Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dock side at Heyburn State Park

Not a boat to be found. Preseason and still a bit cold for most visiting tourists, Heyburn State Park was left uninhabited and open for exploration.  Lost in time, feeling like I was the only person on the planet, totally absorbed photographing the old school wooden docks floating in Chatcolet Bay. Just me and my dog, how much better could it get.

Heyburn State Park is the oldest park in the Pacific Northwest, Established in 1908 sitting on 5500 acres of land and 2300 acres of water. Three mountain lakes are incorporated into the park; Chatcolet, Benewah, and Hidden Lakes. with the St. Joe River along the eastern edge of the park.

This is a very tranquil place, a throw back to the classic parks of the 40s and 50s. A step back to a simpler time.

Friday, February 20, 2015

RAVEN SPEAK - in the San Rafael Swell

The raven speaks, calling from the walls of the vertical sedimentary cliffs that drop away then down to the river. Slashing upward, the sinister ebony silhouette enters the azure sky above the rim and soars over the reef in an area known as the wedge....the ravens echo welcomes me back to the canyon.

From the Wedge Overlook the San Rafael River passes through a twisted stone maze and cuts deep across and earthen reef, and into the swell. The San Rafael Swell is a huge anticline dome formed by pressure, stacked up and pushed to the surface along a fault line more than 70 million years ago and covers an area of 4,472 sq. miles.

The old railroad grade or the Green River cutoff road continues from Castle Dale, (Hwy 10) crossing the flat rim below the Cedar Mountain and on to eastern edge of the reef near Green River (Hwy 6).  This is the main access road in the northern part of the swell. About midway down the Green River cutoff road. I drop through sandstone guardians that marks the entrance south into the Buckhorn Gulch wash.  The road is gradual and descends along a cottonwood lined wash, leading to the famous Buckhorn Gulch Pictographs. A 160-foot long stone canvas painted by ancient dwellers of the San Rafael.

Not much further down the Gulch the canyon begins to widen in it anticipation on it confluence with the San Rafael River at the Swinging Bridge. Here you are at the end of the  “Little Grand Canyon,"at the base of the Wedge Overlook, looking up toward the raven’s lair that echoed from the night before.

From the Swinging Bridge heading south the formations begin to emerge as single features and are reminiscent of the formations of Monument Valley or Valley of the Gods. Each butte more defined as you climb up from the river bottom to view massive configurations, like Bottle Neck and Window Blind Peaks. Then up onto the grassy limestone flat, typical of the central regions of the swell, with long views of the Cain Wash to the West and Mexican Mountain to the East. The road (Cottonwood Draw Road) continues south over rolling grass hills to exit 131 on Interstate 70.


The highway marks the mid-point of the San Rafael Swell, from here  I cross under the highway to access the Southern reef via the Temple Mountain road. Shortly encountering a sign that reads, “Head Of Sinbad”. I don’t care who you are, when you see this sign you will be immediately compelled to alter your course and check it out. A short side trip takes me west to the highest elevation of the swell and to an impressive blond ridge of Navajo Sandstone at Locomotive Point and to some of the finest pictographs in the area. This ridge seems to be the dividing line north and south.


Working my way back southeast on one of many roads heading back to the main Temple Mountain Road, crossing over the grassy central section of the swell. Temple Mountain and the eastern edge of the swell will soon come into view. By far the most dramatic part of the San Rafael, housing numerous slots and tanks.

The road breaches the reef south of mountain at the Temple Mountain Pictographs and breaks through white sandstone and onto the flat San Rafael Desert, and Goblin Valley State Park.  The silky white sandstone reef is inviting at first site. Taunting me to venture and explore its smooth washes and alcoves.

From my camp along the reef I have an amazing view of Wild Horse Creek. Not the creek itself but an undaunted incision through stone, and centuries of time within the abrasive horizon.  A slow and constant rhythm continues.  The raven circles, and disappears into an opening in the reef leading me towards an alcove about mid way up. Following small water filled tanks along the sheer walled opening to a hidden alcove, a place of power.  A place I can peer into the past through the Eye of Sinbad,  up to the azure sky, where the raven speaks.

Click to view more images of my week in the San Rafael Swell
Links to interesting site of the area: CUSA (canyoneering)
Easy Pictograph sites trails: San Rafael

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Owyhee Canyonlands - into the mist along the Lower Owyhee River

In-between seasons, when access to the Owyhee Canyonlands is at its worst, it is hard to get inspired to hike and photograph in the Owyhees. The muddy roads and lack of sunshine in a harsh desert is quite surprising, that coupled with a fog inversion, makes it that much more difficult to become encouraged to venture very deep into the Owyhee Desert.

Think about a quick trip up the Lower Owyhee River. Roughly from it confluence with the Snake River to the Owhyee Damn. The road is paved and the scenery is fantastic along this world class Brown Trout Fishery, especially when you begin climbing up the canyon towards the Damn above the fog.

Note.....At the end of the road several miles past the Owyhee damn at the Indian Creek Boat Ramp look for a great hike up the old Fisherman Road that heads South up to the rim for several impressive viewpoints overlooking the Lake Owyhee State Park

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Touched by the clouds

It is rare in August that so many thunders storms move through the Stanley Basin. This month has been exceptional, one after the other unforgettable columns of atmosphere towering into the sky. Massive clouds dance over the peaks of the Sawtooth Range and fill your spirit. A dance of serenity rolling through a storyline that can never to be repeated. 

Moon Rise in the Stanley Basin
The Stanley Basin is a thread of Beauty. A place to watch clouds, touch river and streams, and to capture moments of time in a photograph.This place constantly amazes me. The Basin is surrounded by the White Cloud, the Boulder and Sawtooth Mountain Ranges, and many of the spectacular peaks are over 10,000 feet.

Sunset on Valley Creek in the Stanley Basin

Calkins Peak in the White Cloud Range
The White Clouds were given their name by early settlers because many of these skyward soaring pale peaks seem to blend together with the clouds above, making it hard to tell where mountains stop and clouds begin.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

River of No Return

I have always wanted to "turn the corner". A term white water rafters refer to as running the Middle Fork to the confluence of the Main Salmon then continuing on to through the wilderness section.  This season I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity, and was able to photograph 200 plus river miles on one of North America's most famous rivers.

The Salmon is also known as The River of No Return. It flows for 425 miles through central Idaho, draining a rugged, thinly populated watershed of 14,000 square miles  and dropping more than 7,000 feet between its headwaters, near Galena Summit above the Sawtooth Valley in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and its confluence with the Snake River. It is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states. From elevations above 8,000 feet, the Salmon cascades to an elevation of 905 feet before it joins the Snake River in Hells Canyon, near the Idaho/Oregon border.

Main Salmon River near Campbell's Ferry.

Tumble Creek on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
The Salmon flows through a vast wilderness, as well as the second-deepest gorge on the continent. Only Hells Canyon in the Snake River is deeper. The Salmon's granite-walled canyon is over 1,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. For approximately 180 miles, the Salmon River canyon is more than a mile deep.
To view more images of the Salmon River visit my web site :  and search using the key word "Salmon River"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wilson Creek - Owyhee Front

There is no place in the Owyhee Canyonlands that has the dynamic rock formations of the Wilson Creek area. I have spent years exploring and photographing the Owyhee Canyonlands and this is the only area that I have found with these Unique stacked cathedral formations.

Hike: 15,16, and17
The Wilson Creek Travel Management Area is a 28,000 acre area of mostly public lands located in the Owyhee Front, about 10 miles south of Marsing. Idaho. The northernmost portion of the subregion lies along Highway 78, near the Snake River. The project area runs approximately from Highway 78 south The Wilson Creek subregion is portion of the larger (261,487-acre) Owyhee Front Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) that was designated as “Limited to Designated Roads and Trails” in the 1999 Owyhee Resource Management Plan.

Established trails in the Owyhee Canyonlands are hard to come by. Most of the hiking in the Owyhee is cross country scrambling but in the Wilson Creek Area the trail system is second to none. Horse trails, bike trails and hiking trails for all levels of adventurer. 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

West Fork Little Owyhee via 3 Forks - Owyhee River

Three Forks-Owyhee River, Oregon
Dust from our vehicle obscures the outlines of dark basalt cliffs, rising above then falling from site along the flat desert road from Highway 95 to Three Forks. Faint contours of the basalt cap to the west marks the edge of the deep chasm of the River Canyon. The powdery dust settles as we approach the lip of the canyon dropping sharply into the Three Forks Basin, the three spectacular tributaries of the Owyhee River, the North, Middle, and Main forks giving relief to the arid desert. 
The Owyhee drains a remote area of the plateau region on the north edge of the Great Basin, rising in northeastern Nevada and flowing generally northward near the Oregon-Idaho border to the Snake River.

Three Forks is a dramatic base camp giving you many opportunities for self-guided hikes to Warm Springs Creek, along the North Fork Owyhee, and my favorite the West Fork of the Little Owyhee.

The confluence of the WF Little Owyhee and the Main Fork Owyhee.
Main Fork Owyhee near the WF Little Owyhee Confluence.


 From the rim of Three Fork a high clearance 4 w/d vehicle may be required. To access the trail head dropping into the West Fork of the Little it is a must. For more information see the guide book, "The Owyhee Canyonlands-An Outdoor Adventure Guide". This is hike #52.

The canyon views from the confluence of the West Fork Little Owyhee and the Main Owyhee are unforgetable offering extraordinary views both up stream and down stream. This is a dramatic vantage point and should be considered for a camp location.

View down river from the rim above the confluence of the WF Little Owyhee and the Main Owyhee.
If you base camp at Three Forks, a consideration on the trip back might be a soak in the hot springs at Warm Springs Creek. Warm Springs Creek, along the edge of the Main Owyhee, offers warm waterfalls and several pools of clean and clear chest deep water. It is not to be missed.