Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013--St. Anthony, Idaho: River Walk

The Henry's Fork of the Snake River

St. Anthony, Idaho is just thirteen miles from our home.  For several years we have noticed a riverwalk as we have driven by.  We have said, "Someday we will go there."  Last Monday, for Family Night, was someday.

Our two oldest girls are grown and live away, our oldest son is on a mission for our church in Arizona and our next boy is working at a scout camp in the Tetons.  That left the Hot Chick and I and our two youngest sons to hike the mile and a half (or thereabouts) trail along the Henry's Fork of the Snake River.  With the four older kids out of the house, our home has gotten a lot quieter.  When the two younger boys are off playing with their friends, it almost seems like we are empty nesters.  I think this is the early training for that.  Good thing the Hot Chick and I like each other.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we took the riverwalk.  I knew it was a paved trail and I knew that a friend of mine from St. Anthony who is a mountain man aficionado, raised money for a bronze statue of the mountain man Major Andrew Henry that so many things around here are named after.  I knew it had a paved trail, and that at one time it had been a bird refuge for the Great Blue Heron, but really I knew nothing more than that.

At first I was a little disappointed with the lack of interpretive materials along the trail, but I soon overcame the disappointment and began interpreting the landscape for myself.

The trail goes over exposed bedrock which is a thick basalt flow which has at one time or another been scoured by the Henry's Fork of the Snake River.  The trail skirts across an ancient river bed along side the newer, deeper channel currently being cut. 

The trail is a collection of opposites.  On one side is a sagebrush steppe and on the other is the river and everything that goes along with it.  It was interesting to see wetland plants such as cattails, willows and cottonwoods juxtaposed with their desert cousins, juniper, sagebrush and rabbitbrush.

We were about a month too late for a lot of wildflowers, but there were a few scattered along the trail.  I found one that was really interesting.  It had small, very bright purple flowers with five spear shaped petals that turned back on themselves and a bright yellow cone shaped stamen in the middle of each bloom.  I thought they were pretty and took several pictures of them and when I returned home I researched them for identification.  Turns out for a guy who likes Hallowe'en as much as I do, I had stumbled upon Deadly Nightshade!  Awesome.

Enough talk.  Let's see the pictures!

River Shots

The Henry's Fork of the Snake River

Another view of the Henry's Fork

Idyllic little fork of the river

The boys at the river

The Hot Chick at the river

Not sure if this is a mini-waterfall or rapids.  Cool though.

I thought this was pretty

Every now and then the trail breaks out on a peaceful view of the river

Late afternoon

One of the last shots of the day

Steppe Shots

The sagebrush steppe which is typical terrain for the Snake River Plain in Idaho

Juxtaposition of river plants and steppe plants

The Hot Chick and the boys on one of the park benches along the trail

Basalt scoured by the river in an ancient river bed

Lichen on a boulder.  The building blocks of the great soil in the upper valley

More lichen

Lichen and moss

Along the trail are several wetland, marshy areas nestled in the steppe.  An oasis of sorts

Another oasis

And another oasis

Major Andrew Henry

Major Andrew Henry

Me and the Hot Chick at the base of the sculpture
Major Andrew Henry

The Flora

Common Arrowhead, Sagittaria latifolia

More Common Arrowhead.  I discovered this adjacent to the river.  Some were growing to the side of the river and some were growing in the water.

The Hot Chick and the boys next to cattails taller than they are

Gnarly cottonwood bark

I have no idea what this is, but it was cool.  I'll identify it later

Scottish Thistle was abundant

No idea what this is either.  I'll identify it at a later date

Idyllic scene on a side trail along the river

Deadly Nightshade!

Broken robin egg

Ruined nest next to the egg

Small cacti was everywhere.  I don't believe this was prickly pear, however because the shapes were wrong.  If we had come two or three weeks earlier, we would have seen all the cacti in bloom.  Mark that for next year.

Leaflets three,
Poisonous tree.
Berries white,
Poisonous sight


Pretty purple flowers.  Might be lavender

Stray wheat at the end of the trail

This was an enjoyable little walk.  The trail is intended as a walking path for people to exercise more than an interpretive trail.  It was beautiful in it's own right though.  Next year I'd like to visit at the end of June or beginning of July to see the wildflowers and particularly the cacti in bloom.

Time spent being a family, though is always worthwhile.

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