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  • laurellakemcguire

Leslie Gulch - a hidden gem in the Gem State


A - We are this week preparing to depart Boise for parts known and unknown. Towards the end of the Eagle Plein Air Festival Jim had a day free of golf and I had plenty of entries painted so we decided to range about an hour away to Leslie Gulch, named after Hiram Leslie who was killed by lightning here in the late 1880s. We had been there years ago with Nate when he was a toddler and Jim had come back on rock expeditions. I remembered the unusual rock formations and wanted to grab some painting time there.

The morning light was spectacular and as soon as I saw it outlining some monoliths I was ready to pullover! There was a great mix of near and far, large forms and small details. Time flew as I painted - so much so that at the end I was operating off memory for light since it had shifted so much. There was a funny moment when I desperately needed to pee so I found a well hidden spot in the bushes. Then I heard the rumble of a vehicle- I doubt they could see me but I could see what appeared to be the words “sightseeing” across the top of the bus!

RH - This is the third time I’ve been here but the first time I hiked the upper gulch. I’m sorry I hadn’t done it before. It was beautiful with all the big wall ochre colors and formations.


Including a rock wall with a climbing route up it marked by some quick draws. The hike was not strenuous and we went up just after sunup. the colors were excellent. On the road a group of motorcyclists passed us with a drone following them overhead - I bet they got some great video.

A - At right is the painting I did. As usual with early morning paintings the light had shifted greatly by the time I finished! I also got lots of great reference photos.


RH - After the hike we drove down to the reservoir past Slocum campground and the water was so low we drove down the boat ramp and as far right as we could go. We found a beautiful formation for the artist to capture, a small number of cows on the other side of the river (don’t know how they got there) and a 130 degree hot spring that I couldn’t keep my hands in for more than a couple of seconds. I didn’t get to rock hound much due to the sticker burrs we ended up picking out of the dog’s fur. It was a beautiful and memorable day though. We didn’t see anyone after we went down to the river and it felt like a Mad Max scene with no one around.

A - At the hot spring I tried to follow Jim jumping across…only to land on a soft mud platform and have my foot break through. As I fell my phone almost went through a fracture. I probably should have taken off the muddy boot and stuck my foot in - see if there is “spa” qualities in it! Standing on the dry floor of Lake Owyhee looking up at all the rock formations was awesome. I tried to capture as a quick marker sketch but I didn’t have the variety of earth colors to really get it down. Driving back across it the GPS kept indicating we were driving under water!







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