summer and though we coughed and couldn’t see stars, the smoke filter made for some beautiful sunsets.

Fun Fishing Group … Me, Tommy, Greg, George, Paul, & Jim …

Then we had more than several days on the Owyhee and more days on the South Fork of the Boise … and I came home “fished out”.  I never thought that would happen, but I was like “Nope! I’m staying home … clean the garden, mow the pasture of a backyard, bottle those peaches gathering fruit flies and…and…and…”

However, after a few weeks off, tomorrow I’m going to find a riffle or two and spend a couple of hours listening to Fall. My Sweetie has moved into hunting mode: elk, upland game, and so on and so forth…so I’ll be on my own. Which is mucho okay, as solitude rejuvenates my soul since I’m an introvert in disguise. I know, you’d never guess would you?

Today’s weather is supposed to be rainy … it’ll be a great introvert day.  Enjoy your days my friend. 

 

 

No Bears are Out Tonight

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Bear River Campground Me & Jill, the Mini Winnie & the Tiny Trailer

Last week, heading southeast to Wyoming to fish with my friend Jill, I started wondering about place names … it started when I noticed the next exit to Rattlesnake Pass. We’ve had a lot of rattlesnake sightings and funerals this summer up at the ranch and we are in hyper-watch mode. I imagined  homesteaders trailing into the desert sagebrush frightening and frightened by enough rattlesnakes that the place became a landmark. You know, turn right across Rattlesnake Pass.

If names reflect the landmarks then what do I think as I pull into the Bear River Campground, which is next to the East Bear River Campground, both of which are right on the Bear River? I’m thinking that I didn’t bring bear spray only my new little Kel Tec 22 pistol with snake shot … then to enhance my awareness of place names there were the bear warnings everywhere in the campground. Do NOT leave any food outside, nor in tents, nor in tent trailers that could attract bears. Do landmark names really reflect the truth? As I set up the Mini Winnie I wondered if it was bear proof?

Forgetting landmark names  and thinking FISH, the first morning out we headed up the Mirror Lake highway past all the private property & no trespassing signs to park in an off highway spot (remember to pick up your parking passes at the Ranger Station). Down to the river through willows and brush and trees. Jill went downstream and I went up.

Day one was eventful … I was sucked into a quicksand/mud bog hole crossing a side water stream to reach a rocky island where I went from mid-calf water to over my knee in a blink … luckily I fell into the bank, desperately holding my fly rod in one hand and some wee grasses with the other,  hoping I didn’t fall all the way in and wash downstream. Slowly I  pulled myself out of the water with a mucky sucking fuoosh as the black goop let go of my foot. All that and I didn’t catch one fish … notta … zippo.

Fire Scar Meadow …

Day two started with a beautiful hike to the East Fork Bear River through an old fire scared meadow down to the river … I caught a few fish, evaded some extremely large bovines and fell in the river (again). Yes, you heard me right … I fell in the river.

Wet wading in t-shirt, shorts, and my trusty old Asolo trekkers with my wading staff floating at my feet I caught a flash of fish out of the corner of my eye. I turned too quickly, not watching my feet placement on the slippery stones nor my wading staff floating between my feet. I turned, the staff didn’t and I went down on my butt, water to my chest and my backpack acting like a balloon on my back. Not good. After I righted myself and found my footing again I stood dripping in the still cold, winter run-off water, holding my legs still so my shorts wouldn’t touch them.

Then, planner that I am I remembered the change of clothes in my pack, just in case, because, let’s face it … I tend to slip on rocks in a rushing river. However, opening my pack it was obvious that it wasn’t waterproof. Everything was wet or wet enough that it wouldn’t have made a difference if I changed or not.

I just started fishing again (further up stream from my debacle) hoping the sun would peep between thunder storm clouds which didn’t happen, but I got a double soaking when the heavy clouds opened up  as we hiked the miles back up to the parking lot.

Evening found us up at Lily Lake, named for the thousands of lily pads that clog about 1/3 of it  and it was a beautiful spot (to lose a lot of flies) … I’ve not fished lakes with a fly rod much. Score: Lily Lake Trees about 10, Fish 1 and Me? Zero.

Bear River off the Mirror Lake Highway, Wyoming

Our last day I headed back up river while Jill packed up her tiny trailer. After catching a few fish and enjoying a sunny morning I headed back to the truck … when I arrived Jill was waiting and watching the river. She worried I had fallen in and drowned myself … she was checking the river to see if I floated passed. Day Three … I did NOT fall in the river. I count that a plus.

If you’re looking for a quiet night and pleasant camping, and aren’t pulling a gargantuan sized trailer the Wyoming side of the Mirror Lake Highway is a nice, peaceful place to stay and it’s away from the heavily packed campgrounds on the west side of the mountains … I highly recommend giving it a try.

Though the fishing could have been better the camping was great, we didn’t get many thunder storms and there was plenty of firewood to be picked up from old slash piles. But, we didn’t press our luck and play no bears are out tonight … we just watched the fire burn to coals and listened to the river’s song.

Next trip, Sweetie and I are heading to Washington state to fish near Mt. Rainier with his daughter & son-in-law where I’m hoping to catch a few more fish and NOT fall in the river.

Until next time friends, tight lines and blue skies.

and We Didn’t Take Any Photos!

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Upper Bear Creek Trail, Payette NF … hiked to snow line and we were stopped at crossing 5 of the raging creek.

Wanderingkeri isn’t lost … and I’ll stop talking about myself in the the third person … this summer so far is Awesome! Between friends and family our guest rooms are full and what is summer without parties and road trips? There’ve been some garden days and more than a few wish it would actually spring up days and quit with the rain and wind. The youngest grandson MK and I were washed and snowed off the mountain on our camping & hiking trip last week and it hasn’t been truly warm since we parked the micro mini in the yard. It’s June 13th and there is a fire in the stove … really!

I really hope the winter run off starts to slow a little, the rivers are too fast for my fishing skill level.  Our fishing gear has been cleaned and ready  for months … and so are the golf clubs, and the bicycles too. I’m still in the find some new hiking trekkers ’cause just in case you’re wondering … my new Asolo’s are relegated to winter (no gor-tex for summer for me). I’m back to wearing older pair 2 until I can find a suitable replacement …

2017 American Fork High School Graduates; Bryson Taylor & Kaylee Quinn Taylor … Go Cavemen!!

I love summer! And I’ve come to realize my mantra so far is “we didn’t take any photos”!!

Just because this makes my mama heart sing!

 

7 Days 7 National Parks … RED ROCKS TOUR 2017

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We’re Baaaack! If you were wondering whether I had truly packed too much into our southern Utah/northern Arizona red rock road trip … the answer is Nope! I surprised myself that the sack was just big enough and not too full. It is possible to smorgasbord a little bit here and a little bit there and taste some of the wonders of my favorite part of the world … whetting the appetite for more, and more, and more.  Of course, the more and more is for another adventure. It always comes down to too little time and soooo much to do, see, learn & experience.

So, after planning, mapping, and anticipating this 8 day adventure (not counting the going there and getting home days) I can recommend this Itinerary with the caveat that in my experience, going to a National Park after Memorial Day is only for the strong of heart and crowd loving. That said, even two weeks before the official start of the summer travel season the National Parks, camp sites, view points, restaurants, and highways were FILLED. It was a shocker to my system.

We officially started our road trip from American Fork Utah when we met up with the cousins from PA , driving their rented from Salt Lake City RV America motor home. On to Moab, Utah where we arrived to find EVERY campground full, every side track FULL, and finally found an unpopulated gravel pit 10-12 miles down SR 313 toward Dead Horse Point, off of a side road. I’m not kidding, any area that would accommodate a tent, a car, a trailer or RV was taken.  So beware.

Delicate Arch … there is Always someone beneath it. Sigh.

Arches National Park, by 9 am was almost bumper to bumper to the Delicate Arch parking lot. The hike to the arch is worth the effort. Honestly! In the evening Dead Horse Point, showed off the river and canyons with joy. Albeit with cold wind and gray clouds making us hurry more than usual. I was murmuring outloud that I wished the sun would come out and put the canyon walls on display. Someone took ‘offense’ at my remarks, saying something like This is Beautiful … what more could you want? If you’ve never seen a golden sunset on red rock walls and reflecting from the ribbon of river wound through the country below … well, you can want more than flat light.

Island in the Sky never fails to inspire the heart and soul and the walk along the rim shows wonders yet to explore (next time). Then off to Bluff, Utah … pioneer history, Hovenweep … ancient history, Butler Wash … even more ancient history, then Monument Valley … John Wayne history (think Nathan Biddles in the 1949 movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), and onto the southern route to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley: We didn’t see Forrest Gump, but did see a group of Japanese kids recreating the iconic scene!

 

We turned onto a Kaibab National Forest road about 8 miles from the south entrance and found a grand camping site. Then the wind and rains came.

It’s May … not Elk Camp in the Fall!!

Here were are, in ski hats and winter coats (we could have been at fall elk camp it was so cold). In fact, the next morning traveling toward the gate at the south entrance to the park there was SNOW on the ground. Not just a skiff, but large patches. And I was into layers of jackets and a coat to stay warm.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon that isn’t a cliche? It’s is an experience everyone should aspire to behold. Photographs, paintings, watercolors, mixed media interpretations just can’t open the heart to its immensity and timelessness.

Packing up that afternoon we were again on the road through Cameron AZ toward the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument where we arrived too late for a camp spot at the Stateline campground near the Wire Pass Trailhead … so morning found us waking up in the trail head parking lot, along with several others.

Buckskin Gulch

The hike into Wire Pass and a right turn into Buckskin Gulch slot canyon(s) is always a wonderland of experiences … and this one was no exception. The usual drop over the rock at the mouth of the first slot was made much harder from last fall’s rainstorms which washed out the landing area … the drop was far greater than the last visit. Getting back up was accomplished only because we arrived at the same time folks were starting the drop. A big push from below, a huge tug from above … no skinned knees, but it was a blessing ‘fer shur’.

The last stage of the trip, a night in Kanab, dinner at Houston’s Trails End,  and some sand scraping before the final day at Zion National Park. Description? ZOO, it was a ZOO! There were so many people and cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, RVs, bicycles and hikers that I went into sensory overload. We hit the road north early and stayed the night camped at my mom’s in Orem, which was a smile on my heart.

Last night of the trip found us in Salt Lake City, at the Little America Motor Lodge … ah, a long hot shower, dinner with some of the Utah fam and Sunday morning to sit in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (for FREE)! Wonderful.

I slept most of the way home to Boise.  So, chalk up another 2100 plus mile road trip that’d I’d take again in a heart beat and stick around a few areas a while longer … that stick around a while longer is already added to “The List”.

 

Yosemite-What More Can I Say?

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I love finally exploring an iconic area that has been on my I have to go there and experience That for myself  list.  It’s not a “bucket” that I toss experiences into with a been there-done that check one off and head to the next one on the list. That phrase bucket list seems to take the life out of wonder and has a frenetic sort of collector feeling to me … like I ‘have’ to get through this list before I die quality to me.

I’m about dreams, and what inspires me. I’m about anticipation and exploration … tasting, touching, listening, feeling awe at the magnificently spectacularly diverse world we’ve been given to live in.

By Ansel Adams wanna be Keri Vest-Vergari

Ansel Adams’ dramatic black and white portraits of Yosemite National Park’s granite peaks and roaring waterfalls ignited one such dream. And last week, for our 12th anniversary, Sweetie and I spent 2 nights near Yosemite Falls staying with friends who live and work in the park, Kelly Martin (Chief of Fire & Aviation Management at Yosemite) and her husband Paul Heffner. While Kelly had to work, Paul gave us the ‘insider’s view’ through the park. Did you know that Yosemite has its own zip code, its own jail and judge and has a permanent and temporary workforce population that is 4 1/2 times larger than Council Idaho? Or, did you know that a past concessionaire trademarked historic Yosemite names and places and once they lost their contract kept the trademarks and the park had to change the names? What? And we let them?

We picked the perfect time to visit, and although the campgrounds, cabins, and hotels were semi-full we felt as if the place was almost empty as we hiked and walked around the valley.

By Ansel Adams’ wanna be Keri Vest-Vergari

So, I joined the thousands of wanna be Ansel Adams’ and attempted black and white visions of the granite peaks from the valley floor … the Half Dome hike seemed daunting for a first hike of the season and to tell the truth, we didn’t even think about it!

Yosemite is a wondrous place and you can find solitude even in the midst of the waves of humanity that flood the canyon all year long.  We did and it was a dream.

On a personal note: Happiest 12+ years ever Sweetie!! Just so ya know … I love you and THANKS for bribing me with Yosemite. The whole week was perfect!

**photos taken with an iPhone 6 and a clip on telephoto lens**