Pine Creek Falls hike... partway anyway - Thurs, 6/27/13

Well, dang it, the trout fishing this year hasn't lived up to our expectations.  The "cute culprit" seen swimming directly below Tergel the other day may be one of the reasons!  An otter can eat its weight in trout in no time.  One of the other fishermen saw the otter with TWO little ones in tow.  Hmmm... it must be time for us to try a different venture, like perhaps a hike. 

Pine Creek Falls is only a one mile hike (up) from the trailhead, and it's a favorite hike we do every year.  It's an easy, lovely climb.  We always continue hiking to the top of the falls, maybe another half mile up, with views that are unparalleled.  Last nite we had a BIG thunderstorm - after we were comfortably inside - and we wondered if the trail would be muddy.  I wondered if we'd get beyond the cataract.

Here's the first thing we see on the trailhead sign board.  Glad a whole week has gone by!

Yup, this tiny stream had to be crossed.  We did it - no soakers!

 The trail gets bumpy in places.

Western Blue Virgin's Bower (Clematis occidentalis).  I'd seen this vine elsewhere and had been wary because "leaves of three - leave it be."  Poison ivy and me don't get along.  But, the pale blue flower hinted at something else.  Now we know what 'tis.  Weird name.

Jimmy at the leaning bridge over Pine Creek Falls.  The roar of the cascade was deafening!  Pine Creek was in spate!

And because of snow melt, combined with last nite's heavy rain, the falls had split into two cascades - this one we couldn't get across.  Well, technically we could if we didn't mind wading in furious knee-deep water that may have been 40 degrees - maybe.  Heck, we would've gotten swept off our feet and careened down the watercourse.  We had to turn around...didn't make it to upper falls.  That's ok, we enjoyed our hike - it was something to see the water like this.

Spotted coralroot (Orchid family) - we "spotted" several clumps along the path.  Cool looking! 

Much of the path was cushioned by layers of conifer needles.

Wildflowers are blooming everywhere.  The heady scent of wild roses followed us on the path.

We didn't see a bear or any other wild animals.  We saw lots of wildflowers, quite a few hikers, and most of them had at least one dog.  Haven't heard a melodious hermit thrush since we were in Washington a couple of years ago, but we heard it in this forest today.  Such a musical sound.  Nice change-of-pace hike.  Pretty day.


Just another day in Paradise! Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I think the picture below resembles a Jurassic Park scenario, minus the unknown fly fisherman in the Yellowstone River.  Today was an interesting weather day, a bit of sun, a splash of rain, and a rainbow... and then repeat this process six or seven times.  The fishing may not have been much; the fish weren't biting.  The real star today was the sky. 

After the dinner hour, the rocky bank below the RV park was lined with fishermen.  Jimmy, in the orange shirt, was standing below Tergel.

This time we were treated to a double rainbow, but the camera only picked up a mirror image.

After nine pm, while I was importing the first three pictures, I looked out the west-facing window.  Wow.  Another picture. 

And then, when I was set to publish this post, Jimmy exclaimed, "look at the sky now!"  This beauty covered half the sky.  On went my shoes and out the door I went one more time for one last photo.  And it really did look like this - I didn't retouch the picture.  You can understand why we love this area.  It is beautiful.


Always something going on around these parts - June 23, 2013

Here's a conglomeration of pictures from the last two days in Livingston, MT.  Most folks know about the "supermoon" on June 23rd.  Here's my van Gogh impression of that big full moon, and I was two days early!  Possibly I'll get a better picture this evening.  Even early, the moon glowing thru the clouds was quite a sight.

* * * * * * * *

Because Saturday's weather was on again/off again showers/sun, we decided to take Smartie and go off south in Paradise Canyon.  We wanted to check to see if our favorite hiking area - Pine Creek Falls trail - had been burned to a crisp in last year's wildfire.  We saw blackened areas all around that area, but it looks like the hiking area may have been spared.  We made forays into other creek & canyon areas and ended up at Chico Hot Springs for an espresso (actually a latte).  The hot springs pools open every morning at 8 am.  One of these mornings we will be there!  We poked around on our way back to the RV Park and found a couple more easy-access fishing sites.  So we did well on our reconnaissance this day.

Awww, ain't they cute?  (On our way to Pine Creek)

This baby robin at Chico looked at me as if to say, "have you seen my mother?"  It was standing at my feet, and when I told him, "I'm not your Mom," it eventually walked away!

And then there was this little adventure today.  Jimmy and I walked on the bike trail to Carter's Bridge (upriver a mile or more).  We were surprised to see cars lined up to cross the bridge and police cars.  Short version - a film crew had a portion of East River Road intermittently closed so they could film their new Chevy Silverado truck commercials.  Fun to watch all the goings-on.  We stood and visited with the Trooper (above right) for a long time.  He was just as fascinated as we were by the process.  In this picture the red Chevy truck is followed by the film vehicle with the big boom attached.

Here the truck takes off, followed by the film vehicle.

When we tired of Chevy trucks, we headed back.  Crossing the bridge, we spied this fishing guide boat in the water below and the woman in the back of the boat was in the process of pulling in a trout (which they threw back).

So NOW it was our turn to catch trout!  This is Jimmy's #1 catch.  It went into the fridge, awaiting a companion to keep it company on the grill.  (I caught a nice one, too, but it broke the line and I lost it.  Phooey)

Late afternoon the Red-breasted Merganser headed downriver with her brood.  We see her every day and usually one or more of the kids hops on her back for a free ride.  I counted seven little cuties!.


Happy First Full Day of Summer 2013 -- in Big Sky Country!

We landed here on Wednesday and pulled into a site at the edge of Yellowstone River.  We're here earlier than we expected, but that's okay, this is a great place to spend a month or two.  And so we will.  Weather has been iffy since we arrived - not conducive to catching trout, but this too shall pass, and we'll soon be reeling 'em in!  Don't worry, I'll be sure to post pictures of those trout.

The Yellowstone River has changed course since our last visit two years ago; the main channel is now against the far cliff, but we see trout jumping in the water smack dab in front of Tergel.  In fact, our dinette window has a perfect view.  This ever-changing river is full of "S" curves, sharp turns left or right and back again.  As soon as skies clear and the temps warm a bit, we'll pop our Sea Eagle tandem inflatable kayak in the water and mosey on down the river.

Jimmy and I kinda like this view of the Yellowstone River and Absaroka Mtns -- from our dinette window.

Here's where we be for a while.

Tergel and Smartie perched at river's edge, oh yeah!  The cliff behind us is on the other side of the river.

This pile of sticks is a domed Black-billed Magpie's nest, a few steps away from our campsite.  If you enlarge the pic, you can see Mom 'n Pop Magpie in the tree.

I took this photo early this morning, watching the White Pelican floating downstream in the current.  An island has formed in the curve and the main channel is now to the left, out of the picture.  The top of our picnic table is seen lower right.

We've spent the past couple of days visiting with friends who've already arrived at the RV Park, cleaning up Tergel, and just plain ol' relaxing.  Yes, I said relaxing.  It's wonderful.


Glitches, Adventures, and Misadventures - June 16/17/18

Plans get altered.  One thing we've learned about traveling is that anything can happen and it sure helps to be flexible!  Since we didn't have a definitive itinerary on our way to Livingston MT, we could change where/when we went and/or speed up getting to Rock Canyon RV Park.

We'd been to the old gold mining town of Bannack in SW Montana a few years ago and liked it.  We were there in autumn and had the St Pk C/G to ourselves - that was nice (no hookups, tho).  This year we had some company, but the C/G had available spaces, so we moved in for two nites.  Sunday, on our way to Bannack, we topped two 7,000'+ passes.  No problem, right?  I got in bed around 10 pm, gazing out the window, and by 10:30 we were snoring softly.  At Midnite, I woke up and mumbled to Jimmy, "I'm losing air."  And by the time I rolled out of my burrow around 6 or 6:30, lying on my side of the Sleep Number bed was like lying on a picnic table.  Jimmy, lying next to me, was about a half-foot higher!  So, 7,000'+ elevation blows a hole in the bed's air bladder - on my side - phooey.  Well, we got around it the next night by letting the air out of Jimmy side, too, and just slept on the memory foam - not altogether satisfactory, hard on the joints.  We had to drive into Dillon (where we could get a cell phone signal) to call Sleep Number and have them 2-day ship us a new air bladder - but, where to ship it?  That's where being flexible comes in - we could be in Livingston in two days.  Especially if it meant not sleeping on top of a picnic table!

Meanwhile, Smartie, that rascal - decided not to start the morning we went to Dillon.  I don't think its hiccups have anything to do with 7,000' passes, but it passed some gaseous pops, and then Jimmy sweet-talked her into going.  So, in Dillon, we had more calls to make - finding a fix-it shop for Smartie.  When it rains, it pours.  Fact is, we had a lot to do in Dillon.  So, watcha gonna do, sit around and worry?  Nah, when we got home, we stomped around the ghost town that used to be Bannack.  Nice because most of the bldgs are open.

Doc Ryburn's house was furnished in period pieces (not including Jimmy).

At 3 pm, the rangers held a gold panning demo and everybody had a chance to find a nugget (or a minuscule dot), and that was fun.


Grasshopper Creek, where GOLD was found in 1862.  Sure looks different today.  (Lots of skeeters!)

Thanx for the warning!

Yup, you're right!

 One of a pair of Mountain Bluebirds.

In our small C/G, with some kind of locust trees, we found a lot of bird diversity.  Wrens had a nest outside our dinette window and a Northern Flicker had a nest hole in one of those trees near our door.  It mewed like a kitten when it approached the nest hole!  This blob on the branch above is a Common Nighthawk and we spotted a bunch of them - never saw one before.  They look different in the air - they're sleek!  Bullock's oriole and Cedar Waxwing and Red-naped Sapsucker, noisy magpies, Olive-sided flycatcher, Sage thrasher, and even two Sandhill Cranes hiding in the brush near the creek, and many more.  If I went out early when the temp was still cool (cold?), I could go out with my binocs and not get engulfed by skeeters!  At least we don't have ticks to contend with in these parts.

The good news is that while sitting at the picnic table of one of our delightful neighbors, we didn't get bit by the horde of mosquitoes that flew at us when we walked out our front door.  Below is the reason why.  They had one of these gizmos on their table and not one insect!  While we were in Dillon, we picked up one, so WE ARE READY!

After Bannack, Tuesday morning we made for Countryside RV Park, above - with full hookups - not far from Dillon so we could take care of more business (bidness, as they say).  We needed haircuts and nice, long showers and pedicures and manicures and we had dirty clothes to wash!  Their Internet connection was so fast that we were finally able to download all the North American maps into our Nuvi (navigation) device. We'd had a problem with the durn thing since leaving California.  When we got to Oregon, it wanted us to turn around.  And it sure didn't recognize Washington, Idaho or Montana as being in the USA!  We bought a new chip in John Day that would enable us to get all North America installed, but had no connection fast enough.  Tuesday evening, we took care of it and Wednesday (today), when we plugged 'er in to get to Livingston MT, it knew where we wanted to go!  Hallelujah!

Double hallelujah - our new Sleep Number air bladder was waiting for us at Rock Canyon.  Life is Good!


On to Montana! June 14/15, 2013

Aiming for a Forest Service C/G on Idaho Hwy 12, we pointed Tergel's nose east.  As our road climbed, we followed alongside rivers racing down toward the Columbia – the Clearwater and the wild and scenic Lochsa River.  When the Lochsa river channel narrowed and white water became the norm, we began seeing rafts and kayaks ripping and ricocheting thru the water – everyone wearing wetsuits!  Jimmy and I looked at that white water and said, "no way!"  Too bad we couldn't pull over to watch or take a picture.  We passed groups of bikers laden with camping gear, etc., grinding up the mountain and marveled at their stamina.  The first C/G on Hwy 12 was closed.  However, Wendover C/G in the forest by the Lochsa River was empty when we arrived ($4 for old farts, no hookups, of course).  We needn't have worried about finding a campsite on Friday nite!  We hiked around some and then settled in for a quiet, chilly evening.  [39F the next morning]

Nice pull out site to eat lunch on the Lochsa River.

We're not only following Nez Perce footsteps, we're also in Lewis and Clark country.
Crisp and clear lands.

The river parted here and formed an island (where the logs are); the main river channel is on the other side of the island.  Our campsite in Wendover is to the right in this photo.

Common Bear Grass.  Doncha love the graceful dancing forms?
The stalks are about 3 ft high. 

Bear grass close up.

* * * * * * * * * * 

Saturday morning at Lolo Pass (5235') between Idaho and Montana, we stopped at the excellent Visitor Center.  They even serve coffee!  The rangers told us the Blue Camas Lilies were blooming a mile up in Packer Meadows.  They were so enthusiastic, we unhooked Smartie and took off to see the lilies.  As we neared the meadow, we thought we spotted a lake.  Not so!  A veritable sea of Blue Camas Lilies unfolded in front of us.  It was incredible!  Between the VC stop and ogling lilies in the field, I bet we killed an hour ... and it was well worth the time.

Yup, the intrepid explorers were here!

One word:  WOW!

Close up of the lily and an American Bistort
(plenty of them mixed in the meadow).

The Nez Perce people dug and prepared the blue camas (quamash) bulbs, steaming them in pits.  In 1805 Clark and his advance party were "growing weak for the want of food ... and have fallen off very much."  The friendly Nez Perce shared with them their quamash bulbs and bread that they made from it.

As soon as Jimmy and I left the VC, we descended into our second most favorite state (Montana).  We gassed up in Lolo Hot springs and then turned south on Hwy 93.  Sandwiched in a valley between grand snow-capped mountains, we had no set destination, passing by a couple of places that didn't suit us.  We finally chose a small $6 C/G out in the boonies called Spring Gulch (near Sula) located on the banks of the scenic Bitterroot River at 4100' in Bitterroot Nat'l Forest.  Another great place, but - again - full of voracious skeeters!  Dang things -- so many places this time of year are infested with 'em.  We bought our fishing licenses and a Styrofoam cup full o' worms today and we're ready to fish (guess we'll have to spray, eh?).  Other than bugs we enjoyed our time in this park.  One of these days we'll need to come out of the woods and return to civilization.  Come to think of it, we stay in these quiet, out-of-the-way parks because we enjoy the peace and don't really miss being "out of touch" -- just not forever!  (Plays havoc on regular blog posting.)  And that was our weekend!

Next up:  Adventure in Montana!