In Search of Fall Color
by Dennis Weaver
We continued up the road to Bear Creek. The primitive camp sites along the creek were empty except for a few hunters with their camp trailer nestled in the willows. The ATV trails that lace the lower canyon were abandoned.
The road follows Bear Creek. Well graveled, it is passable for cars even when wet. About five miles up the canyon, the road forks. We've never taken the right fork, but we assume that it winds through the mountains back to Falls Creek. If so, one could take that fork and make a loop through the canyons to the Falls Creek Campground back in Swan Valley. (The Falls Creek waterfall below the campground is worth seeing.) Next summer, we'll explore that road.
The left fork crosses Bear Creek, and we stopped to take pictures and skip rocks into the water. Above the bridge is a beaver dam, and we walked up to watch the tiny cutthroat trout scurry for a few remaining insects on the glassy water.
There was an empty RV parked along the banks and a horse trailer alongside; some hunters were camped in the high country. In the summer, there would be campers here with kids playing in the water and fisherman looking for deeper holes with larger trout.
The road winds up the little canyon beyond the bridge. We passed some beautiful campsites along the tiny creek thinking that RVs could reach these sites without a problem. The road forks again with a sign to the right pointing to Elk Mountain. The Elk Mountain road is intriguing, but we'll explore that another day. We took the left fork that angled up the side of the canyon. There was room to turn around at the forks, a nice feature for larger RVs. Beyond this point, the roads are narrower and rougher and probably not suitable for larger RVs, even in dry weather.
The road is steeper beyond the Elk Mountain fork, and we could see snow in the higher elevations. The road was sticky in mud, and we were surprised when a four-wheel drive truck with a large camper came around the corner throwing mud. We wouldn't take such a vehicle across Jensen Pass in wet weather, although we would in the summer. We noted that the driver had open-treaded tires and four-wheel drive engaged.
The road to Jensen Pass is spectacular, affording wonderful views of the mountains and canyons. The side canyons, even at these higher elevations, were still cloaked with yellows and oranges. We took a picture of the far side of the canyon with a brilliant patch of salmon color part way up the slope.
Mist was drifting through Jensen Pass
when we reached the top. Debbie took pictures of the far
mountain ranges surrounding Grays River in Wyoming, the clouds
drifting through the pass, and the fall foliage. Right in
the pass is a trailhead leading back toward Elk Mountain --
another good venture in the summertime.
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