Sunday, January 18, 2009

2 great mornings in “nature’s water catcher”

On Sunday and Monday mornings, Jenny and I enjoyed a trail run/hike in the riparian area outside Boise named Hull’s Gulch.

In southern Idaho, most of the annual moisture arrives during the fall and winter. Riparian areas, like Hull’s Gulch, act like natural sponges soaking up water and, under the shade of riparian plants, holding it against the dry days of summer. This is natural flood control, helping prevent flooding downstream, and is part of the healthy functioning of a desert-riparian system.

By late April, the creek will run clear. Spring is Hull’s Gulch at its most colorful as songbirds pass through on their way north. Robins and waxwings arrive as early as February. Bright finches, noisy chats and flycatchers settle down and begin building nests. Arrowleaf balsamroot, chokecherry and Wood’s rose are blossoming.

By late May the creek is drying up and by June, temperatures can be hot. But even into July and August, the willows and creek bottom grasses and shrubs remain green, and the shadiest areas can shelter small pools of water through late summer, until the fall rains come and the cycle of moisture begins again.

Along the trails, there are signs posted with poetry that captures the mood. Here’s one of my favorites.


My left hindfoot

in the track of my right

and my hind-right

in the track of my

and so on, for miles—

Me paying no attention, while
my nose rides along letting
the full report, the
whole blast of the countryside
come along toward me
on rollers of scent, and—
I come home with a chicken or
a rabbit and sit up
singing all night with my friends.
It’s baroque, my life, and
I tell it on the mountain.
I wouldn’t trade it for yours.

—William Stafford

Read more about the poetry – and the trail – at

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