Returning from Harriman

Returning from a recent ski outing at Harriman State Park in eastern Idaho, I left Route 20 at Ashton and followed the Henry's Fork Historic Byway into St. Anthony. The route is about 14 miles long and winds through open, rolling landscape sprinkled with a scattering of farms and ranches occasionally interspersed with undeveloped patches of sagebrush, crossing the river three times. The spector of the Teton Range fills the eastern horizon for entire route. There is a brief period in these moments, if the day is clear, when the setting sun illuminates the Tetons in the flash of the alpenglow. It lasts for only three or four minutes, then quickly fades as the low-angled light leaves the slopes. During this interval the intermediate landscape, sprinked with stands of black cottonwood and willow, is caught in an intense, warm glow as the western hemisphere slowly rolls into the night. For me, winter is the favorite time to witness this when the landscape is seen in a harsh, elemental grandeur and clarity.