Night Hike

Sunset and moon rise

As soon as I got back from my trip to Washington, Sandy left for a week-long quilting retreat in Montana. When Abby and I are home on our own we like to do a lot of walks. In the morning. In the evening. In the afternoon. It's not uncommon for us to do three walks a day. But it was early August and it was hot. Not just hot. It was HOT. So I made a point of getting up early (which is not natural for me). That way we could do a long walk in the morning while it was still cool. But after that, it was just too hot. Too warm for Abby. Too warm for me. Even in the evening it was still too warm.

When it's hot in the valley it can be very nice up at Bogus Basin. It's usually ten or fifteen degrees cooler than in town. But when it's over a hundred in the valley, it's still eighty five up at Bogus. That's still pretty warm for Abby with that heavy fur coat of hers.

My solution - go up in the evening.

I waited until seven to leave home so there wouldn't be much traffic. That allowed us to make good time. It only took about an hour to drive to the upper lodge so we were hiking by a little after eight. The sun was low in the sky by then. It was pleasantly cool. Even when we turned off the service road onto the steeper Tempest Trail that climbs up the west side of Shaefer Butte, we weren't uncomfortable. In fact there was a breeze that would blow sometimes that even felt a little bit chilly. I was thinking that this evening hiking was a good idea.

Abby catches her breath near the top of the Face Trail

It was really pretty as we hiked up the mountain. The western sky went through beautiful shades of yellow, pink and red as the sun got lower. A little smoke haze in the air from forest fires somewhere helped produce more vivid colors. The low angle light made the relief stand out on all of the mountains. Very nice.

I was also surprised at how many flowers there were. I'm used to seeing them earlier in the season, in May and June, which is when Abby and I usually hike at Bogus Basin. I don't know if they usually last this long and I have just never been up here at this time of year or if it was the wet winter and spring that made the flowers last longer than usual. Either way, there were a lot of them. They were different than I am used to seeing. In the spring there is a lot of the yellow flowers of arrowleaf balsamroot, the same flower that covers all of the Boise foothills in the spring. Now there was blue penstemon, and indian paintbrush, and lots of other flowers.

The sunlight fades and the city lights come on

It's a little surprising, since there aren't any permanent streams at Bogus, and there hadn't been any rainfall worth mentioning for several months. I'm not sure how the flowers got enough water to survive.

My original idea was to hike up to the top of Shafer Butte and then head right down. That takes an hour and a half, or less if you hustle. The sun set at nine so I figured that we could still get back to the car before twilight finished. But I could see that there was a quarter moon in the sky. Since the backside of Shafer Butte is pretty open I figured we could walk down by moonlight if we had to. So instead of taking the direct route up, when we reached the trail junction I opted for the Face Trail. It doesn't go up the mountain. It traverses the south face, from the west face to far on the east ridge. But the view of the valley and the Owyhee Mountains in the distance makes it my favorite trail at Bogus. Now hiking as the sun went down was even prettier. The red light in the west faded and lights started to come on in Boise and all through the Treasure Valley. It was quite a view.

City lights and Venus - hiking down at night

By the time we finished the traverse and reached the service road on the east ridge, it was deep twilight. The sun was down and there was just a faint reddish glow in the western sky. City lights were coming on. By the time we reached the last junction near the top, it was almost completely dark. But we were so close. Even though I have been up Shaefer Butte many times, the peak bagger in me still had to go up to top. It was a beautiful view with all the city lights.

It was full dark most of the way back. We took the service road, and as I had expected the moon provided enough light for us to make out where we were going. The view as we came down the last slope to the upper lodge was beautiful, with the city lights below and Venus and a half moon overhead.

We reached the car about 10:30. I gave Abby a drink and she downed a whole liter of water. I took my time driving down in the dark so it was almost midnight when we got home. It was one of our best ever Bogus hikes.