Hell’s Half Acre

A while back I wrote about a hike Sue and I took up “Death Valley”. Today we visited another somber-sounding piece of Idaho real estate, which we found to be quite beautiful.

North of here, between Blackfoot and Idaho Falls, Interstate 15 crosses the very edge of an ancient lava flow known as “Hell’s Half Acre”. For a couple miles, the landscape on either side of the freeway changes from a carefully groomed smooth, open, green to rugged, rocky and wild.

At a rest stop in the midst of this, the BLM has created a set of paved interpretive trails that allow visitors to experience the landscape close up.



This is a rough, rugged landscape. A lot of bare, black, basalt lava with scattered juniper trees and sage brush.



This would not be easy country to cross. As the surface of the lava cooled, it hardened. As the still-hot lava beneath the surface flowed away, the surface was left unsupported and it collapsed, leaving a rough, tumble-down terrain.



Above, you see that as the surface of the flowing lava cooled and hardened, it left a wrinkled, washboard appearance.



Here you can see the struggle plants have to live here. on the right you can see some of the moss and lichen that are slowly turning the rock into soil.



We did see some wildlife. If you look very carefully, in the very center of this photo you can see a rabbit, well camouflaged. (And a good thing too – we saw hawks circling overhead earlier.)



Here’s a different sort of wildlife. We didn’t see the spiders, but we saw several very beautiful webs.



And that was our afternoon. If you ever get the chance, I recommend a visit.



Space oddity, indeed: 18 talks from astronauts, including Chris Hadfield

You know, when Bowie originally released “Space Oddity”, the Apollo moon landing, Space Shuttle and International Space Station were all in the future. Just Science Fiction. Watch this and realize that now is the future. Wow.

TED Blog

Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who’s become a YouTube sensation aboard the International Space Station, has showed us why tears won’t fall in space and the dangers of clipping one’s fingernails in zero gravity. But he has truly outdone himself with his latest video. Scheduled to leave the space station tonight at 7pm – and to touch down in Kazakhstan hours later — Hadfield has remade David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” (For those not up on their Bowie song titles, this is the song that starts: “Ground control to Major Tom.”) Watch it — it’s truly awe-inspiring.

At TED, we’ve had talks from explorers of the mind, charterers of the polar regions and investigators of insects. Today, we’re taking a look at talks from those who’ve seen the earth from outside its atmosphere. All of these TED, TEDx, and TED-Ed speakers are astronauts, yes, but they also have…

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Another Hike in the City Creek Area

A while back Sue and I went to an Earth Day festival at a local park. I met a guy there who told me about a really nice hike further up the City Creek drainage – a trail called “The Grove”. So today I decided to check it out.

I took a bunch of photos to give you an idea of what it was like

The area is mountainous and in the lower areas it’s grassy with scattered juniper trees:


The area is criss-crossed with single track trails like this. Here we’re looking down City Creek towards the Portneuf Valley.DSCN0949

Here’s another view back down the road toward the valley:
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The junipers of course are evergreen, but spring is just starting to show here in the higher altitudes, with a few wildflowers and deciduous trees just starting to show buds and leaves. Here’s some wildflowers I found:

Here’s looking up the canyon – getting green, but still not a lot of leaves.
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I was paid a visit from this butterfly, who was kind enough to stay still long enough for me to get a picutre:

I was told that “The Grove” from which the trail takes its name, is an aspen grove, I didn’t see many aspen, but I saw quite a few maples, as well as a variety of other trees.

Here’s a look back down the valley towards home:

This was as far as I got before I had to turn around and go home. However, with all the miles of trails up here, I’m sure I’ll be back!

On the way back, I took this panorama of the road home.
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So that’s it – I had a great time and hope you enjoy this post!