Where Nature and Humans Get Fancy
By Alice H. Dunn
When we clear Malad Summit on our way home from Utah and drop into Marsh Valley, my husband says, “I wonder if The Lady on the Mountain has shown up yet?” Sure enough, after we pass Arimo, we see the lady’s outline beginning to show through the snow on the south face of Bonneville Peak, just beyond the cleft between it and flat-topped Haystack Mountain. If it doesn’t snow again this spring, the tall, thin woman in her pioneer dress will soon wax and wane for several weeks. Two or three small children will walk beside her.
A similar herald of springtime is a big “7” that emerges from the melting snow on Wild Horse Mountain south of our home town in Pocatello, lets gardeners know it’s time to plant. Although we southeast Idahoans prize the icons we concoct with our own hands, we know we can’t top Mother Nature’s creations. The Lady on the Mountain and the “7” are just two examples.
Of course, one of the most famous icons in our part of the state is Craters of the Moon. Beginning fifteen thousand years ago, about four hundred square miles of southern Idaho were bedecked with flood basalt, lava tubes, and cinder fields. When I first visited Craters of the Moon, I was awestruck by the expanse of black lava, and terrified to climb a cinder cone to peer into its depths. Later trips to this national monument, which is about eighteen miles west of Arco, amplified my appreciation of its evidences of eruptions repeated over many thousands of years, its variety of lava types, its tubes and caves, and especially the persistence of life in its hostile environment. We regularly take visiting friends to Craters to impress them with the might of nature displayed within this volcanic icon.