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Corduroy Meadows

August 1, 2011
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Shooting stars cover Corduroy Meadows in Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

I’m back home in Santa Fe at last, with a backlog of photo processing miles long. Check back; I hope to be posting quite a few images in the coming month or so. And since the monsoons have dampened New Mexico’s wretched fire conditions enough for the National Forests to reopen, I may even get out some in August.

Meanwhile, here’s a bagatelle from almost a month ago: Corduroy Meadows in the Frank Church Wilderness at sunrise, covered in flowers. This high plateau country in the southwest corner of the wilderness is a little subdued for my general taste in scenery, but it’s always a joy to see one of the many unfamiliar pockets of the Frank’s 2.3 million acres, and I knew the flowers would be good. Not long before the meadows had been covered in blue camas; I was there for the shooting stars, and next week the elephant heads got into gear. This plateau country of open valleys studded with humpy granite summits is certainly less dramatic than the mountain ranges of eastern Idaho, but it’s on the west side of the state’s dramatic rain shadow, so it’s much lusher and feels more alpine than its six- to eight-thousand-foot elevations would indicate. These meadows and their neighbors give rise to the clear waters of the Middle and South Forks of the Salmon, and harbor the best spawning beds for Idaho’s wild chinook, plus nesting grounds for sandhill cranes. They’re also fertile ground for mosquitoes, and photography the previous evening was an exercise in misery. But a near-freezing night put the damper on the bugs till well after sunrise, and I was able to shoot the growing morning light in peace while three groups of sandhills called to each other, their odd yodeling croaks almost supernaturally clear and resonant as they echoed across the valley.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 9, 2011 4:25 pm

    Beautiful image, Jackson. I love the subdued, purple tones, and the serene scene.

    I used to build trail with a guy who had worked in the Frank Church–it sounds like an incredibly beautiful and remote place. Like the kind of wilderness we all need, whether we know it or not…

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