Like most everyone else, I'm eagerly anticipating the melting of the snow off the back roads. Today's afternoon excursion was a scouting mission to the Skyline Ridge Rd. accessed from Sunnyside road here in Idaho Falls. I was surprised to find much of the dirt road clear of snow and passable even up into the high hills, though I wasn't able to reach the forest further east due to snow in the road. High runoff and road damage are prevalent right now making the drive treacherous in areas. The stream flowing into the Ririe reservoir, at the Blacktail day-use area, is more aptly described as a river right now. There is so much water flowing out of the mountains as temperatures have soared in the last week. (70s still counts as soaring, and we are set to reach the 80s in the coming weeks). Regardless of the potential hazards, I pressed on as far as I could, and was grateful to make it to the overlook where Fall Creek Canyon, the Palisade Peak of Swan Valley, the Big Hole Mountains, and the Tetons are in view. This breathtaking vista would have made the drive worth it alone, but the drive back brought even more surprises my way!
Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area is one of many set-apart land parcels of Idaho where preservation of habitats is a priority. As a wildlife management area, there is still vehicle, hunting, fishing, and camping access, though limited. Private land owners have farms, ranches, and old homesteads throughout the region, but the Tex Creek area remains wild and remote. 2 moose grazed on a hillside today, their dark silhouettes stood out amongst the light green and grey environment making it easy to spot them from a great distance. Already, I have found 6 moose along this road in a matter of 3 drives within the last year. That's the highest success rate of viewing my favorite 4-legged animal I have had outside the Tetons so far! This area is an excellent location for bird watching too. Several bird-of-prey glided just above the hills searching for their next meal. The sights, sounds, and smells today where enchanting! Old log homes dot the landscape, remnants of a by-gone era. Snowy peaks loomed in the distance and towered over the greening hills. The aspens were clothed in a soft yellow-green as new growth sprouted throughout their branches. Dense rain clouds lumbered along in the sky above and with them came the sweet smell of moisture which rode the soft breeze as it traversed the hill country. Nature was active and alive all around me!
Next on my list of places to go is Fall Creek Rd, but this time I'll access the road from the roads east of the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area. I have found the junction which would take me that way, but have yet to make that turn. The road snakes its way down deep into the valleys and canyons of the not-so-distant ridges to the north, eventually leading to Fall Creek Falls in Swan Valley. Also on my list is hiking the Juniper peaks by the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, driving the backroads of the Ammon hills southeast towards Bone, ID then onward towards the Soda Springs area, a backpacking trip in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho, and so much more! The Lemhi and Lost River mountains continue to beckon me from the west, and I am eager to heed their call. With such short warm seasons here, it is difficult to plan in every potential trip into one summer. But that just means I will have many more wonderful adventures for years to come! I look forward to sharing my adventures with you all, and wish you the best in your own excursions. We truly do live on a remarkable little space rock.
Enjoy a few pictures from today, and 'til next time, stay safe out there!