September Escapes

Smoke hangs heavy in the air, obscuring my promised mountain views. Flies swarm in and out with their incessant buzzing. The only wildlife spotted has been a handful of birds, one black squirrel, a lone mule deer and a pesky chipmunk we have dubbed “Alex”. He’s grown quite bold over the last couple days, and somehow found himself inside our cabin making an attempt at our trash bag.

The few deciduous trees have become brilliantly gold in the short time of our visit. Autumn is rapidly approaching these Idaho mountains. Meanwhile, fire watch planes roar overhead, blotted out by dense smoke. Despite these inconveniences, there is extreme beauty and much needed peace.

I do get a bit saddened seeing how dry the landscape is. Even after the big fire a few years ago, summers were filled with rain, and lushness continued to embrace September. Mother Nature is parched.

In consideration of cold nights and wanting, needing to umplug, we rented a rustic Forest Service cabin. Dating back into the early 1930’s, equipped with wood stove for heat and hand pump for water, this was to be our home for four glorious nights. Forest Service cabins are a great alternative to camping in cold temps, or for those wanting to get their feet wet with the great outdoors. The prices are usually fairly reasonable. Ours has two beds, tables, solar lighting, propane cook stove and stocked with pots, pans and dishes. And yes, there is also an extremely clean vault toilet out back. We are quite comfortable.

The sun is beginning to set, marking the approach into our third night. Time has been filled with a small hike to a once amazing hot spring. Forest fire and human abuse have turned it into nothing more than an algae covered muck hole. Two wonderous soaks have been enjoyed at one of my favorite spots. Games have been played, many pictures taken and much pleasure has been relished. If the smoke lifts, tomorrow will entail hikes and more hot spring exploration.

Taking this time to disconnect and reconnect with nature helps me recharge my batteries. All too soon inclement weather will be upon me. Mountain trips will be more difficult. So, I will ingrain every moment of this visit into my soul and carry it with me to the next opportunity. In the mean time, I’ll dust off my winter adventure plans.

Coping With the Unexpected

Life has a way of throwing up unforeseen obstacles that must be overcome. This transcends into time in the outdoors. There are some trips, no matter the detailed preparation, that the unexpected creeps up and can whap you in the kisser. One such journey into the forest recently happened to me.

I was planning on spending a few days in the Payette and Boise National Forests, with the intentions of avoiding the traditional holiday campers. I looked back through old trip notes as well, because I also wanted to avoid the Tribal Salmon fishing season. I have entered into this area in the past during fishing time, and was greeted with an overwhelming amount of people, noise and rude behavior. My notes dictated that this particular event was still a couple weeks away. I was in the clear!

For days I was looking forward to campfires, starlit nights and serene hot spring soaks. My food was in order, gear double checked, weather forcast perused and the vehicle had been given the preliminary once over. I was ready. The drive, as usual, was gorgeous. The scent of pine and earth drifted through the open windows. A smile split my face from ear to ear. It was just me, SS and our four legged friend. The trip was lining up for perfection, until we turned onto the forest road of our destination.

This narrow, winding mountain road had turned into L.A. gridlock. Almost every pullout was packed with cars and trucks. Our usual campground was filled beyond capacity. We slowly made our way further down. We found a half full campground! The first night was quite peaceful. There was even a midnight soak to be had.

Upon awaking with the sun, the campground had filled up completely. There were even illegal makeshifts spots created by the creek. I was dumbfounded. The holiday was still 5 days off, how could there be so many people? As we sipped our tea and coffee, the answer was shown to us. Truck after SUV after car rolled by with traditional spear and nets. We had arrived just before salmon fishing started. The signs had not yet been posted when we entered the forest road. Run-off was also early this year so fishing was able to begin sooner. I was almost crushed. There went our peace and quiet. There went our private soaks. There went less stressful driving. We had already paid our camping fees, so we decided to make the best of it.

Up went the privacy shelter, which helped tremendously. The volume of people was not the only issue we faced. Mother Nature decided to be about 15 degrees hotter than the weather man predicted. Now 15* doesn’t sound like much, but when it is 90* as to 75*, with little shade and the creek being bogarted, it’s just plain hot.

Solutions, solutions. The privacy shelter helped with the overfilled campground and provided a little extra shade. We also explored a new trail which we didn’t have to drive to which led to another section of the creek with bountiful trees and a great spot to picnic. The biggest and most important solution, was an attitude adjustment. Sometimes you simply can not predict what is going to happen. During this same trip we experienced a few more unexpected obstacles. However, making up my mind to enjoy my time in the mountains, not letting the unplanned grate my nerves, allowed me to truly experience nature. I still found my moments of tranquility, my moments to reconnect. And I took away a valuable lesson; to cope and adjust are a necessity if one is to adventure.

Rebeginning

Staring out at the desert landscape I contemplate the last 18 months. Crickets chirp, insects buzz my head and a breeze blows through the stubby grass and sage brush. There is so much life in this corner of the Oregon desert.

A great deal of life has happened since I last posted to Suniechick. I graduated college, the first in my family. Many adventures were had including foreign places and a foiled pack trip to a still sought after hot spring. Healing of the heart and soul from the loss of my Mom and darling Dolly, has begun. I have had to refocus on other aspects of my life for awhile. A temporary hiatus was needed for all this life to occur.

The sun begins its descent, yet still nicely warms my skin. I think about myself, direction, who is Suniechick? She is a strong, independent woman. Someone who is surrounded by love. She is passionate for the outdoors and wishes to protect it and share it with whomever will listen. Suniechick believes that these places are the foundation of life, and that everyone has the right to experience them. Whether you’re packing out 50 miles into wilderness or strolling through the park watching the ducks, those experiences, those moments where we can connect with nature are deeply important.

There has been a refocus, a rejuvenation. While I, Suniechick, will be here to help guide you to partaking in the glories of nature and sharing my adventures, I will also be sharing with you some of what else lies close to my heart. As I said, I wish to help protect and preserve the drastically dwindling amounts of wildlands left. This may come in the form of “activism” or my rambling thoughts. For me, Suniechick is new and improved. This is an exciting time. To live life, take advantage instead of for granted. It is a rebeginning. I hope you join me.