Sunday, April 14, 2013

2012 Idaho--Sand Creek

The Idaho sky.  Not quite as big as Montana's, but big enough

I took a hiatus from blogging for several months.  I won't go into any details, but life got in the way and the wagons had to be circled for awhile.  Time to catch up.

Last fall, my son had a campout at a place called Sand Creek.  It worked out that I was able to go with him.  I like to go with my sons on campouts as often as I can.  Sand Creek is about thirty miles north of where we live, near Ashton, Idaho. 

The campsite is situated on the flanks of the largest volcano in the world, the Island Park Caldera.  Essentially, if it ever decides to erupt in an explosive style again, we live in the 100% kill zone.  Everything, including bacteria would be wiped out where we live.  We'd have just enough time to kiss our backsides goodbye.  It isn't the tallest volcano, but it's footprint is.  Before the last eruption, this volcano made Mount Rainier look like a wannabee.  Geologists say that when it blew up the last time, the top two thirds of the mountain disappeared.  The eruption was so violent that pieces of the mountain ended up in orbit around the planet, and there have been samples of it collected as far away as Israel.  This is a big deal.

When we arrived at the campsite, it made me think that this area was at one time a ranch that had reverted back to forest service or BLM control.  They had made it a wild bird refuge.  There was an old ranch house where the caretaker lived and a few fields of sunflowers and other crops to entice nesting birds to come and stay.

The campsite is situated around several manmade ponds.  I believe they were placed there to be watering holes for the cattle.  Today they host many varieties of waterfowl in the springtime.

One of the ponds

We arrived around five or six o'clock and began setting up camp.  When the tents were set up, the boys immediately went to the pond and began fishing.  One boy caught a fish, but otherwise the whole group was skunked.


The flanks of the largest volcano in the world

The one and only fish

A hapless fisherman

While we were eating, we watched an electrical storm progress steadily towards us.  It was pretty eerie and cool all at the same time.  I figured it was about thirty miles away at that point. 

There was an interesting astrological phenomenon that night.  When the moon rose, it was considered a "Blue Moon".  Apparently it was the second full moon in a single month.  It is very rare and the term, "Once in a blue moon" was coined because of it.

Later that night, as we lay in the tents, the lightning would flash and I'd count the seconds to see how close it was.  When it was within a mile, I told the other leaders and the boys to get into the cars, which we did.  We waited in the cars for about an hour, waiting for the lightning to pass.  When it finally did, we went back to the tents.

The lightning passed but later that night we were subjected to torrential rains.  My tent has waterproofing on it, but even that wasn't enough to repel all the water.  The tent grew saturated and we got very wet.

Lightning strike

Another one

The "Blue Moon"

Dinner--My boy is the one in the skull shirt

The next morning, we struck camp.  One of the boys refused to get out of his sleeping bag, so the boys dragged the sleeping bag out of the tent with him in it.  He stayed in the bag, they all went fishing.  I went exploring.

There's a boy in that bag

My son and my friend fishing

One of the most beneficial plants in the wild.  If you know how to use a
cattail, you can survive most things.  They can supply nourishment, insulation, the leaves
can be woven to make mats or baskets, fuel.  Great plant.

I don't know what plant this is, except that it is most likely poisonous.  The old scout rhyme comes to mind,
"Leaflets three,
Poisonous tree.
Berries white,
Poisonous sight."

Still waters, beautiful reflection


The old footbridge

When it became apparent we weren't going to catch any fish, we opted to return home. 

On the way home, I spotted a hillock with a half a dozen or so large cairns on it.  We stopped and my son and I went exploring.  I like cairns and have built them in the wild on several occasions. 




My son next to a cairn to show scale

I have no idea what the cairns were marking.  I don't know if they were covering remains, marking a trail or just as a monument to an unknown builder.  What I do know is they were cool and I needed a picture of them.

This was a fun campout, even though we got rained on, we didn't get rained out.  I'd like to visit here in the spring when the migratory birds are nesting.

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