Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
All of our campers packed up on Memorial Day and went home, leaving us with just a couple of folks who wanted some peace and quiet after the noisy weekend. We spent Monday cleaning out fire pits and updating the reservation signs.

And to finish off the holiday weekend we had another lovely peach sunset.

Sunset Lake Cascade State Park

On Tuesday, Walter noticed that the well seemed to be cycling every 1 1/2 minutes (not a good thing since it means it was turning on and off 960 times a day when it’s rated for 100 times a day) but when we walked the campground we couldn’t find any leaks. We wrote up a work order on it and put it in the pay tube since during the week we seldom see a ranger.

They finally picked up the order on Thursday evening and were out on Friday morning looking for the leak. Sure enough, there was a boggy spot over on the way to Curlew (we didn’t think to check over there) and they dug it up and whoosh water came spouting out. They mended the pipe and now the well has stopped cycling. Yippee.

Monday during rounds Walter found a patch of light blue flowers he didn’t recognize and sent me over to check it out. It was a wonderfully showy display of Showy Polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum). In the sun these are usually dark blue but growing in the shade they are a sweet light blue.  

Showy Polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum)

The patch went all the way down the bank to the shores of the slough on the north side of the campground.

Showy Polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum)

We had a lot of wildlife wandering through the campground when we first arrived that I didn’t manage to capture on camera. We had a family of 3 deer, a very bushy-tailed fox who has been hunting the mice and voles who live here and a bald eagle who soars over the campground now and then. On the way to the Laundromat on Tuesday I had 3 bucks (with antlers just starting to spread) cross the road in front of me. I stopped, fumbled out my camera and managed to get a photo of the last of the 3 as he disappeared into the bushes.

Deer Donnelly ID

Wednesday we set out to take the hike to Skein and Raft Lakes. We drove south on West Mountain Road and spied a couple of Sandhill Cranes out in a meadow.

Sandhill Cranes Lake Cascade SP

Their distinctive calls sure make them easy to identify—of course their size and the red patch over their eyes makes them hard to miss too.

Sandhill Crane Lake Cascade SP

We saw another right next to the road later on too.

Further down the lake I made Walter stop so I could take a photo of the huge ‘lake’ of camas along the lakeshore and the mountains behind it.  

Lake of camas at Lake Cascade SP

We drove on and on until we came to Willow Creek Trail (Forest Road 438) where we turned uphill along the dirt single track. Walter switched to 4-wheel low from the start and boy was that a good idea. Mother Nature had been using this road as a creek bed and it was a real challenge to drive. About 2 miles up the road (we were supposed to go 3 1/2 to find the trail head) we reached a road closed sign.

FR 438 Road Closed sign

Not a good sign. We turned around here since there was a spur road right there to make it possible. After parking as far out of the way as we could (even though the likelihood of traffic was very low), we hiked up the road to see what the problem was. Ummm, I think a landslide that takes out half of a single lane road is a good reason to close it, don’t you?

Landslide FR 438

The undercutting at the narrowest spot makes this road only safe for ATV’s. And it looked like a fresh landslide so who knows how much more they will lose in the next thunderstorm.

Landslide FR 438 Walter Cooke

We hiked a ways up the road and got a nice view of Lake Cascade looking up lake.

Lake Cascade from FR 438

The trailhead was still a couple of miles away and that round trip was more than we wanted to hike, let alone adding it to the hike. The road got pretty steep after this point and it wasn’t that lovely so we turned around.

We’d seen a lot of False Solomon's Seal (Maianthenmum racemosum) on the way up and this one had only begun to bloom.

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthenmum racemosum)

The Mallow-leaf Ninebark (Physocarpus mavaceus) was just coming into bloom.   

Mallow-leaf Ninebark (Physocarpus mavaceus)

And the Western Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) was in full riot.

Western Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

On the way past the landslide I shot another photo. I don’t know if it looks worse from this angle or not.

Landslide FR 438

There were Ciliate bluebells (Mertensia ciliata) in bloom along the roadside ditch. The new camera still isn’t perfect about focusing on blue flowers.  

Ciliate bluebells (Mertensia ciliata)

I got brave and drove back down the hill in 4-wheel drive. Going slow it wasn’t too bad but I admit I was really glad to see pavement again.

On the way down I stopped to take a photo of the lake. That pair of island-like formations sticking out into the lake is where Sugarloaf Campground is (the place where we hosted in July/August 2015).

Lake Cascade Idaho

And the island is in this photo Sugarloaf Island.

Lake Cascade Idaho

We decided we might as well make a circuit of the lake so we continued south on West Mountain where I spied some Wilcox's Penstemon (Penstemon wilcoxii).  
Wilcox's Penstemon (Penstemon wilcoxii)

We turned north on Lakeshore up to Cascade and near the golf course, there were a pair of turkey vultures in the road who did not want to leave their precious road kill lunch.

Turkey vultures Cascade ID

Here and there along the drive we saw Sticky Geraniums (Geranium viscosissimum) in bloom.

Sticky Geraniums (Geranium viscosissimum)

We continued north through the town of Cascade and took Hwy 55 up to the turn-off for the Boulder Creek Day Use area. At this point, they have the only sandy beach that we know of on the lake. As the lake level drops more sand appears but Boulder Creek always has beach.

We took our lunch out to the beach and on the way, I took a photo of this odd member of the currant family, Squawberry (Ribes cereum).

Squawberry (Ribes cereum)

There was a huge ant mound on the way to the beach.

Ant mound Boulder Creek Day Use area

All the dark brown dots at the top of the mound are ants.

We found a picnic table down by the water with a nice view. And you can even see a bit of the sand.  

Boulder Creek day use are Lake Cascade

Just to the left of center in this photo is a green patch along the shore across the lake. That’s Huckleberry Campground. Left of center you can see two little white roofs. Those are the bathrooms on the south end of the campground.

Huckleberry Campground from Boulder Creek

And just south of here is Curlew and their bathrooms.

Curlew Campground from Boulder Creek

I passed some buckwheat (Eriogonum) in bloom near the parking area. (Within a week or so of this photo there was tons of this in bloom along the highways and roads here).

buckwheat (Eriogonum)

There were these lovely dark pink buds too and in time I have decided that they are buckwheat before they open rather than rosy pussytoes.

 buckwheat (Eriogonum) buds

However these really are some form of pussytoes (Antennaria).

 pussytoes (Antennaria)

The day may not have gone the way we planned but we still had fun.

That evening when we went to do rounds, Walter noticed this HUGE moth on the wall between the Men’s and Women’s bathrooms.

Cecropia moth

The internet tells me that it is a Cecropia moth, the largest moth in North America. It’s about 3” across. They don’t eat. They have no digestive system. They live for about 2 weeks, during which time they find a mate and spend an entire day mating. Then the female lays about 100 eggs. The caterpillar that hatches is a tiny little thing not some big humungous worm as I expected.

They’re nocturnal so we figure this one was asleep on the wall, slowly beating it’s wings as it breathed.

Cecropia moth

Don’t you just love the fuzzy maroon body with the white stripes and those incredible antennae?

The weather during the week was pleasant if a bit cloudy. We had a sprinkle or two on Thursday but nothing serious. At the beginning of the week, we had almost no reservations for the upcoming weekend but by Friday we were nearly full with only 3 openings on Saturday night. Most of our Friday campers arrived early and everyone was there before 9 pm which is unusual. It was in the 80’s in Boise and they were predicting record temperatures in the high 90’s for Saturday and Sunday there but only in the low to mid 80’s here. So the folks from Boise flee the heat and come to their favorite playground, Lake Cascade.

While we had kids this weekend, they were mostly older and not anywhere near the 30 plus kids we had the weekend before. The lake was stating to get warmer so the kids went in to test the waters but nobody stayed in very long.

There were more boats in the water this weekend and we even saw a couple of brave water-skiers, with wetsuits of course.

Saturday night we even had a nice sunset. It started out a pale peach.

Sunset Lake Cascade

And then moved to peach and orange.

Sunset Lake Cascade

Before putting on a last bit of a show and disappearing.

Sunset Lake Cascade

We had hot weather on Sunday (90 degrees) and highs in the mid 80’s are forecast for the next few days. But later in the week they expect it to cool off and actually be down in the high 60’s next weekend. I’m just grateful that the heat isn’t here to stay. Last year it stayed over 90 pretty much the entire month of June. Ugh.