Fall colors on the north end of the Wood River Valley of Idaho traditionally hit their peak during the last days of September. On occasion the first week of October offers a last bright burst of gold and deep reddish orange. A Seattle type rain mixed with snow soaked the valley all day Thursday. Seeing virtually no wind accompanied the storm; Kyle, fellow MESH Principle Artist Ed Cannady and yours truly discussed that the leaves might hit another gear of color before full dissipation.
A few miles north of Ketchum and just past the Headquarters of Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) Idaho State Highway 75 bends to the west – out of respect for the Boulder Mountain Range. Just past Phantom Hill and Boulder Creek sits a lone Cottonwood tree. The tree is way out front and away from its brothers and sisters that straddle Boulder Creek. My initial memory of the tree was my first year as a resident of the Valley (1984). Linda and I had taken possession of a Ranch Townhouse on my birthday in June and were repainting the inside during the last weeks of September. Towards the end of each day we would tour our new home territory in our Candy Red Mazda RX7. On one occasion we drove the RX7 as far up Boulder Creek as possible and hiked into the abandoned mining town of Boulder City. On the return we stopped and I took a picture of Linda in her hiking gear sitting on the hood of the car with her arms wrapped around her knees. The tree was out of the picture and off in the distance.
For 30+ years I have tried to capture the tree in full color with the other trees holding their leaves in similar condition and the peaks of the Boulders possessing a dusting of snow. Despite being on the lookout almost every fall – the combination has never occurred in my presence. That is… until yesterday Friday October 5th, 2018.
The clear skies of the day were giving way to clouds. The weather service was predicting a storm front would enter the region late in the day. I had been shooting in the southern part of the valley earlier in the week, so I had not seen the Boulders and this area since the previous Saturday. To my surprise was the tree in gold with all the other desired conditions in place. I waited out at the tree for a little over an hour hoping to get late afternoon sun and interesting clouds with the hint of snow would present themselves. Luck would have it all the factors came into play.
The trees in the picture above straddle the Wood River. On the other side of the river is the Fox Creek trail. The location is just south of the Fox Creek Trailhead.
The Fox Creek and Chocolate Gulch trails have been a major part of The Lübeck’s life in the region. I am not sure there is a person who has hiked The Fox Creek Chocolate Gulch Loop more than Linda Lubeck. The trails have served us for our hiking, running, biking, and even cross-country skiing fixes. In our first years in the valley, I would run in the back-country with my friend Bill Ayub. The Lubeck’s and the Ayub-Collier clan were almost inseparable. During this period there was no trail on the river between Fox Creek and Chocolate Gulch. Also, there were only trail-heads at Lake Creek and Chocolate Gulch. It was obvious to Bill and I that a trail on the river between Chocolate Gulch and Fox Creek not only made sense but would be spectacular in nature. With talked about the idea with Butch Harper and John Phipps of the U.S. Forest Service. Both said that not only was it a great idea, but there were plans in place to create the trail (known as the Fox Creek Extension) and eventually a trail-head at Fox Creek. Bill and I donated a boat-load of hours towards building the trail. We took great pride in that effort as would run and hike the trail together. Bill Ayub was a warm, curious, and adventuresome soul. I do not known many people who were a Marine Colonel and a hippy free spirit. Bill was! Bill passed away from Pancreatic Cancer just over twenty years ago. His brother Eddy (a nationally respected Sports Trainer and Therapist) uprooted his whole life on a moments notice to care for Bill. This type of cancer is well known for being fast and painful. Bill braved it all with nary a whimper or complaint. I had the honor and fortune to hold Bill in my arms during his last hours on earth. I left Bill heading to Seattle on an evening flight for business and to pick up computers as Christmas Gifts for his kids (Brisa and Kane). I planned to return in two days. Bill would pass away overnight. As I look at the trees in the picture above they bring me fond memories of Billy.
Sheep graze with an alert guard to protect them near the headwaters of the Salmon River (aka River of No Return). Behind the sheep and the gurad dogs is Galena Pass (8,701), Lower Titus, Titus, Bromaghin, and Saviers Peaks. Bromaghin and Saviers are the highest peaks in the Smoky Mountain Range of Idaho. Six years ago on this day, Kyle and I summitted all four in an out and back surgical strike.
Harper Dog is a 103 lb Great Pyrenees. She is owned by our friend Danielle Andrews. Kyle, Jeff and MESH Gallery functioned as baby sitters during the day in Harper’s first years. Now Harper stays with us a few days a month and when Danielle travels out of town. Harper spends many nights and weekends with Jeff & Linda at their home as well.
What a fall day. Taken next to the MESH Gallery at Heritage Hall and Town Square.
The colors on the trees at our house in the Valley Club.
I male moose stands next to the 1st tee of the South Course at the Valley Club. He said he was about to tee off and was waiting on Jack Dies.