Tuesday, June 16, 2009

South Fork River Rafting Trip

On June 10th, Common Ground loaded up the camping gear and set out for southeatern Idaho. Our destination was the beautiful South Fork of the Snake River, near the Idaho and Wyoming border. Our campground was located on a gently floating stretch of the Snake River. After arriving in camp and setting up, the group bunkered down as a batch of showers moved through. Despite a wet start, the skies cleared for the rest of the evening and the next day. The group enjoyed card games, exploring the river banks, and telling scary stories around the campfire. Tim was even able to catch some impressive cutthroat and brown trout right from shore. The trip was a relaxing and fun time spent with a great group of people.

Check Out the Pictures!

Thanks to our canopies, we were able to stay dry outside (mostly)

Every camping trip needs a campfire, even if its raining

Tim trying to place the lure right where he wants it

Even though we couldn't raft, we were able to find fun activities to do

No shortage of smiles on this trip

In the end, we all had fun, despite the disappointing weather

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Great Basin Destination Trip

Common Ground's first-ever trip to Great Basin National Park kicked off Thursday morning, as we excitedly loaded the bus and headed off! Upon arriving at our destination, we checked out the park's two Visitor Centers to learn all about the history, geology, and wildlife of Great Basin National Park. The rest of the evening was spent cooking and eating gigantic camp burritos, stargazing, and relaxing by the campfire. The next morning, we woke up bright and early, excited to explore the park! We started the day with a hike along the Osceola Ditch trail, a historic gold-mining location. Next we took the scenic drive up to Wheeler Peak. Along the way we stopped at the various overlook points to take pictures and appreciate the stark contrast between the Snake Mountains above us and the deserts of the Great Basin in the distance below us. After eating lunch in view of the still snow-capped peaks, we set off back down the mountain to experience one of the park's most famous features, the historic Lehman Caves!

On our guided tour of the caves, we learned about the discovery and development of the caves and were amazed at the difficult route the cave's original discoverer had to travel (with only a single candle for light!) to explore the cave. We also learned about the origins of the various "cave decorations," including stalactites, stalagmites, and shields, and the incredible lengths of time they took to form. The ranger told us that caves like Lehman are extremely fragile, sensitive environments that can be easily disturbed by careless human behavior. As such, we were careful not to touch any of the rock formations in the cave, because we had learned that the oils in our skin could prevent these rocks from continuing to grow! Perhaps most amazing of all, we learned that Lehman Caves are home to a number of life forms not found anywhere else in the world! We emerged from the caves thoroughly impressed with the beauty and complexity of the underground environment.

Having worked up quite a hunger during our cave explorations, we returned to camp to cook and eat a feast of spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad, then hurried to finish washing the dishes so we could arrive on time for the evening's ranger presentation, where we learned about many of the bird species that call Great Basin their home. The ranger taught us how to mimic the calls and songs of several of the park's bird species, and we had a lot of fun practicing these calls! As the sun began to set, we built another big campfire and made s'mores, enjoying our last night at Great Basin. In the morning we ate a hearty breakfast of French toast and sausage, then packed up camp and headed home, having been very impressed with our first visit to Great Basin!
Check out the pictures!
Thanks to our generous volunteers, everything went very smoothly

Roasting some marshmellows for smores

Resting on a bench

Enjoying the fantastic weather

In the amazing caves that we visited

Stalactites and stalagmites: truly an impressive sight

Group picture in the park

Group picture near the bus

Tim was impressed by the unique trees in the park

Mary enjoying the beautiful scenery