Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hagerman, Idaho and Aquifers

The Snake River - cool  58 degree water.
We arrived outside of Hagerman, ID, and stayed at the High Adventures Rafting Trips and RV Park.  Brett immediately signed us up for white water rafting on the Snake River.  The picture above was taken after he jumped into the cool waters where the Malad River merges into the Snake River.  The rafting trip was a blast.  There were only 6 people on our boat including the guide so we had lots of room.  Brett and I got the front seats because the other people deferred to our ages :(   Having never rafted before we were taught how to paddle and when.  Going down the river we hit the first waves (called the fuzzy bunny) and everyone did well.  As the trip continued the waves got larger and the last one was a category 3 with 5 being the highest ranking.  You are supposed to row as you hit the white water to go through it straight and get the most water effect.  Imagine my surprise when I tried to row and was looking down a black hole where the oar couldn't touch any water.  As I looked up this enormous wave hit us full force and we were instantly drenched from head to foot, and yes, the water was cold!  Luckily we each had a foot pocket in the raft to help keep us from falling into the river.  We were both laughing so hard while gasping for breath I was very grateful we had a guide who knew how to manage the boat.  Here's a video of the two old folks going down the river.  It doesn't look like much but when you are inside the boat it sure seems like a wild ride........

Here are some additional pictures of our white water adventure when we got into some quieter areas.

The Snake River from the raft.

A calm part of the river where you were allowed to get out and float.  Notice who is NOT in the water.

A coyote on the river bank.

Our guide Ryan - he's been riding the river since he was five.

Deer that were near the water until we scared them off.

Aquifers releasing water into the river. 
 Speaking of aquifers......the trip only gets better.  We visited several park units that are part of the Thousand Springs State Park system in this area of Idaho.  Quite a few of them were around Hagerman and one we went to was called Ritter Island State Park where we saw more of the aquifers that flow into the Snake River.  An aquifer is an underground water flow that was created by seismic disturbances millions of years ago.  In this area the water flows hundreds of miles underground for nearly 200 years until it rushes out of the canyon walls of the Middle Snake River.  The water is crystal clear and pure creating beautiful springs and pools.

Aquifers seeping out of the rocks at Ritter Island State Park

Another gorgeous view.  You can feel the mist from the aquifers - great on a hot day.

This is a picture of the underwater growth.  This plant can only grow in pure cool water and is very abundant here.

It's hard to see but at the top is a concrete wall that today collects much of the water to be used for hydroelectric power. 

This black and white photo shows how the aquifers looked before Idaho Power captured the water back in the 1930's to create the hydroelectric plants. 

But it is still a beautiful place.

Farming is a huge operation in this area.  The aquifers that have been diverted into irrigation channels are used for watering systems for the crops and cattle.  Some of the farmers are so smart that they have captured the water from the aquifers on their land and create their own power to run their farms plus sell surplus power back to the electric company.   

Miles and miles of cement aqueducts above the river that carry the water that seeps from the rocks.

One of the hydroelectric plants on the Snake River.

Another park unit we visited was Earl M Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve.   The water in the box canyon flows at a rate of 180,000 gallons per minute. The natural area offers views of the springs, a hiking trail and viewing platform that overlooks a 20' waterfall.  The waterfall is ranked as the 11th largest spring in the United States.

The box canyon from the top of the rim.

We decided to take the hike down to see the waterfall.

At this point we decided it was every mammal for themselves as the pups joined us for the hike down.

The 20 foot waterfall near the bottom of the canyon.

Canyon walls created from basalt rock.

A beautiful calm pool at the bottom where the water is diverted into channels where it flows into a hydroelectric power plant further downstream.

Then we had to start the long walk up again.  There was a steel cable on parts of the trail to help you climb back up (or maybe it was to keep you from falling over the edge).

We also hiked through Malad Gorge which was only a half mile from the RV park where we were staying.

The Malad River traverses the 250 foot deep canyon for 2.5 miles before it empties into the Snake River.

It's very scary at the rim because there are no barriers.

Water flowing down the Malad Gorge.

This waterfall is called the Devil's Basin.

The water has a green tinge where plant life grows.

This one you can't climb into because it is way too steep.

While in the park we saw a wild sheep that the park range told us was a blackbellied barbados sheep.  He said it showed up about a year ago when they saw it walking along one of the roads in the park.  They have no idea how it got in the park and haven't been able to find anyone who owned it.  The sheep is doing well and seems to like his environment.  The park borders a cattle farm where they have seen the sheep grazing with the cattle.

We weren't fast enough to get his picture but this is what he looks like.

It is a beautiful area with many parks to discover and things to do.  Unfortunately we ran out of time and had to head for our next destination but Hagerman, Idaho is a splendid place to visit.   

A picture of Hagerman Valley from the Justice Grade.

We finally got tired so we decided to let the pups drive for awhile.

For our trivia buffs:
How long would it take to fill a 2,220 sq ft house with water from the Earl M Hardy Box Canyon waterfall?

The waterfall releases 2,640 gallons per second, enough to fill the house in 45 seconds.

On to Salmon River, Idaho.  Peace to all !



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