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  1. #1

    Default NC to Montana 2011

    Howdy fellow travelers,

    I did in fact get under way last week with the first destination being Salt Lake City, where my wife flew in to join me. From there we visited the Bingham Canyon copper mine, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and on to Elko, NV for the 3rd and final night of the Silver State Stampede, billed as the "oldest rodeo in Nevada". What a splendid slice of Americana that was, and Elko is now on my list of totally fun towns which I'll again travel to and spend time in. There was a party right there at the fairgrounds following the conclusion of the rodeo, and it was a genuine THROW DOWN, fortunately just a few blocks' walk from our motel.

    We took a long drive to Montana from Elko and thoroughly enjoyed the remote stretch of US 93 between Elko and Twin Falls, ID. We arrived at our destination about an hour late but our friends, who had traveled from Seattle, had supper waiting for us. Yesterday we did a bit of shopping in Dillon, MT and had one of the finer Mexican meals we've ever had at the taco bus on the I-15 business loop. The it was back to the cabin, but not before exploring some Forest Service roads for a new lake and some small stream fishing spots. Dutch oven cookery, including a blackberry cobbler for dessert, closed out the day.

    A few observations from the trip thus far:

    This is a VERY large country

    Entering Kansas City at morning rush hour in a blinding thunderstorm is a bad idea

    Central Kansas along I-70 is rather hillier than I remembered

    Headwinds are fuel mileage killers

    With neutral winds and a light foot on the skinny pedal, a 9,000 lb diesel pickup truck can get 17.5 to 18 mpg.

    Tractor-trailers are much more often governed and slow moving these days. I ran 72-74 mph to conserve fuel, and I passed more OTR rigs than passed me.

    Entering Denver at rush hour in a blinding thunderstorm is a bad idea (see a pattern here?).

    Salt Lake City to Elko, NV is a great piece of highway.

    Elko is a FUN and authentic cowboy town.

    The "back way" into Montana via I-15 and Monida Pass is spectacular.


    We'll be bombing around in the truck for the next few days, hitting trail heads, alpine lakes, and walk-in hot springs. More posts later.

    Foy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Entering any city...at morning rush hour in a blinding thunderstorm is a bad idea

    Sounds like a memorable road trip holiday thus far. I love the sly humor in your post.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default Keeping it local

    The old Ford never went more than 5 miles from our rental cabin on Tuesday or Wednesday. We drove a couple of miles to the Sawtooth Lake trailhead and did a 4 mile, 1,600' elevation gain walk to the beautiful alpine lake (a tarn for we amateur glaciologists). We had not so much as unpacked the ultralight fishing rods when the rumble of thunder started. Within 15 minutes we were strapping on our hiking boots again in order to retreat from the exposed lakeshore to a point a few hundred feet down the trail in the lake outlet's drainage ravine. The second of what was to be 4 downpours of hail + lightning every 10-15 seconds sent us on back to the truck, an hour and a half down the mountain. Chicken pot pie with biscuits on top from the budding Dutch Oven masters warmed us back up later in the evening.

    Yesterday the old girl put on her climbing gear for her annual assault of Comet Mountain, a 10,212' summit in the East Pioneer Range. A mining road passes in and out of timber before breaking out above timberline at about 9,500' before dead-ending at an adit at 9'700'. Last year, a snowbank stopped us at 9,300' but we were able to dig through it, an hour and a half exercise which robbed us of the energy to summit. With record snowpack this year, we encountered snow in the timber at 9,100' so we parked and gathered our gear for a hike. It took about 30 minutes to walk to the end of the road at 9,600', where we drank some water and ate energy bars and psyched ourselves up for assault on the summit, 600' of boulders and scree above. Stopping for a breath every couple or three minutes, we tip-toed for an hour to reach the summit. We spent 30 minutes on top, peering over the east side where alpine glaciers sheared off the solid granite dome leaving 1,200' of vertical rock face to the tarns below, lakes which were still partially covered in ice. The summit of Comet looks over a jumble of cirques, aretes, and horns, with Torrey Mountain and Tweedy Mountain a couple of miles east, each at around 11,200'. Seeing this day's now obligatory thunderstorm developing 30 miles to our south, we started down and made it to the truck in 45 minutes, just as the rain and hail started. Some of the steeper sections of the road were fairly exciting with 9,000 lbs of truck and gear inching down on an increasingly greasy surface. So, not a lengthy Road Trip Wednesday, but a very successful one. I've driven to or close to the end of the road below Comet's summit 5 times since 1982 but only tackled the summit twice, first with my sons in 2000 and the second time with Ben yesterday, his first Comet Mountain summit.

    More later.

    Foy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default "...Some of the steeper sections of the road were fairly exciting..."

    Loved the story of making the summit trek! I'm sorry you couldn't teleport those bisquits and chicken pot pie to us -- working hard on the Forum today!

    Mark

  5. Default

    Sounds like a great trip and storms make for great memories!

    Utahtea

  6. #6

    Default Bagged two hot springs today

    Yesterday was stormier than the previous 3 but we still explored a new basin named Birch Creek. Above there we managed a drive-up summit of Tower Mountain, a 9,268 peak. We then attempted a connection with Rattlesnake Creek but a long snowbank near the pass, at 9,000' with no way around, stopped us. Still a decent couple of hours, and we saw and met a current geologist at the Farlin mining area.

    Today was a 250 mile Road Trip day through the Big Hole to Lost Trail Pass, thence south into Idaho, where we passed through Salmon enroute to Gold Bug Hot Spring, some 15 miles south of town. You've got to work to get a Gold Bug soak--the trailhead is around 2 miles and 1,000' of elevation below the hot spring. It took us nearly an hour to hoof it up, but we were rewarded with must be one of the finer natural hot springs anywhere in the Lower 48. Pools ranging from just under 110 deg down to a large pool at around 100-102 deg. Simply spendid, and with a stunning view of the canyon we'd just walked up.

    Headed back, we lunched by the Salmon River in downtown Salmon and then turned south towards the Lewis and Clark Adventure Route, a gravel road traverse up to Lemhi Pass. Early in the route lies Sharkey's Hot Spring, a feature the BLM has developed into a very nice pair of concrete/tile hot tubs. They're hot at 104-105 deg, but we couldn't pass an opportunity to grab two big fists full of Idaho hot springing in one day. We met some folks who live on a 30,000 acre ranch just over Lemhi Pass on the Montana side and lingered too late, but it was a perfect end to the afternoon. Within 30 minutes of leaving Sharkey's we arrived at Lemhi Pass, and about an hour after leaving Lemhi Pass, we got back to Polaris.

    A Moscow Mule in a genuine copper mug now closes out the evening, with a July Montana sunset spread out before us. I don't know how it can get better than this.

    More later,

    Foy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default A Moscow Mule in a genuine copper mug now closes out the evening,

    Whoa! Sounds like an awesome day and I'm jealous of the Moscow Mule and the hotspring soaks.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Did you chase the Moscow Mule with a Moose Drool?

  9. #9

    Default I could have!

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Did you chase the Moscow Mule with a Moose Drool?
    When in Dillon on Thursday, I picked up a 12-pack Big Sky Brewing sampler, including a couple or three bottles of Moose Drool. Those Big Sky folks make some fine, fine brew, don't they?

    Foy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    When I was in Dillon, I had a Moose Drool with my dinner (prime rib) at Sparky's Garage. Good stuff!

    I can recommend Sparky's for food, decor, and value. Kid at the hotel desk (Guesthouse, also recommended) said that it was the best restaurant in town and I'd probably believe it.

    EDIT: Nice view out my hotel window..........
    Attached Images Attached Images

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