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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Washburn Mountain

Oh, come now, you knew we had to climb the mountain with our name on it didn't you?

This is our 3rd time up and the views never get old. Unfortunately, there was enough wind to bring smoke from the fire below Lake Yellowstone up into the park.

This is the 3rd year we've climbed and had smoky views. One day maybe we'll be able to see the Tetons like everyone says you can!

See the little point in the top middle of the first picture? That is our destination!

We've never encountered any animals other than ground squirrels and chipmunks so imagine our surprise to come upon this mother/daughter pair! We couldn't pass until they moved across the road and up the hill some.

These are Big Horn Sheep.

Oh but is another pair further up the path. Both babies tried to nurse and both mothers pushed them away. How cool to see 2 pair of sheep on one trip!

Here's some prospective on how high we had climbed by now. We've heard there were Big Horn Sheep on the mountain, but never saw them before, at least not this close up.

So, back to the climb. You can see the Ranger Tower at the top a little better now.

This fence was made using fallen Lodge Pole Pine trees and it was weighted in each section with large rocks from the area. Very creative. This fence was new since our last climb.

Ahh, we're getting closer still. The sky was blue to the north. It's a steady, uphill climb. We made it the fastest ever this year.

 And we made it. You knew we would, right? This picture is facing south and you can see the haze from the smoke behind Bob.

Here is the Ranger Station. The area on the ground level to the front in white is the visitor resting area. Above it is an outdoor viewing area with just a railing. The wind was howling and fierce on this day so we stayed inside and didn't spend much time walking around the grounds.

Oh look...a whole herd of Big Horn Sheep. We can definitely say we saw them on this hike! I believe we counted about 19 dotting the hillside.

This is our trail to go down, way below us. This was just short of an 8 mile hike, total.

Lo, here is another! Actually, there were 2 aged females along the trail on the way down. "The hills are alive with the sound of bleeting..." Not really, it just seemed like it should be :)

Isn't this picture fabulous though?

Just for posperity sake, here's a picture of me on the trail. Boy is it easier to go down then up!!

 And here's a picture of the fire in southwest Yellowstone. It started out small but was allowed to burn naturally. It had gotten up to over 1,000 acres. Since this time though, we've had 3 days of heavy rain and things are much clearer now. The park won't say it is out because they smoulder for a long time but no more has been said about it burning.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Yellowstone Canyon

Well, we've done this hike 3 times now. It is so pretty, we just can't resist. But we did something extra this time. I'll explain as the pictures come up.

First we drove to and walked out to Artist's Point. This is the most photographed area in the entire park. The falls in this picture is the lower falls.

And here is the upper falls. The lower falls is taller and the upper is wider. See the bridge in the trees above the falls? Where this picture was taken is where we started our hike from. We will cross that bridge to the other side and wind up at a look out area built on the opposite side of these falls. Then we retrace our steps. Winding up with a six mile hike.

What...He's cute! This is a grey squirrel, pretty typical around here. They tend to be smaller in size from the grey's we have in Florida.

This is the Canyon Bridge built by the Army when they were brought in to occupy Yellowstone to save it from poachers and land grabbers.

This is the other end of the bridge looking down from our perch where we ate lunch. You can see what a bright, sunny day it was. 

Here we are at the area above the upper falls. That didn't take too long now, did it? Bob and I feel that the rapids above the falls would be quite a challenge...especially if you don't exit the river prior to the falls!


And, just to confirm, this is what river again?!

So here we are looking back across the river at the Canyon Bridge. We couldn't get over what a gorgeous day it was.


And here's the new part. Uncle Tom's Trail consists of 328 steps (very steep steps) that take you down to the bottom of the lower falls. Bob did it the first year we came here. I had not attempted it. So what's a few steps after a 6 mile hike? We went for it.

Are you getting the feel for the dramatic drop? I could see the river way below, but couldn't look but for a passing glance every now and then. At one point I was holding on to the rail with both hands. Have I mention I'm not a fan of heights?

But we made it! Usually the spray from the falls is hitting this platform, but the wind this day was carrying it down the river. 

And we even ended the hike down and up with a rainbow. And that is Uncle Tom's Trail.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sepulcher Mountain - 3rd (and I promise, last) Part

This is a good view of the two mountain ranges. I suppose they have different names because they are not joined. So again, the one on the far right of the valley is the Absaroka Range and the left one is the Gallatin Range.

 One more look at the view before getting below the ridge line.

The climb down the mountain was through some dense woods for a large amount of the time.

And as we approached this area, we heard a guy just shouting out loud, as he walked. Right as we got to the woods he and a girl appeared, very relieved to be free of the woods. They said there was a very fresh pile of bear scat right on the path, and another further down.

So while we were in the wooded areas, we carried our bear spray in our hands and shouted as we walked. Never saw a bear, thank you Lord!, but we came across the scat. He was right on...very fresh!

Part of the back trail looks just like the front however, this had a lot of steep descents and the paths were very rocky, so we had to step carefully and go slow.


Can you see how dark it is in the woods? We could too. We walked faster when possible. We were still 3 miles away from the end at this spot.

This was a surprise junction. We came across this bridge and there was a confusing sign. We interpreted it correctly though and were able to stay on the trail. We had 2.5 miles to go at this point.

And this was a surprise lake we had to hike around. The beauty was nice but we were much more focused on the time. We did stop long enough to look for critters, but saw none.

Finally, the sign we had been waiting to get to. Wait, what? It's still 1 mile to Snow Pass? After that it's 1 more mile back to the truck. Hmmm.

But we persisted and made it. This sign is the beginning of the Snow Pass trail on the back side of the Hoodoo's trail.

And at full dusk, we made it to the truck. Our main worry was not the dark, in and of itself, we carry head lamps with us for emergencies.

But dusk is when all the night animals really make themselves known. And running into bears, wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, even foxes is not something we are really looking to do!

 And to clarify about this mountain...Sepulcher is 9,646 feet high. Electric is 10,969 feet high and Washburn mountain is 10,243 feet high.

 We hiked 3,300' in elevation change of Sepulcher for this hike.

And here is what Sepulcher looks like from our cabin. The highest peak in the middle is where we were! Due to smoke from the fires the pictures are not as pretty and clear as what we thought we were looking at, but you get a feel for what we saw.

So there you have the full splendor of Sepulcher Mountain. We hope to do it again next year but go another way, leave much earlier and spend more time on the top.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sepulcher Mountain - Part 2

We are officially on the top. This is the view to the west. It is Electric Peak. We can see it from our cabins, but not this close up!

We had a few people in the Yellowstone store tell us we had to hike that next. Are you kidding me? It's almost another 1,000' taller than Sepulcher. Not happening!

This view is to the northeast. This is the Gallatin Mountain range. It travels north toward Livingston, MT.

See this little outcropping of rock? It is why this mountain is called Sepulcher. According to Google a sepulcher is: "a small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried." This mountain is full of these stones.

We were delighted by the sighting of a white butt in the bushes along the trail. As we got closer we saw what we thought was and Elk but turned out to be a Mountain Goat. They are rare to see up here and rarer to see this close. She was on the path so we had to make noise to encourage her to go up the hill so we could pass. 

And so, here she is about to leave, but wait...

Nope, the grass is a little tastier over on the other side. Ha!

She did finally meander up the hill and lo! there was another one, watching the whole time. Bob got about 50 shots of these two. 

Here they are together. Two females getting fat on grass and seeds for the winter.

Aren't they gorgeous??

And look, she stopped to say hi to us. Or, maybe she was chewing and responding to my noises to get her to raise her head??

I was surprised at how white their fur was.

Here's Bob standing at the top of a large crevice like it's no big deal. One slip and he's gone down the hill. That kind of stuff freaks me out!

This picture is looking down the crevice into the valley where the road goes north out of Gardiner, Montana. The mountain ranges are the Gallatin on the left and the Absaroka on the right.

This is looking more due east. Gardiner is in the foreground and the Absaroka range is behind and beyond.

I wish I knew how to draw a circle or insert an arrow in the pics. If you look at the trees on the left forefront and see the plateau immediately to the left, there are 4 little dots on the plateau. Those are our cabins we live in and take care of!

Here's another good and larger example of the rock out-croppings that Sepulcher Mountain is named for.

By now the sun is starting to get closer to the mountains on the west where it will disappear for the night.

Did I mention we are still on top of the mountain and it took us 5 hours to get up here and we started at 11:20am? So to make a faster descent, I'm just going to drop off the side of the cliff and slide back down.

Oorrr, maybe I'm starting to walk a lot faster along the ridge line path to work our way down before it's dark!!

This view is still northeast. The mountains just seem to go on and on!

We are a little below the back ridge line here. The rock you see is volcanic rock and it forms the ridge line for Sepulcher to the north.

More to come on the next blog. Be sure and check to see if we made it off the mountain before dark :)