Saturday, August 22, 2015

Skull crack and fury trail

A tale of love, life, death, and despair.

     My brother-in-law mentioned that he was taking a few friends to see the Kokanee salmon run, I don't know a whole lot about this species of salmon, however I do know that they are basically land locked Sockeye salmon and as such, they only spawn once. After they spawn, the fish will die soon after, making for a tragic love story! During the process, they mutate from the pale silver color to a bright red body and climb as high as they can in the river and beget the next generation. Their urges are so great that they die during the process, imagine if humans went through the same ordeal!

     The plan was to meet a little after eight and head for the trailhead on the east side of the Causey reservoir. Once the loading was done, we hit the road and after a couple needed stops, we reached our destination. It was just a little after ten and it was already starting to get warm. The other group headed in as he readied his children. Skull crack is only a little over two miles, so kids can typically handle the slow elevation gain and decent, however in this case his middle boy, about a mile in was complaining that his legs were hurting and he couldn't go any farther. He even proclaimed he wasn't going to make it, acting as if we should go on without him; so onto my shoulders he went. This was a first for me, as my son was only nine when he started hiking and he never needed help. My nephew, on the other hand, was laying it on thick too! Once the complaining started, every step he took, seemed to make his situation terminal. He is very light, so it wasn't a problem carrying him the rest of the way.

     The smoke from the wildfires in California, Washington, and Idaho still plagued us, and today was no exception. The smoky haze made taking pictures a no go if I wanted them to turn out. So I kept the camera in the bag until we made it to the inlet. As we began the decent into the back of the canyon, you could see the Kokanee darting up the river as it flowed towards the lake. It was fun watching the fish struggle with the obstacles nature blocked their path with, ensuring that only the strongest will survive!

     I walked up the stream about a half mile and found a little foot tall waterfall that the Kokanee were going to have to jump, in order to get any farther up the stream. I retrieved the tripod from my backpack and set up to shoot the coming acrobatics. The fish were still about twenty yards down stream and staging for the next section. The fish would load a section of river and once it was overcrowded, they would tackle the next obstacle. I waited as the pool filled, but none of the fish would jump the falls. The canyon walls were very narrow and I was losing the direct sunlight I wanted to get the fast shutter speeds needed to catch the fish in the air. After losing the light and having fish that just wouldn't cooperate; I gave up! This was around two, so we headed back towards the truck. The fish didn't want to play nice, however mother nature decided to be generous and provided a nice breeze out of the east; it cleared out most of the smoke. With the smoke abating, I finished the trail with camera in hand.

      One of our trail marauders, Timber, no he isn't a cast member from the Mad Max, Fury road movie, he just has an eye condition that requires him to wear the goggles. He doesn't like them very much, so you have to watch him. He will knock them off if you're not looking; I have to admit he looks awful cool!

    Sawyer, with his Dad in the background.

     Carver, as you can see, the trail was very dry and dusty, he had collected half of it on his shirt and face.

     The reservoir was full of kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards.

     This time my Daughter joined me, she likes to take pictures, just like Dad.

     She also enjoys doing staged landscapes with her Tigger in the foreground. She has become quite good at composing these shots, so I like to encourage her when ever I can. It was in the high eighties when we made it back to the truck, although it felt hotter. The same wind that was holding the smoke at bay, also coated us with dust and it was every where! Skull crack is a fun short hike, even without the fish!

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