Today we left at 6 AM and traveled on I-94 through MN, North Dakota, and into Montana.† It was an uneventful trip.† In fact we encountered very little traffic for most of the trip.† It was very windy in North Dakota.† It was incredibly hot in Montana, so much so that we even turned on the air conditioner.†
We spent the night at a KOA in Big Timber, Montana.† It was ok.† It did start to rain almost immediately as we drove into our site.† The rain did not keep up; we were able to set up the tent dry.† We got to see beautiful stars at night when it wasnít cloudy.
We got up, ate a quick breakfast and were on the road by 6:30.† We didnít have very far to go to get to Yellowstone.† About 60 miles on the freeway and then 90 miles on hwy 89 that would take us right into the park.† We were fortunate that there was again very little traffic and it was a nice (and scenic) road.
We got to the Park and went on the road that took us to Mt. Washburn.† We climbed from 8800 feet to about 10300 feet and got to go up on an observation deck to see fantastic views.† We even saw Mt Sheridan that we will be climbing on Thursday, and we could see the Grand Tetons where we will be next week.† On the way up we saw some bighorn sheep.† On the way down we saw 22 bighorn sheep; 2 of them being babies.† We also got to see 2 marmots.
It was tricky on the way down.† There were medium big rocks to walk on (from the size of gravel to the size of your fist).† Some of the trail was fairly steep and it was easy to slip on the rocks.† John slipped twice but I really did it up good and slipped and rolled my ankle.† Luckily we were near the bottom and we had ice in the car so I iced it right away.
Because of road construction in the park, we had to drive back the way we came in, which was a little annoying. Our campsite was at Grant Village Campground which was about 80 miles away.† Enroute† to our campground we stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs and John went out to look at a couple of the thermal features while I iced my ankle.† When we got down to the Geyser Basins, we both went out and walked on the Fountain Paint Pot boardwalk.† It was absolutely spectacular.† We got to see boiling hot springs, mudpots (it is so hot that the mud actually boils and plops around), fumaroles (like noisy steam vents).† The very hot water actually supports organisms called thermophiles.† They have different colors and different temperature requirements.† Generally green and brown indicate organisms living in cooler water.† Orange and yellow indicate those living in hotter water.† Only a few microorganisms live in the nearly boiling water and those pools are colored a beautiful blue.†† So you get to see these gorgeous colors; bright orange, blue, brown, tan, white.† As the water runs down inclines you sometime get to see streaks of these gorgeous colors as the water runs down into the river.
Did I mention that the traffic wasnít as good in the park as it was on the way to the park.† It was quite ugly at times. Slow, sometimes slower than other times.
We got to our campsite.† Itís pretty nice.† They have a big push on keeping campsites clean.† ABSOLUTELY no food around unless youíre eating it.† It would seem the rules must be working as there are no bear (or any other animal) problems in the campgrounds.
I iced my ankle all night. Besides being cold from that, it got quite cold last night.† I would guess at least down to 40.
We were going to get up early, but since it was so cold we slept till about 7:15, ate breakfast and took off.† We first stopped† at the Backcountry office to get our permit.† Then we drove down to Mid Way Geyser Basin and walked around on the Boardwalks to see utterly fascinating stuff.† At one of the hot springs, the steam that was coming off of it was actually colored red and blue.† When you would get near to another one of the boiling springs it felt like you were in a sauna and then the cold wind would blow and you would be hot and cold at the same time.†
My ankle was much better this morning, but I continued to ice it whenever we werenít out on these (short) hikes.† I think the longest hike was 1 and 1/3 miles.† Since we need my ankle to get better we decided to just do touristy stuff instead of taking longer backcountry hikes.† It was indeed quite nice and even though there were a million people there was enough stuff to see and it was set up such that you could get through it nicely.
John decided that you really do not have to be looking in the woods for animals.† You just have to watch to see where the traffic jams are because all the cars are parked on the side of the road to view wild animals.† Today we saw an elk that was about 6 feet away in the ditch, a coyote that you could almost reach out and pet, and a bison.† However the bison was back in the grass a ways, but since there were cars everywhere, John knew there was an animal somewhere and he was eventually able to spot him.
We drove the loop of Firehole Drive.† (Firehole is the name of one of the rivers that goes through Yellowstone).† It was a 2 mile drive and it took you past various geysers, which you could see from your car, or get out and look at if you chose to.† We also drove down Firehole Canyon Drive and got to see a spectacular canyon, wonderful waterfalls and lots of whitewater.
Since we spent the whole day in the Geyser Basins, all we saw today were numerous different kinds, colors and shapes of geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles.† I think I could look at them forever; I never get tired of it.† We saw Old Faithful go off twice.† Quite spectacular.† But our favorite geyser was called Sawmill Geyser.† It never quit spewing forth water.† It did it in an unorganized fashion.† Sometimes straight up about 15 feet, sometimes, just a foot high and sometimes like a whirligig; the water just sprayed everywhere. The really neat part was the noise that it constantly made, plus the fact that you could feel the trembling under your feet.† It was neat to watch also because the people who were not aware of how high it could go would get up near it, on the boardwalk, it would go way up and they would get wet.† So if you would watch for a long time† you would see people walking, walking, walking and then running and then you knew they were by Sawmill Geyser.† NOTE:† of course the Park Service would never allow anyone to be hurt by any of this thermal activity.† If you stay on the boardwalk, you may get wet but never injured even though the water is hot.
Another way cool geyser we saw was Anemone Geyser and it was actually 2 in 1.† It would go off every 7-15 minutes.† It only went 3 Ė 10 feet in the air, but the sequence was neat to watch.† At first you would note 2 empty holes.† Then water would start to accumulate in one of the holes.† After a little while it would bubble, steam would be given off and it would erupt for a couple of minutes.† Then all the water would leave.† Then in another couple of minutes the other hole would fill with water, bubble and spray steam and that one would erupt.† And so it would go.
On the way back to our campsite we stopped at Koeplerís Cascades.† It was very beautiful.
Today we drove up to the Canyon area.† That is about as far north within the park that you can get before you hit the road construction.† We took the North Rim Drive and the South Rim Drive and stopped to see all the attractions from those roads.† We were viewing the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and it was spectacular.† I thought it was as neat as the real Grand Canyon.† There are 2 waterfalls.† The lower falls has a 300 foot drop and the upper falls a 109 foot drop.† All of the different stops we made were various viewpoints of the river at the bottom of the canyon and the falls.† Iím still resting my ankle so I didnít go on those that went down near the bottom.† I viewed most of the stuff from the top.† And even at that it was beautiful.
On the way to the Canyon area we passed herds of bison.† We later heard a ranger say that there are 3000 bison.† They roam quite freely wherever they please.† We leave fairly early in the morning and miss most of the traffic.† There were a lot of bison in the morning, and cars stopping to look at them, but we still moved along at a respectable speed.† On the way back nothing could be further from the truth.† The stupid bison would get up, cross the road, then decide to cross back again.† Many would decide to stand in the middle of the road.† The drivers arenít too bright either.† If there is an opening (that is no bison on the road) some of the drivers just sit there and look at them until they come back up onto the road.† There were cars backed up for at least half a mile heading northward toward the Canyon area.† We did get about a millions pictures of bison.† In fact, some of them were so close to the car that you couldnít get a good picture of them.
We stopped at Bridger Bay and had lunch there, checked out the marina and just looked at the incredibly beautiful Yellowstone Lake.† Then we went on to see the Mud Volcano area.† There were mostly mudpots at that place.† This is the place where the volcano had its main vents and they are still there.† We didnít stay too long at mud Volcano because the smell was horrible.† They even had a sign somewhere that said the smell can be dangerous and if you feel sick, leave immediately.† The most smelly but yet neatest attraction was called Dragonís Mouth.† The noise that it made sounded exactly like a dragonís roar.† However the smell of sulfur was overwhelming and we left after that.
We then went to West Thumb Geyser Basin.† This place is about 2 miles from our campground.† It had some beautiful emerald blue springs in it, and a fantastic little river of yellow that turned to orange water.† But otherwise the other geyser areas we had been at were better than this one.
Instead of going back to our campground (to do the laundry) we decided to drive a little further south to find our trailhead for tomorrow when we hike into the back country.† Good thing we did because the ranger said that it was marked, but it wasnít.† Coming back from the wrong direction it was marked.† We now know exactly where to start our hike tomorrow.
We arrived at the trailhead to start our hike into Heart Lake at about 8:45 AM and encountered mosquitoes.† A lot of mosquitoes.† They were quite dreadful.† After about 2 miles we gave up and put bug spray on our hands and around our face and neck.† We both usually wear long pants and long sleeve shirts to keep the sun off of us.† We continued onward.† Two dayhikers passed us, saying that they were just going to the lake.
We passed a couple of hot springs, some fumaroles (the loud sounding vents) and got to smell that sulfur smell.† It never ceases to amaze how these things can just be sitting here in the middle of the forest.†
We had only about a 300 foot rise in elevation and then dropped again as we approached the lake.† As we neared the lake, the dayhikers that had passed us earlier came zipping past us, heading back for the car.† They said they frequently hike down to the lake, but this time they only stayed for 5 minutes because the deer flies were impossible.
It was about a 7.5 mile hike into the lake and as we approached it, the mosquitoes died down but the deer flies picked up.† I usually wear a light colored tan top and pants and I probably had at least a dozen on my pants alone.† They canít bite through. We had to walk about another half mile along the beach to get to our campsite.† Enroute we had to cross on this rather nice sturdy log, about 20 feet long over a stream.† I made it across ok but they always make me nervous.† We also met the people who would be our next door neighbors for the night.† A very nice couple from Boston.
This was quite a setup.† After we got off the beach, we walked on the usual trail, amongst the trees until we saw a sign that said H6 (our site number).† We turned toward the lake and walked on another trail for at least 100 yards and saw a red marker in the tree, indicating that we were on the correct trail.† Walked still further and saw a red sign that pointed down another trail and said TOILET.† We kept going another 50 feet on the first trail and there was our campsite.† A very nice area that had lots of logs for sitting on, and to use for a table and an established bear pole that was at least 20 feet high.† (As far as Boundary Water Canoe camping goes, that is ridiculously high), but it was already in place and it was great.† The lake itself was 20 feet away.† And there were a couple of places to pitch our tent that was away from the water (mandatory 100 feet) and away from the cooking area (mandatory 100 feet).† I loved it.
We went down to the lake and the wind picked up.† It was so nice because it blew away the flies.† As John was just glancing down the lake, about 200 feet away, a mama moose and her calf wandered out into the water and were just standing there a drinking.† John walked down to get our neighbors that we had met while coming in and they came over and sat with us awhile and we all took turns looking through the binoculars at the mooses.† The mama would look over at us, but seemed quite unconcerned.
We walked into the lake, up to our calves and filtered water.† The mosquitoes were quite thick as we got into our tent for the night. It was a quiet night, except for the wind.
Today John got up to climb Mount Sheridan, about 10300 feet.† I walked with him just about a quarter mile and while walking down our path to the main trail we encountered a deer, just browsing, and not at all concerned that we were there.† When I returned back to the camp, I saw the deer again, only this time as I walked toward the cooking area, where the logs were, the deer was on the other side, looking at me.† I just kept walking and he turned off and went into the forest.† I also got to see a tiny little snake on the beach.
I sat on the beach and read.† John came back and said that there is a guy who lives at the top of that mountain (Sheridan) and he stays there the entire summer.† He has food flown in by helicopter every 2 weeks.† His house on the very top of the mountain is one big room.† There is a hardwood floor throughout, and a hardwood counter on 3 sides, with a center island in the middle. He has a stove and a sink.† A big beautiful one with a magnificent view of the surrounding area.†† All 4 sides of his room are glass.† He has maps and charts, optics, telescopes, spot scopes, a wind speed device, and a cell phone to call the other fire towers.† The bathroom is outside where the visitors can use it too and it was a composing toilet.† He told John that the other day he saw that moose down on the corner of the lake swimming across, then she got out and ran for a ways down the beach that we had walked on to get to our site.
In the evening 2 ladies (from Canada) stopped by to say hello.† Our first neighbors only stayed one night and the Canadians were to be our neighbors for that evening.†
The mosquitoes and flies were again bad during the day; although they did seem to trade off.† When the wind blew, they all went away.
Fri.† July 22
Today we packed up our stuff and hiked out of our camp, back to the beach, and then essentially to the far other side of the lake.† It was about a 7 mile hike. (It wasnít supposed to be quite that far, but I took a wrong turn).† The tricky part was that we crossed so many streams.† The major one we had to cross twice.† The first time over some rocks and the second one was up a narrow tree trunk.† Had I not had my trekking poles I would never have made it.† The rest of the crossings werenít so major, but there were a lot of them.
I thought we would never get to our site, but at last that wonderful small sign appeared-HJ5 and we turned on the trail to get down to our site.† We walked about 200 yards, going quite steeply downhill through downed trees.† Then we got to a slightly open area and ahead saw that orange sign marker in the tree to indicate that we were still on the right trail.† Then we saw a sign that said HJ5 that a way.† We walked on to the beach.† There was another 0range sign that said HJ5 200 yards; pointing down the beach, and as you looked ahead you could see yet another orange sign down the way.† All in all we probably walked over a quarter of a mile, part of it being on the beach.† But we wound up in another wonderful campsite.† A 20 foot bear pole was in our cooking area.† There were some logs to sit on, although not many.† And there was a nice place to put up our tent.
We got things organized and noticed a humming; we thought maybe there were a hive of bees moving from one nest to another.† (That happened to us on our Mississippi trip).† But we couldnít see any bees.† When the wind blew the humming sound disappeared.† The wind blew quite hard, but it was not constant and whenever it stopped, the humming would start.† Then we noticed these little tiny bugs that were quite harmless and we concluded that these tiny creatures were the ones making the humming noise.† It would be perfectly correct to say that there were millions of them.† You could look out toward the lake and see them as far as you could see.† If you put down a towel, the towel would be covered with them.† When you would eat, they loved to jump in your food.† However they were so tiny that when the wind would blow, they were gone.† I have never ever seen anything like it before in my whole life.† I would rather have them any day that the mosquitoes, but we got to deal with the mosquitoes too.† The deer flies were around too.
Later in the afternoon, John went into the forest and collected a bunch of downed logs and made us a beautiful cooking area, with sitting logs in a 12 foot square (more or less) and 2 areas that were higher to be used as a tables.† He also found a small branch and used that as a mirror holder to use for shaving and putting on suntan lotion.† Later he also devised a branch with the end 2 branches in a V shape to hold his bag of water for shaving.† It was all very nice.
In the evening, we had quite a thunderstorm.† There was a LOT of lightning and the weather radio talked about 50mph downburst winds.† We survived without a problem.
Sat. July 23
We woke up this morning to a perfectly calm lake.† That also means tons of mosquitoes.† We decided to walk to Lookout Mountain as John was considering climbing it.† We had to cross the Snake River, which was pretty tricky.† Then we just wandered through the forest (on a trail) and saw incredibly beautiful flowers.† We went a total of about 2 miles out and had lunch on a high ridge and looked across at Lookout Mt.† John decided not to climb it because he would have had to walk down through a marsh to just to get to the foot of the mountain.† This was real Boundary Waters stuff and we were surprised we never saw a moose.
After lunch we hiked back, and part of the trail took us past another campsite, which was not occupied when we had gone past it in the morning.† This time there were 4 girls setting up camp and 2 of them recognized John.† They had passed on Sheridan Mt. where the girls were almost to the top but were going to stop and head back down.† John told them they were almost to the top and should go on at least a little ways because there was a snowfield up there they could play in and they could look over the saddle to a beautiful view of the Grand Teton and the Teton Range.† So they did in fact go all the way to the top and when they got there and signed the book they noticed that John was from New Hope.† They were all excited because one of them was from Minnetonka, one from Roseville, a third one from Shorewood and the fourth girl was from Montana.
Sun. July 24
We hiked out today, back to civilization and I kept track of the number of steams we crossed.† During the 12.2 miles we hiked out, we made 23 stream crossings.† The bugs were not nearly as bad going out.† We did pass many hikers going into the back country.
We got back to our car around 3 PM and drove back to Grant village Campground again to get a campsite.† A nicer site than we had before.† We splurged and went down to the Lake House for dinner.
Mon. July 25
Today we broke camp and headed for the Tetons.† We stopped at Colter Bay and got a campsite for the night.† We tried to get our permits from the Colter Lake Ranger Station, but since we wanted to change some days, we had to drive to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station and talk to them.† We got everything straightened out.† They are much more laid back here than at Yellowstone.† We didnít have to watch a video or anything.† Just picked up our permits.† We drove to the trailhead just so we knew exactly where it was.† While we were there, a helicopter inserted 2 - two man teams into the area where we would be hiking tomorrow.† Either someone needed to be rescued or they were doing a practice run.
Tue. July 26
We got up, broke camp and were at the trailhead around 8:30AM and put on our packs and headed into the Teton Wilderness.†† We started at Lupine Meadows and hiked 4.7 miles and 2600 feet to our destination of the Meadows.† It was tough.† We hiked about 3 miles on a normal type trail, about a mile on the side of a mountain on uncomfortable small rocks and then we hit a boulder field.† John had talked to a guy at the ranger station who said that weíd hit a boulder field with boulders anywhere between the size of a volkswagon to the size of a house.† He was so right.† I had absolutely no clue where to go so John looked at the GPS and said ďgo that wayĒ.† We walked less than a quarter of a mile on these boulders.† I made it most of the way, but hit a spot where I just couldnít do it, so John carried his pack to the end and then came and got mine.†
After that it was a short distance to the Meadows and we met the guys there that we had seen at the Ranger Station.† They were going upward to camp at a higher spot, designated the Caves.† We found ourselves a nice site and set up camp.† The Meadows area had grass on it, but the grass had ďtoo many feet on itĒ so the campers were asked to set up tents on the smooth gravel instead.† Our site was right next to a big boulder; it was very nice, although at night it proved that the gravel wasnít that smooth or flat for that matter.† There were no bears to worry about at that elevation, but the marmots were quite troublesome.† Each site had a 3 to 6 foot pole hanging off the top of the boulders, and held in place by small rocks.† You were to hang your food bag on a rope from the pole so the marmots couldnít get it.† Someone had not done that and John saw some candy bar wrappers around that the marmots had gotten into.
John decided to hike on up to the saddle between Middle Teton and South Teton, to find a route that would be easiest for me to hike with him tomorrow.†
Right in the Meadows area was a quite big waterfall with a stream that was about 20 feet from our site.† I went over and filtered some water and then just hung around by the tent.† There must have been 100 people that went by that were either going up toward the Caves area, and then to the Grand Teton, or up our way heading toward Middle or South Teton.
John got back and found a way for us not to go; so that tomorrow we would take a route differently than the way that he went.† He also stopped and talked to some people in the South Fork camping area (where we are supposed to camp on day 3 and day 4).
There were only 2 or 3 other tents in our camping area and two of the climbers came over to say hello.† They were from the UP Mich. They plan to climb Owen Spaulding tomorrow, which is one of the routes to get to the top of the Grand Teton.
Wed. July 27
Today John and I climbed up to the saddle between Middle Teton and South Teton.† Suffice it to say I found it very trying.† We took the route through the big boulder field to start.† That wasnít too bad, except it was quite steep and when the boulders stopped and we had to be on the small loose stones or dirt I always had the feeling I would fall down the mountain.† After the boulder field we hit a snowfield.† Now that was fun.† The snow was nice and soft, but I opted to wear my crampons and also got out the ice axe, to test it out. After the snowfield we reached that point where there was a sort of trail and it was over nice size rock.† That took us to the Saddle.† We climbed from 9200 ft. to 11,400 feet.†
There were incredibly beautiful tiny flowers everywhere.† I could look down to the west and see Iceflow Lake; it looked like it had ice chunks in it.† The scenery was spectacular in all directions.
We took part of the same route back down; through the snow field and then turned a different way so I could see where the South Fork camping area was.† We actually ran into the people that John had talked to the day before; the ones that were camped at South Fork.†
To get down to their site, we had to go around an area where there was a lot of melt from a snow field.† Then we had to get out on a steeper snow field (with my crampons and ice axe; John wore his boots but used his ice axe).† If this sounds pretty dangerous, it seemed like it to me, but these climbers wouldnít think anything of it.† We did find their campsite, but now we had to continue back down to our own campsite for the night.† We had to walk along this steep hill on loose gravel and dirt and it scared me half to death.† Apparently it was just me because 2 other guys came by, said hello and zipped by like they were mountain goats.† However, I got a rope on, attached to John and he belayed me over about 30 feet.† After that it was back to a boulder field and we made it back to our site.
After talking about it, I decided I could never enjoy the hike up to the South Fork area.† We therefore plan to hike out tomorrow, but hike back in on the 5th day to stay at our last camping spot at Surprise Lake.
Thu. July 28
Today was the day we would hike out, but John has planned forever to climb Middle and/or South Teton, so he got up early and was on his way before 7AM.† The first time we talked on our 2 way radios was shortly after 9 AM and he was already at the Saddle.† He first climbed up Middle, primarily on the snow.† Since he was there quite early, even the little streams were iced over.† The snow field he went on was icy, so he used crampons and ice axe.† In fact he climbed 4 different sections of snow.† It would have been impossible without the crampons, but he made it to the top.
Then he had to come back down to the Saddle and since it was still relatively early (11:30AM) he decided to climb South Teton.† However first he had to filter some water, since he ran out. †This created a slight delay as he had to hike down away for the saddle to find a snow melt stream to filter the water and then hike back up to the saddle to start the climb up South Teton.
There wasnít much snow on the South Teton, but there was a steep chute that he had to climb the last couple hundred feet to get to the exposed summit ridge.† If you can believe it, someone had taken the geological marker from the top; all that was left was the bolt that was holding it so John took a picture of the bolt.
It was back down to the Saddle then, and back to our site.† He made it by 3:30. The tent was down; we just had to repack things and we left by 4 PM.† We got back to our car shortly before 7 PM.† We went back to Colter Bay to camp for the night. After paying for the campsite ($15) we decided to drive over to the shower/laundramat place to shower.† You can imagine our extreme shock when we found out that it cost $3.50 per person to shower.† Since we were completely filthy, dusty, dirty, grimy, smelly, we paid it; but really hated to do it.
Fri. July 29
We both slept so soundly last night and woke up to some rain, and so we just laid around in the tent until it stopped. (8 AM).† We looked up at the mountains that we had just come from yesterday and they were all socked in with fog.† It remained like that for most of the day.† We were so lucky with our timing; it would have been impossible to climb today.† Had we still been up on the mountain, all we could have done was stay in our tent.
We decided to drive less than an hour to Jackson, WY;† Jackson Hole, the ski area is right before the city of Jackson.† What a zoo!!!† We stopped at a fabric shop because the straps on Johnís day pack that he wears when he climbs were very torn.† As it turned out he bought an awl and he subsequently fixed his shoulder straps.† He double and triple sewed them and it looks professionally done.† It will never come apart again.
We were very lucky that the library was in the general area of the fabric store so we went there too, for some internet access and then we went to the Hard Drive Cafť; to eat and for some more internet access.
I forgot to mention that as we were traveling through the Teton Park, around 9 AM, there were so many cars parked along the side of the road.† This would indicate an animal crossing.† And yes!!† It was a mama moose and her baby.† On the way back from Jackson, as we were nearing Colter Bay and our campground; at the same spot as before, there were all kinds of cars parked on the side of the road.† That silly mama moose and her baby were still down there in the wet stream area; probably enjoying the attention that they had gotten all day.
Sat. July 30
Today was the 5th and final day of our back country permit, to camp at Surprise Lake. We hiked back in again.† The first 3 miles were the same as the last time, but after that we took the trail to Surprise Lake, another 1.5 miles. The Lupine Meadows Trailhead was at about 6750 feet and we climbed to 9580 feet.
There were 3 campsites at the Lake and only 1 was occupied.† We set up our tent, had lunch and decided to go check out Amphitheater Lake, which was .2 mile further up the trail.† From that point, according to the literature John had been reading, there should have been a trail that would take one up to a point where you could climb Disappointment Peak.† I only went up a short ways, and then just sat around and waited for John.† It turns out that the info. was correct.† He climbed up the trail and then there were supposed to be 2 chockstones apparent. (There were).† One was indicating a small tunnel you could climb through (so you wouldnít have to climb over the outside of the chute).† The second chock stone you (John) had to climb around (tricky) to get to the gully to take you toward the top.† After that the climb was fairly straightforward. Very near the top there was some exposed scrambling to get to the peak.† The climb was uneventful except near the end when John had to climb back down the chute and around the chockstones.† It started to mist at that elevation and the rock started to get wet.† Fortuneately, he passed through the crux portion of the descent before the rock became to slipper to climb on.
Disapointment was 11600 feet.† The peak to the West is Grand Teton at 13800 feet.† As the story goes, when the first climbers saw the Grand Teton they thought they could get to it from Disappointment.† But when they got to the top, they realized that they couldnít get to Grand Teton from the mountain they were on and so they named it Disappointment Peak.
When John got back down (in about 2 hrs.) we went to the lake and he filtered some water.† We ate dinner and just kind of wandered around enjoying the gorgeous scenery.† At about 7PM we heard the last day hiker leave; the tent that had been there previously was gone and so we were all alone in that beautiful area.† Just us and the mosquitoes, the evening rain, the noisy red squirrels and our little chipmunk with the broken funny looking tail.† It was a wonderful night.
Sun. July 31
Today was the day that we were to leave Surprise Lake, but first we decided to hike up the mountain to see if we could find the Teton Glacier.† We were unable to get to it, but we saw wonderful scenery up there.† We came back down and decided to go back to Surprise Lake and climb up the short mountain that overlooked Surprise Lake.† It was not a hard climb but it was about 9900 feet and from the top we could see out into the valley as well as back toward the mountains.† The mountains are so beautiful.† We could see all the major peaks in this area (Grand, Middle and South Teton; Cloud Veil Dome, Teewinot, Nez Perce, Disapointment and Mt Owen) from the top.† This was one of the ďunnamed peaksĒ so John called it Patís Peak since I lead the way to its summit.
We went back and took down our tent and headed out.† When we had come in before, there was this scrawny deer right in the middle of the trail.† It would follow people.† If it got too close to the hikers, it would get off the trail and wait for someone else to come by and then follow those people.† There was a couple at the lake yesterday that said that a deer followed them all the way around the lake.† It must have been the same one.
After we hiked back to the car, we drove to Colter Bay and got a campsite for 2 nights.† We went to Jackson Beach and had a picnic.† We looked up at the Tetons and noticed that it was raining.† After a while there was a spectacular thunder and lightning display.† It was only up in the mountains, not down where we were.
Mon. Aug 1
Today we decided to do touristy stuff.† We took a 2.5 mile hike to Hidden Falls.† We could have cut that short by taking a 2 mile boat ride across the lake to get closer to the Falls; but we decided to hike the whole thing.† It was worth it.† The Falls were quite spectacular.† From the Falls area we hiked a little further to Inspiration Point.† It overlooked Jenny Lake and it was quite breathtaking to see.
We hiked back and decided to have a picnic lunch along the lake.† However it started to rain so we walked back to the car and finished eating in the car.† We just drove around (it did quit raining).† We went to see what Jenny Lake Lodge looked like.† It was incredibly affluent and beautiful place.
Then we drove down to Pilgrim Creek.† I decided I wanted to walk down it for a ways.† The creek itself was very small; anywhere from 3 to 7 feet across and only a couple inches deep; but in spots maybe 24 inches deep.† The neat part was that there were rocks all along the creek, in areas as wide as 100 feet.† So there were tons of rocks to look at.
Today we packed up and left the Tetons.† We decided to stop at Teton Villlage to see what it was like.† It was like any touristy, fabulous ski area.† It was absolutely beautiful.† We had thought of taking the tram ride up to the top of Jackson Hole, but didnít want to spend all the money. ($19 per person).
Since I have never been to Idaho, John found a good route for us that would take us not too far out of our way and take us into Idaho where we could camp for the night.† It was on Bear Lake; an extremely long lake (40 miles?).† It was very hot that day and when we stopped at the State Park area, the lady told us we might want to camp at a private campground where there would be shade, because the State Park had no shade.
We decided to camp at the private place.† It was a strange place with strange people.† They closed their bathrooms from 10 PM until 10 AM.† There was an outhouse however.† There were also a group of teenagers who were setting up camp when we came in.† They were quiet at night, but we were afraid it might get crazy.
At about 8 PM the sky turned dark and the wind picked up.† Like it almost blew our tent away.† John staked it out very well and we just watched it blow.† By 9:30 it had died down.† Before the wind quit blowing we had a beautiful Great Horned Owl fly in the tree right by our tent.† He could barely stay in the tree; he was swaying back and forth.† He made noises like a hawk; not the ďwhooĒ sound that I thought owls would make.
Today we packed up and were on our way to Wyoming; enroute to pick up Nat in Fort Collins.† We drove all the way along the shore of the lake and saw some huge houses.† We also saw all kinds of people out jogging and figured that none of these people work.
It was an interesting day because in the space of about 30 miles we were in 3 different states Ė Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.† If we had not seen it on the map, we never would have known that we were in Utah because it was not indicated on the highway.† We drove right by Fossil Buttes National Monument and decided to stop.† It was a pretty neat place.† I am not really into fossil stuff, but there were much interesting things to see.† We stopped a little ways past the Monument at a retail place and I got a fossil fish.
It was quite a beautiful drive to get to I-80. There were lots of hills, or small mountains and just pretty scenery.† We were going to go Cheyenne via I-80, but decided to take the scenic route through Medicine Bow National Forest.† Now this place was really neat.† There were mountains that even had snow on them.† They also had many areas marked as Trailheads and there werenít hundreds of cars parked there.† It was not as spectacular as the Tetons, yet it was extremely lovely with wonderful vistas, rocks, creeks, lakes and many trails to hike and mountains to climb.† And there werenít a million people there.† We greatly enjoyed driving through there and decided that one day we will have to go back to Medicine Bow National Forest.† Itís not often where you find a place of such beauty with so few people around.† I guess it is undiscovered.
We spent the night at a Holiday Inn at Cheyenne, since John still has Holiday Inn points from all of his traveling when he was working.† So we stayed there for free.
We got up and it had rained.† Tracey had told us about a botanical garden in Cheyenne and we checked it out, only to find out that it was very near where we were staying.† So before we left the city, we drove over to check it out.† It was very nice; I love looking at gardens, even in the rain.† By the time we were done the rain had stopped.† We had a very nice time.
We drove down to Fort Collins and did some shopping and got the oil changed and got my long hair cut.† Nat and Andy were both working late, so we played with the dogs and got things organized for our trip to California.
Fri.† Aug 5
We left today before 7 AM.† As we neared Cheyenne we ran into fog.† It was quite thick and we slowed down to about 35 miles per hour.† After about an hour it slowly went away.† We stopped at a really neat wayside; there was a huge statue of Abe Lincoln. There was also a small museum there.† The waysides in Wyoming are kind of different because there is not a wayside on each side of the road.† There is only one wayside and they somehow route the traffic under or over the highway so that both sides of the freeway wind up at the same wayside.
We went through Salt Lake City and then saw the huge salt areas.† It looks just like snow.† At the refineries there are big hills of perfectly white salt.†† As we moved past the lake, there were signs on the highway that stated that it you get drowsy, you should just pull over on the side of the road.† It is fairly monotonous and it would appear that there have been many accidents there.
Right before we hit Nevada, we passed the Bonneville Speedway.† There was not a whole lot to see in Nevada; a few smaller mountains, a big reservoir, but mostly it is quite desolate and pretty much like a desert.
Before we stopped at our destination of Fallon, NV for the night we rode on Hwy 50, which is the least used road in the US. (I saw a book that had a title similar to that).† This was the straightest road ever and in the 33 miles that we were on it, we probably saw 8 cars.† It was a well maintained road and you could really zoom right along on it.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Fallon and they gave each of us a dollarís worth of nickels and a coupon to play one Keno game.† The Holiday Inn was right next to Stockmanís Casino, so thatís how Stockmanís encourages you to go lose your money.† But Nat won 200 nickels with the dollarís worth that she got from the Holiday Inn.
Today we only had about 150 miles to get to Mammoth Lakes.† Right before we got to the city we stopped at the Mono Lake Visitor Center to pick up our back country permit.
Our motel was in the city of Mammoth Lakes and our room wasnít ready until 3 PM so we wandered around Mammoth Lakes and also went up to another Visitor Center and organized our gear.† We went to a lookout area to observe Mt. Ritter and the Minaretes. (a group of different peaks).
We stopped at Grumpyís for a predinner drink and then had dinner at the Charthouse with Anne and Craig Knocke.† It was a very nice time, very good food and it was nice to meet Craig and Anne.† They were both involved with the rescue team that helped find Otto.† Craig was one of the two people that were the first on the scene to recover Ottoís body.
We spent $7 each to get on the shuttle bus and that took us down to Agnew Meadow to start our trip.† Agnew Meadows is about 8300 feet.† As we started hiking there were quite a few horses that passed us.† There were groups that had a rider on each horse, and some that had just one person, pulling a bunch of horses that were hauling things.† We hiked in a total of about 7 miles, going past beautiful Shadow Lake (elevation 8700 feet) and finally getting to Ediza Lake (elevation 9300 feet).†
We had a problem crossing some of the streams.† Normally the area we were in experiences about 15 feet of snow in the winter.† This year they got 50 feet.† The streams were beautiful, but they were running like crazy.† John had on his heavy pack and was using one of my lightweight composite poles to cross the stream; going from rock to rock.† He was leaning on the pole and the pole broke and with the weight of his pack, he lost his balance and fell into the (very rushing) stream.† He got up and out of the water with a slightly gaping wound in his leg where the trekking pole got pushed into his leg.† After he pulled out a big piece of the black pole from his leg, everything was ok.† He carried my pack and Natís pack across the stream.†
The weather by this time looked very threatening so we decided to quickly find a place to set up the tent.† We were just a little ways southwest of Ediza Lake and we just got the rain fly on the tent when it started to rain.
Actually the rain was the good part. It would rain on and off, but later in the afternoon it started to hail.† It was only pea size hail and there were still trees to hide under.† There was some thunder and lightning, but not much.† By 7 PM the sky was blue and the sun was shining on the top of the mountain.
We had to wear our sandals today when we first started to hike to walk across a nice quiet little stream.† We only had to go about 10 feet and I thought my feet would freeze to death.† John had the same problem, but Nat did not think it was ferociously cold.
We had a short day and had to hike up about 500 feet in elevation, probably less than a mile.† We got to see this fantastic waterfall that divided in two at the top and came gushing down about 30 feet in two separate streams.†
We set up our tent and were eating lunch when Craig and Anne showed up with their 2 Australian Shepherds, Bobu and Nevi.†† As they were getting their tent set up, Nat and John hiked up the mountain a ways to see how things looked.† Tomorrow would be the day that John would go up to the top.† They just wanted to check things out and see how it looked a little further up.
John couldnít believe all the snow that was here now; that was not here last year.† We had to walk about 50 feet to find snow, and maybe 100 feet to be in a major snowfield.† So Nat and John both took crampons and an ice axe with them.† They went from our tent, which was at about 9800 feet up to 11,000 feet.† Nat was climbing some fairly steep snow.† She thought it was kind of scary; but she had a great time on the way down.† They were glissading (sliding standing up) down the snow, but with their ice axes to the ready, should they loose control.† When they got back to camp, Nat decided that she did not want to climb all the way to the top with John tomorrow.†
This was such a beautiful spot.† We had 4 streams running right in our area.† The terrible part was that with all the water the mosquitoes were unbelievable.† They swarmed the entire day.† Anne and Craig wore mosquito netting over their faces.† Plus all of us used bug spray.† Anne called it Eau de Deet.† You could not live without it.† It would keep them off of you for an hour or two and then you would need to reapply it.† After about 7PM they would go away.† In the morning, if you were lucky, you had till about 7:30 before they were out and swarming.
Craig had planned to climb Mt. Ritter with John, but he had to leave in the middle of the night because he remembered that he still had a battery at his home in his garage that was recharging and it was right next to a can of gas.†
John took off before 7 AM.† We had our 2 way radios with us and so we were able to converse from time to time.† The first radio check in was near the back side of the pinnacle, which was at 11200 feet.† The heavy snow allowed him to traverse to the West of the pinnacle which is normally not passable.† He had to cross some fairly steep (not quite vertical, but pretty close) snow.† Of course he had his ice axe and crampons and would never have been able to do it without them.†
He got to the top of Mt. Ritter shortly after 10 AM, the elevation being 13143 feet.† The plaque that he had made for Otto was put on the top of the mountain; he signed the book, had something to eat and headed back down.† On the way down, he stopped at the coordinates where they had found Ottoís body last year.† It was just a year since that terrible accident.† As he continued down the mountain he was at an area that he was familiar with from last year.† He looked across the side of the mountain, across the snow, to where he had put some cairns as markers for Otto last year.† And they were still there!!
While John climbed the mountain, Nat and Anne and I and the 2 dogs climbed up maybe 1000 feet to enjoy the view and once you got up in the snowfields the mosquitoes werenít around.† We had a great time.† The dogs were wonderful climbers and just fun to have around.
Craig returned back to camp from his home about the same time that John got down the mountain.† Craig, Anne and dogs packed up and left and we decided to take a short hike down to Ediza Lake to see if we could hike out tomorrow on the other side of the Lake and avoid the stream that had given us such a problem when we came in the first day.† It turned out that there were not any roaring streams we had to worry about, but there was a boulder field that was very hard to maneuver and it would be even worse tomorrow when we would be carrying our packs.† So we decided that tomorrow we would have to go out the way we came in.
But we still had a problem. When we got back in the area of our tent it was about five in the afternoon and by that time there was so much melting that we couldnít even cross the stream near our tent, that we had crossed two hours earlier.† We had to walk up higher, maybe a quarter of a mile to where it wasnít quite as roaring.†
Wed. Aug 10
John got up and looked at the small stream that is near our tent.† There was a specific rock that he was checking.† Last night there was 3 inches of water flowing over that rock.† This morning that rock was sticking out of the water by 2 inches.† We packed up our stuff and headed back down toward Ediza Lake.† When we came to our stream, Nat and John surveyed the area looking for a good spot to cross and they found an awesome spot.† The water wasnít that high and the rocks were perfect for crossing.† It was remarkably easy compared to Sunday when we had so much trouble.
The rest of the time was just as easy, especially since we were tending downhill now.† It always makes the pack feel so much lighter.† We decided to set up camp between Ediza Lake and Shadow Lake.† It was at the site where John and Otto had camped on the way in last year.† It was a wonderful site; hidden back in from the trail so no one even knew that we were camped there. There were still mosquitoes at this campsite, but not quite as bad as they were when we were near Mt. Ritter.†† Right off the trail was the stream (Shadow Creek) that ran from Ediza to Shadow Lake.† It was a white water stream that was absolutely gorgeous to look at; it was a regular waterfall.† There was also a quiet little area right near where we were so that we could rinse out some clothes and filter water.
We decided that since it was still early in the day that we would take our day packs and hike to Shadow Lake, and then continue upward to Rosalie Lake.† Our campsite was about 9000 feet and Rosalie was 9400 feet.†
Shadow Lake is beautiful.† It is a no camping zone.† There is a sign that says that if you can see Shadow Lake you cannot camp there.† And it also says that if you are in what looks like a campsite and you can see Shadow Lake, that it is an illegal campsite.† That should just tell you what a gorgeous lake this is.† We did stop and have a picnic on some boulders overlooking the lake.† Nat even saw a nice size trout as we were sitting there.
We continued walking and got to some pretty steep switchbacks to take us up to Rosalie Lake.† This was another perfectly beautiful clear lake.† There were huge slabs of rock and we were able to walk right down to the water.† We soaked our feet; this lake was not nearly as cold as the time when we crossed the stream and almost froze our feet.† While Nat and I were at the lake, John went exploring and found a wonderful area where we could lookout and see the whole valley, even see Agnew Meadow where we would be going tomorrow.†
Today we packed up everything and hiked out to Agnew Meadow.† We had earlier purchased a shuttle bus ticket and this entitled us to use it whenever we wanted to.† We were extremely fortunate because we got to the spot where the bus came and we were there just long enough to get our packs off and the bus showed up.† We had thought that the bus might be full, but again, we were lucky that there were hardly any people on it.
We rode the bus over to the Devilís Postpile National
Monument.† It was an amazingly beautiful
place.† I had no idea what this might
look like.† There are long columns of
stone, up to maybe 50 feet high and 2 feet wide.† It is like dominoes standing on end and it goes on for maybe 100
to 200 feet.† It is an extremely
fascinating sight to behold.†
From there we continued on the trail, hiking toward Rainbow Falls.† We needed to get out of the area of the National Monument because there is no camping in that area.† As we walked on we came into a part of the forest that had recently been burned.† There were no live trees standing; most of the trees had fallen over or there were stumps of trees standing up.† We decided to camp back a ways off the trail in this burned area, but near by was a stream (Boundary Creek) where there was vegetation and a place for us to filter water.† It seemed to me to be an extremely hot day, probably because there was no shade from the sun.† Nat and I lounged around by the vegetation around the stream (John made a nice shaded area for us) and John hiked off to see Rainbow Falls and Lower Falls.
John got back from observing the falls and told us he had also seen a deer standing not too far away from the trail.† We ate dinner and then all decided to head off (it was about 6:30 PM) to see Rainbow Falls.† It was only less than half a mile from our campsite and we saw the deer that John had told us about.
Most all of the people had left so we got to observe the falls all by ourselves. There were 3 viewing areas.† The high area, a lower area and then we walked all the way down to be right by the falls. These falls were about 50 feet across and fell about 50 feet.† Since there was so much snow there was still a lot of water going over the falls.† When the sun was shining you could look out from the upper observation point and see a rainbow.† After we were all done exploring, we just sat on the benches near the falls for awhile because it was such a lovely time of night, cool and a little breezy.† We watched the chipmunks scurry around and the blue jays fly around us.
On our way back to the campsite Nat saw that deer again.† As we were brushing our teeth, getting ready for bed we saw another deer.† He looked confused.† We think that he probably went right through the area we were camped in to get to the stream.† A little later we saw another deer wandering through.
This was going to be our last night out and since we were in a burned area, it was very open; that is you could see the sky.† I decided to sleep outside the tent in Johnís bivy sack so that whenever I woke up I could look at the stars.† And what a starviewing night it was!!† Besides the gazillions of stars that you can see up here, it was also one of the peak times for the Perseid meteor shower.† John got up too in the middle of the night and saw numerous shooting stars.† I slept with the binoculars and had a great time seeing everything.†
The only bad part was that it was quite warm when we went to bed.† Since there were no trees, we werenít insulated at all and it had to have gotten into the 30ís because when I woke up there was frost on the bivy sack.† Luckily I had lots of clothes on and after putting my jacket on in the middle of the night, I did stay warm.
Today we hiked out about 1 mile; saw a couple of deer on the way out; and then got to the bus stop.† We only had to wait a couple minutes and the bus came.† We were the only people on it.† As he went on his route he stopped so we could see 4 or 5 deer crossing the road.
The bus dropped us off right by our car and I got to drive into Mammoth Lakes.† While I was driving Nat and John spotter a coyote, but I missed it.† We drove onward to Yosemite, which means we had to go over Tioga Pass, which was 9945 feet.† Nat had never been to Yosemite so we thought we should stop there since it was so close to where we were.† The traffic was moving quite well plus it was early enough that there wasnít a lot of traffic.† We made it into the park and then traveled about 80 more miles to Yosemite Village and were there by 11:30.† We had lunch at the village and then drove over to see El Capitan.
We hiked in a little ways to get a good view and we spotted 4 sets of climbers, going up the mountain.† We had the binoculars so we could look to see exactly what they were doing.† It is amazing that there are these incredible people that can do this.† This is a very steep piece of rock.† I think it takes them about 3 days to get to the top.
We then went over to see Bridal Veil Falls and hiked the short distance up to see it.† It was so high and very beautiful. The valley where Bridal Veil Falls is situated is about 4000 feet in elevation so it is a lot hotter than when we were up in the mountains. There were all kinds of little kids and bigger kids and parents cooling off in the stream that came down from the falls.
As we were leaving, we stopped at a place called Olmsted Point.† It was a really neat place whereby you could see Half Dome and North Dome.† The rock at Yosemite is very special in that it is one big piece of rock.† Most other places have loose rock and boulders of all shapes and sizes. But at Yosemite itís mostly all granite and so it is very hard and it is almost like it is a little sticky. We got to run up and down some not really steep rocks, and it was lots of fun.
We spent the night at Fallon again, used more Holiday Inn points for another free night at the same Holiday Inn where they gave us each $1 worth of nickels to gamble on the trip out.† Nat won $18 that time.
Today we started heading back to Fort Collins.† The highest price we saw for gas was $3.19.† Thatís California for ya.† We stopped at the Great Salt Lake and put our feet in the water.† It was nice and the water was actually warm.† After freezing our feet in those mountain streams, the lake felt good.† I donít think I could ever bring myself to swim in it because it did not seem very clean.† We stopped at the Great Salt Lake Marina and at a place called Saltair.† It was a lavishly beautiful building that had been built around the turn of the century (maybe earlier even) and it was for all the rich and beautiful people to hang out there.† The building burned and was rebuilt, but it is now just a tourist attraction and from what we saw, not many people go there.†
We spent another free night at a Holiday Inn in Rock Springs, the Holiday Inn points are dwindling.
Today we took the scenic route from Laramie to Fort Collins via Hwy 287.† It was a very scenic and wonderful drive.
Andyís parents, Doug and Goody arrived at Fort Collins (they drove from Minneapolis) about the same time we did.† Nat and Andy treated all of us to an incredible meal at the Melting Pot.† It was a fondue restaurant and the food was exceptionally good.† It was also great to visit with Doug and Goody.
Today we left Fort Collins on our way back to the Twin Cities.† We decided to take 2 days to get back since we have been driving so many miles lately.† We stopped at the Sierra Trading Post in Cheyenne, but didnít find anything.† Then we stopped at Cabellaís somewhere down the line but John restrained himself and didnít buy anything there (amazing).† We spent the night at the Camp Away Campground in Lincoln, NE.
Lincoln is a very beautiful city.† The campground was nice, plus there were no bugs.† We drove down to the HayMarket area in downtown Lincoln to eat.† There were many nice restaurants down there.† The area was an old warehouse district and was refurbished and is quite wonderful.† Then we drove a short distance to look at the State Capital.† Itís supposed to be like the 4th best architectural state capital in the US.†
Today we made it home without any problems.† We ran into a fair amount of construction throughout the whole trip.† However in the western states, beginning with S. Dakota they let you zip through most single lane construction areas at 65 mph!
It was a most amazing and wonderful trip!