6/23/09 Pine Creek Falls hike - Montana

The beginning of the hike, before we really begin the uphill climb.

The bottom of roaring Pine Creek Falls. Scary bridge. Looking up as we make our way to the top of the falls.

Above Pine Creek Falls - a most beautiful place.
The trail guide describes this as perhaps the most popular trail in the Absarokas, so it was fitting, I suppose, that we chose this for our first hike - roughly 3 miles R/T, including a steep ascent toward Pine Creek Lake, five miles away. We weren't prepared or ready to hike 10 miles today - not at this altitude! Jimmy and I agreed that the whole hike was outstanding, and top of the falls was one of the prettiest places we've ever seen. The above photos capture the essence of what we saw, but they can't convey sounds: rowdy rushing water, thunderous waterfalls that accompanied our every step.


Livingston, Montana 6/19 - 7/19

View south toward Yellowstone Nat'l Park from our campsite. Last: View north toward town.

View west! On the road to Pine Creek Falls.

Hey, we're finally settling down in one place... for a month,which is something for us! We're camped on the Yellowstone River (almost on top of it!) at Rock Canyon RV Park, 5070 Hwy 89 South, Livingston, MT 59047. This whitewater, hells-a-roarin' river is still high from snow melt and rain, but it seems to be receding a bit. This is a wonderful place to spend a summer, lots of cowboy and Lewis & Clark history, plenty of fresh mountain air and good restaurants, and so many trails to hike, it would take two whole lifetimes. Livingston is also a train town (BNSF) and has both a great train depot museum, and an active model train exhibit taking up the entire basement, open Tues eve and Sat morns. There's a rodeo coming up July 4th (inc fireworks) and we're going! Yeehaw!
Go to www.livingston-chamber.com/ for more town info and some terrific pictures.


Wallace to Mullan ID bike ride 6/19/09

From our campsite in Wallace, we hopped on our bikes for a ride on the Coeur d' Alenes rails-to-trails path. We only rode 25 miles R/T from Osburn to trails' end at Mullan. This 73-mile paved trail is one of the most spectacular trails in the west. For our part, half of it was uphill; other half was downhill, but the grades are easy. Very enjoyable, even dodging spits of rain.

FYI, Wallace is the silver capital of the world! According to a brochure, the Silver Valley, as it is known, is the richest silver district - more than one billion ounces of silver mined over the past century. Also, 8 million tons of lead, 3 million tons of zinc, 2 million tons of copper, half-million ounces of gold, and the area continues to produce. Wow. The entire town of Wallace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and whole blocks in the business district have remained virtually intact for a hundred years or more. We walked it and admired it. Very pleasant stay. Someone told us Wallace is the rainiest spot in Idaho. Don't know if this is true, but it did rain on us at some point every day during our three day/night stay.  No problem.  We didn't melt.

6/15/09 Murray, Idaho

Murray Post Office! Fascinating Sprag Pole Museum. Tombstone of Molly 'b Damn, bordello madam (real name: Maggie Hall). We toured the bordello she ran in Wallace. It closed in 1988. Yes, 1988, not 1888.

Restored 1909 calliope in the museum (from North Tonawanda!)

From our camp at Down by the Depot in historic Wallace, Idaho, we drove the loop to Murray, a semi-ghost town - both a gorgeous drive up and over a mountain and a fun place to look around. A must stop is Walt Almquist's Sprag Pole Museum ("no ordinary museum"), started in 1933 and later remodeled. It's named after the supporting poles needed to help hold up the place. A friend gave Walt an old whiskey jug to display behind the bar and the collection began (or, more accurately, exploded). Lots of mining equipment, the world's longest wooden chain, radios, whiskey jugs, coins, gambling devices, and on and on and on.  We bellied up to the bar and asked for a sarsaparilla - just kidding, we each had a fine 50 cent cuppa coffee. What a full and fun day!

OMG -- too cute -- 6/14/09

While eating lunch in a rest stop on the way to Spokane WA, we spied what we thought were miniature horses going past our window, but something didn't look quite right. "What the heck are those things?" 

Needless to say, we got out to check and spotted the cutest alpacas on leashes, being walked at the rest stop like puppy dogs!


Exploring Washington... 6/13

Natural bridges near Trout Lake.

Washington bear grass. Out of a forest and beyond the trees, suddenly our eyes beheld Mt. Adams (12,276') in all its glacier-clad glory!

Drove north from White Salmon on 141 to Trout Lake. Our map didn't show it as "scenic," but it most certainly was. We found our way to the natural bridges and even an ice cave! The unusual natural bridge formations are part of a collapsed lava tube. Ice usually remains in the 400' cave most of the year. We didn't get very far into the cave.... (see photos below).

Down a few steps and into snow & ice! Jimmy don't do it (he did anyway). Slip-sliding away!

Enlarge photo to read. Well, we may be wearing shorts and sandals, but at least we brought jackets! (one out of four ain't bad, yes?)

Along the Columbia River Gorge... 6/13

Crossed the John Day Dam into Washington and drove Smartie along the Gorge, admiring views from every-which-a-way. Gorgeous day, perfect for an explore. Paused at this rest stop jam-packed with wildflowers, and ate our picnic lunch at the picnic table overlooking the Columbia River. Very nice!

Ride along the Deschutes River 6/12/09

[Along the Columbia River Gorge, we traveled from cool sitka spruce and douglas fir forests, rife with waterfalls, to treeless high desert - in only an hour or so's time. Shock to the system!]

And it was a hot ride. The trail begins where the Deschutes dumps into the Columbia River. It's only 17 miles, but the day was unusually warm, the sun was bright and there wasn't a bit of shade. (An abrupt change from the chilly, misty weeks we spent on the coast!) We rode 9 miles before we had to turn around so as to not run out of water. The trail bed was gravel and rock, uneven, washboard rutted, and difficult to ride. But it was a great ride along the wild river nevertheless, with lots to see.

Jimmy in an abandoned caboose. We ate our lunch here.

Another caboose. Jimmy beside a rusted piece of junk (1919). Looking at a bird, of course.