I have to say, I am a little nervous as this is my first time . . . well, at least for a Trip Report. There have been and continues to be so many really amazing TRs that I have found lots of excuses to just watch and dream of some of these places, that many of you have shown to me. It has been fun seeing many venues through the eyes of so many of you. Hopefully some of my locales, photographs and comments might cause you to stop and look, and maybe even garner a comment or two. I realize that this location is something of a frequent stop, for many of the TC adventurers. Maybe you might find the Yellowstone I know a beautiful place too, as well as stops in the Tetons and along the way.
It is not unusual for a hard and brief thunderstorm to break over the Rockies and this first day, starting out on the road started no differently. As I was waiting for my son to bring over some of the final items for the trip, I kept watching the waves of rain coating the windshield of my truck waiting until that moment it was necessary to start the windshield wipers, to clear my view of the Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado. The world can be a little skewed, the way I see it, sometimes.
It is hard to say that my trips are just that, trips, because it is all a continuous journey for me. So I am always looking for another adventure and interspersed along the way are some of my dearest friends. So after four days of traveling from Boulder, Colorado, to Grand Teton National Park (Ok, I drive slowly), I pulled up in front of one these friend’s house, in Moose. They have one of those million dollar views, as they should for their dedication to their jobs;
I have to say, one of the reasons why I am doing what I am doing is to see the USA from my Chevrolet . . . well, maybe Dinah Shore should have been singing; Ford, for me that is. The view from my LANCE Truck Camper’s passenger side window;
I spent two nights at their residence, visiting and getting some of the training for my Yellowstone leg completed. Through the different phases of my life, I am very lucky to have friends scattered all over the United States. One of the things I enjoy is stopping and visiting, while I am on my Endless Adventure. I hope to find more friends along the way.
The Fall Colors were just beginning and with my cameras, I hit the road with my get around motorcycle. I stopped for the classic shot of the horse corral at Cottonwood Creek. Sadly, the Taggart Lake Fire wiped out the old barns and the photos just don’t have the character they once did.
Just a few yards to the south, of the horse corral, is one of the trail heads for a classic day hike to Taggart Lake, for a 3.5 mile round trip hike. I always like the south route, from the trail junction just west of the parking area, as it affords the hiker one of the best views of Avalanche Canyon and the Tetons. The hike down is along the creek, most of the way with the sound of the water joining you on the way down. The area has had a massive Wind Throw and two subsequent Forest Fires and the beauty is still there and the area is recovering very quickly.
Having my friend joining me, we hiked another favorite place of mine, Phelps Lake. It once was part of the Rockefeller Family’s private reserve and has recently been renovated and deeded over to the National Park as the Rockefeller Preserve Center;
One of the places I stayed at during my wild 70’s was at the Fabian Ranch, in Grand Teton National Park. This ranch is now closed and has gone through some recent renovations, after years of neglect. It was one of my favorite places to hang, as a green park ranger. The current plans is to reopen it as a research ranch, for groups working within the park. Some of these from distinguished places such as Michigan State University. I will forever have so many fond memories there.
My final day in the Tetons was one another day of magical rewards. This was the day I was going to get my Kayak wet. One my favorite paddles is down the turbulent Snake River. I put in at the Jackson Lake Dam outlet, paddling through the famous Oxbow and watching an entertaining ensemble of performing River Otters, sliding down the river bank and then scampering along the shore to once again grab my attention with another “water slide” down the riverbank, only to be often repeated as I floated around the next bend. I try not to get too close to these very shy animal and only carrying a “point and shoot” camera with me only resulted in a superb picture of the river bank. Being it was September; the cooler nights only made the water and the early morning push off, that much colder. I was paddling alone, which is not recommended, but I have many decades of experience on the river so I didn’t hesitate for this opportunity of a full day paddle down to Menor’s Ferry in Moose.
Waking early, it was time to head north (slowly of course) to begin my stay in Yellowstone National Park. For those that have traveled this route, they know too that it is very difficult to drive too long or too far without stopping for a break, or photo opportunity. I have liked the fact there are numerous pull outs, that are very generousin their size. Many parks have been taking the opportunity to enlarge many of the pull outs, to accommodate the growing numbers of Truck Campers and other travel conveyances. One of my favorites is the Cathedral Range pull out. To find this, turn west off what is known as the inside road, to take the Jenny Lake Loop. It is an amazing view and different perspective of the wonderful Teton Range.
Right on the South side of Yellowstone is a group of free Campsites, along the Snake River. I have been frequenting this area for almost 40 years now. These locations are mostly filled with locals, park employees and the always present, fly fisher people. This was my home base for the first two weeks, as I explored the southern half of Yellowstone and the northern Tetons.
Of course, I always like to show off my million dollar dinner views, from inside my camper;
The next morning I loaded up my motorcycle and rode through the south Entrance station.
It never ceases to amuse me in watching the family traditions and memories that are created at these entrance signs. No, I don’t know these people, but did find them fun to watch.
I arrived at my hike, for the day, at the Pitchstone Plateau to Phantom Fumarole (4.5 miles) and a little further (1.0 mile) Phantom Campsite. There are so many wonderful thermal features in the Yellowstone Backcountry. The hikes to them are just outstanding. Lucky for me, these trails are having less and less people hiking on them. This trail travels along the east side of the Plateau, starting north of the South Entrance Station, 2 miles south of Lewis Lake, on the West side of the road.
The wildlife is thick in this part of the park and it is easy to be joined by extra parties enjoying the parks trails, like this mom and daughter.
The beautiful Yellowstone meadows and their travelers;
One of our favorite hangouts, in the 70’s, was the Huckleberry Hot Springs and the nearby Polecat Springs;
Camping along the Snake River affords opportunities that often are not found in the usual campgrounds, in Yellowstone. One thing that happens is running into the same group of people every year. These guys show up for fly fishing and hunting and I always look forward to seeing them each year. This day was a great day of drifting and fishing, all the way down the Snake River into Jackson Lake, arriving at Leeks Marina before dark.
Two Federal Wildlife officers stopped at my camp, to talk with me and the others guys that were there fishing nearby. They wanted to inform us that two separate grizzlies were relocated and released into the adjacent Winegar Hole Wilderness. This wilderness area had been created specifically for Grizzly bear and their habitat in 1984.
I had already watched a Grizzly, grub hunting, the day before, so it did not come as any surprise that these two Grizzlies had been relocated nearby. During my hike to Indian Lake, I remained extra vigilant for any large furry things heavier than me. It actually was an omen, as I saw more bears this season than any of my previous 38 consecutive years of working, living and visiting the Yellowstone country.
I wasn’t surprised to see numerous fresh bear signs along the trail, reminding me of my status on the food chain;
After arriving at Indian Lake, I was able to watch a group of Mallard Ducks fishing themselves, for the juicy seedling shoots;
It is always good to get back to camp, after a beautiful day of hiking and exploring the Yellowstone Backcountry.
Put up the boots and relax.
Unfortunately I am sometimes beaten to the sack, by my trusted traveling companion.
After my time at the Snake River Camp, I moved to the north and central part of Yellowstone. I spent a total of 49 nights in Yellowstone, hiking, backpacking and kayaking, never paying for or staying in a campground. Even though the Truck Camper is comfortable, there is still something to hiking into a mountain lake, to feel and hear the night sounds around you. Many parks have what are known as “walk in sites.” These are sites that are a mile or so from the trailhead and permits are obtained at the appropriate park’s back country office. So it is a great way of saving the campground fees, and in need of a base camp for crashing for the night and seeing the parks and other trails.
I hiked into my backcountry site and grabbed some morning time, reading the paper, until I heard off to my left a couple of residents I had not seen earlier. I hiked back out to my truck to grab my camera, to capture the dances and pirouettes’ of this; Yellowstone Trumpeter Swan Ballet;
As I had mentioned, I think I will remember my first time, my first time posting a trip report,that is.