First Light, Fall Creek

First Light Fall Creek

I’m always eager to visit Fall Creek and it always makes me smile, whatever the season and whatever the light. It begins like many streams born in the Big Elk range east of Idaho Falls, but it ends as does no other. Fall Creeks falls dramatically down a series of self-built terraces directly into the Snake River at Swan Valley. Fed by snowpack, it crashes noisily in the Springs and dwindles to a graceful plume by Autumn.  Because it carries a lot of dissolved limestone, it has built these graceful terraces over the eons, and they are covered alternately by ice in the Winter and moss in the summer — always changing, always interesting.

As sublime as they are, the falls are difficult to photograph. Brush and willows choke the few good terrestrial viewpoints, and the only alternative is to approach by boat on the wide, swift and not terribly friendly Snake River. This day in late winter with the stream in full flood, I chose to fight my way through the brush before dawn, and perched on an exposed cliff face, I waited for the first light of dawn to creep over the mountain and hit the falls full on. Good choice. The warm light and deep shadows brought out the dimension and texture of the spectacle in a way I had never imagined. (Pricing Schedule B)

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