Spring in Hells Canyon

We were out-of-town for our first camping trip of the year this past weekend … the first of many to come (and in the words of our good friend, Kathy … woohoo, woo hoo hoo!) We camped with three other couples and while at times it was cold, or windy, or rainy, there were other times of less cold, no wind, and no rain. And yes, there was even some sun along the way. It didn’t really matter in the long run what the weather was — we all have heated trailers for goodness sakes with most of the comforts of home like heat and bathrooms, and comfy beds (and who loves going to sleep to the sound of a good rain storm? “I do, I do!”).

Hells Canyon is a long three-hour drive from home and upon first glance, the area can look like any other given reservoir and the campground like any other hundreds of campgrounds.  It’s what’s in “them there hills” and the friendly local people that makes the difference. If you’re ever there, you have to meet Julie and Terry from the Oxbow Bed & Breakfast and their daughter Emily, and the little community church folks that meet in the ex-school house across the street from the RV Camp. These are “real” people who love God. When you’re camping, you notice things that you might not notice when you’re in the hustle-bustle of every day life. Take for example, the flowering trees in the pictures below. As I came to work this morning and parked my car in the garage, dead straight in front of me was a flowering tree just like the ones growing wild everywhere in Hells Canyon. Now, where did that tree come from? It certainly wasn’t there last week when I parked in the exact same spot!

This tree was in our campground and was so intriguing.

Friday was an “Adventure Day” so we jumped in the rigs, drove across the bridge and downstream from Oxbow 22 miles to the Hells Canyon Dam, stopping along the way for our trusty Tour Guide, Guy, to give us the lowdown on just about anything everything we wanted to know. His dad worked on several Idaho Power projects in the Hells Canyon area so he spent a lot of time there in his younger years. You rock Trivia Man!

If you’re wondering what everyone was looking at (besides the beautiful green of the hillsides), it was big, white, fluffy Mountain Goats. They dotted the rocks seen visibly with the naked eye, but it took a far more powerful lens than I had, and a good pair of binoculars to see them really well. Still, they were there, and having never seen one before, I was just impressed they were there! (We were looking at one laying down on the right side of the picture on top of the rock (come on, squint harder). The second picture shows one a little closer. Further down the road we came across a herd of grazing elk … probably 50-60 of them, and while I have seen hundreds of elk grazing, it still gives me pause. They are just some incredible creatures both on the hillside and in my belly. Was that wrong of me to say?

Anyone for a cold glass of ice water?

God is amazing. Who but our Maker could have crafted what we saw that day. The rocks are amazing and they stretch upward and outward forever it seems. As you take it all in you see bits of color and daintiness scattered here and there in the form of wildflowers and ferns growing around and out of the cracks of the rocks. I had to wonder if the flowers were also up on the highest mountains where the goats are. Are they?

The flowering trees were everywhere also, and as you walked by, “mmmm, yummy” is all I’ve got to say.

On Saturday we took another trip … a long walk to the Oxbow Spillway. We saw many of the same trees but I don’t recall seeing the variety of flowers. We saw different critters on this trip than what we saw Friday. We saw cute little bunnies (okay, so this is the same little bunny but where there’s one there’s bound to be more, right?), chukars (that taunted me with their calls as if to say “just try and get close enough to get my picture” — I didn’t), deer, raccoon tracks, and a pigeon. What?!

This pigeon was at the end of our walk … at the spillway … apparently looking for a handout that he didn’t get. I found it so interesting that there would be a homing pigeon at the spillway that I just had to take his picture. Her picture? It’s picture.

I love our group and how we huddle. We’re huddlers, that’s what we are. We branch out, but not too far, only to return to the huddling. We might miss something interesting if we don’t huddle so we huddle.

As we were walking back to camp, it started to rain. Interesting that none of us melted … guess we aren’t as sweet as we were in our youth … but as we were walking I shared with Linda, as I had many times throughout the weekend that the world would just be a prettier place if it weren’t for communication and power. All those darn power poles just ruin all the pretty pictures — not that I would want to go back to pre-electric days mind you. Each time I would say it, our Tour Guide Guy would look at me, cock his Idaho Power head, and say in a very disappointed tone “Maaaarrrrreeee!”

And here’s to some of the best people you’ll find … Linda and Guy, our Tour Guide …

Diane and Jim who invited us (thank you, thank you) …

And Kathy and Bob who as Bob’s shirt says “Who needs a present when you’ve got me?” True that.

And so the weekend is over along with the card games, the snacking, the laughing, and the huddling. Here’s to another cup … of memories!

Your Man - April 18, 2011 - 5:46 PM

What a great time with great friends. Love you all more than you know. Can’t wait till Carmela. Again what great pics. I mean it!

Diane - April 18, 2011 - 7:01 PM

It was a blast. Great pictures.

Megan - April 18, 2011 - 7:45 PM

All I have to say is you’re going to have a HELL of a time figuring out which picture(s) to post in the Western Idaho Fair this year…and I’m going to have a HELL of a time voting!!!

Kathy Grover - April 18, 2011 - 7:58 PM

Looking at these pictures is a bittersweet experience; emotionally difficult because we can’t be a part of this experience, but sweet for so many obvious reasons. I was shocked when I looked at all the pictures because I imagined that Hell’s Canyon was just rocks. I’m an Idaho native and yet never been to Hell’s Canyon, maybe the only place in Idaho I haven’t been. There is vegetation there! I had no idea. I thought you guys would be roughing it and literally parking on rocks, but look at that cushy RV park. How spoiled you are! It sure looks like the perfect time of year to be there. Thank you for sharing, it’s the next best thing to being there.

Linda - April 18, 2011 - 8:12 PM

It was a wonderful time with wonderful friends. The pictures are marvelous, of course. You really know how to capture the beauty of things we walk by without paying attention. I think I’m going to learn to stop and smell, or rather, “see” the roses way more often. By the way, Guy says those power poles look like money to him!! He thinks they are BEA-U-TI-FUL.

Linda - April 18, 2011 - 8:16 PM

So, Mary, where are the pictures of you and Mike? You should have one. I know that you were behind the lens usually, but there was at least one as I recall.

FairlyCandid.wordpress.com - April 18, 2011 - 9:10 PM

Awww, thanks Babe.

FairlyCandid.wordpress.com - April 18, 2011 - 9:16 PM

Kathy, there was so much new to me as well as this was only our second time there, and to the rest of you and your comments, thank you for encouraging me. I learned some new things about my camera this weekend and I loved that. There is always new things to learn. As for the pics of me and Mike, yes I had Kathy take one of us by the tree as well but it looked out of place with all you couples in your cute hats and sunglasses. I’m going shopping!

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