Gem of the Mountains to River of the West

Day # 8 June 25, 2018  The state name “Idaho” was derived from a Shoshone language term meaning “the sun comes from the mountains” or “gem of the mountains”. The word “Oregon” would mean something like “River of the West” in Shoshone.  I had never heard of Shoshone Falls on the Snake River but when driving into Twin Falls, Idaho the previous evening, I stopped at a pullout on a bridge over the Snake River. The view was lovely, showing the deep cut canyon created by the Snake River over many eons. 

The next  morning, since the town was named Twin Falls, I thought it might be an interesting aside before I got on my own Oregon Trail (riding in my quite comfortable Jeep).  Access was via a very steep narrow winding road. There was an entrance fee of three dollar paid  to the person at a tiny ramshackled entrance booth, with the receipt being one of those tiny pink raffle tickets.  I was beginning to question my choice. But after a couple additional curves I found myself in a lovely park with rolling green grass shaded areas to lounge on, overlooking Shoshone Falls. The falls were ragingly beautiful, the highest 212 feet  and 1000 feet wide. The cooling mist flying through the air spawned dancing rainbows.IMG_5493

Sometimes it is called the “Niagara of the West,” and though strikingly beautiful, it didn’t have the same power and thunderous energy I experienced from Niagara Falls, I especially enjoyed our walk on the asphalt trails as it was quite dog friendly though I can’t say that my charges were very impressed. 

By the time I was  back on the road it was past noon and the next historic site on my trail west was the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Bluffs (most famous for Hagerman Horse , a zebra like ancestor of today’s horse).   Fossil sites are found in the bluffs that rise 600 feet above the Snake River and were exposed 15000 years ago. Access was not available to sites.

For me, I felt it is important to take the time to ponder both the geological, historical and human endeavors of the areas traversed. There, within this monument area and in the Hagerman Valley, are  several well preserved segments of the Oregon Trail. I have a much deeper regard and awe for those who settled our land when I experienced the “hostility” of the land I was walking and driving on. The most strenuous task for me is to climb into my Jeep when every inch of ground they gained was with backbreaking toil.

IMG_5512 I am grateful that the National Park Service has preserved the legacy of this trail and tells its stories. I would like to get into a rant about what we did to the Native Americans here and/or how spoiled and entitled we Americans are but I will spare you that and save my energy, and stay in the place of awe and wonder of this land.

Its was now time to begin the final stretch to my landing spot in Ashland Oregon. Nightfall was outside of Boise Idaho where we bedded down at the LQ. 

Day #9 June 26, 2018  The final push was quite uneventful though the terrain was of many hues and consisted of hills, mountains, valleys, pine and fur forest, and desert.  This  area of southern Oregon, the eastern and southern parts of the state, east of the Cascade Range and south of the Blue Mountains, is high desert. The high desert is very dry and arid in the summer, but it resembles temperate rain forest in the winter.  So I was anticipating hot and dry weather. There are few direct routes through the mountains, so I opted for the southerly route through Burns and Klamath Falls. The only scenic stop I chose to make was along Lake Abert.  I seemed as if was shrinking and disappearing. 

I found out that is a large, shallow, alkali lake and over the last few years has shrunk 90%. It was somewhat of an ethereal site but I am sure with its disappearance all forms of life within Oregon’s only salt water lake have disappeared too. A few hours later I was grateful to hug my daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law, and be at one of my soon to be new residences in their home. It was good to be off the road and have three days to regroup  after 8 motels, a multitude of catch-as-catch-can meals, many gallons of gas (for this I miss my Prius) and 3521 miles of driving.

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