mountains

Lewiston and Montana Trip

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the LCSC Center for Arts & History in Lewiston, Idaho. I was an invited lecturer to kick off their three-month exhibition on photographic history of their region. The exhibition is titled: Stories We See—Early Photography of the Valley.  My research has examined Idaho’s first lady photographer, Mrs. Amelia Strang, who had her commercial studio in Lewiston during the mid-1860s. She is a centerpiece in my upcoming book on women photographers of the Pacific Northwest during the 19th century.

The trip took me through the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana, along the Lochsa River, which I did fish on the morning of my return. Next, I ventured down the Bitterroot Valley into Idaho and followed the Salmon River and spent the night at the Syringa Lodge in Salmon. To finish out the trip, I continued south to Challis and then through the Big Lost River Valley to MacKay and then home. Lots of great autumn colors, dramatic clouds, and snow along the mountain peaks.

Rainbows, Beehives, & Jack Rabbits

The other day I decided to go fishing on the Portneuf River, about an hour’s drive from home. Got out there before sunrise and encountered a live skunk at my first pull-off point so I decided to go further up the river to another access area. As I pulled on my waders in the dim light of pre-dawn, the silence was broken by the raucous cawing of crows, followed by small flights of ducks and geese with their associated honking. So much for Nature being quiet! Regardless, being alone in the cold river (except for the pre-historic looking Great Blue Heron gliding above the river’s channel) casting dry flies upstream was a powerful moment of solitude to enjoy before the excitement of another semester at the university.

After a steady rain finally let up, the skies began to breakup and just as I climbed up the river’s bank I noticed this lovely rainbow that arched from one side of the mountain to the other. Unfortunately, I only had my Fujifilm X-20 retro range-finder digital camera. No ultra-wide angle lens to capture the entire view.

Eventually I drove up the road a bit and took a gravel road along Pebble Creek, where I was high enough the clouds were at my level. Here I also came across a couple of Jack Rabbits! Frankly I didn’t know they lived this far north. I’ve always encountered them in Texas or the desert southwest. Interesting.

Next, I drove along Toponce Creek, were I saw a dead badger and several wild turkeys. Here I did catch a small lively Brook Trout and promptly released it. When the fishing slowed down, I drove along the Chesterfield area where I kept coming across beehives. I was fascinated by their interesting colors. Several ranchers had these multi-colored boxes stacked in their fields. Finally I had to stop and switch roles from trout fisher to photographer! But once back in the Portneuf River in the afternoon, I landed three nice rainbow trout and released several others. Excellent way to spend the day!

Afterwards: The colorful beehive shot was used as a book cover for British poet, John Looker‘s collection titled “The Human Hive”. Here’s a link to a poem he dedicated to photography.

Early Autumn in the Intermountain West

Today (just a week after the Autumnal Equinox) we took a 20-mile scenic drive east of town that winds its way between Camelback Mountain and Chinese Peak (colloquially known as Chinks Peak, including Google Maps). Colors in the trees were incredible with plenty of red from the Maples and orange from Hawthorns and other smaller deciduous trees, scatter among the cedars and pines. What surprised me the most was seeing mountaintops already blanketed with snow! Just yesterday the nearby Scout Mountain (14 miles away), had its peak (about 8,700ft/2652m) covered in the white stuff! Here are a few shots from our afternoon outing. As a technical side note, I was shooting with my Nikon D800 with a 51-year old Nikkor 50mm/1.4 lens. It works great and has excellent qualities!

Color deciduous trees mixed with pines in the Pocatello Range. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Color deciduous trees mixed with pines in the Pocatello Range. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Midway between Camelback Mountain and Inkom. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Midway between Camelback Mountain and Inkom. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Looking east across wheat fields towards the Portneuf Range with snow-dusted peaks. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Looking east across wheat fields towards the Portneuf Range with snow-dusted peaks. © 2013 Terry Ownby.