My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Friday, September 21, 2018

Migration is Underway - Stopping at Capitol Reef National Park

September 18, 2018

I was blown away at the red hills rising up near Highway 24 as I neared Torrey, Utah. I was approaching Capitol Reef National Park where I planed to stay until the following Saturday. Then I reached Torrey and found even more colorful stone mountains. 

It was the hottest I had ever experienced this summer and it was already afternoon, by the time I arrived, so I just wanted to set up camp and collapse into my hammock until it cooled off. But my site had been watered so long, it was a muddy mess, so I just set up my hammock and collapsed into it until the temperature started to cool down and the light started to soften. Then I figured it was time to do something that didn’t involve much activity. Driving the ten mile scenic road within the park, which my campsite was on, seemed doable.  

I ended up driving home after dark.  This road gives a great taste of what is available which is mountains, cliffs, valleys with washes, any another description of mostly bare rock in various colors. 

So come along and enjoy as the sun gradually left the grandeur in shadows.  And the half moon appeared before the sun set. 

I'm writing this in the Wayne County Visitor Center at the junction of Highways 24 and 12 on September 12. Possibilities for adventure exist in all directions.  My feet are extremely sore from walking 8 miles yesterday and three miles today.  In my defense, I did a lot of climbing, including many tall steps this morning on the Cassidy Arch Trail.  I'm hoping to recover enough to do another short trail this evening.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Yellowstone - Day 7 - Sadly Leaving Slowly

August 30, 2018

Julie was scheduled to fly out at six o'clock Friday morning which necessitated getting to Bozeman where she had a motel reservation. I somehow lost my iPad while packing it up in the Bozeman library, just before I picked Julie up.  I had called but wanted to go back in person to look for it.  (I didn't find it.) So we only cared about getting to Bozeman before the library closed.

We got up, not too early, since we wanted the ice to melt off our tents and them to dry,  packed up our tent stuff, and hung the tents to dry while we ate breakfast and packed up or food and dishes. I think we were finally ready to drive out about nine o'clock. Our plan was to drive up through Towers since we wanted to stop and see some of features there. We had never driven the piece of road between the Tower-Roosevelt corner and Mammoth. And since we could expect up to a half hour of waiting for road repairs, if we went straight north, the choice was easy.

Julie reminded me that she wanted a picture of our camp - this will be the last picture of my tent.
 It was about 20 years old and the rain fly was rotten.  Goodby dear tent.

But first we had to travel a few minutes south to visit Artist's Paint Pot where I love the mud pots and those COLORS. We had last gotten there when it was getting too dark to enjoy it. We were there early enough this day that there was a LOT of fog due to the cold morning.

An overview of Artist Paint Pot

Another wide view

A closer look

I love these color combination

Back on the road, after a stop at the Canyon Corner gas station for coffee,  we pulled out at several of the overlooks, since we could actually see down into the valleys.  We decided to check out Tower Falls.  I went to the end of the boardwalk, while Julie continued on down to the Yellowstone riverside.

A long look at Tower Falls

A closer look

The trail went on down to the river

A look down river

Another long view

Back in the car, we drove to a bit before to the turn to Mammoth, before we saw a lot of cars with people out.  When we saw a ranger car, we knew we had some good wildlife, so we screeched to a halt, grabbed out cameras, and caught up with the crowd.  They were watching a bull moose, an animal we had given up finding.

He refused to pose in good light
Of COURSE we took the Blacktail Plateau Drive with a stop to visit the petrified tree. Traveling this road ends up putting you behind where you have been on the main road.

Petrified Tree

By this time we were both starving and Julie still wanted to see the Upper Part of Mammoth and take another soak in the Boiling River.  So we passed them up, for now,  for sustenance,  and  ran the now pretty short distance to Gardiner and then  to the Tumbleweed Bookstore and Cafe. (This is my favorite place to get wi-fi, drink coffee or tea - be sure to try Evenings in Missoula - and have marvelous lunches.  They offer both outside and inside eating. ) Just as we got there, we saw an elk in the yard by our car, who was standing on the front porch of a home, eating the bushes.  Julie ran to get its picture and then followed it down the street until it jumped into another lawn. Then we had fabulous lunches before heading back to Yellowstone. 

Probably a little too close an encounter with wildlife for this homeowner

Finally we had to make a difficult choice. We would not have time to go all the way back to Mammoth AND visit Boiling River. Boiling River won and we headed back.  We were forced to stop once more for a group of female bighorn sheep.

Julie got this darling lamb

Momma and big child

We finally got to Boiling River and had another enjoyable soak. There were several elk about and a mother and calf crossed the creek just downstream from us. I took pictures before I went in the stream and left my camera on dry land so missed that picture. But there were several cows in the path, including one I had to wave my towel at to clear her off the path as she was holding up traffic.

I got a long shot of Julie enjoying simultaneously freezing and burning.  Her left side is very worm

We had a lot of elk visitors at Boiling River

But all too soon, it was time to leave. In a little over an hour, we were in Bozeman. I still didn't get my iPad back.  We then checked in to the hotel, before deciding on a pizza.  We ended up at a beer tasting place which had wonderful pizzas, but could not serve beer after eight in the evening. So I can tell you nothing about the beer.

Back at the hotel, I edited pictures while Julie visited the hot tub.  Then we both slept fitfully until our alarms went off at four o'clock.  At five, we were exchanging last hugs.  I went back to the hotel for breakfast and edited more pictures.  Then after a stop for groceries, I was on my way home. It took most of  my three day weekend to get my energy back.

I'll  be within driving distance of both Julie's house and her cabin. I think I'll be spending Thanksgiving with her, if I'm not the designated person to keep the Aquarium open. For sure, I'll spend New Year's with her.  And maybe meet up for a camping paddle. And I hope to visit Rocky Mountain National Park with her next year.

When this blog comes out, I'll be jobless and having adventures in Capitol Reef National Park and looking forward to a meet-up with a pair of friends at Grand Canyon National Park.  I will probably not have much access to wi-fi, so I may miss a few blogs, but I'll catch up when I get to Monte Vista NWR in Colorado.

Oh yes, Brag time - I just got past 11,000  hours. And I've worked at Red Rock Lake National Wildlife Refuge 2,645 hours.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Yellowstone National Park - Day 6 - Canyon to West Thumb Basin

August 28. 2018

We had big plans for this day and needed a lot of light, so I dragged Julie out of bed early.  We had our food in the car and our go cups ready for coffee when we got to the Canyon Junction. So we just needed to stop at the restroom on the way out, brush our teeth, and make sure we had our water bottles filled before setting out.

Area of our first adventures of the day

After getting coffee,  and eating breakfast in route, out first stop was supposed to be Artist Point.  I took the road to the north side before I noticed my mistake. Since we were there, walked the north rim trail before returning to our original plan. We only met a single man and a couple on the hike.

One of the views of the Yellowstone River from the north side

A close up view of boulders in the Canyon

A view from the bridge on the way to Artist Point

Near and far views were all magnificant in the morning light

Then we went to the south side to Artist Point. We got the obligatory pictures of Upper Falls and the length of the river.  Our next planed activity was a hike down Uncle Tom's Trail.  Alas, it was closed for repairs. Julie decided to hike the south rim trail.  I dropped her off and went down to park the car near the trailhead. Then I noticed it was also closed, so waited for Julie to catch up before returning  to the north side to hike to the Upper and Lower Falls.

An iconic view of Upper Falls

A little different light 

I was captivated by the green streak

Julie was a lot faster them me going on the hikes. The hike to Upper Falls is very easy, but the one to lower has lots of switchbacks.  I was pretty much done for a while but she wanted to hike to Red Rock Point.  I agreed to meet her at the parking lot. I went around twice before deciding that there was no parking lot at the trailhead to Red Rock Point. So I parked at the next parking lot, after waiting a while to get a spot. Then I decided to hike down the trail to look for Julie when I couldn't find her waiting for me. After only a few switch backs down a beautiful trail I found her.

Julie hiking back up the switchbacks from lower falls

Click here to see the video from Upper Falls Overlook

We had plenty of time to stop at Fishing Bridge and get a recommendation from the Ranger for a hike.  We decided on Storm Point Trail. It was a lovely hike, through meadows, forest, and lakeside. I took lots of pictures but most seem to have disappeared.  But I would recommend it as a very easy and interesting hike.  Sometimes the Ranger leads hikes here if you enjoy learning more about the area.  We stopped again on the way home to enjoy a small herd of bison

A very tame marmot on the Storm Point Trail

We did a lot of road sharing with bison - these are crossing Fishing Bridge

I couldn't resist a closeup as they passed a car's width from me

Our next stop was Bridge Bay.  We had also stopped there earlier to check on renting a boat,  Then we found a bull elk with five cows bugling. Today, I dropped Julie off to hike the Natural Bridge Trail while I bought ice. I finished my duties and found where the trail would come back to Bridge Bay Marine Parking Lot only a few minutes before Julie arrived back.  She had traded picture taking with another hiker who was also a Yoga enthusiast.

He was very distracted

He was kind enough to walk through a woods to where he was in better light

Julie in tree pose on top of Natural Bridge 

Then we rented a motorboat to go out into the little bay in Yellowstone .  But the wind  immediately got stronger and the ride was mostly a series of hard bangs on the waves. And we ended up taking over our hour to beat our way back to shore. I don't advise this. The larger tour boat goes in the same area but is large enough that the wave would not affect it as much.

We got a view of part of our morning hike to Storm Point 

We really enjoyed the snow a day after we had to drive through it

Our last stop was West Thumb.  There the most interesting things were a few elk. This mother even drank from one of the pools.

Elk cow and calf

Then they wanted out of the enclosure formed by the boardwalk but people would not move for them  

Finally they got to a more suitable habitat

One of the more colorful pool and my shadow

Julie at Fishing Cone

We headed back to camp, often stopping to look for wildlife. We watched the sun get ever lower and raced to find a place to stop and enjoy it. We ended up going just north of our turn  Norris Campground to catch the last of it.

Julie  caught this view of bison and a trumpeter swan

Another lovely view late in the day

We  went just past the turn to our camp to catch the last of the sunset

I'm on my first packing day, Friday, September 14.   Currently I'm procrastinating finding all my solid boxes and figuring everything I can squeeze into them, while gathering stuff I need to return to the refuge.  

I had a wonderful meeting with a Facebook friend this week.  Tuesday evening, I opened up facebook to see a post from him of MY sunrise. I deduced he must be at Red Rock and commented.  Turns out, he is a Fish and Wildlife guy who was here for the Bring Your Own Data week.  He came to my presentation I gave on native bees to the Science Wednesday crowd and we had a nice visit afterwards.  The strangest thing is that neither of us has any clue as to why we are friends. Unless someone he knows unfriended me, we have no friends in common. He works out of the regional offie in Denver and will be visiting Monte Vista NWR, my next summer home, next summer.  I have met digital friends in person,  usually with actual planning, several other times and those meetings are one of the perks of my homeless life style.