Northwest

There’s nothing like coming to the end of a hike and finding a beautiful blue alpine lake glistening in a craggy granite-gray cirque high in one of Idaho’s mountains ranges.

Cadence: the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity.

One thing I love about writing is some of the interesting people I get to meet. I don’t relish in meeting celebrities, most of them are too self-centered. As long as you know that your role is to worship them then it is all good but God forbid if you have something to say. But it is cool to meet someone that is a hero like Marcus Luttrell or Eugene Gutierrez.

My dog died almost six years ago and I miss him dearly. I miss him the most when I am out hiking. I haven’t yet decided if I want another dog anytime soon. Right now, I’d like to rent one for weekends and maybe for a few hours a night to sit on the couch with me and watch TV.

In my series of four columns on “Can We Get Better Birds Names?” the last three were about the names of those species which have been named after people. The issue on the table is whether or not we should continue to celebrate those people, mostly men, after we understand what sort of people they were and, especially, how they treated others. This issue is not complex in an objective sense but has become fraught with controversy from the social justice angle. Let’s not settle that right now, but rather look at another issue, which is deep, not only in this country, but essentially everywhere in the world. The question is, who discovered what?

With the sage-grouse season in Idaho just around the corner, Fish and Game reminds upland bird hunters of new sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse requirements for the 2021 hunting season. Hunters are now required to purchase a zone-specific tag for sage-grouse hunting, in addition to a hunting license. A separate permit is required just for sharp-tailed grouse hunters, along with their hunting license.

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In Part I of this series (May 26, 2021), I covered the most basic aspects of bird photography. The internet is loaded with “how to” pieces on this topic, and I’ve found most of them to be both interesting and useful. But my goal was to ask local photographers and Facebook friends who photograph birds what they think. The ideas of “patience” and “practice” came through loud and clear from every direction.

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Stack Rock is seen poking its craggy head through the evergreens on a ridge overlooking the Treasure Valley.

Some of our hunting trips are intense. You get up two hours before daylight, slam down a fast breakfast and hike up a mountain so you can be in your secret spot before the elk start moving. You hike/hunt hard all day and get back to camp well after dark so tired you barely feel like cooking dinner.

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Birds serve as symbols for a variety of things, and I’ve written a few previous columns on this topic. Sometimes the symbolism is quite clear, and at other times it is all but impossible to figure out. I’ve been a critic of song lyrics over the past 50 or so years, at least when you step away from the story-telling approach of country western. Most lyrics don’t mean much. I suppose opera also has solid story lines, but I’ll leave that genre to you. In high school I worked in a small bookstore where the owner listened to opera on the radio on slow Saturday afternoons. I am permanently wounded from that experience.

It’s a long ways down to the water at Lucky Peak Reservoir, but anglers and boaters are still launching.

For a lot of people out there it is all doom and gloom. School started back up. Sleepy headed kids that have been staying up until midnight are suddenly getting jerked out of bed at ungodly hours, thrown into a car and dumped out in front of some strange establishment called school. If they daydream and their thoughts drift off to their summer backpacking and fishing adventures, suddenly they’re snapped back to reality by the sharp crack of a ruler on their knuckles.

Archery hunters have been taking to the field since Aug. 30 and, depending on the hunting unit or elk zone, most seasons will remain open through September. To see what areas are open for archery hunting, see the 2021 Idaho Big Game Seasons and Rules on the website: idfg.idaho.gov.

Many populations of birds in the U.S. have been declining for decades. A recent assessment (3billionbirds.org) estimates that one in every four birds that existed in 1970 is now gone. That’s nearly 3 billion birds lost from our avifauna.

When you arrive at the Sheep Rock scenic overlook and interpretive nature trail high above Hells Canyon, you’re baffled.

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This is going to be a bit of a unique outdoor article but nonetheless, I think that at sometime in all of our lives the info in this article will be pertinent. And it is applicable if you’re young or old. I don’t want to say that we’re like cars but we all do have a shelf life. Some longer than others. But God is in control of when we die so what I’m going to talk about today is how to keep you more active whether you have a short life or a long one.

Frequently referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies,” Bear Lake State Park has uniquely turquoise colored water that enhances its scenic beauty and imitates ocean water surrounding the islands in the Caribbean Sea. But even more than that, a visitor can walk on the beach and listen to the small waves lapping at the shore, hear the sounds of sea gulls, and feel the cool breeze blowing in off the lake surface. This environment is the closest one can come to an “ocean shore” in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Bear Lake State Park’s exceptional combination of turquoise clear water, shallow and slow sloping shoreline, white sandy beaches, large lake surface, easy access, and convenient facilities all combine to make this park an extremely attractive destination.

This is the fourth column on the idea of changing bird names to make them “better.” This series started out addressing the problem of having species named for features that we can rarely see in the field. The ring-necked duck and orange-crowned warbler became poster birds for this campaign. I also explained that there are detailed rules within the ornithological community about how birds are named, and that you can’t just change them when somebody gets in the mood. This approach provides stability over time and helps us communicate clearly with each other.

My career as an Outdoor Writer is over. I’m done. Fried! Not only that, I probably got my wife fired to boot! I haven’t been to Owyhee Reservoir but once this year. So I thought I’d go check it out. I took Katy’s boss with me and guaranteed him we’d smoke ‘em. Don’t worry, I always catch a cooler of crappie at CJ, Brownlee or some at Owyhee.

The combined effect of wolves and drought on human, plant and animal communities on rangeland in Idaho and eastern Oregon will be explored by a team led by researchers at the University of Idaho that includes collaborators at the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University as part of a five-year project.

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On a given day, when I don’t go hiking in the mountains, camping with the family, skiing, or otherwise getting out of town, I take our dog, Sienna, for a walk through the neighborhood. Our route is always exactly the same because I also tally birds in eBird while we’re out there. This gives me a standardized count (see column of July 7, 2021) that I can look at over time. It also provides a welcome addition to just covering the same sidewalks over and over again like Groundhog Day. Repetition and predictability are my enemies.

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I teach three to five Backpacking 101 seminars every year. The first one that I conducted I planned on doing an hour-long seminar with the first 45 minutes I’d talk and then hold a 15-minute Q&A at the end. That’s somewhat the format on all of my seminars.

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With significant increases of COVID-19 spread in the community, and keeping participant safety, health and wellbeing as a top priority, St. Luke’s Health System announced Tuesday that the annual FitOne races will be virtual again this year.

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You’ve got to wonder, what happens when a cowboy gets hurt at a rodeo? Sometimes they take a bad stomping or hooking and you wonder if they made it. Do they just crawl off and die? What’s it like to be a rodeo cowboy? After a bad wreck how long do they wait before they jump back in the game. In the old days you didn’t have the Justin patch-up crew. At a handful of the rodeos there might have been an ambulance tucked out back but usually you just drove yourself to a hospital or maybe a buddy would drive you. Well, here’s an article on that very topic.

“I think that my most memorable experience was backpacking into a Wilderness Area … and managing to catch a Paiute cutthroat trout on my last cast at the base of a waterfall..."

When I saw the raven by Alyson D. Singer on the cover of the April 7, 2021 Boise Weekly, I thought, that is so cool — I need to write about it. I then thought, well, write about what exactly? I pondered over my cappuccino and scone, gazing out the window of Flying M. Surely that would bring insight. It didn’t.

I don’t have to spotlight the Boise River. Every year more than 125,000 people float the river. In some years past I’ve heard as high as 300,000 enjoy the float.

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Since we’re in the middle of the rodeo season, my editor Jeanne and I thought it’d be a fun twist to talk about rodeoing today. As a kid I loved hunting, fishing and cowboying and threw it all together.

It has been a long time since Idaho has had a gold rush. There is a sweet purple gold rush going on right now. And if the color purple ever had a flavor it’d be huckleberry.

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I was inspired to write this column after reading, “The Summer Secrets of Songbirds,” by Jessie Barry and Marc Devokaitis in the Summer 2021 issue of Living Bird. This magazine from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology always has a wonderful combination of birding information and ornithological science. The authors cover reasons why songbirds are so much harder to find in July and August. Of course, this applies only to higher latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. In the tropics, species might be active at any time of the year. And at similar latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, January and February are the slow months.

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Wild animals for the most part are well equipped to survive fluctuations in environmental conditions, and trout, Idaho’s favorite fish, are no different. Although they prefer cold water, trout are highly resilient, productive and adaptive. Because of this, short-term fishing regulation changes are unlikely to affect their numbers long-term, even during an extraordinary heatwave.

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The narrow waterway leading from North Idaho’s Priest Lake to Upper Priest Lake is a paddling adventure that unfolds with dramatic mountain scenery unforgettable for touring kayakers and canoeists.

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When I get together with my birding friends to go birding, either around here or at some exotic location, we all know how it goes. I’m sure we’re like members of any hobby group. You don’t have to read a bunch of rules or how-tos to know what’s expected and what’s not cool. We’ve been initiated, learned from The Elders, learned from our own successes and failures, and know the deal.

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Climbing down into dark caves is not everybody’s idea of a fun activity. It’s dark, it’s wet — there may be bats — and you might get lost or stuck. Craters of the Moon is a great place to explore lava (caves) tubes without really needing any special equipment or training.

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This week I was having a hard time trying to decide whether to write a Backpacking 101 article followed up by an article on Kolby’s and mine backpacking trip last week or Katy’s and my crappie fishing trip. But then while Kolby and I were backpacking we stumbled into a gold mine of berries.

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Visiting a supervised shooting range for the first time can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Shooting ranges are designed for safe firearms practice for shooters of all abilities, and they can be a great place for beginners to learn more about responsible, safe shooting.

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To many, Idaho’s 900-mile Centennial Trail from the Nevada border to Canada is an impossible undertaking.

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Anglers, Idaho Fish and Game needs your help! Fish and Game is interested in knowing how many rainbow trout caught in the Snake River above American Falls Reservoir are from a hatchery or from wild origin. You can help by participating in a fin clipping effort with the rainbow trout you catch, even if you release the fish.

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I love my life but sometimes it gets hectic. I was in South Dakota for two and a half weeks, flew down to Tennessee for the Professional Outdoor Media Association Convention on Tuesday, flew home Friday at midnight, grabbed Katy and headed over to Oregon to the Silvies Ranch Sunday after Church. Ran home Wednesday night and jumped on a plane to South Dakota Thursday. Three and a half weeks later I flew back home so have only been home for one day in the last seven weeks.

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In my previous two columns on the Breeding Bird Survey, I covered the background of this continental bird population monitoring program and looked at some of the species that have been increasing in Idaho since 1966. But the survey has been most important in identifying species populations that have been decreasing.

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It’s a trip of a lifetime — Floating Idaho’s 100-mile, 100-rapids Middle Fork of the Salmon River through heart-racing whitewater, rich and fascinating history and geology, and immense wilderness landscapes that range from forests to craggy canyons.

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These sister parks are iconic locations in the state of Idaho with a combined acreage of nearly 17,000 acres of towering granite spires, hiking trails, and breathtaking views. City of Rocks National Reserve is both a unit of the National Park System and a state park. The state and federal lands that make up the Reserve are managed onsite by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Castle Rocks State Park is partially included within the National Historic Landmark. While all these designations might be confusing, they are an incredible draw for rock climbers, hikers, birders, and campers alike.