Resent, hasn't bounced yet.
Resent, hasn't bounced yet.
Heading out of Pinedale saw me drive through the Hobach Canyon for the fourth time this trip. It still amazed me.
Before leaving Pinedale I made a visit to the Forestry Service office. They recommended I take a trip to Trails End, up Skyline Drive/Fremont Road. A scenic drive I had not yet done. This 15 mile drive takes one to the overlook where there is a beautiful view of the White River Range - the ridge of which is the Continental Divide. The car park at the top had well over a hundred vehicles in it. I learned that these all belonged to hikers who were out there somewhere in the Bridger Teton National Forest. As I stood there with this magnificent landscape before me, I tried to imagine all those folk in the mountains and under the trees
The overlook does not have a guardrail, but a few big boulders mark it. At the base of one was a small animal, the colour and size of a rabbit. Back at the office I learned it was a Rock Chuck. Of course it was gone long before I could take a photo.
On the way back down the mountain stopped a couple of times to take some photos and check out the campgrounds along the way. All were empty.
In Jackson a lovely little bakery The Bread Basket, seemed a good place to get some lunch. The nearby library allowed me to check email and after giving the Ford a drink headed to the Yellowstone Visitor Centre.
Cheri and Dick are from Florida and spend their summers working for the NP service. Aware I was now in an area of which I had heard the horror stories that everything is booked up, I had no idea where I was going to spend the night. Had already noted that truck stops were not in the area. Cheri was able to tell me of all the BLM, SP, SF and NF campgrounds in the surrounding area, most of which were not full or booked. They had been allocated a spot in the Employee campground at the Gros Ventre campground, and highly recommended it. It is a large, rarely fully booked, campground.
There was no difficulty finding me a spot right by the facilities. Availability of water and flush toilets were a bonus.
The camphost here, like others elsewhere, give half price to seniors who have the $80 pass, and who are not eligible for to the $10 Senior's Pass.
Perusing the map with Cheri she told me of the many scenic drives in the area, in particularly how much they had enjoyed the Gros Ventre Road. Suggested I may like it. What she forgot, and what I had not counted on, is that there had been significant rain since they were on it.
I did not get very far along the road.... just past the slide area there was a large stretch of water across the road,. That is the spot where I turned around... with the help of some folk on an ATV.
Waking up next morning virtually in the shadow of the Tetons, was sheer magic. They looked beautiful poking through the light cloud.
Nearby Kelly's had great food and free wifi.
Before setting out for the day, I extended my stay for a second night.
Lifey, your mailbox is full again, I can't get any replies through to your email. If you want my assistance, clean out your PM box here and we can do it that way.
Problem is everytime I try to download them into Ouylook it asks for the password I do not have. Worked OK until I corrected the settings.
Tried changing the settings back, but that did not work either.
Next day I awoke to rain. I drove straight through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, stopping occasionally for a photo op. Since this was my fifth visit to Yellowstone, I chose a different route to which I had at other times. US-191, which passes by Old Faithful I had driven several times before, just as I have seen the geyser on three previous occasions. This time I saw a much smaller geyser right on the western shore of Yellowstone Lake. One of those places where dozens of people were all set up with their tripods .... and parking was nigh on impossible. This geyser was so close to the water line, that I wondered if it will eventually be swallowed up by the lake.
After a couple of animal jams I eventually arrived at the western exit.
In West Yellowstone I drove around to see if I could find the old western style hotel where I stayed in 2001. Part of the hotel had been set aside as a hostel. It was one of those old western log built places where from the first storey up one was able to look down into the ground floor (which in this case was a gift shop.)
It appears to be no longer there.
At the visitor centre Kara was able to tell me exactly which campgrounds on public land in the surrounding area had vancancies, and how many vacancies they had. Less than two miles north of town, Baker's Hole had four spots. It was a nice place with water and electricity available, and right by the highway.
Sharing what I had been doing and where I was headed, Kara told me about the self drive tour along US-287 through the 1959 Earthquake Geological Area. It was the eve of the 55th anniversary of this 'night of terror'.
The following day was one of the highlights of my whole trip. An area of which I had never heard.
It took some six hours to drive the 24 miles from US-191 to the visitor centre... stopping at all the roadside boards telling the story.
There was the story of the couple who were asleep in their tent when a boulder crushed it. Their two children in another tent were not hurt.
The story of a young lass who was asleep in a cabin, and was able to jump to safety as the cabin started to float away.
The earth dropped up to 32ft at this 'crack' which cut through the popular forest service campground, below nearby Hebgen Dam.
I wondered if those camping there on this day gave any thought to the history of this campground.
Headlights attracted survivors to higher ground which came to be known as Refuge Point
More than half a century later it is still clear to see where much of the mountain slid down into Madison Canyon blocking access into the canyon as well as creating Earthquake Lake. At the same time burying a popular campground which was fully occupied. Nineteen campers perished. Their bodies never recovered. The vehicles of all the campers, along with all their possessions are still at the bottom of the lake.
Looking west to the unaffected part of the canyon, from the Visitor centre which stands on top of the slide. Behind the centre is one of the large boulders on which are the names of the 28 people who perished that night.
It was an incredible feeling to stand on earth which had moved so far during the earthquake, blocking the western access to Madison Canyon. To drive on the road which at the eastern end of the Canyon disappeared into the lake,(a short detour still take one there) cutting off road access, and to see large boulders which had fallen from the top of the mountains.
I don't think I will ever look at mountains the same way.
Last edited by Lifemagician; 10-04-2014 at 08:49 PM.
Which happens to be the day I spent driving on all the roads in the Grand Teton NP. A place which left me pretty well underwhelmed. Did not make any positive notes about that day.
That's got to be a first. You were underwhelmed driving around the Grand Tetons? Wow.
Lots of members have posted awesome photos here from there. I have few too...
But they are all taken from a distance.... Whence the range looks spectacular. However, driving on it's roads there's not much, if anything, at road level. I found it is virtually essential to get out of the vehicle - something I prefer not to have to do.
Glad I could provide a 'first'. Maybe I have a few more in my notes.
Back on US-181 the drive north by the Gallatin river took me through the Canyon, the Gallatin NF, and Gallatin Gateway onto Bozeman.. It is not the first time I had driven this route, and it never ceases to satisfy and amaze. This route and this National Forest abound with forestry camp sites in the most wonderful settings. It could be a great place to spend a couple of weeks, so close to Yellowstone. I would imagine the wildlife to be wonderful.
One of my memorable experiences was at the nearby FJ. Something which I enjoy, is playing on words... and their meanings. Here on the menu was fish and chips - battered cod. Young Daniel came to take my order, and I said I was most concerned about the 'battered' cod. Told him I may have to report them to the animal authorities. Of course he had no idea what I was talking about. But when I mentioned about the reporting of battered wifes, he cottoned on immediately. Shortly after, he came back with a big smile on his face. He had spoken with the chef, and had been assured, he told me, that they handle the cod lovingly, massage them gently and speak to them softly, to ensure they serve happy cod to the diners. (I do love it when others go along with the humour.) It set the scene for a most enjoyable meal. Since they had wifi, I stayed for some time afterwards.
Next day at Barnes and Noble I finally found the books I wanted for my grandchildren. While there, I got a nice drink and settled down using their wifi. At the next table there was a lady who had her electronics plugged into the power. When she saw me wanting to plug in my computer, she assured mr my large (conversion) plug would fit.
That is how I met Marta.
Of Mexican and Indian heritage, she grew up near Las Cruces, had lived in the San Francisco area for some time and now lived in Four Corners MT, where she has a successful wholesale bakery. Hours had passed when we finally finished sharing life's experiences and adventures. Such a great character.
In the nearby Safeway I was looking for half a dozen organic/free range eggs. A dozen goes off before I can use them all, and take up far too much of precious fridge space. John, a jovial middle aged gent who was filling shelves, went to see if they had any. They did not. However, that was no problem for John, he got out a box cutter and made two half dozen cartons. People can be so helpful.
At the Town and Pump in Livingstone, I asked the cashier if there was a town park nearby, where I could spend some time. She suggested Sacajawea Park at the end of the road. Managed to park where there was a picnic table right by the road. Shaded by a large tree, it was perfect. After cooking and eating I attended to my accumulation of dishes. All up I had four hours to observe the goings on in the park.
The most touching part was the middle aged gentleman who walked through the park with his adult downs syndrome son. They were holding hands, and it was obvious that this was a routine walk. There were mothers/fathers with toddlers. Locals sitting on the seats chatting, and a playground full of children on holiday.
And there was I, washing dishes. A few walked past and asked polite questions.
My next stop was Big Timber. Kelly in the visitor centre was full of information and told of a couple of nearby scenic routes I might like to drive. She also talked about the Greycliff Prairie Dog Town SP. Suggested I might like to go see that. Told me that she could not understand why they made a SP for the Prairie Dog, which she and many of those on the land, regard as pests. The road into the park only goes to the parking area. Right by the entrance I saw a couple of the little critters. They hung around long enough for me to be able to take a photo. The park did not appear to have any picnic facilities, and definitely no camping.
Big Timber is memorable for its guest log at the visitor centre. One of the columns is headed 'What resource did you use to plan this trip?' No prize for guessing what I put.
Last edited by Lifemagician; 10-09-2014 at 12:17 PM.
I left Big Timber without any great expectations. I had been told that before I'd get to Lewiston there is a turn-of to Crystal Lake, which I might enjoy. Was told it is a lovely drive, through the canyon, and the lake has a very nice campground. Sounded most appealing.
Some eleven miles north of Big Timber a sign pointed to Big Timber Canyon. This was a place Kelly had not mentioned. There was no indication as to how far it was to the canyon. Maps were not in sufficient detail. Still I turned down the road to see what was there.
Two miles along Wormser Rd was the turn off onto Big Timber Canyon Road, which I followed for some ten miles as it wound its way beside Big Timber Creek through agricultural land till it got to the mountains of the northern end of the Gallatin NF. Once the road entered the forest it deteriorated rapidly. There was a lovely picnic ground, right by the Creek. At this point the road left the forest and entered private property, with signs to warn one not to go off road. That 'road' looked more like a muddy tractor track, at the end of which it entered the forest again, and on to Halfmoon Campground. A very basic, remote campground. A bit too isolated for my liking,
On the way to the canyon, the road wound its way around large boulders which were scattered around the area, boulders as large as houses and cars. I could not help wondering what geological event had placed those boulders down there on the plains.
Old train engines and carriages are a popular attraction in small town parks. The one in Harlowton was no exception. In Judith however, the attraction reflected the area's wind farm industry. Here in the town park is one huge blade from a wind turbine.
The sign said Crystal Lake 20 miles. It was a good gravel road. 45 was a comfortable speed. In the canyon the road was paved - albeit, not in the best condition.. It was an incredibly narrow canyon following Rock Creek the whole way. The drop-off down to the water varied along the road and at times was quite frightening. There was a concrete barrier. As I got further and further into this canyon the road became more and more narrow (or was that an illusion?). In places it looked like it was crumbling away under the concrete barrier - none of which enhanced my confidence. I dreaded the thought of any oncoming traffic.
When I got to Crystal Cascade trailhead parking area, I must have been only a couple of miles from the campground. Still, I took the opportunity to turn around in the parking lot, and headed back. The thought of going all the way to the campground became too much, and to think that the next day I would have to drive it all the way out again - was a little more than I could fathom. The beauty of the drive could not make up for the angst building up inside of me.
(Later I learned that many take their camping trailers and boats along this road for summer by the lake.)
That night I spent at the Kiwanis Rest Area and campground right on US-191 by the airport in Lewistown. This rest area/campground is a public service of the Kiwanis and is maintained by them. It is a lovely area, and was well utilised on this day with almost a dozen camping there, some in tents, others in vans and trailers. There is a posted limit on the length of stay... from memory it is 10 days. Unfortunately this appears not to be enforced, as it looked like a couple of vans had been there much, much longer, judging by the rubbish and junk surrounding them.
After dinner we were treated to a most colourful sunset.
Awoke at dawn and made my way to Maccas. Not far into the town, a deer suddenly appeared in my path. I did not see it come onto the road and to this day have no idea where it came from. It was there right in front of me, big antlers and all - beautiful!. Fortunately as one enters the town the speed limit is quite low, so no problem stopping.