Rainbows On The Salmon Breaks

Idaho was once described by early surveyors as a “geographic monstrosity”. The pictures below speak to that statement, but as pictures often do, they may fall just short. I mention the “geographic monstrosity” description because these images were captured at what is essentially Idaho’s only North South State highway chokepoint, White Bird summit on Highway 95. This is the one spot in Idaho a proper State highway could be built with the kind of grade that tractor trailers need for efficient travel. North Idaho is a “different place” than Southern and Central Idaho. Idaho’s “geographic monstrosity” classification is the primary reason for it. The rugged geography simply makes it difficult to get from North to South. Idaho is bisected in the middle by the mighty Salmon river system. Not far from this place (30 miles) is North Americas second deepest river gorge carved out for millions of years by the Salmon river. Not much farther West from that point is North Americas deepest river gorge in Hells Canyon cut deep by the Snake river. Not far to the North the Lochsa, Selway and Clearwater rivers cut their way through the mountains. These deep river canyons chew through North Americas largest granitic batholith, the great Idaho batholith. The batholith and many other ancient rock formations make up a vast system of little known mountains. The Salmon River mountains which encompass this area are some of the least known. Rugged, convoluted, and remote.
The Nimiipuu peoples (Nez Perce) moved through this area for centuries, for even on foot it was a smart route down to the Salmon river basin. Once to the river the Nimiipuu fished what was once one of Earths greatest inland Salmon, Steelhead and Lamprey rivers. The flanks of this place were the scene of a battle between the Nez Perce and the USA. After 15+ years of broken treaties the Nimippuu confronted the USA in the battle of White Bird and won, using their adept equestrian skills and local knowledge. After the victory the retreat to Canada began for the Nimiipuu and Chief Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (Joesph) and Chief Peopeo Kiskiok Hihih (White Bird)
This view from White Bird summit is one of Idaho’s most beautiful and well known. It never really disappoints even if shrouded in fog and rain. On this trip my wife and I were returning from a 25th wedding anniversary of a dear family member and as we crested the summit and began the 2,600 ft down to White Bird we were greeted by an absolutely stunning, vibrant and massive double rainbow at Sunset. Far and away the best the view has offered yet. Love delivered this moment in time.

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