Idaho Adventures - Part I

The dogs and I spent ten days at our home in Idaho recently. We left Seattle on May 27th and returned June 5th.

In Idaho, we were greeted by GREEN everywhere; spring had recently arrived to Meadows Valley. My hopes for a show of wildflowers were dashed, though; the snow melt was so late that at 4000 ft in Meadows Valley, flowers had yet to show themselves. The dogs didn't care; just having a nice green lawn to play on again was reward enough.

The other animals in the neighborhood were also happy to welcome spring's arrival. These horses kept chasing each other through their pasture just downhill from my house. This is just one of the views from my house that I get to enjoy every day I'm there.

The dogs and I wandered in the Payette Forest, just behind the house, every day. Most mornings I'd take all three dogs for a walk along one of several old logging roads nearby, then I'd take Finn out again for a longer evening walk. The solitude was food for my soul.

Finn and I even found a few arrowleaf balsomroot starting to bloom.

Scenes from our evening forest walks, which also take us through the development where my house is located to get through the gate that provides us access to the forest:

The first morning I took Finn for a run, we headed up to Ponderosa State Park, on Payette Lake and just north of McCall. At 5000 ft, there was still significant snow on the ground. I gave up trying to find the trails under the snow, and we ended up doing just a short run on the park road. So the next morning, Finn and I drove 30 miles down to Riggins, at 2000 ft, to run along the Rapid River trail.

The Rapid River trail is one I ran with the girls many, many times while living full time in Idaho between 2005-2008. The trail would remain snow-free almost all winter, allowing me to get a dirt trail running fix when at the house in Meadows Valley everything was covered feet-deep in snow for months on end. In normal years, I wouldn't dream of running the Rapid River trail as late as Memorial Day weekend; it gets very hot down there by then, and rattlesnakes start appearing on the trail. But this year's spring was so late, I thought it was worth a try. On Tuesday May 31st, the day after Memorial Day, Finn and I had the trail to ourselves.

Finn was so excited to be running! I was, too! And the canyon walls were so green; often by June this area is brown and dry and hot. I began to relax, less worried about rattlesnakes.

The route starts high above the river itself, eventually dropping to riverside about a half mile from the trail head, then crossing the river on a big sturdy bridge designed to handle the pack trains that come up here in the fall for hunting.

It was at this point that I realized just how dangerous this outing potentially could be. The Rapid River was roaring with spring meltoff. I can't remember ever seeing it so high and fast. Finn - especially after his recent duck-chasing swim - thinks he's quite the swimmer these days. And, I'm usually encouraging him to drink from streams on our trail runs so that he doesn't become dehydrated. When the trail first came alongside the Rapid River, just before the bridge, Finn immediately waded in to drink. "Finn! Noooo!!!" I screamed, to be heard over the loudness of the flowing water. Finn looked shocked - what had he done wrong? Poor guy, I couldn't explain to him why I was so upset. I nearly turned back, I was so afraid he could be swept down the fast, narrow river. Ultimately I decided to keep going, keeping him close and "On trail!" any time the trail ran alongside the river.

The trail alternates between being near the river and rising up along the hillside for the next three and a half miles to a second bridge four miles up. I never quite relaxed, always keeping a close eye on Finn and nearly going hoarse calling him back to me when he'd get out of sight ahead of me on sections where the trail nears the water. Eventually he seemed to understand that he wasn't allowed in the river, at least not on this day.

We did find some wildflowers. Bonus!

On the way back, I finally let Finn drink and cool off in the one spot that actually had a safe eddy. In years past, there were plenty of spots the girls could wade into to drink, but not this trip.

I made Finn stop on an outcropping to see just why I'd been yelling "Don't drink!" so much, to keep him out of the water.

Finally we left the river banks and rose back high on the canyon wall toward the trail head. Safe again. Despite my near-constant dire warnings to stay out of the water, Finn seemed to have a blast. I, however, didn't enjoy the usual calming effects of a trail run. Still, I was glad we went. And, as it turns out, this was just the first incident in a vacation filled with close calls and way too much adventure.

Getting hot. Time to go home.