Sunday, August 30, 2015

A favorite trail

Saturday, six of us took our annual 4-wheeler ride.  This year we headed toward Dubois, and going up East Fork, we unloaded near the base of Indian Ridge.  I could probably say that riding up Indian Ridge is my favorite.  Dave and Linda had not been on this trail, so it was new to them, and it had been several years since Brett, Marlene, and Julie had been up here.  Somehow I've been lucky enough to take this ride at least once a year for some time.

One reason it's my favorite is because it's one of the few places one can see Gannett Peak (highest peak in Wyoming) without having to hike into the back country, wilderness area.  In the picture above you can barely see the peak (a glacier covers the left side) right in the middle of the horizon, but it's there.  It appeared, of course, much more distinct with the eye.  Thank goodness the southwest winds had blown the smoke to the north, and we had great views.  It was also a very warm day, even at this altitude, probably close to 9,000 ft.





Brett points out some familiar spots to Julie.


Once we got up high enough on the ridge, we stopped and looked at the river below, Wiggins, and the panoramic views of the peaks in the Wind Rivers and Absarokas.

Another reason this is my favorite spot is because one can see the Grand Tetons from the highest vantage points if it is a clear day.  However, clouds were hanging over the ranges to the west, and we did not get a glimpse of the peaks today.

A third reason this ride ranks as a favorite is because a nice area at the end of the trail is perfect for stopping for a lunch break.  At this spot a line shack and an outhouse make the picturesque spot just about perfect. 

In all the years we've come up here, we've never seen anybody at the cabin...but today we met Andrew.  On horseback, he and his dog had been moving cattle, but today we was going to be riding  down to Double Cabin and going into Dubois...said he was anxious to get a shower and a meal that was not out of a can.  Oh, and he was going to be happy to not share a cabin with mice tonight.  Originally from Pennsylvania, he was lured out to WY to fly-fish, and now he's become a ranch hand, watching and moving cattle in the high country for the summer.  That's him, trailing two horses in the picture above.

And then we saw a few more folks on horseback come up the draw below us.  We'd never seen so much action at the cabin!

On the way back down the ridge, I suddenly noticed that the others had stopped for some reason, so I stopped and waited to see if they would be coming, or if I needed to turn around the check out the situation.  While I was waiting, I took a picture of the trail behind, the trail ahead, and the view off to my left (northwest). 


It turns out that Marlene spotted some BigHorn Sheep.  I guess it was pretty cool; a couple rams were even butting heads.  Just as I had decided I should turn around and go back up the hill to investigate, they popped over the hill.  From there, we just kept moving down the trail at a pretty steady pace.  We had a beautiful day for a great ride.  We all remarked that we forget how beautiful this ride is, so we have to keep coming back!





Thursday, August 27, 2015

A second scarf


As I neared the finish on the first Serape Scarf, I surmised that I could get a second scarf out of the yarn purchased for this project.  Having weighed a full skein, I could compare it to the weight of the used skeins and discovered I should have "just enough" to make another! 

I'm nearing the finish line now...and the yardage is working out perfectly.  I may only have an inch of red left at the end, but I'll make it work.

Both will get fringe on the straight edge when the second scarf is completed.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Smoky Skies


The wind is coming in from the north, and the smoke is rolling in.  Skies are gray.  Makes one sympathize with those in the northwest who have been dealing with the fires, the smoke, the loss of lives, the loss of property.  I hope relief and rain is on it's way.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Another ride near Limestone Mt.


We're making up for lost time...making last minute plans for another 4-wheeler ride, yesterday,  above Lander.  The night before, one of the guys called and said his 4-wheeler wouldn't start; it appeared to be carburetor  problems.  He had to cancel, and he was going to be our guide for the day, taking us over a new section of trail.  But Brett was going along, and he had been over that section of trail years ago, and so Julie, Brett, and I decided to continue with plans for the trip.

Wildfire smoke filled the valleys, but up where we unloaded and rode, it was quite nice; the weather was perfect.  We started out on a graded road that takes us past the Pass Creek area.  We knew there would be a river crossing coming up soon, but we felt confident that this late in the season we could cross it without any concern.  So, when we got to the river, we all crossed...and it was just fine. We all had to lift our feet a bit so they wouldn't get wet.  Brett said that the second river crossing had a bridge over it, so we would be good there.

Continuing on down the trail, we saw a lot of new timber growth where a wild fire had gone through several years ago.  It was a very pretty ride, and the views of the canyon where the Popo Agie runs through are impressive. 

We kept looking for trail #354 (into Maxim Basin), but never did see it, so we kept going on #352, assuming we'd run into it anytime.  We had some VERY DEEP rutted trails to negotiate.  Talk about having one's eye's riveted to the road! The spring rains had washed out so many sections of the trail.  The last thing we wanted was to have a tire get sucked down into one of those ruts.  The trail got rough with rocks and boulders in places, but it was not too bad.

We kept going and going... and then we came upon another river crossing.  No bridge.  Hmmm.  It was at that point we all were thinking we had somehow missed taking #354...but where?  We didn't see any signage.  Well, I guess we cross the river.  This crossing was much deeper, and the water was  swifter.  Brett took a look and decided he would give it a try.  We watched him (to see how he negotiated it), and he made it.  However, a little water must have splashed up under his seat, and his machine almost cut out...which gave him a little scare.  I went next, and just plowed through.  Although it got deep enough I felt as though the tires weren't touching bottom for a second, and the momentum was carrying me across, the tires grabbed again and I was across.  Then Julie came across; she made it just fine.  But I could tell she was glad that was over!

We road just a bit further, and Brett recognized Fossil Hill and knew just where we were.  Yes, we had really missed the trail that would have taken us into Maxim Basin.  Next, we see a rest stop (bathroom).  That was convenient, because I was ready for that facility!  Brett pointed out that we had come all the way to the top of the Sinks Canyon road (paved highway).  We got out the map to see exactly where we were.  Oh great.  Now we had a decision.  Julie's machine is street legal (to run on the road), but Brett's and my machine only have ORV stickers.  So if we got caught on the highway, we'd certainly be fined.  According to the map, we would have to ride 2 miles on the highway before it turned into a dirt road, taking a chance of not getting caught, or back-track the entire route, including the two river crossings. 

Considering the time, and considering the trail, we didn't want to back-track and decided it was worth taking a chance on the highway.  So, while we where in a good spot to stop, we pulled out our lunch and solidified our plans. 

When we were ready to go, we pulled out on the highway and moved right along; we made it to the dirt without incident.  Whew!!  From there, we road on the Sinks Canyon Road all the way to Grainier Meadows.  From there, we turned west onto the 4-wheeler trail and road it up over Limestone Mt. in about an hour.  We made good time!  All was well.  A great day.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First day of school


Jo H. and Julie F. are ready to ride.
Monday was the first day of school where I used to teach...and ... woohoo ... I wasn't in a classroom ... and neither were two of my teacher friends!  We let nature be our classroom and life's lessons  be taught without a desk, a pencil, or a worksheet!  And we could eat when we wanted...oh yeah, sitting on a rock, looking out over a mountain lake.  My kind of opening to another school year!

Julie, Jo, and I rode over Limestone Mountain in to Louis Lake for lunch. In several places the trail opens up into high open areas where you can see Oregon Butte and Continental Peak on the horizon to the east.  


Lovely day of sunshine and warm temps.

The smell of pine - divine.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

4-wheeling the BH's continued...

So we continued on, traveling to the northern most part of the trail.  We were at the highest elevation, so the trail was going to be mostly downhill from here.  We got out of the meadow of cows, and then hit a stretch of really nasty, rocky, move-at-a-crawl kind of terrain.  I stopped when I got out of it, waited for Julie, and shared that "that was rough; I didn't care for that!"  Julie agreed.  But it was behind us...and maybe that was the worst.  Maybe not.  (I have no pictures of the rough terrain; too occupied surviving it.)


Another mile or so down the trail and we hit another stretch of very rough trail... whew...maybe that was the worst... Maybe not.

Then we hit yet another stretch that was really narrow (hence the reason for not allowing wide ATV's on the trail), full of boulders, drop-offs,  and sharp rocks, and I got pretty nervous on this one.  After I got through it, I stopped again to watch to see that Julie made it down OK.  She did, but she was shaken!  She had nearly tipped over her machine while negotiating one of the boulders, but putting all her weight to the right side of the machine got her through it.  NOT PRETTY.  She said, "We are NOT going back this way!!"  I agreed whole-heartedly, that we would continue completing the loop, no matter what!  There was no turning back at this point; we were closer to getting the end of the "yellow" trail, and continuing on was the only option.  Certainly, the worst was behind us!

We had to negotiate three water crossings and more rocks, but finally made it to a beautiful high- mountain lake.  That helped calm us...and it was a good place for lunch.  It was 1:30 pm.  Lunch was a bit overdue, but this was a good place to take a pause and relax.  The name of the lake is not possible to read on the map, as the letters are lost in the paper crease...but it's L.... Lake (north east of Battle Creek Campground).  If I Google the area, I might be able to find the name. 

We saw a couple people fishing on the other side. And before we left the lake, we saw a couple gals riding horseback (tourists from Georgia).  Then, as we started down the trail, we saw a family of hikers and 3 more guys on horseback.  I wondered if all these folks were a little perturbed that our ATV's were disturbing the quiet they were looking for on the mountain trails. Hmmm.  Sorry.


The remainder of the "yellow" trail was rough, but not as bad as we had just been through.  That anticipation of getting off the rough stuff kept us going. Then we finally made it to the "green" trail or jeep trail.  Whew....smooth sailing from here on. 

We took a pause and decided to ride up a short way to see the end of the road at Battle Creek Campground.  This campground was in an open meadow with lots of space for campers, horse-trailers, and corrals.  Very nice. 

From there, we headed  (south) down the  jeep trail, cruising back to the lodge, enjoying the scenery.  We met a couple guys on fat tire bikes, and they were having a great time. 

I couldn't have been more thankful to get back to the trailer, load up, and head out.   It had been a scenic drive, and because we made it through the rough stuff without incident, I was happy.  Julie and I both agreed that we were glad we made the trip, but we'd never do the same route again!  Once was enough; we spent all our "toughness" on that one.  Time to "refuel."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

4-wheeling in the Big Horn Mountains

One of my 4-wheeling friends, Julie, and I wanted to see what trails looked like in the Big Horn Mountains, which are in northeast WY.  Since I don't have reason to travel through that area of the state, it had been many, many years since I'd been to TenSleep and roads heading east into the Big Horns. 

We had a map of the trail we wanted to take, but absolutely no idea what we might experience in terms of trail conditions and scenery.  So, it felt very much like an adventure.  Neither one of us knew of anyone who had been on that trail, so getting info was not easy. 

I must say it's a beautiful drive on the highway.  The canyon, the ancient rock formations, the lush green forest (no beetle-killed trees) were all wonderful sights.  We turned off the road at what appeared to be close to a trailhead; however, we discovered we had gone about mile too far.  So, we back-tracked to Deer Haven Lodge, parked, and unloaded.  Talking to a guy in the lodge, we were directed how to get to the road/trail we were looking for, but this guy had no other knowledge to share with us, which was a disappointment.  But, oh well.  Carry on.  We would figure it out.


The trail started out as a two lane mountain dirt road, which is very easy/smooth riding.  Eventually, as we headed farther north, the trail narrowed and became more of a 4-wheeler trail with big rocks and ruts to negotiate, but nothing too bad. 

Our goal was to ride this big loop, which would take us to a lake near Battle Creek Campground to the north, and then back down to our starting point.  The whole ride would be close to 40 miles.

As we got close to the northern most part of the ride, we were riding close to a canyon, with big mountains on the other side.  And also from here we were high enough that we could see for many, many miles in every direction.  A grand view. 

Then we entered a portion of the road that allowed only 4-wheelers that were 50 inches wide or less.  So, no side-by-side ATV's that seat 2 or 4 passengers were allowed.  And, on the map, the trail was marked as more difficult.  But, it did not look too bad...  we continued on. We drove through some meadows with a lot of grazing cows; thankfully, they moved out of the way, off the trail, as we approached.  Then, we ran into a section of rough trail, very narrow and rocky, but if this was the worst, we'd be OK...

More later.