As a new resident of Boise, Idaho, a high desert, I was excited to be venturing away from the low valley (beautiful, but much hotter, less seasonal) desert of Phoenix where I’d resided for 16 years to plant some new roots. Of course, we all know how life goes- two weeks after I moved and I started my new business, the world as we know it came to a frightening halt. And while this this seemed like VERY poor timing, I decided there must be a silver lining. What could I do while we have to be so socially distant? As my anxiety levels began to rise, I forced myself to slow down with the world and to find my inner peace and rediscover my other passions. In other words, for this brief period of time, I had this unexpected opportunity to grow in areas that I used to spend too little time. While yoga keeps me centered and stretched, photography has been the area that I’ve found myself eager to further develop my skills. And what better way to do that than to hike and explore this beautiful state in which I had just landed? A state that has more vast areas of wilderness and recreation areas and countless places to explore. Boise itself supposedly has at least one park within a square mile of every house in the city and I don’t doubt it! It’s also one of the most dog friendly places to live. There are more dogs per capita and more dog parks per capita than most cities in the USA. And I just happened to have two that love to explore with me. And where did we decide to reside? Right next to the Oregon Trail and State Highway 21 in Southeast Boise. Now that I’m here, I could not imagine a better place to be socially quarantined. And for those of you that are not nearby but may want to explore this area someday, I felt that part of my role as a photographer is to share the places of the world with you that I explore and hopefully inspire you to take that journey yourself. And if that experience is not in the cards you were dealt, then at least you can get a glimpse of these beautiful places through my lens. There’s no better way to turn this upside down world right side up than with getting out there (virtually or in real life) and exploring the great outdoors!
Idaho State Highway 21 is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, a winding highway from Boise to Stanley. And it sure lives up to its name as a scenic highway. If you want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, this is a road worth taking, and I promise it’s way faster and less crowded than Maui’s famous Road to Hana! I was headed for a destination, a hike near Idaho city, but what I found along the was the truth behind the age-old saying that it’s about the journey, not the destination. Exploring and discovering new places like this also reminds me of the kind of life for which we should all strive. A life in which we enjoy the journey. Stop and take a breath. Stop and look around. Stop and soak in the beauty that surrounds us. The previous moments that we miss if we are in a race to get where we’re going. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of our daily lives. Being able to slow down during these hard times with which we are currently faced has allowed me, and hopefully many of you, to do some self-reflection, and to slow down and think about what life is really all about. So for me, this Highway is a great reminder of how breathtakingly beautiful the journey can be, if we only take time to become aware and be in the moment.
These photos were taken on the stretch of the highway between Southeast Boise and Idaho City, a curvy journey that takes you past the Lucky Peak State Park which includes many lake areas and beautiful hiking spots. There are pullover areas so you can safely stop and snap a photo, or just soak in the gorgeous views. My favorite spot was just north of the lakes, where this little plateau sits proud almost like an island, spotted with houses that travel up into the foothills, perched on cliffs and mountainside along side the pine trees. I recently heard from someone who lives in this area and has the pleasure of taking route as her daily drive and she stated that its even more beautiful after a few more rains. I can barely imagine it being anymore vibrant and green, but as I am also lucky to live right next to this highway in Boise, it won’t be long until I journey here again in hopes that she is right!
And of course, while the journey was definitely the highlight of this day trip, the whole reason I ended up on this drive was to get to my destination, Charcoal Gulch, a hiking trail on the outskirts of Idaho City. This was one of the most peaceful hikes I’ve been on to date, and a nice change of scenery. Pine trees lofted overhead while spring flowers blossomed at my feet. Moss covered so many branches, adding another beautiful and fascinating layer of green. Not too many people nor too many bugs on a Sunday afternoon with lots of shade made for an enjoyable, gradual climb and descent through the forest.
Visit Idaho and Idaho Parks and Recreation are both great resources if you are interested in traveling here or already living here like me and want ideas on where to take your next adventure, which may take you on a beautiful ride along the 21. They shared a video post about this Scenic Highway that worth viewing if you’d like to get a glimpse of where you could be taking your next scenic drive.
All Trails app has been my go-to for find new hikes! It’s a free app and can be used anywhere, at least in the USA, and it’s really helpful for exploring new trails because fellow hikers that leave reviews give tips on parking, how busy it was, what the weather was like, closure notices, etc.