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Haystack Mountain after a New Year's blizzard, (1982), looking east from near McCammon

On the Portneuf
by Harald Wyndham

Late September, down by Whiskey Mike's.
From where I sit by a sharp bend in the river,
my line curving fifty yards downstream,
I can see Haystack veined with its first snow
and sunlight pouring bright as molten steel
out of the cloudless blue.

Shirtsleeve weather,
no mosquitoes or flies. Just the heavy drift
of clear green water running the riffle of rocks
and bits of watercress tumbling under the surface
where long strands of algae like wavering beards
wait to snag my hook somewhere downstream.

The water fills my thinking, pulling me apart
into the gentle and disconnected noises, willow leaves
blowing against each other, burbles and splashes,
the sun broken into jagged bits on the water,
so that I relax completely, even the desire
for enormous trout smoothed out and washed away...

A golden eagle circles overhead.
On wide wings
he enters my imagination, dominant, representing
all that Idaho has come to mean:
freedom, clear waters,
wild places, fragrance of aspen and sage, silver
rainbows laid in a creel of grass...

Thirteen years.
I have been here all my life.

in Wyndham, editor, (1986), Famous Potatoes

Osborne Russell Kills a Grizzly in the Portneuf River Bottoms

On the 20th of August (1834) we started again to hunt meat: we left Fort Hall and traveled about 6 miles where we discovered a Grizzly Bear digging and eating roots in a piece of marshy ground near a large bunch of willows. My partner approached within 100 years and shot him through the left shoulder; he gave a hideous growl and sprang into the thicket. My partner then said "let him go he is a dangerous varmint" but not being acquainted with the nature of these animals I determined on making another trial.... We walked round the bunch of willows ... when we heard a sullen growl about 10 ft from us, which was instantly followed by a spring of the bear toward us; his enormous jaws extended and eyes flashing fire. Oh Heavens! was ever anything so hideous? We... took to our heels ... he turned and bounded toward me I could go no further without jumping into a large quagmire which hemmed me in on three sides, I was obliged to turn about and face him. He came within about 10 paces of me then suddenly stopped and raised his ponderous body erect, his mouth wide open, gazing at me with a beastly laugh, at the moment I pulled trigger and I knew not what else to do and hardly knew that I did this but it accidentally happened that my Rifle was pointed towards the Bear when I pulled and the ball piercing his heart, he gave one bound from me, uttered a deathly howl and fell dead. (modified from Haines, ed, 1965, p. 6-8. That this happened on the Portneuf is the opinion of H. Hilbert.)

  1. Boag, P.G., compiler, 1992, Trails, Trappers, Trains, and Travelers:The Economic Development of Southern Bannock County as influenced by transportation:South Bannock County Historical Center, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho 83246,17 p.

  2. Kerns, G.L., and Kerns. R.L., Jr., editors, 1985, Orogenic patterns and stratigraphy of north-central Utah and southeastern Idaho: Utah Geological Association Publication 14, 329 p.

  3. Schwarze, D.M., 1960, Geology of the Lava Hot Springs area, Idaho: Occasional Papers of the Idaho State College Museum, Pocatello, Number 4, 51 p.

  4. South Bannock Historical Center, 1990, A Century of Transition, 1890-1990,Pocatello, Idaho State University Press, 32 p.