Numbers 6: 24-26

The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Duck Lake Lodge, Montana

We saw pictures online of this lodge for a one night stay option and couldn't resist. It is truly a hunting lodge and equipped accordingly. The pictures of the inside tell you more than I ever could! What you don't see is the small 'restaurant' that we had dinner in. Bob ordered a bowl of chili and a side salad. I ordered a salad. It was very humorous to watch the girls in the kitchen open a large can of chili and scoop some in a pan to heat through. The salad that Bob and I were served were so small that I went out to the cooler in our car and pulled out a bag of salad I brought with us and just kept refilling my little plate until I was satisfied!

While we ate, a group of women from Canada arrived on their motorcycles, yes, a group of biker chicks, that's what I'm talking about!! They had apparently been there before because they knew right where the bar was and filled all the seats. A couple of guys appeared out of nowhere (seriously!) and they all took their beer and cigarettes out on the front porch and had wonderful, loud-but fun, conversations.


Bob and I took a walk about a mile up the road to look around the area with our bear spray as we were warned the bear are active right now. There was a dog named Bo that totally ignored us until we decided to go on the walk. Then he became very attentive and guided us up and down the road.

The next morning when we were packing the car, Bo was there to greet us and literally leaned into us begging for another walk about. Alas, we needed to move on to Waterton and left him behind. It took a lot of will power to not let him jump in with us!


At any rate, this lodge was a hoot for a one night stay. Two single beds in the room and a shared shower across the hall, another room had a shared bathroom and there was a single sink also for simply washing hands or brushing teeth.

Wouldn't trade the experience, but probably won't be back :)

Here we are upstairs. There were two hallways. Rooms on the right across from Bob and shared bathroom, sink and shower down on the left of this hall.
I just had to make this inside shot larger so you can take in all the details. Don't miss the dead animals hanging along the wall! Below is the check-in desk and lounge with one TV.

This is the side with the front of lodge to the left. (See our car?)
Our bedroom window is the second from the left.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Boiling River

Occasionally, a great hike can be an easy one. This is the case with the Boiling River. The  parking area is close to the north gate where we can get to it quickly, and one mile down (if you count walking around in the river as part of it) and almost one mile back to the car. Necessary accompaniments are a towel, bathing suit if you are so inclined to go all the way in and water to drink to stay hydrated.

The Boiling River is an area where some hot springs come out from an underground cavern and dumps into the Gardiner River. The hot springs water is too hot to touch, actually it is hot enough to scald. And the Gardiner River is very cold, as a mountain stream would normally be. Now, put the two together, rock off an area to enjoy and viola! you have a hot tub in a river bed. I told Barbara and Bob that if they took me on a long hike and then let me sit in this area, I would have to spend the night. They graciously conceded and we dashed down to enjoy it on an in-between day (in-between two major hikes and cleaning cabins!).

Here are the rapids along the Gardiner River as we walked to the hot springs site. This is a good representative of many such white water areas to enjoy in the various rivers throughout the park.

Below you can see the water just suddenly appears from the crevice in the rock. These are the hot springs. The path to the 'hot tub' area crosses above this area in the picture.
This is where the hot springs water flows into the river. What really doesn't show up well in this picture is the vivid color differential of the dark green against the brilliant red rock. Both indications of two different types of algae.
From where I was sitting, I discovered if I scooped the small pebbles into a small area and continuously ran my feet over them, it was the delightful equivalent of getting a foot massage. Behind me the water was probably 40 to 50 degrees colder than inside the rocks. How crazy is that?

Bob enjoyed the warmth on his feet also. We were quite relaxed on the way back to the car.

Barbara found a new friend, if only for a little while. I don't believe she knows any strangers. Barb had a rash on both of her lower legs from rubbing against some grass while hiking several miles the day before. The rash was an angry red when she got in the water. By the time we got home it was almost totally gone. Such is the healing ways of all the minerals and elements in that water!

I couldn't resist adding in this beautiful, orange dragon fly we saw on the trail in.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mount Washburn

Okay, seriously, you didn't think we'd pass up the opportunity to climb Mount Washburn did you? The kids occupying the cabins left at 8:00am for their day in the park with counselors so we followed them down our little mountain and hustled out for the hour drive to the bottom of Mount Washburn. When we started the skies were blue and energy was high! 
Here is the first look at the Fire Tower on the top.

Here we are about 1/2 the way up. Making progress, slow and steady! Check out an example of two little guys we saw on the way up and down. The ground squirrel is so closely marked to the chipmunk that we thought it was just a fattened version. But not so!

The other little guy is a marmot. There were hundreds of the ground squirrels, chipmunks and marmots along the trail. Several of them ran alongside of us and posed so cutely. We surmised that people have been giving them food...a big no-no!

Oh look, we're making progress! Barbara Snow, our roomie in the cabin, is an awesome hiker and puts up with my slow, methodical walk. That's her with the orange pack and I am in front of her.

And we made it! The sign says elevation of 10,243 feet.

Still at the top. Note the darkening clouds starting to surround the area.

The room on the top of the Fire Tower is where one person lives for the entire fire season, roughly late June to the first snow in October. They scan constantly for signs of fires and radio the coordinates in as needed. Talk about lonely!

 There are two main trails to the top and from the tower we could see these sheep relaxing on the hillside on the trail we didn't come up on. By now we were starting to hear thunder and see rain in the distance, but decided to take the chance to go see the sheep up close and personal and then hike back up towards the tower to catch the start of our trail back down to the car.

These sheep were so close we could have hand fed them if we were inclined, which we weren't! This group included males and females but the newer members were behind the hill on the grassy slopes. More thunder and lightning, so we bid our goodbyes and took off for the other trail.

Yes, well, we got caught in some impressive thunder, lightning and rain for maybe 15 minutes, but the climb up and back were definitely worth it. Looking at the sky in this picture you can see the clouds are much friendlier and the walk back down was nice. Going up took 3 hours, down was 1 1/2 hours, another hour for the drive home and we made it back to the cabins a little after the kids got back, but hey, we're volunteers, right!?

Now, go back to the beginning and see the first picture. It is really the last picture of when we came down. See, we're still smiling!! :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Beaver Ponds Trail

It was just another day in Paradise so Bob and I decided to hike the Beaver Ponds Trail. I fail to see the humor in the fact that EVERY BODY passes us on every trail, however, not to be denied, we hiked on.

The information in our guide book said this trail was about 5 miles long and had only a 400' elevation change. Our GPS said we walked 7 miles and that the elevation change was 1,020'. We split the difference and are claiming a 6 mile hike with about 800' elevation. What do these books know anyway? The key was that after the initial climb, this was a very pleasant, if not longer than expected, loop trail and we burned enough calories to have an ice cream cone reward upon returning to Mammoth to claim our car!
Another lunch with a view!

The actual pond with beaver's in it. No, we didn't really see them, just the dams.

 Walking along the ridge line.

Another pond. What's with all these mountain ranges...

Another hard worker in the wild.

We are almost back to the start, woohoo! That is Mammoth Hot Springs in the background.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rescue Creek

It is, as in this case, hard to imagine where the names of the various sources of water around the park came from. I know, as in a sub-division, the former landscape often becomes the street names. For instance, when I first bought my horse, I was able to board him at a barn that was so old the boards had petrified. We literally could not pound any new nails where we wanted them, and forget about removing ones that were there. It was the most wonderful of barns that I ever saw and still quite water proof and solid the 100 plus years later that we all happened to be able to use it.

But, alas, the property was bought up and all the structures including this barn were destroyed and replaced with wonderful, new, suburbia homes and the street names were the likes of "steeplechase" and "arabian." I've seen this happen time and again throughout the years. Ahh, I Barbara, Bob and I decided to enjoy the hike along a trail called Rescue Creek. It starts across the creek then heads straight out into a flat land that is fairly barren and then turns gradually right and disappears into a valley between 2 mountains in Yellowstone.

We decided to make this hike an adventure, so we veered off to the left when the trail went right and we forged our way through the low sage brush and last year's winter tracks of bison, elk, deer, etc. Our hoped for destination was the Yellowstone River which is the same water we see from our cabins. I will note here that this whole plain/meadowland is also what we see from the cabins, which is why we wanted to hike on it. So we did make it to the river and had some fabulous views. Along the way we saw another herd of elk and we disturbed a herd of about 10 long horn sheep. We were close enough to hear their baa's as they left their comfy sleeping spots and headed upward a close by mountain. Perhaps the most intriguing thing we saw were 2 ospreys flying around the canyon walls above the river before disappearing and their (we are assuming) nest. So, enough said, here are the pictures.

Although quite desolate looking during the summer, we were told that this area is teeming with sheep, bison, elk, deer, coyote, wolves, and  whatever else is up in the mountains, during the winter.

This skeleton was one of many we have run across but was the best example of a full spine/backbone. This we surmise is from an elk due to the large size of the skull. Bob ran out of water and we threatened to leave him there.

Even Mother Nature enjoys a good joke now and then. Here is 'her' rendition of the Mickey Mouse outline on an outcropping of rock.

You can't beat lunch with a view! This job is tough but someone has to do it!

Here is the osprey nest. It was perched high up on a pointed rock so that nothing could climb up to get to it. When the wind starts up, it's hard to imagine how it doesn't just blow off and disappear down in the gorge below.

Elk herd on the hill not far from where we wandered.

And here is the first sheep we spotted on our trek to the river.

And here we are, just crushed under all the responsibility we have on our shoulders out here. Okay, well, maybe not!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fairy Falls

Who can resist going on a hike to a water fall with a name like Fairy Falls? We couldn't! 

The hike took us one mile by the Middle Basin slightly north of Old Faithful. The Basin incorporates various springs and geysers that put out a large amount of water into a nearby river. As indicated, there is also an Upper and Lower Basin within about 2 miles in each direction. These areas are as heavily trafficked as Old Faithful with cars overflowing onto the main road for miles.

 So much water flows out of the springs that rivers are in abundance throughout Yellowstone.

 Back to the hike, after the one mile on level ground we turned left and basically had a nice rolling/level walk out to the falls through meadowland and forested areas. If you don't like what you see, you walk one more minute and the landscape always changes!

 Fairy Falls did not disappoint us. Just sitting at the base was delightful with the light spray bringing cooling relief from the 90 degree heat of the day. The hike back was the same but with a different perspective on the views. Round trip was 5 miles.

We finished up with lunch at the Old Faithful Inn restaurant. Awesome food (well yes we were hungry too!), and super reasonable prices.

The day before Barbara and I walked the 5 mile round trip to Gardiner and back from Overlook while Bob helped the Operations Manager for YS Association change out 7 toilets in the cabins. She and I were very happy to disappear for a few hours. :-) Unfortunately, no pictures of the toilets, ha!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Norris Geyser Basin

Barbara, Bob and I had about six hours to do as we pleased today so we decided to explore a previously, unvisited part of Yellowstone for us all and off to Norris did we drive. From our area that was an hour drive. We walked all of the board walk and paths around the many the geysers of this area which gave us round about a 3.5 mile walk. Here are some of the features we saw:

Bob by the Emerald Spring Geyser

Porcelain Basin (Note the vibrant colors!)

Steamboat Geyser-Erupted 300' on 7/31/2013 after 7 years dormant

Echinus Geyser with Boardwalk
After the Norris Basin, we drove to a short 1 mile hike to a smaller falls area before heading back to the cabins:

Barbara, Bob, Barbara at Wraith Falls

Fierce Wildlife on the trail