We think of them as some of the West's sacred places — the headwaters of rivers — where wonder and enchantment still reign.
So much good comes from headwater streams, those small tributaries that transport water from the upper reaches of the watershed to the main part of the river. There are hundreds of miles of these often unnamed streams, and yet they help define the character of our major rivers.
Using footage shot this summer and new interviews with experts who are familiar with the territory, this program will focus on some of the state's remarkable rivers, like the Snake and the Salmon, the Selway and the Boise, the St. Joe and the Owyhee.
For example, this summer several of us traveled to Spangle Lakes, the headwaters of the Boise River. It's a hike of 16 miles out of Atlanta into the Sawtooth Wilderness, with an elevation gain of about 5,000 feet. I had visited Spangle and Little Spangle Lakes as a 7th grader, as part of a 50 mile hike sponsored by the City of Boise that began and ended in Grandjean. In fact, this was my third trip to Spangle Lakes, and I’ve never tired of the scenery. Within a radius of a few miles, you can access the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Boise and the South Fork of the Payette, as well as the headwaters of the Big Wood and the Salmon.
We also traveled about 25 miles, via mule, to the headwaters of the Selway River, located in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Steve Burson of Storm Creek Outfitters was our guide. Joining us was retired district ranger Dave Campbell, who was in charge of the Forest Service response to wilderness wildfires. Needless to say, the outfitter and the ranger had different views on the frequency of the let-it-burn policy in wilderness areas.
The logistics for “Idaho Headwaters” was actually quite complicated and formidable. But, fashioned after “50 Years of Wilderness,” this program has allowed us to explore new territory, never before seen on OUTDOOR IDAHO.
I think you’ll enjoy our hour-long “Idaho Headwaters.” Our rivers do define our state, and headwaters remind us just what it is that's worth protecting in this world of ours.
Extreme caving or wild caving is an adventure for a select few. You have to be ok with dark, tight maneuvers deep underground, sometimes through water and even ice. Why do they do it? What is the allure of going deep underground? What type of person makes this their passion? That’s what this program set out to discover.
When we got back to work we were heartbroken to discover that two of our four cameras did not perform well in the pitch black dark of the vertical cave. Even after testing them in our dark studio, and fussing over the details of lighting and audio, the images just didn't hold up. The pitch black of the cave just sucked all the light out of the frame on any shots that weren't close-ups. And, unfortunately, we could not redo the shoot.
Luckily, the two cameras that did perform gave us some amazing footage. A producer always wants more footage than they need, so this was also a writing and editing challenge. But, with a little help from the cavers own photographs we were able to build a great story about the vertical limestone cave. And, the experience in the vertical cave helped us fine-tune a few technical details before shooting in the lava tube cave.
I have the greatest respect for those who explore wild caves, however, it is not something I ever need to do again. I'll keep my adventures above the surface.