Saturday, August 23, 2014

Aloha, Konichiwa, Buon Giorno, Bon Jour, Hi Ya

Back from a whirlwind holiday, exhausted, happy and wondering at the speed time flies when you're having fun.

The journey started with a cancelled flight, costing me an entire day of the planned week with the BFF as I couldn't get another flight out until the following day.  Still, that gave me extra time with my sister, so I guess things balance out in the end. Though I won't be flying with that particular airline again, that's for sure.

It was such a grand adventure.  Idaho was hot--as hot as the rest of the NW--but we just didn't care. We drank and ate and laughed until we could hardly breathe through the stomach aches.  I took dozens of photos, but will try to limit myself so you don't nod off, dear readers.

[I asked the BFF what name I could use for her when blogging.  I shouldn't have asked over a bottle of wine.  The names she came up with!?  I'm still laughing.  So, henceforth, the BFF will be known simply as J]

The tiny town where she lives, in the far north of Idaho.  Population 1,751--I might have counted as the 1.  Her house is between the town and that first ridge.

The river that runs through it...wild and vast and beautiful...

One afternoon we stopped at the local historical museum and these lovelies caught my eye, just growing willy-nilly up the telephone pole beside the entrance to the building. Incongruous and cool...

On the day we chose for the Big Hike into the mountains, we also found several amazing things along the route.  The drive began early in the morning as we drove 32 miles north up the highway to Priest Lake, a stunning, pristine place with the clearest water I've seen in a very long time.

We stopped at the forest ranger's post to get a map and discovered there were ancient indigenous pictographs along a trail that edged the lake.  We decided to find them.

I love how those two trees arch across the path.

Our first glimpse of the lake...quiet, peaceful, sandy beaches and gentle waves.  I could have built a small cabin on this spot and called it good...

However, we hiked and searched and backtracked, but couldn't find the rocks or the pictographs. Then we stumbled across this bench, just about where the rocks should have been...

We read the small brass plaque, but it didn't make the least bit of sense...until we turned around.

View from the bench. I don't know what happened to the actual pictographs or the rocks, but we got the message.  What a truly beautiful place...

So, onward we went.  After several more miles, we found an incredible place that was formed after the last Ice Age.  It was called the Quaking Bog.  The land surrounding the small lake is made of peat and seems solid, but it's an illusion.  It floats above the water and if you step on it, you sink like quicksand.  We walked maybe twenty feet or so out onto a small wooden pier built by the forest service, to this square platform that teetered back and forth, making waves that spread across the water...and watched in amazement as the "solid" ground began to quake!  It was totally cool.

Once the water stilled, I took this shot.  It was utterly silent.  We were actually whispering as we marveled that this place has looked the same for thousands of years--untouched, primordial--and it felt like it.

More miles, then we turned off the highway and began 20 miles of washboard gravel. I primed the containers of bear spray, though in reading the directions I learned the spray only shot out for about eight feet.  I told J it was a good thing I had longer legs--I would run for help.  After we stopped laughing over who would get away first, we debated the reach of a Grizzly which, counting those claws, would probably exceed the crummy eight-foot range of the pepper spray by a wide margin.

Just before we left the bone-jarring bad road to begin the climb up the mountain, we came around a bend and saw this rugged granite outcropping perfectly reflected in the crystal clear little lake...

20 miles of gravel took us to five miles of this...straight up, no guard rails, sheer drops of 6-7,000 feet. I did not take photos of the drop.  I was too busy hanging on for dear life and trying to ignore my life flashing before my eyes as the truck bounced and skidded in gullies, washouts and potholes...

After five miles, the road petered out. We still had two miles to the trail head and drove along what I'm sure was nothing more than a deer track, until we finally made it to the designated parking area and the trail marker. A heavy coating of mosquito repellent, bear spray clipped to our shirts, water and protein bars stashed in pockets, and we were off into the wilds.

I forgot to mention that by the time we began the hike--at 1:00 in the afternoon--it was over 100 degrees up there.  Holy crap it was hot.  J said she thought it would be cooler in the mountains.  I said we were closer to the sun, how could it be cooler?

At last.  The view from well over 8,000 feet, Priest Lake way, way off in the distance.  My only regret is the heat haze, making the mountains seem ethereal rather than solid.  In retrospect, probably the best time for this hike/view, would be in the Spring or Fall.  The torturous hell of August just might be the worst time.  Still...

And then, because I said I's a wave to Canada, right where that peak is framed by the two tall pines...

It was a great holiday, beyond wonderful to spend time in the true wilderness--thankfully not a bear in sight--and to laugh and talk and enjoy the company of my BFF, with the added bonus of hanging with my sister, too.

So, even with the crap start of a cancelled flight and a lost day, I had a most excellent adventure...


  1. Sure looks like a fabulous time, friend. I love your photos and how the water looks like a mirror. We waved back ;-)

  2. It really was a wonderful week...though over too soon, alas. ;D

  3. Welcome back. Sounds like you had a wonderful time -- such great pics, too! I'm also in awe of your braving the grizzlies. I'd be running the other way, shrieking like a little girl . . . :)

    1. Good to be back really, though I already miss being in vacation mode. And hey, you would probably have heard us shrieking all the way to Florida if we'd actually seen a bear! ;D