Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Fourth of July at Upper Payette Lake, Idaho

           Mist rises from the lake as pancakes and bacon cook over the fire.  Nearby, a merganser and her chicks keep warm in a hollowed-out tree stump.  Tim and I keep ourselves warm by sipping hot drinks on this bitterly cold 4th of July morning in Idaho's Upper Payette Lake National Forest Service campground. 

Morning mist on Upper Payette Lake.

Ready to cook breakfast on a chilly morning.

            Morning sun burns off the mist and the sparkling lake beckons.  Tim inflates his float tube to try angling the icy water.  Three osprey soar above the lake, searching for a fish breakfast.  It’s a good sign, but Tim has only a few nibbles this morning.  I have better luck bird-watching and spot brilliant blue/orange lazuli buntings and red/orange western tanagers.

Lazuli Bunting (left)—photo courtesy of planetofbirds.com
and Western Tanager (right)—photo courtesy of allaboutbirds.com

Tim fishes Upper Payette Lake.  (He's in his float tube—the bright red speck
in the center of the water.)

In the afternoon we leave the campground and drive along the North Fork of the Payette River, searching for an ideal fishing spot.  Tim descends a steep bank and fishes a couple deep pools by downed logs.  The fishing isn’t great; Tim catches only one small trout.

Fly-fishing the North Fork of the Payette River.

We return to the campsite and string the hammock between two lodgepole pines.  Tim enjoys an afternoon siesta while I start the campfire.  Dinner tonight is traditional camp fare—hot dogs with macaroni and cheese—but it’s a four-star meal in a setting like this.  We inhale the pine-scented air and enjoy the quiet and the lake view.

This is the life!  Tim relaxes at the campsite.

After dinner the float tube is ready for another go on the lake; we notice plenty of fish hitting the surface.  As Tim floats and casts in the lake I scan the area with my binoculars.  Another merganser is swimming across the water, followed by seven baby chicks; mom is teaching these babies how to navigate the still waters. 
I hear screeching overhead and look up to see an osprey gliding low, chased by a screaming bald eagle.  The osprey drops the fish it's carrying and races away from the eagle.  Another bald eagle swoops from the trees to join its mate, and together they cross the lake and disappear into the mountains.
It’s 10:30 p.m. and the sun is setting beyond Upper Payette Lake.  Tim and I open a few packs of multi-colored sparklers and place them in the ground around our campsite. 
  As darkness falls we light the sparklers, creating our own mini-fireworks show deep in the north woods of Idaho.  Happy Birthday, America!

Sparklers around the campfire at Upper Payette Lake, Idaho.

USA readers, do you have memories from a special July 4th celebration?
Interested in traveling to Idaho and visiting this area of forests and lakes?  Take a look at these two websites:  http://www.recreation.gov/camping/Upper_Payette_Lake_Campground/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=74034&topTabIndex=Search

                 If you would like to read about another of my Idaho adventures, click here.

             No blog post next week.  In two weeks travel along with me to the Aloha State!


  1. Hi Rita,

    Don't you just love a chilly day in July! I know that my wife and I certainly do! However, with weather patterns changing, it seems to be an event that is becoming more rare, even here in northern NH! Perhaps we should start considering other living locations. Canada's northern maritime provinces seem alluring! :-)

    Your description of the camping experience on Upper Payette Lake brings back many fond memories of similar experiences many years ago on lakes in the Adirondacks of NY. Thank you for the memories!

    Also, via the link you provided, I jumped over to your Blog posting about the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho's Panhandle. I enjoyed reading this posting as well. Your tandem bike was cool, and the scenery yoy experienced was equally cool! As I think you would agree, rail trails provide opportunities for some excellent adventures!

    And last, but certainly not least, I'll look forward to your next posting about travels to the Aloha State!


  2. I DO love a chilly day in July but we're not going to get one here in southern Utah next week. Temperatures are forecast to be in the 100's! Yes, I think chilly July mornings could be a thing of the past very soon, if not already.

    Thanks for visiting my previous post. I agree that rail trails enhance communities and provide excellent recreation opportunities. The Trail of the Couer d' Alenes is a prime example of that.

    As always, thanks for your kind comments, John.

  3. With temperatures climbing above 103 degrees every day, a chilly July 4th beckons. Thank you for the lovely photos.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Connye.

      I think that this year we'll all be wishing we were someplace cooler on the 4th of July!

  4. I have the heat on in my southern NH house as I write this, though the temps are expected to jump into the 80s, starting tomorrow and we should have clear skies for the Fourth. My favorite July 4 memories are of picnicking out on Lake Winnipesaukee, waiting for the sun to set and the fireworks to start. The towns around the lake shoot their fireworks over the lake, so it's magical to see the sky light up and the reflections in the water, too.

    Thanks for the gorgeous, crisp, clear views of Payette Lake and River. What a memorable place to spend July 4!

    Have a wonderful holiday week (and bring lots of water)!

    1. Thanks for sharing your favorite July 4th memories, Vickie.

      My parents own a cottage in a community near a small lake and the town used to set off fireworks over the lake. I agree, it was magical!

      This year most towns in our area have instituted a ban on fireworks, so I'll have to wait until next year to see another display.

      Have a happy holiday!

  5. What a great camping trip, Rita! Thanks for the bird pictures! And how neat to see the merganser chicks. We watched some Canada goslings turn from the light brown to the pale gray to the full-on Canada goose markings. I had no idea how they changed.