Ever since moving to Idaho, I’ve kept my eyes open for a moose. Seeing a moose in its habitat has been on my long wish list of Idaho experiences. I never expected that one might come looking for me. This morning I looked across the pasture to the trees that border the Lemhi River. What was that big critter? Too big for a cow. Not the right shape for a horse. Too tall for a bear. It turned its large head to stare back toward the house. Yup, a moose. They are not known to frequent this area southeast of Salmon. It stayed motionless for perhaps 20 minutes — enough time for me to grab my trusty ol’ Nikon already equipped with a 300mm lens and teleconverter. I remained at a respectful, nonthreatening distance from my side of the pasture’s fence. It moved on and perhaps will surprise a neighbor. Much obliged, moose.
Five miles up a rugged, dusty gravel road off Highway 28 in Lemhi County, Idaho, rise four preserved remains of what were once 16 clay charcoal kilns. The enormous domed structures were used to turn timber into charcoal that was transported across the Birch Creek Valley to a smelter in Nicholia. The smelter processed silver and lead ore from the nearby Viola mine in the late 1880s.
A pathway meanders through the site, also known as the Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns. Visitors can take a self-guided tour to learn more about the structures and the area’s mining past. The site is now part of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Click the link for directions, facilities information and a video.
Each year I challenge myself to create a photo book, which is printed in very limited numbers. Here’s a PDF of this year’s edition, the (lucky) 13th in the series. I think it is best downloaded so pages can be viewed in the two-up (side-by-side) view. Make yourself a cup of hot cheer while waiting for the ebook to appear. Happy New Year!
It’s a rugged hike along a dry river bed to the Canipole cave paintings near Loreto, Mexico. Hang in there. Every step will be worth it. Just as I was ready to give up, Wild Loreto Tours guide Mario said, “just 2 more miles.” Certainly I could do that. Just moments later, the shortest 2 miles of my life, my daughter-in-law and I were looking at petroglyphs etched into some large boulders. A few steps more and we faced a wall of colorful paintings. It wasn’t a cave, but may have been at one time.
Mario explained that the paintings were a way of communicating with people who might pass through the area, much like a newspaper or bulletin board would today. Most of the drawings creatures found in the region. From the drawings, it is interpreted that there were many more whales in the sea than found today. Other paintings are of turtles and birds. Some are geometric shapes and series of dots. Colors of the pre-Hispanic paintings are vibrant.
If you go: contact Wild Loreto Tours. Mario, who said he is the only guide to have permission to travel through private land for access, is full of information about the history of the area, as well as its flora and fauna. Plus, he’s full of encouragement when you may feel like turning back. Be sure to have good nonslip walking shoes or boots that will support your feet on uneven, rocky surfaces.
David Ryder, U.S. Mint director, and Charles Mark, Salmon-Challis National Forest superviser, from left, pour newly minted Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness quarters into Buck’s saddlebags as the new coin is released on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, during a ceremony at Salmon Junior-Senior High School in Salmon, Idaho. The coin is the 50th in the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful series of quarters. (© 2019 Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel)
David Ryder, U.S. Mint director, and Charles Mark, Salmon-Challis National Forest supervisor, from left, pour newly minted Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness quarters into Buck’s saddlebags as the new coin is released on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, during a ceremony at Salmon Junior-Senior High School in Salmon, Idaho. The coin is the 50th in the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful series of quarters. (© 2019 Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel)
While I’m not a true coin collector, it was impossible to ignore the release of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness quarter ceremony today at Salmon Junior-Senior High School. The quarter, the 50th in the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful series, pays homage to the pristine 2.3-million acre wilderness area that features the wild and rushing Salmon River, national forests, steep canyons and mountains, and a large variety of wildlife. It was later named for Frank Church, the Idaho senator who fought to have the wilderness area protected.
The gymnasium was packed with students from throughout the county and members of the community who, like me, wanted to be part of this event. Children younger than 18 were given a quarter while everyone else could exchange $10 for a roll of the new coins.
Watch for these coins in your change. You can carry a two bits of “The Frank” with you.
This is Mom’s off-limits Argus Autronic 35 from the 1960s. It was her special “slide camera” and woe to any kid who touched this camera without permission. That often meant woe to me, especially after she gave my precious Kodak Instamatic to Grandpa as we left Norway in 1969. And I should stop being grumpy about it because now he’d have a camera and could send us pictures. I could always get another camera. I eyed the Argus as that replacement. I wanted the Argus. I coveted the Argus. It looked cool. It had twisty knobs. It was kinda geeky. If I had a camera like this then I would not have to pose in front of it. It was not to be. A camera wouldn’t be forthcoming for quite awhile. Photography would become my life’s work. I have been through many cameras since 1969.
I confess to have snuck some photos from time to time. Back in the ’60s, developing film was expensive. A roll might sit in the camera for half the year. I had to be careful not to finish it off. I also had to remind Mom about that time she took that photo that she didn’t remember. Mine, but hers. She probably caught on. I stopped getting into trouble. About a decade ago, she gave me the rangefinder in its original box, complete with the flash attachment that connected to the side and a few packages of bulbs (never, ever snuck). All sit on my camera shelf of fame.
Mom passed away on August 11 and would have been 96 today, August 23. My brother and I posted a photo gallery on Facebook. Some of the photos were made with this camera. Thank you for your condolences, kind expressions, memories and the variety of emojis on the gallery. All are very much appreciated.
Snow in the San Francisco Bay Area is rare. While other parts of the country can’t wait to get rid of their snow and cold weather, it is such a novelty here that it leads the news for days. Some residents have never experienced snow and head to the highest peaks to frolic in the white stuff.
I welcome a new look for familiar landscapes. I was up early this morning to capture these images without venturing far from my own yard as commute traffic whizzed by. The sun will return the peaks to their normal appearance soon.
Each year I challenge myself to create a photo book, which is printed in very limited numbers. Hey, I’m not rich. Here’s a PDF of this year’s edition, the 12th in the series. I think it is best downloaded so pages can be seen in the two-page (side-by-side) view. Make yourself a cup of hot cheer while waiting for the ebook to appear. Happy New Year!
Jasper was meant to live with us. I met Jasper 12 years ago while on a photo assignment for the Valley Times, now the East Bay Times. The Valley Humane Society was moving from its Spring Street location to larger and better quarters in Pleasanton, California. He was among the cats that needed homes before the big move. After a family conference, I went back to adopt Jasper. He was a garbage can kitty — literally thrown into the trash. Someone brought him to VHS, which raised him until he was old enough to adopt.
Separated from his mama at too young an age, Jasper did not learn what was food and what wasn’t. No shoelace, no fuzzy kitty toy, no brand-new-never-worn wool sock, no fluffy blanket or towel was safe from him. Woe to the person who ignored the warning to put shoes away in the closet. We were surprised when we did not find quilts in the litter box.
Despite his quirky diet (he eventually learned to prefer what was in his dish), we found him to be the friendliest cat to live with us. Any visitor became his instant friend. He never met a lap that didn’t inspire him to curl up and purr.
Jasper became ill, stopped eating and struggled to breathe. X-rays made at the vet’s office showed severe congestive heart failure and other major health problems. He would not get well. The horribly difficult decision to do what was best for him was made. There will never be another cat like him. The house feels different. Thank you, Jasper, for being a great companion.
Jared Barker separates the "target" fish from Lemhi River residents .(© 2018 Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel)
The sight of a bull trout captured in a rotary screw fish trap was cause for excitement as Jared Barker emptied the trap box. It was the largest he said he had seen. Bull trout, chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout are the “target” fish in a study of juvenile fish migrating from the Lemhi River.
Moments later, Barker and partner Mike Hall, both lead technicians for Quantitative Consultants, checked to see if the fish had been previously tagged. If so, it had been caught before and would be in a database of individual fish. Or, it had swallowed a fish that had been tagged.
“It’s like catching fish in a barrel,” Hall joked.
Biologists and technicians identify, tag, weigh and measure the target fish and then release them upstream to be captured again in the large rotary trap, or downstream if already tagged. That helps estimate the number of out-migrating fish. Biologists and technicians identify, tag, weigh and measure the target fish and then release them upstream to be captured again in the large rotary trap, or downstream if already tagged. That helps estimate the number of out-migrating fish.
Native fish that live in the river year-round also are counted, measured and weighed before being set free downstream. Even sculpin, the bottom of the food chain, are important. Once let go, the bull trout stayed near the trap — perhaps in hopes of an easy meal or two.
Quantitative Consultants is under contract from the Bonneville Power Administration to monitor the population of migrating Chinook salmon and steelhead trout to “offset” the number of these fish that die in BPA’s hydropower systems. The project also is in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
While most are passing through, those that are repeat visitors can become familiar faces (or fins) and have been given nicknames. Each tagged fish with Passive Integrated Transponder tag that passes over an antenna throughout the watershed is monitored. fish logged can be tracked at Columbia Basin PIT Tag Information System (PTAGIS), a public database.
They study the “relationship between stream habitat and anadromous salmonid populations in the Columbia River basin,” according to their 2017 annual report to landowners along the Lemhi River and tributaries who have granted access through their private property.