Nothing helps you appreciate the wealth that came from those who explored and settled Idaho like walking the trails they trod, experiencing a moment of weather’s extremes, and understanding the hardships they faced as they moved westward.
As recently as 1920, there were wagons heading for Oregon through Boise. In the north of Idaho, you can follow the incredible trail Lewis and Clark followed in their search for a Northwest Passage, much of it in pretty close to original condition.
Our writers in this week’s mini-blogs, originally submitted to BSU radio, have followed those same paths and felt history coming to meet them.
Every day, I walk the Oregon Trail Interpretive Path that runs along the great basalt bluff overlooking the Boise River. I walk and remember. My great grandfather came west on the Oregon Trail. When the oxen died, he and his 19-year-old pregnant wife walked. In heat, dust and dirt, every day husband and wife walked. In the cool morning, with a bottle of clean water, I walk the groomed trail and remember. My great grandfather’s wife died giving birth to their stillborn first child. My great grandfather buried both wife and son beneath the trail. Then he walked. He walked to Star. There he stayed.
Now I walk the trail and remember his strength and courage.
Zigzagging up from the Clearwater Canyon, we are soon in the high, rolling wheat fields of the Weippe Prairie.
A prominent historical marker recounts the event, and we look toward the spot where, in September 1805, Captain William Clark and his party walked onto the prairie, having survived near starvation on their passage through the snow-covered Bitteroots. They came upon the Nez Perce, who had never before seen white men, yet provided food and help in finding the route to the Pacific.
In the quiet and solitude of our visit, it seem as if little had happened here since that day. And I wonder: if the Nez Perce could have seen the changes to come, how might they have acted?