Updated: Nov 22, 2021
The awkward stage of winter is here. As we anticipate the arrival of months of snow, tensions are mounted. The air is cold and heavy as the days grow darker and the sun is more frequently shrouded by low clouds. Rare sunny days open the skies and allow us all to breathe a sigh of relief from the persistent cold season slowly returning to the valley. Admittedly, this season has been mild compared to past seasons. Normally, by this time in November, inches to feet of snow blanket much of the East-Idaho area. However, lately, only the high mountains have been capped in snow. This is concerning as the drought in Idaho has left key reservoirs nearly empty. This month has been wrought with challenges as another school semester rapidly comes to a close, travel plans grow closer in reach, and winter looms on the horizon. A general air of suspense hangs over many of us.
With all of that on my mind, I would like to relate two trips we took this weekend. The first to Wolf-flats, and the second to Goldbug hot-springs. You'll notice right away that I have no pictures from the Goldbug trip. I didn't want the distraction of a camera to take away from my much-need R&R as we soaked in the healing springs. Goldbug has been well documented in previous posts. Not to take away from just how incredible of a place it is, I would prefer you go see if for yourself! This is the season to do it! Just be careful driving and hiking in the slick conditions. If you are prepared for wintry conditions, Goldbug will not disappoint!
Wolf Flats has been my #1 spot to find Bald Eagles! Saturday's trip led to a day filled with 9 unique baldies flying solo, nesting in pairs, catching fish, and soaring high above us. The road along the river is no longer maintained this late in the year, making for a bumpy ride and a now mud-covered Phoebe (my car). However, because there was little snow along the river, we were able to drive to the very end of the road and find the eagles in several groves of cottonwoods. The leafless trees struggled to conceal these huge birds! Many of them were nesting across the river making close-up shots difficult to capture with my limited zoom camera, but the experience was no-less satisfying! The majesty and beauty of bald eagles takes my breath away as I think about these incredible birds, their meaning and the significance of flight. I could watch them all day!
In the midst of a distressing time of year, I have still found much-needed solace. To best describe the feeling, I will refer to our drive home from Goldbug. We drove at sunset between the Beaverhead and Lemhi mountain ranges, at times through thick fog, along a desolate highway surrounded by endless sagebrush fields. I could tell the sunset would be spectacular but the mountains and low clouds/fog hid the darkening sky from our view. I hurried to reach the edge of the mountains to catch the last light of the day as it painted the sky. Incredibly, we reached the edge of the fog and the mountains just as one of the most brilliant sunsets I have seen here in Idaho lit up the western sky and the earth below! I had my friend try to capture the scene on my camera as we raced along, but the pictures only captured a tenth of the beauty we witnessed. The sunset lasted unusually long, remaining some 20 minutes in brilliant color. I could barely keep my eye on the road as I basked in the serene beauty before me. I will not attempt to bring your attention to some philosophical meaning to these two trips as I feel they were best experienced in the moment and brought those involved the peace and rest needed at that time. I will forever carry, engrained in my mind and heart, the many incredible scenes I have witnessed here in Idaho. No matter where I go, I will always have a piece of my heart here!
Rather than lead you to believe that peace and solace are found in physical locations, I would like to remind you that true peace is found only within one's heart. Countless people have visited the places I write about. Not all of them leave at peace. That result is independent of the place visited. Though some places offer more genuine awe than others, that awe is not the same thing as peace and rest. Both of which can be found in any situation, anywhere, dependant upon the condition of one's own heart and mind. I take drives, photograph, and paint to clear my mind and open my heart. It is often during these activities I find the most peace, but not always.
Here are a few photos to add to my written experiences above, enjoy!