Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day Sixteen - Island Park ID - July 14, 2010

Today Patti and David Harwell take us still in the Island Park area to the Johnny Sack cabin, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is owned by the US Forest Service.  Sack was from Germany and became known for his craft of split bark carpentry.  He took three years to build his cabin single handedly with mostly hand tools.  We pass Big Spring, which is the headwaters of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, and we watch for a time to see rainbow trout, without success.  Indian paintbrush and violet geraniums line the path to the cabin.  

Outside the cabin we see -- still operating -- Sack's construction of a water wheel and generator to create electricity and bring water into his cabin.  If only we could capture the quiet, soothing sound the wheel makes........ The design features of the cabin itself and his furniture are nothing short of amazing, and we have the best historian and tour guide ever -- our own friend Harwell.  Inlaid flooring with a different pattern in each room, handmade furniture with the split bark trim, and a lamp shade made of some of his photographs on parchment add to the awesomeness of the home.  A must-see!

We are joined for the rest of the day by Melba and Al Dahl, friends from Longview, who are camped in the Valley View RV Park as our 'neighbors.'  David now drives us a short distance to the Madison River Canyon Earthquake Area, and we see the mountain where a section broke off during a 7.5 on the Richter scale earthquake in 1959 and killed 28 people camping along the river.  The slide dammed the river, creating Earthquake Lake, which we still see today.  It will be allowed to revert to a river as erosion occurs downstream.  One of the survivors was an 80 year old resident who jumped five feet from her floating house to the bank of the river.  

There are several faults in the area, and it was determined that two of them moved to cause the quake.  During the interpreter's talk at the Visitors' Center, the group is asked what would be the first thing they should do if they came into the area to camp overnight.  Some of the answers given are 'register with the forest ranger,' 'pitch a tent,' (where is he going with this question?) and 'don't feed the bears.'  Then someone is heard to say, "Pour a glass of wine."  As the audience laughs, I forget what his answer it.

As we leave the Center, we see the many-ton boulders that slid during the one minute quake.  The rapids that are created downstream of Earthquake Lake are rated #5 and most dangerous.  

We stop for lemonade at Longhorn Cafe, and then on to the Harwell cabin for heavy hors d'oeuvres.  Because of the cool mountain air Annie and Jake travel with us and enjoy frequent walks and water breaks.  Leashes used and no squirrel chasing today.

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