What an amazing area. This is one of the places SOULFLOWER suggested I stop for some hiking and the views. I didn’t realize I would be going over a high elevation pass. I make it to the campground I wanted to stay at for the night, but it was full. I travel just a little way further and pull over at an overlook area. I stay the night here even though it is illegal. I am the only one here and no one bothers me.There are some hiking trails here and I take Berkley for a short evening hike. It is a beautiful evening although there is a smoky haze from area fires.The next moring we are up early for sunrise, but there is a lot of smoke in the air and the pictures don’t look that great. I hang out for a bit drinking hot chocolate and sitting in the sun with Berkley.After packing up we head on down the road and don’t get very far before we come to a trailhead that is packed. There are cars linging the road of an overflowing parking lot. I figure with a parking area this full there has to be some good hiking and great views. I find a place to park and we start to explore the area. There are a ton of trails here and the smoke doesn’t seem as bad.I end up staying the night in the parking lot because there is a trail that climbs high up a mountain that I would like to do the next day. It is to narrow and crowded to do it today. I will get an early start tomorrow morning and go up it with less crowds.I don’t have any trouble during the night in my illegal camping spot again. It is a chilly start, but I warm up quickly going up the steep incline. Plus Berkley quit about half way up so I put him in his carrrier and continue on. I make it 2/3’s of the way up before I quit and turn around. The top is all rock and I don’t feel like climbing on it. On the way up while Berkley was still walking.Then the rocks… and this is where I turn around. The rocks are loose and hard to walk on.It’s a lot of rock.At my turn around point I do see a couple of pika for the first time. I have never seen them before. They are very cute little things.Pika gathering food for the winter. It was busy. I watch it make numerous trips. They store their grass in the rocks where they live.We head back down and find another trail to do some more hiking on. I come upon 2 marmots sunning themselves on a large bolder. I think that animal I saw while hiking in Yellowstone was a very small marmot. If that is what these animals are. Please correct me if I am wrong.This was an amazing stop. Thank you, SOULFOWER.
This is another area that SOULFOWER had suggested I stop at with some interesting rock formations. It has a picnic area, paid camping and dispersed camping. I choose the dispersed camping down the dirt road. I pick the first open campsite I come to. It is campsite #5 out of maybe 70 sites. The washboard road is really bad that is why I chose the first site I saw that was vacant.The smoke is bad the next day. I just stay here. I have cell service and catch up on some phone calls and other internet things.I take Berkley for a 3.5 mile walk in the area and only see about a dozen campsites. They are so far appart. Some of them I would guess are over a quarter of a mile appart. You can’t see or hear your neighbors. It is most unusual. I would definitly come back here. It is a great camping area. Thanks again, SOULFLOWER.
Thursday August 20, 2020
My stop in Lander to get my AC fixed didn’t go totally as planned. They have to order a part for it and it could take as long as a week to come in. I decide to spend the time with a girlfriend who lives 300 miles from here. I will just come back next week to have the AC fixed.
I start my drive from Wyoming to Colorado around 11:00am. To late in the day during this heat wave without AC.
The roads are desolate. It looks like a grave yard. I say many prays along the way. Prays for the animals that no longer live and prays for the ones I didn’t hit. I see an antalope and deer on the side of the road. The antalope was just eating but the deer almost got hit by the car in front of me. Then I had three near misses with birds.
I am traveling in the wind river basin. It is windy and barren, no trees in sight, just sage bushes. It is also hot with no AC. Sometimes I can only have one window open because the wind is so strong.
The roads are long with not much to view. Imigine my shock when I look way down the road (sometimes you can see for miles out here) and see what looks like someone walking. What? Way out here in the middle of nowhere! It turns out to be a bikepacker. I am shocked. It is supper hot and there is nothing out here. I say a pray he/she has plenty of spair tire tubes and water.
After spending the week with SOULFLOWER, I head back to Lander, Wyoming to get my AC fixed. The part came in. I start my drive at 6:45am to beat the heat. I arrive safely without hitting any animals. I do see plenty of new kills on the road. A coyote, a deer and some small animals. There are so many. Plus all the bloody stains from past accidents that havn’t been washed away by the rain.
My appt goes well. My AC is fixed under warranty. They even wash the van for me, major bonus!
I spend the night in town. Then head out for a few places SOULFLOWER suggested I stop at on my way to Rocky Mountain National Park.
So one more time I travel the Wind River Basin. I am lucky again. I don’t hit any animals. I do see a herd of antelope. They are far from the road.
Then I pass a backpacker. YUP! Holy shit! I realize I am near the CDT. I feel for my friend, SHORTCUT. She is currently hiking the CDT and she has already passed this area. I would hate to have to backpack across this. It is hot, dry, dusty, no shade and lacking in views. She has told me some areas have sucked.
Wednesday August 19, 2020
I spent the week with my good friend, SOULFLOWER.
She is the best. I practually move into her house. I try to keep all my stuff contined but it just seems to explode like a backpack in a hotel room while on trail. You would have to be a hiker to know what that means.
She lives in the little town of Meeker, in northwest Colorado. With mountain hiking in her back yard. I would love to be able to walk out of my home and just start hiking.
One morning we pass several deer on the short two block distance to the trail. I would also see them while walking Berkley in her neighbor hood or even when driving in town. There are so many of them.
She spoiles me while I am here. We hike every day. Either behind her home or she takes me somewhere and we hike. She cooks delicious and healty meals for me. She doesn’t make me decide what I want for dinner. She just takes care of it. I have fresh vegtables from her garden and huge delicious salads. She also has ice cream in house and she introduces me to magic shell, a delicious chocolate ice cream topping.
We spend several afternoons watching movies and eating popcorn or junk food. Berkley would totally get into movie mode…total relaxation.
The weather here is so different from back home. I wake up to temperatures in the 40’s. When I take Berkley out for his morning walk. It doesn’t seem that cold. The 40’s in Florida are much colder. While I was here the afternoon temperatures would get as hot as mid to upper 90’s, but without the hair frizzing humidity.
Soulflower tells me it has been exceptionally dry out here this year. They are not having their normal afternoon thunderstorms. One day on our way back into town from a trip to Steamboat Springs we see smoke. She drives over to a nearby park to see what is going on. We can see trees going up in flames. The local fire department is on the sceen in record time and puts the fire out. That was much to close for comfort.
SOULFLOWER’S Colorado log home.
She has two cats that she found one winter day while out walking. They were just tiny kittens on a snowy dirt road near her house. Beauty and Beasty. She did not plan to keep them, but they just melted her heart. They truly are a handful. They let Berkley know that this was there house and how things were going to be. He just gave them their space or walked away if they got to close to him.
This is just another of the many ways she spoiled me. She made homemade chocolate cookies the night before I left and packaged some up to go for me. It was truly a wonderful week spent here and it went entirely to fast.
Wednesday August 12, 2020
I wake up to temps in the upper 40’s. Its in the 50’s in the van. I just get up and get dressed and take Berkley for his morning walk. He does about 2 miles.
The sun is rising and it is casting a beautiful glow on the tetons in the distance.
My plan is to hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. It is a 6 mile hike. The trail is busy, I try to distance myself as much as I can and I keep my mask on the whole time. It is a little chilly to start, but the first climb had me all warmed up. That is one of the benefits of wearing a mask. It keeps your nose warm on chilly mornings.
The falls are beautiful and well worth the hike. I end up bailing on Inspiration Point. It is narrow, close to a ledge and to hard to stay away from people.
As I am nearing the end of the hike I cross a bridge there is a small bear in a bush along the shoreline eating berries. It is brown in color but I’m not sure what kind of bear it is.
I spend the rest of my time doing a scenic driving loop around the park. It takes a while to complete. There are so many pullouts and great views. It is hard not to stop at all of them.
I have an appt for the van in Lander, Wyoming tomorrow. Hopefully they can fix my AC.
Tuesday August 11, 2020I wake up early to start my busy day. It is 51 degrees in the van and 40 degrees outside. I warm things up in the van before taking Berkley for his morning walk.The sun is starting to come up and it is beautiful. I am heading back in the northeast entrance to Yellowstone. I just can’t stay away. This place is magical. When I have a little cell service today I call Jim and tell him to look into flights to come out here. I could go through the park again. It is so big and there is so much to see and do.Today I enter the northeast entrance and travel the Lamar Valley. There are heards of buffalo everywhere. I even have to stop while they very slowly cross the road right in front of me.
Then I head over to the north entrance stopping to see Wraith Falls and Undine Falls on my way to Mammoth Hot Springs.I continue south from Mammoth Hot Springs to Lewis Falls and Moose Falls at the southern entrance of the park. Before entering the Grand Teton National Park to look for a camping area.
I end up camping just outside of the park because the first 2 campgrounds that were first come first serve were full. I decided just to go outside the park and look for something rather than to continue to search for something in the park.
I found this wonderful campsite. It was a super busy day and I think I will sleep like the dead tonight.
Monday August 10, 2020I am feeling so blessed. The sights that I am seeing are so beautiful. I am very thankful to have this opportunity to travel out west.The scenic Beartooth Highway climbs to an astounding 10,947 feet. The hair pin turns and steep drop offs had me hogging the road and gripping the steering wheel. The spectacular views and many pullouts had me exhausted. I must have stopped 15 times to get out and take pictures. It was very slow progress. I only made it a short distance down the other side before I was looking for a place to camp for the night.My AC is not fixed. I waited all weekend in town for my Monday appt. When I get there they tell me that they are not licensed to do warranty work on my vehicle. They did find me a place to take the van and made me an appt for Thursday. Hopefully they will be able to fix it.This is my camping spot for the night. It had stunning views. When I wake up the next morning there are three more vehicles camped around the three of us that were already here. I though that it would be super cold when I woke up because I was camped at 9700 feet, but it wasn’t to bad. It was in the upper 30’s/lower 40’s.
Friday August 7, 2020
Let me tell you it was one hell of a night/very early morning!
Berkley had me up at 1:30am. He still has diarrhea. He is running all around camp looking for a place to go. I keep an eye on him because there are bears in the area. I know he won’t go far, but I don’t want to take a chance. All of a sudden I have to pee…bad, but don’t want to leave Berkley unattended. I am only wearing a t-shirt, no underwear and it is freezing out. Berkley appears to be looking for a second place to go. This may take awhile. So I step outside so I can continue to watch him. I pee in the grass standing up like a man. I pray the people in the camp next to me don’t see me. I just couldn’t hold it any longer. When he is done we go back to bed. I snuggle in and go right back to sleep. At 3:30am I think I hear the little pitter patter of tiny feet. I continue to listen. I think I have a mouse again. A little while later I hear quite a bit of noise coming from my big storage drawer. I get up turn on the lights and open the drawer. SHIT! Imagine my shock when I actually see the thing. It looks pretty big. It is scurrying around looking for a way out. I’m just standing there watching it wondering what the hell to do. I’m not about to try and catch it. Then the thing runs over my frying pan. MOTHER FUCKER! So I do what any crazy pissed off woman would do. I pick up the frying pan and yield it like the ultimate weapon. I’m watching it, waiting for my moment to strike. WHACK! Shit, I miss. WHACK! Oh shit! I think I hit it. It falls into one of the bins. All I can see is one foot and part of the tail. It’s not moving. I just stare at it. Now what do I do?!? Shit! It just moved! I quickly throw the frying pan over the bin and pick it up and put it outside. Here I go again. Outside in just a t-shirt with no underwear on. The neighbors outta love me. I grab the frying pan again. Every woman has got to have one of these! I give the bin another whack with the frying pan. The mouse hops out next to the bin. I give the bin a shove. The mouse runs off in the grass toward the trees. Shit! What if it comes back? Should I had whacked it again? Wow that’s a helluva lot of excitement for that early in the morning. I go back in and proceed to clean out the drawer and wash everything. I wonder if a mouse had gotten into Berkly’s food bowl and that is why he has diarrhea so bad. I will be washing those regularly from now on.
I just made eggs in my frying pan/weapon. Today’s breakfast is 2 rice cakes topped with avocado and egg.
Thursday August 6, 2020
I am up early again with a plan for the day. I have a few waterfalls on the agenda.The first is Gibbon Falls. It is massive and only a short walk from the road.
The second is Virginia Cascade. It is also very large. It is located on a one way road and there is only enough space for about 2 cars to pull over and get a picture of it. I was lucky that it was early and I was the only one here.
The last planned stop was hiking the north and south rims of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon and viewing the upper and lower falls.When I get to Artist Point there are only about a dozen cars in the parking lot. I hike to the Lower Falls first on the South Rim Trail then to Upper Falls. It is a very chilly hike. I would guess that it is in the 40’s and it is a little windy and probably around 8000 feet of elevation.
Lower Falls is the larger of the two falls at 308 feet and the Upper Falls is 109 feet. The canyon where they are located is roughly 20 miles long, more than 1000 feet deep and 1500 to 4000 feet wide.The hike on the South Rim trail was pleasant. It was early enough and not to busy.I saw an animal on trail this morning. I’m not sure what it was. I was too slow to get a picture of it. It had the same size and shape of a squirrel, but it was brown and the tail had a black tip and looked more like a cats tail.By the time I got over to the North Rim trail it was packed. I proceed to hike the trail, but decided to abandon it after a short while. It was just to busy and people were not trying to maintain a 6 foot distance. They would literally walk side by side and take up most of the trail. On my return after I had decided to quit and get out of there. Here come this big fat man barrelling downhill towards me as I was crossing a narrow bridge. I literally JUMP OFF the bridge before I am all the way across it to get out of his way. The bridge was just over a ditch that was dry so I didn’t get wet or hurt. But really people!The scenery in Yellowstone is amazing, but the people…I really have to be done my exploring by 11:30am. After that it was just to many rude people. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the winey kids. That would be another long rant! Can you tell I don’t like kids?The drive out of Yellowstone on the east side is spectacular. It follows the Yellowstone River for almost 15 miles then Yellowstone Lake for almost 10 miles.I did get to see some buffalo. I came upon a bunch of cars parked along side of the road and next thing I see is a bunch of people running followed by 5 or 6 buffalo in pursuit. Stupid people!My A/C in the van quit working. It is just making a hissing sound when I try to use it. I was able to make an appointment with a Ram dealership in Cody, Wyoming. But it is not until Monday. I hope it is something they can fix that day. It would also be nice if it is covered under warranty. I’ve got my fingers crossed.Another downer is Berkley had diarrhea all day. I think he has pooped 8 or more times. He has never had anything like this before. I hope it clears up quickly or I may have another emergency vet visit.
Wednesday August 5, 2020
I woke up to temps in the lower 40’s. It was 58 in the van, but nice and toasty under the covers. The alarm went off at 5am. I wanted to head out early to beat some of the crowds.
I arrived at Old Faithful at 7am. The next possible eruption is at 8 am. I tour some of the other geysers before getting a good spot to see Old Faithful. The eruption is short.
As I am walking by Lion Geyser it starts to erupt. Creating a rainbow in the process.
The sulfur smell while going by some of them was a little intense. I chose to walk to walk by those quickly. I could also feel the heat from them as I walked by.
Next up is a hike to Mystic Falls. I hit the 2 mile trail fairly early. I am hiking alone so I have my bear spray in my hand ready to fire if needed. The 70 foot falls are spectacular!
It is getting late quick, but I head over to Bisket Basin hoping to find a parking spot. I do. I hike the 5 mile trail to Fairy Falls. Everyone seems to be out and about now. The trail is busy. I wear my mask as people approach and try to give them 6 feet. Though most people seem to disregard the 6 feet social distancing.
Fairy falls is the seventh tallest falls in the park at 197 feet. I bet it is really stunning when the water is high.
The last stop for the day is Firehole Falls. It is located off of Firehole Canyon Rd. It is just a stop and take a picture type of view. The falls were very loud with high water.
By the end of the day this guy is all tuckered out.