We're tearin' em up on the Yellowstone 7/31/11

Jimmy went to the convenience store first thing this morning for a Sunday paper and a new container of night crawlers, and after drinking a pot of coffee and reading said paper, we walked out to the rocks (Rock Canyon RV Park is right on the Yellowstone River), threw in our lines and commenced hauling them bad boys in!! (I wore my fishing vest - it must work, cause I caught three nice trout.) Of course Jimmy didn't wear a fishing vest and he caught five, inc the two biggest - hmmmm.... Anyway, as you can see, the river is finally down enough and has cleared up enough to catch rainbow trout, and they are hungry. We quit after catching eight (last photo), as we didn't want to be piggish. Tonite is a fish fry for us and our friends at the RV Park. O boy! Note: Somebody has learned to dig into the Styrofoam container, pull out a BIG wiggly worm, break the dang thing in half AND put the worm on the hook. This afternoon, Jimmy even bought me my own net and my own pliers (to remove hook from fish) - wowzers! I bought coleslaw to accompany the fish. We had a REAL FUN MORNING!!


Tues, 7/26 - Palisades Falls, MT

Outstanding Palisades Falls. Jimmy after climbing the talus slope!

Look at the columnar basalt on either side of the falls - rippled from a wider waterfall?

Delicate yellow mountain columbine (lots up here). A simple lunch at scenic Hyalite Lake, watching Goldeneye ducks diving for their own snacks and a bald eagle eyeing the water for fish.

Tuesday morning, we fired up Tergel (and Smartie) for a trip to Bozeman, approx 30 miles west on I-90. The reason: To see if Jonny's Repair Shop - we had an app't - could fix our front Jensen television so we could hear it. For an unknown reason, upon our return to the Seattle area from Alaska in mid-June, the TV sound ceased coming thru the surround-sound, and we could barely hear sounds thru the television speakers. Jensen was no help. Winnebago was no help. Jonny seemed doubtful, but he said he'd do what he could and he'd get back with us. Well, we said later, phooey on the stupid television. We don't watch much television, tho it would be nice to hear if there was something we wanted to see.

We gather lots of things-to-do info when we get to an area where we'll be staying, so much that our place begins to look the visitor center! We knew from Bozeman brochures that several fine hikes and beautiful falls just south of Bozeman can be reached from Hyalite Canyon Rd. We parked Tergel and off we went in Smartie to take our minds off a depressing thing like an almost-new TV that doesn't work properly. Of course, this canyon road is an uphill climb for car and people. When we came to a fork in the gravel road, we veered toward Palisades Falls, on the Hyalite Creek Trail. Good choice!

We were surprised to find a paved path, that - while steadily uphill @ 7400' - is accessible to most. We saw a couple of very pregnant ladies and several baby strollers (hope it isn't catching!) making the grade. Less than a mile later, we could hear the falls before we saw them - and when we caught a glimpse thru the trees, we knew we were in for a real show. The falls is made all the more spectacular surrounded by a crescent of basalt columns. Throw in strata or piles of conglomerate rocks that look oddly out-of-place and it's geologically fascinating, at least to me. We climbed up the talus to the base of the falls and gingerly made our way down, taking a few photos for ourselves and for others - "Will you take a picture of us?" Jimmy always obliges.

We sat quietly on a beached log at the above lake, one of the more serene places we've had the privilege of seeing. The blue sky, snow-capped mtns, green conifers all reflected in the clear water... well, we forgot all about that dopey TV and just enjoyed our afternoon.

Livingston Peak Tie Trail #449, Mon, 7/25/11

After a strenuous drive UP to the trailhead on a really lousy gravel/rock road, we set out on a narrow path that soon opened to a captivating landscape: Wildflowers galore - yellow, white, purple, blue, pink... you name it, we saw it. Even Jimmy was impressed as he walked thru the meadow!

And along the way I discovered a small patch of tiny wild strawberries (yum!). A bear-scratched log. Guess it was looking for grubs (not strawberries!).

Jimmy looking south toward the Absaroka's at the top of the trail where it connects with several other longer trails. Fields of flowers!

Monday seemed like a good day to explore more of the mtn areas around Livingston. Smartie climbed a long ways up on that road before we even reached the trailhead, tho we're not sure what our elevation was at the hike starting point. This wasn't a long hike, maybe two miles R/T, because when the skies darken and a T-storm threatens, one of us gets the feeling that we ought not to be hiking when we're that much closer to the ACTION in the SKY. (That'd be me) We didn't get rained on, tho we saw plenty of virga falling. Maybe we weren't out that long, but this had to be one of the prettiest hikes we've been on, simply because every wildflower in Montana was blooming in this one area. Wow! And, no, we didn't see the bear, which is ok with us. We bought bear spray (like mace) this year, but we forgot to take it with us on this hike. I have a bright red and very loud whistle that I blow a blast on every now and again to scare away bears. 'Bout deafened myself on the first blast. Bet any bear within a half mile cculd've heard that racket and would hightail it for the far side of the mtn! Next time we'll take the spray.


Sun the 24th - Boulder River area, SE of Livingston

Two years ago (see last three photos in July 1, 2009 blog), water was roaring where we're standing in these pictures. Today, the water flowing down the Boulder River has dropped enough that the river's gone underground, as seen in first photo above. The water explodes out of the limestone several hundred feet north.

Still plenty of rushing water in the Boulder River. Wow, what a bird - a golden eagle (stuffed) in the Main Boulder Ranger Station (now a museum).

Signboard and parlor for the Main Boulder Ranger Station, built by Ranger Harry S. Kaufman in 1904.

The was a combo exploring/fishing/hiking/sightseeing day! Might've bit off more than we could chew, but we did all right - we just didn't concentrate on any one thing. We had a long day, but still got home in time to make dinner. Smartie was a mess, tho, after driving about 125 miles, much of it on dusty, bumpy dirt/gravel roads. We tried fishing in a forest service C/G at the end of West Boulder River, but had no luck, so we drove on to the Natural Bridge area where we ate lunch and walked one of the trails. After that, we continued on to the historic Ranger Station, which is open on wkends in summer - first time we've been able to get in, much less get a guided tour from a man named Carl who helped restore the "cabin." This station is perhaps the oldest facility in the Forest Service System and has been painstakingly restored to represent its original character. Listen to this: As a prerequisite to being a Guard Ranger in 1903, Harry Kaufman had to provide two horses, riding and pack outfits, camp equipment and his services 24-hours a day, all for $60.00/month, and that would be in fine summer weather and in brutal winter conditions! Harry built the cabin, married and together they raised two children here. Fascinating history. Read more about it: www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin - Special Places.

While there, we mentioned finding a good fishing spot - Carl suggested we try a spot on the Main Boulder River across the road from their drive and "down aways" (more rocky roads!), so we did. Now comes the sad part about the one that got away.... It was a beauty (rainbow trout) and well-hooked, but it swam under the limestone which cut the line before we could bring it in. Boo-hoo... we didn't even get a picture. We plan to return next wk, and this time I hope to hook it AND then eat it!!

Sublime to Ridiculous - Montana Images 7/23-24

Pronghorn antelope on prairie grass. Salsify giant puffer!

Colorful Indian Paintbrush at West Boulder River. Who's the trespasser - us or the bandit look-a-like cow?

Lovely Montana scene out of Livingston. Check this guy: Hyles euphorbiae (Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth) - cool, huh?


Thurs, July 21st - I'd rather be fishing...?

Jimmy fly fishing on Trail Creek.

The Yellowstone River is still moving waaaay too fast and while the water level is below flood stage, it’s still quite high, all of which means: Fishing is not good… yet! We’ve been in Rock Canyon RV Park on the river one week already, and we’ve seen the water level drop close to a foot. The people who know these things estimate fishing on the Yellowstone will be good in a week or so. We can wait.

Thursday, we went with friends, Donna and Danny, to fish on Trail Creek (somewhere between Bozeman and Livingston – what a gorgeous drive). Because of melting snow from a heavy winter snowpack and a very wet spring, all the rivers and creeks are swift and full. Doesn’t mean we can’t give it a try – and we caught several small trout, which we thoroughly enjoyed for dinner! Trout on the grill - delicious!

Fishing may not be great yet, but as you can see by the photo above, the scenery more than compensates for it. We had a wonderful day. And just think, we have three more weeks here – lucky us!

Left: Lupine, wild Rose, Sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) and buttercups add splashes of color. Middle: I caught it. Right: Yes, it's small, but it WAS tasty!


Pine Creek Trail #47 hike - Wed, July 20th

The Yellowstone valley south of Livingston is known as Paradise Valley and is truly a special place. The entire valley is defined by the Absaroka Mtns that rise dramatically to form the valley’s eastern boundary. The valley floor is broad and flat at about 5,000’ elevation. The mtns rise straight in a series of peaks ranging up to nearly 11,000’.

Along the length of the valley a number of streams come out of the mtns and these creek drainages cut into the mtns, providing the primary access points into the Gallatin Nat’l Forest and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. About ten miles south of Livingston, Pine Creek Trail begins (elevation 5700’) as a wide flat easy hike thru forest, which soon narrows, becomes rockier and climbs gradually. Pine Creek Falls is a mile from the trailhead and it’s a great place to enjoy the experience of water crashing down from above, esp when the heavy snows of this past winter are still melting – like now. In fact, at present the falls has split dramatically and is crashing down on two sides of a rock mass. Clouds of cool mist are thrown into the air and the roar of the water adds to the sensation. We’ve never seen the water as wild it is now.

A log bridge at the base of the falls leads over the creek. Pine Creek Lake is only four miles from the falls, but in those four miles the trail climbs 3,000’. From the falls, the trail changes radically, with lots of "switchbacks, steep climbs and unrelenting uphill hiking." We continued on to the top of the falls where the water pours over the edge and out of sight. The view is spectacular and we like to stop, eat lunch and rest on the flat slick rocks. This is our third year to hike this trail and the top of the falls has been our turn around point. Today, however, feeling perky, we strapped on our packs and continued upward. After another mile on the rocky switchback trail, we found a creek access point and decided to eat there and then turn around. This was our first foray into Montana higher elevation hiking in 2011 and, tho we'd initially toyed with the idea of going all the way to the lake, w/o a lake or some other special destination to look forward to, we - flat out - didn’t want to take one more step on this unrelenting uphill hike! (As it was, our return to the car took over an hour.)

The trailhead. Usually unseen split half of Pine Creek Falls. Jimmy at the top of the Falls.

Up the rocky trail. Good place to eat lunch. Blooming Sitka columbine along the trail.

Wild roses and salmon berries (yummy bear food when ripe) dot the trailsides. As we left the trailhead, my three friends from last year came to the fence to greet us! DUDES! Click on any photo for a bigger view!


Lodgepole C/G, July 15th


We stopped overnight at this campground in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest off Hwy 1 (northwest of Anaconda) on our way to Livingston. Only cost 6 bucks because we're Golden Agers (yee-haw!), and we had a pleasant enough stay here. Across the road is pristine Georgetown Lake and a great view of the towering snow-covered Continental Divide mtns; we had a nice afternoon walk at the lake. We wondered why so many of the lodgepole pines in the forest had white ties around their trunks - a sign at check-in said these trees were ear-marked for spraying against the mountain pine beetle. We were shocked to see so much damage in this forest. It looked to us as though entire areas of these mtns would be empty of trees. This is only one of the serious tree pests in the western mountain states, but this guy is really taking a toll. In the middle of the night I got up to close all the windows when I heard a thunderclap, and then watched a brilliant lightning display from bed for the next hour! Light rain fell off and on the rest of the night and into the morning... but cleared by the time we were ready to leave.

Wallace, Idaho, what a town! July 12-14, 2011

The panhandle of Northern Idaho has a rails-to-trails bike path called Trail of Coeur d’Alenes and it’s one of the most spectacular and popular trails in the western US:  73 miles of smooth asphalt that makes for a perfect ride. It’s a gentle grade path that runs down from near the Montana border, almost to the Washington state line. Jimmy and I rode a section of it two yrs ago from Osburn to Mullan. This year we added two small sections, the first on Monday, the 12th, from Osburn to Kellogg and back.


Off we go on the trail.  Warm enough for tee shirts.


A whole field of forget-me-knots!  Simply stunning!

 FRAGRANT showy milkweed! (Asclepias speciosa) -- so sweet.

Our second ride was quite different. Two yrs ago we wanted to ride the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail, but we chickened out because rain/sleet was falling at Lookout Pass – it didn’t seem like the best day to ride! This year, on Wed., 7/13, the newspaper forecast a high of 71° in Wallace (elevation 2718’) w/ possible showers. Iffy, but we decided to go for it.  Smartie took us east to the trail head, not far from the Montana state line.   www.ridethehiawatha.com 

This old Milwaukee Road rail trail is one of a kind, for sure. It starts with the 1.7 mile-long pitch black, unlighted Taft Tunnel – bring flashlights! It's the highlight of this trail which follows the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains near Lookout Pass Ski area.  Whew – and this is the first of ten tunnels on a 15-mile ride! Water can drip and pool in tunnels and this was no exception.  Temp inside the long tunnel was about 45° - brrrr. Plus, we rode over seven high trestles, one 220’ high! The scenery is breathtaking. But, the temp at the trail head (elevation 4147’) was 52° under cloudy skies with a headwind. And it didn’t get any better. I shoulda known and worn more clothes.  As it was, I was chilled to the bone at ride’s end. It's a one-of-a-kind adventure and it’s all downhill – a gentle 1.6% average grade that drops 1,000’ over the 15-mile length. 

At the end of the 15-mile ride, a shuttle bus returns everyone to the lower end of the long tunnel – which meant we had to pedal through the 1.7 mile-long Taft Tunnel in the opposite direction to return to Smartie.  It wasn't any warmer, either!  Yikes!


At the beginning, after going through the long tunnel.
Surprisingly, there were quite a few riders today.


Another tunnel!

Oh, how I wished I'd had on long johns!  And a parka!



Superb scenery.


Quite a trestle.


We did it -- completed the ride.
If we'd had better weather, I know we would've enjoyed it more.

Three days in a row on our bikes earned us a break. So, on Thurs, the 14th, we walked around Historic Wallace where we were staying (we stayed here two yrs previously and enjoyed it). Next, we signed up for the Sierra Silver Mine Tour (our guide was Lenny, a retired miner and self-proclaimed Smurf of Norwegian descent who loved to poke fun at the only pinpointed person of Swedish descent: ME). The tour was entertaining and informative. 

After dinner, we walked a couple of blocks to the Sixth Street Melodrama and Theater for a hilarious performance of: “Purtie Gertie Gets Plugged While Wallace Welcomes the Wireless.” We laughed ourselves silly, both at the melodrama and at the sing-along that followed. Great good fun! Here's a piece of trivia for you: This bldg is the only wood bldg remaining in present day downtown Historic Wallace that wasn’t destroyed by a disasterous 1890 fire.    www.sixthstreetmelodrama.com

* * * * *


Can't go down into a mine without a hard hat.


Lenny was demonstrating mine machinery.

Some people feed birds, some feed chipmonks.
I was a foot away from this cute critter when I took the picture.

Wallace, Idaho:  What a fun place to spend a few days or weeks or all summer!