Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Rest of Idaho and into Oregon

It's hard to believe as I sit here in Mt. Hood Oregon, that I've actually completed the Oregon Trail, but my blogging has suffered from too much to see, and too many people to meet and chat with. But I'll try to catch you up a little, because this part of the trip was just as exciting and thought provoking as all the rest of it has been. 

After the last blog, I spent a very rainy night in Twin Falls catching up on grocery shopping, laundry, and car care. I did get to see Shoshone Falls, and had a very nice conversation with the man at the entrance kiosk. I guess that's what happens when it's raining hard and it's early in the morning -- nobody to talk to!! He also let me know that my National Parks Senior Pass would get me into the park free -- that was worth a bit of conversation, I think!  It's a beautiful place, and had it been a nicer day, I would have done a bit more walking around, but as it was, I left there soaked, and happy, with a few nice photos. 

From there I was off to a few more sites that were not too far away. Thousand Springs is a little town where they stopped to see all the little waterfalls on the cliff across the river. It looked like the whole place had sprung a leak!  Or a bunch of leaks..... 

A bit further on are the Hagerman Fossil Beds, a national landmark through which the emigrants traveled. Here there is a section about 3 miles long of original trail that has been preserved, with several  pulloffs and lookouts that allow you to see most of the section. The first part is near the Snake River, and from the lookout you can see both the river and the trail. That is, if you can stand up!  The wind was fierce that day, as bad as the worst of the spring winds I've known in Albuquerque, and it was cold. But seeing the trail and the river close by was fascinating.  On a nicer day, it might have been fun to hike that section of the trail, but that wind made it impossible for me. A bit further along the road was another pullout where you could see as the trail came up a big hill. 

My next stop was at Three Island Crossing.  This was a place where they had to ford the Snake River, and the best way to do it was to cross at a place where there were three islands, kind of like stepping stones, in the river. Except that there was a long expanse of water between each of the islands. They have a very nice interpretive center there where I spent quite a bit of time, then crossed the river (on a bridge, not across the ford!!) and saw the route from the other side. It's amazng to me that most of the pioneers didn't know how to swim, and several people drowned on each of these difficult crossings. Wagons would tip over in the current, oxen and cattle would occasionally get part way across then turn around and go back. It sometimes took several days to get a whole wagon train across a ford. 

As I drove to Boise, my next stop, there was a site just before the town called Bonneville Point. It's high on the mesa, with nothing but sagebrush around (and no other cars that day, either), but again there was a nice section of trail ruts. From here there was a great view of the Boise Valley with the Boise River running through it. 

Boise itself was a surprise to me, there is a long section of trail on the cliffs above the town.  Imagine traveling along those cliffs and wondering how you could get down to water. The cliffs are steep, and are on both sides of the river. In the 1860's engineers cut a road in the cliff that was quite a marvel at the time. It is called the Kelton Ramp, and just heads off the cliff, wagon width, down to the river below. Today it is a walking path and I saw several people walk along the pedestrian trail on the top and head down the ramp. 

I spent a very nice morning in Boise, then back on the trail to a place called Farewell Bend. They had been following the Snake River for many miles, but the Snake curved back to the northeast, so this was the place that they bid that river farewell.

 There is a very nice park there, with a campground that looked like a good place to spend the night, but it was way to early to camp for the night, besides, in just a few miles the time would change and I'd gain another hour!  So on to Baker City, but that's a subject for the next installment. 

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