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.
Jimmy looking south toward the Absaroka's at the top of the trail where it connects with several other longer trails. Fields of flowers!
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!!
Pronghorn antelope on prairie grass. Salsify giant puffer!
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!
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!
Surprisingly, there were quite a few riders today.
If we'd had better weather, I know we would've enjoyed it more.