The Crowning Glory

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What more is there to say.  Mt. Rainier!!  Elevation 14,410′.  I started seeing her miles and miles away, just a glimpse here and there from afar, then closer, larger.  Every time I’d gasp!  What an amazing sight!!  I could see her from every turn in the road, a different view, just eye popping beautiful and awe inspiring.  Here’s a topo model from one of the visitors centers, just to put her in perspective.

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Entered at the Nisqually entrance on the southwest side.   It’s the “historic district”, where first James Longmire, a settler and explorer, discovered hot springs and built the first hotel and spa in 1885 before it was a NP.  That same year Fay Fuller became the first woman to climb Mr. Ranier.  There is a “Trail of Shadows”, an interpretive trail around the area where the original hot springs/hotel/spa was.  The historic district also consists of the 1st buildings as a National Park, which it became in 1899, and includes an old Inn, store, museum, Ranger station and an old gas station.  Early visitors came by horse and buggy, cars were allowed in 1915, which began the major growth of the park.  Lots of other history throughout the park including early ranger cabins, primarily used for rangers to watch for fires and poachers.

 

Camped a few days at Cougar Rock on the southwest side, on the Nisqually River.  Nabbed the last site again, thanks to a cancellation. Pretty awesome to have a great view of the mountain form the campsite.  Drove up to Paradise, climbing higher and higher, every turn another eye-popping view.  And what a view from the top at 5400′, looked like you could reach out and touch it.  I know I can’t just post a million pictures of different views tho I could look at them forever.  Many other things to see also – glacier rivers and waterfalls of course. Other mountains, not as glamorous but beautiful in their own right.  Another great visitors’ center.  Many trails lead from here of varying length and difficulty, but they’re all steep.   You can climb to the summit, over glacier ice, snow and loose rocks.  It’s an overnight hike.  Has anyone done it?  Pretty impressive.  Wildflowers were abloom in all the meadows to add to the beauty.

 

 

Continued to drive the route to the east from there, many great water falls and rivers.  Reflection Lakes with Mr. Rainier behind, but no reflection, guess it’s the wrong time of day.  Then drove on one ledge of Stevens Canyon, crossed over and  ledge on the other side.  Very narrow, winding, climbing, on a ledge with no railings!!!  Exciting to say the least.  Amazing views all the way.

The next day I moved up to the White River Campground near the NE entrance and Sunrise, another center of activity, visitor center, Lodge, and amazing views.  It’s even higher – 6400′, the campground is 4232′ and there’s a trail up to Sunrise.  A measly 3 mile hike, straight up!!!  The drive is 10 miles, still quite steep with switchbacks to get that elevation gain.    The view from here is even more amazing, it looks even more like you could reach out and touch it.  And of course you can hike up to the summit from here too, along with many other hikes.  There’s a trail called Wonderland that goes all around the base of the mountain.  A total of 93 miles!!!  Met some women on their 10th day, 2 more to go.  And met some doing the summit too.  Oh to be young again!!!

 

If you can zoom in and read the last one, When Fire and Ice Collided, it’s very interesting about how those rocks formed so weirdly.  The rocks right there look just like the picture.

I know, another one of those signs to read!  About how the Sunrise Road was planned and built.  Another amazing engineering feat.

I mentioned earlier the Old Ranger cabins.  Here’s some pictures of one that was in the campground area and information about them.  It was open for viewing the inside with it’s furnishings of the day but too dark to photograph.

Went to a couple very good ranger programs at the fire circle.  One was a ranger who sang and played guitar, making up new words to well known songs to fit the Rainier experience.  Another was a young John Muir impersonator, reading from his books, with an excellent accent.  Sun setting on Mr. Rainier, view from the campground.

This is the end of my western National Parks journey – what a grand finale’!!

Officially rolling east now,

Lynn and Xena

 

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Olympic National Park and Forest

7/17/18 – Still moving westward, left Newhalem early to get close to the ferry at Coupeville for the night. Made it to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island in what I guess is part of Puget Sound. All kinds of sounds, bays, straits, harbors, islands, peninsulas, not sure what’s what. But what an interesting watery area. I keep getting into campgrounds by the skin of my teeth, once again, the last available sight!! On our first walk around I spotted 2 old ’80s Toyota Dolphins, which is the little Class C camper I had before the ALiner. Right next to each other, I though surely they were together, a rally maybe, but they weren’t. There’s such a cult following for these old things that it’s not unusual for strangers to stop and check them out, so they weren’t taken aback by my approach. They’d already had 2 offers to buy it at that cg, I used to get folks asking about mine and making offers all the time too.
Anyway, right above their campsite, way above in one of the 200′ tall old growth trees, was an eagle nest with what appeared to be young in it. We could see 1 bird flapping wings in the nest and another out on a nearby limb occasionally flapping, so thought they might be ready to fledge. Mesmerized, but finally I went back to my own campsite and realized I could actually see the nest better from there. I was farther away but higher up so could see the top of the nest, whereas they could only see the bottom. So I settled my chair in that one little spot, got my binocs and went in for some serious watching. It was pretty late already, not getting dark til almost 11, so didn’t see much but next morning as I resumed my position with coffee and the lighting was different, I could see a lot more. I finally saw an adult fly in with goodies and lots of excitement in the nest and the one out on the limb (seemed not to have moved all night) was also an adult with a very clear white head. So that must be daddy and the feeding one must me mamma and the littles are NOT ready to fledge!! It was sad that I wouldn’t be able to witness such an event, but very good because I was planning to leave early to get to the ferry and I might not have ever left for waiting for them to fledge!! So I was able to leave. Whew!!

Right in the middle of the photo, mamma on nest feeding, papa above right watching over
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So, we’re on another ferry adventure. This one is huge, three stories high, don’t know what’s underneath, much larger than the one we took to Southport, huge semis and giant buses on it. Anyway, short ride across the sound to Port Townsend.

My aim was to visit friends, Sue and Michelle, in Hadrock. When I started out I had no idea where that was, as I got into WA and checked in with them for location, it turned out it’s right there! Real close to where the ferry dropped us off. So I got a campsite at Old Fort Townsend State Park real near, settled the camper and headed over to their house. Had a wonderful visit sitting on the patio of their lovely house facing the water (everything is right on the water here). It was wonderful visiting old friends since I mostly meet new friends.  Very nice feeling of comfort.  They, and some other friends visiting, took me to a fantastic place called FinnRiver Farm and Cidery. If you’re ever anywhere near, do go. It’s a farm and they make hard cider with ingredients, mostly fruits and herbs, from the farm and other local farms. And they have other local venders there for eats like fire roasted pizza and the night we were there, locally sustainably harvested salmon in a sandwich filled with farm fresh veggies on very good local bread. It was soooo good. You can check them out on the web. Agri-tourism at it’s best.


From Port Townsend I went on to Olympic National Park. Went thru Port Angeles, down to Sol Duc, one of the major campgrounds which was full, the visitors center, and drove along Crescent Lake, a really huge beautiful lake, must have been 50 miles along the crescent. Lots of road construction, looong lines, 30 min wait. But a beautiful sight and able to get out of the car to take pictures. Got in the middle of a group of VW buses, they said 80 or so, on a long ride together. Fun to get out and talk to them. Old hippies in old hippy cars. Fun.  Madison Falls was really neat.


Found a site at Klahowya (another one of those beautiful words) campground in the National Forest, just outside the park. And another fabulous campground. The ones in the park were all full and I’m so glad, they are large and popular and crowded. This had fewer very spacious sites, and in the middle of wonderful old growth forest, ferns, rainforest, but dry. I went to the Hoh Rainforest later and it literally had nothing on this campground. It’s all first come, no reservations, and it did fill up later.


Olympic is very different from North Cascades, still high mountains, not as high and you don’t see them very much due to all the very tall trees. The westernmost part of the North Cascades were full of the old growth forest, and more moisture loving plants, ferns and mosses, Olympic now I guess officially rainforest. I mean TALL old growth trees, and BIG!!! It’s on a peninsula and on the coast so obviously moist and full of the ferns, the mosses, everywhere, including my campsite.

One day I drove out to Cape Flattery. It was a long drive with not much in between. Drive is pretty much along the water and on Indian Reservation, a small Indian fishing resort type place at Sekiu. But at the end is a fabulous sight, well worth the drive and the hike at the end to see it. The NorthWesternmost point in the continental US. I’ve made it!!! All the way across the US!!! Coast to Coast. I’ve never been to the west coast before. I pinched myself several times, still unbelievable. And what a beautiful place to celebrate that milestone.

You can see the fog in the first picture and the land mass in the second is Canada

I also went out to some of the beaches, not nearly as beautiful, but very interesting. Very different from what I’m used to. Lots of fog rolling in early, clearing later in the day, but I never saw it. Lots of rocks and old dead trees that have been brought to the ocean from the mountains, via the avalanches, heavy snow melt, rivers, then pounded onto the beaches by the waves. The only place to even wade at most of them is in the tide pools.  It’s also really cold!! 40s/50s in the morning, just a few miles inland and 10 degrees warmer, a few more another 10 degrees. It’s getting hot here but not on the beaches. No swimming, or even sitting out on the beach. I know beaches farther south on the west coast are not like this, more hospitable, but these are beautiful in their own way.

The big stone outcrops are apparently what’s left of old islands that have been worn away.  Pretty eerie with the fog, eh?  The last one there is Rialto Beach, farther south and more hospitable for beaching, but still no swimmers.

I went to the Hoh Rainforest and went on some of the shorter trails since my knee has been hurting from all the steep hiking chasing waterfalls.  It’s not much different from my campground. But a lot of interesting information on interpretive trails. I was particularly intrigued with how the old dead trees provide growing medium for new ones, either on the stump or along a trunk on the ground. Makes for interesting root growth after the old trees finally decompose. And of course the size of the trees still amazes me, In addition to all the ferns and mosses.

 

Look closely at that one on the right.  There’s a person in it!

We camped at Lake Quinault our last day in Olympic NP. What a beautiful place, would have stayed longer but it was full, no campsites available. Most of the sites were walk in, for tent campers, so wouldn’t have worked for us anyway. But we got there early enough to enjoy most of the day and then didn’t leave too early the next morning. It was foggy early so nice watching the fog gradually lift for another clear day. Very beautiful blue glacier/snow melt lake, great views of mountains all around. And warm enough to swim in!!! Yay, first swim of the trip, and in a blue glacier lake.  Nice It was chilly getting in and cold at the bottom, but the sun was shining and warming up the upper levels and was perfect.   Have been at campgrounds without showers for quite awhile now, so haven’t had a real shower. So that made it utilitarian too. 🙂  And a very nice hiking trail along several beaches and into the forest along a creek. That last picture?  That’s one of the campgrounds on the coast I thought I wanted to camp at, called South Beach.  Nope, not my style, thank you.


So the next day we said good-bye to Olympic National Park and Forest as we continued to drive the scenic drive around the southwestern and south sides. As I turned to head east, realized with sadness I was starting my return. But one more big NW stop to make before it’s official. On the way I stopped at the first private campground I’ve used. It was surprisingly very nice. It was an old one, very nice wooded, spacious sites. Plus for a real change I had elec. hookup!  And a real shower and shampoo (too bad it was right after the swim). And laundry!! Wow!! I’m civilized!!

A couple last shots before I go.  This beauty visited my wonderful campsite at Klahowya.  She stayed quite a while one morning and got quite close.  Good timing, I gave her the 2 mice I’d just trapped from my car.  :(.  The deer here don’t seem to run out in front of you or away from you.  I guess they’re so used to people they just stand there and stare.  It’s a local black tail. they sometimes mate with white tails and end up with zebra tails.  🙂

Rolling east,
Lynn and Xena

Okanogan and Cascades

July 9 – Okanogan, I love saying it, at least after I learned how to pronounce it – emphasis on the nog. Beautiful Indian word and beautiful area in both Canada and US. Last night in Canada was at Okanogan Lake Provincial Park, first night in US in Okanogan National Forest, in Okanogan Co., WA. I’d never heard of it, stopped because its on the North Cascades Scenic Highway and I passed through a charming little town called Winthrop and decided this is where I wanted to stop. Checked in with the Forest Service to find campgrounds and went to one called Falls Creek just north of Winthrop. Tiny no frills campground on the Chewuch River, 5 campsites, I got a spot right on the River. I can’t imagine a spot so perfect. After 2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies trying to see ALL the things with cold and rain and snow, and 2 long driving days, and having to OPEN (it’s a pop-up folks) my camper at the border!!! I needed a rest day and what better place. There’s lots to see here too, but sitting by the river for a while was first, and often, and Xena sure loved it. Was rewarded with lots of visitors – a mamma common Merganzer with 2 littles (Zoom in and you can see she has long frizzy looking reddish plumes on her head). I’ve seen hooded Merganzers, even in my own pond, but not familiar with the common. Also another unidentifiable duck mom with littles. Spotted a number of yellow headed black birds too, another one I’ve never seen. Didn’t get a photo but look it up, very cute. I had the best access to the river so also has human visitors. There is a primitive camp area down the river a bit and there was a group of teens on a canoe week camp. The river got rocky just passed my beach so they beached at my spot. I’m sitting there and all of a sudden 8 canoes and 1 kayak landed! I loved it. Also next door was a dad and son (daughter was at the canoe camp), I invited them to get in the river at my spot. And then the grand finale – my last day there, just look at the photo!! I squealed with excitement!! All my travels out west and I think the only resident wildlife I hadn’t seen was a moose. WOW!!


The campground’s called Falls Creek because it’s very near a waterfalls so a convenient good first day hike. Next morning, I went into Winthrop early to beat the tourist rush and sit in the very wonderful coffee shop wifi to catch up with emails, bills, blog etc. Early it was all locals, very interesting folks, artists, nature lovers and political activists. Table next to mine was a group organizing some action I could overhear. Refreshingly inclusive. The town was restored years ago to an old west theme since it’s on the North Cascades Scenic Highway, to catch the tourist, but has flourished to more than that. I guess like a lot of our NC mountain towns and a lot of other places. Pictures don’t show it well but I’ll post a couple. I didn’t know ahead of time but this is where friends MAC and NAK came last year when they were in WA. They actually stayed in a little cabin here in Winthrop and explored the area. Small world, and lots of tips on what to see.


I stayed at Falls Creek for 4 days, and I wasn’t even planning 1 day!! One day I drove up the Falls Creek Rd to explore. It climbed and climbed, switch backs and cliff hanger road at times. Wonderful views of the mountains across and looking straight down my stomach flipped a few times. Views of the Falls from above from a few vantage points, but pretty far away and lots of trees so not such good pics. Pretty dramatic tho. Ventured up another gravel road that had 5 of these small campgrounds on it with interesting names I wanted to check out. Names like Buck Lake, Ruffed Grouse and Honeymoon. Just wonderful little rustic campgrounds in beautiful settings. Off of that road was another – 8 Mile Ridge that was really a cliff hanger, got really rough and rocky, actually ended (for me at least) where there had been a rock slide! That’s the most remote, steep, rock-rubble, scary, jeep-driving place I’ve been. Nope, don’t have a jeep.


We finally left that ideal spot and headed west into the North Cascades National Park. Went to some of the most exciting hikes and views, actually just east of the NP. Must see stops if you’re there – Washington Pass, Liberty Bell Mtn. & Early Winters Spires. Rainy Fall & Lake, Lake Annie, Blue Lake.


Blue Lake wasn’t as blue as Rainy (my fav), but the hike was the best. Go early, I tried twice when the parking lot was crammed full and lots of cars parked out on the highway. Came back early the next morning. Lots of huge rock/boulders and creeks to cross, great views.


and wildflowers, including the western pink heather


More fantastic views of majestic mountains of course


Next we moved farther west into the NP itself, very winding road with more mtn views. And then great overlook view of Ross Lake, Crater Peak, Glaciers and Diablo Lake, both these lakes created by dams on the Skagit River and fed by lots of creeks. Went into Colonial Creek area for some really nice hikes along the creeks. These lakes are huge, but just as blue as the smaller more remote lakes.


We camped at Newhalem, on the Skagit. By this point in Cascades, the trees are massive,  200′ high, 5’+ diameter, and very dense. I’ve never seen so much old growth forest. Lots of very old but still not decomposed Douglas Firs and Western Redcedars, dead on the ground for 100 yrs!! Getting very moist too, with huge chest high ferns, mosses covering everything, dead and alive. Newhalem has some great little hikes along the river in several places with great interpretive trails about the trees.


And the river runs through it all, to Xena’s delight.


All kinds of tree beauty that tell so many stories.  A giant redcedar that fell across the trail, what’s left of a so-called children’s cave. The 3 giant redcedars grew together and when alive formed a cave that children played in. In ’67, they lit a candle in the hollow center which set the trees on fire. The hollow center formed a chimney so the fire raced upward, the trees too tall for fire hoses, were felled to extinguish the fire. The charred stumps still there. Another charred Douglas Fir “snag” from 1922 forest fire! A fun “see-thru” Redcedar. Most mature Western Redcedars are rotten in the middle. A fungus causes the rot in the heartwood but a toxic substance in the sapwood resists it and keeps the outer tree alive since it feeds through the sapwood. We all know if you girdle a tree, it will die, but I didn’t really know it could live without the heart. 😦


On Tues, the 17th, we left the North Cascades and continued our journey west to catch the ferry and cross into Olympic National Park. Which is where we are now. Almost caught you up with us.  Next time.

Still loving the world of travel, in the dense, magical, old growth forests of WA,
Lynn and Xena

Canadian Rockies final

7/19/18 – Well, I had this all written, waiting til I had good wifi to add pics to it and somehow lost the draft!!!  Drat!!  So a quick one.

In the last post I wrote that it had been cold and rainy the whole time I was in Canada, even snowed a couple of days.  I wanted to post some pics of the last few days, with and without snow.

The last day we were in Banff NP, I finally made it to Bow Summit/Peyto Lake and Glacier.  Was a real destination and when I’d tried before it was raining and no visibility.  So, July 4th, day after the snows, we went.

First a few scenes of the drive there, with the clouds above and below, and a little clearing:

Snow was on the ground, not just at elevation.  If you can zoom in and read the 2 signs, very interesting and appropriate for the day.  And the lake and glacier.

Somebody had some fun with the snow.  And a few more sunny scenes.

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Next day we drove off to Yoho, HooDoo campground, just a few miles down the road.  Sweet little village of Field nestled in the mountains.  Another magpie sighting. The last picture is of the spiral tunnel, where the train track was built tunneling through the mountains, spiraling back on itself.  My timing was perfect, I caught a train going through.  If you zoom and look carefully you can see it in 4 different places.  The bottom one is going away, and the 2nd from bottom is coming back.  Looks like it’s going where it came from but it continues to loop til it’s going in the same direction.  It was a huge train, over 100 cars.

More beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls.  Takakkaw Falls, Lace Falls.  And BLUE skies!!

Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake

More wildflowers.

The last day, the last hike, Wapta Falls, from 3 levels and a rainbow.  And of course more wildflowers.

Early on the 8th we left for a long but casual driving day, through Canada Glacier NP, and Mt. Revelstoke.  Landed at Okanogan Lake Provincial Park for the night, still in Canada, not far from the border.

July 9, we left early, before anyone else was out, and around 9am, crossed the border back into the US, in the Okanogan National Forest in Washington State.  Now maybe I’ll know the speed limit and the price of gas.

Rolling back into the US,

Lynn and Xena

Canadian Rockies

7/7/18 – Banff/Jasper/Kootenay/Yoho National Parks, all connected together in what has to be one of the most awesome places in the world!  Have been here for 2 weeks, planning to leave tomorrow morning, but only going SW a little ways to Canada’s Glacier NP (not the same as Waterton which is connected to US Glacier NP – the International Peace Park) and Mount Revelstoke.  As I’ve said before, it has been raining and cold the whole time, even below freezing and snowed a couple of days.  Day before yesterday it actually cleared, sunny and warm enough for shorts and T-shirt!  What a glorious day that was!  Yesterday was partly sunny and then the dense clouds and heavy rains returned, all night last night and this morning, so I’m back in sweats and raingear.  Got pretty depressing there for a few days, but just one good sunny day helped so much.  Since it’s raining, thought I’d come back to the visitor center here at Yoho, catch email, and maybe even catch up to real time here.

In spite of the rain and cold I continued to venture out tho hikes were frequently shorter than I’d have liked, and some didn’t get done at all when rain was too heavy.  Luckily dogs are allowed on trails here, ah – wet dog in car and camper in addition to wet shoes!!!  I have plenty of raingear, poncho that covers backpack and all, but not waterproof shoes and rainpants would be nice too.  Use to have, where are they now?!  On the list of purchases.  Anyway, this post will mostly be photos again, lots of them, visibility is pretty sketchy in many, some sights were totally invisible, and I didn’t get everywhere I wanted to go.

First I was at Lake Louise in Banff NP for a few days, then went up to Jasper, Whistler’s CG.  Both had elec and showers, which I hadn’t had for a long time, much appreciated, especially the showers. 🙂  They were both reservations, the last I made, so after that I went to a couple of the “first come” CGs on the Icefields Parkway for a few days each.  That way I was able to do different portions of the Parkway each day.  No problem getting a site and I liked the CGs.  Very happy to be out from under the pressure of reservations and feel more confident that it’s possible.

Xena says “Hi” to Canada.  Here come those mountains!

 

Mountains!  Rivers rushing with the snow melt from the mountains!  Glaciers!!  Amazingly blue/green lakes!!

The last pic in previous group was Victoria Glacier reflected in Lake Louise.  The first one here is a photo of a picture of the mountains from Lake Louise, labeled.  So much of the magnificence is visible from the Icefields Parkway.  Julia, my neighbor from Brazil who loved Xena.

Rivers rushing to eat away at rocks and form waterfalls.  Views from higher elevations.

Another crystal blue lake, Lake Moriane and some of it’s “10 Peaks”.  More magnificent mountains and glaciers.  Mountain goats, a bear crossing the road and a mama elk in the campground.

One of my fav things – the waterfalls.  Oh, the waterfalls!!  So many, just pounding down from the snow melt and glaciers above, forming beautiful blue glacier fed lakes and rushing rivers everywhere.

I’ve posted some pics and videos on FB, the vids of waterfalls are particularly wonderful, really catch them better than photos. My wordpress account doesn’t allow vids.  If you have a chance watch them.

Athabasca Glacier at Icefields Center (also vid on FB where the wind nearly blew me away!) and some info.  Lunch at picnic area on Athabasca River and guess who came to lunch!?

There is sooooo much more!!!  But I have to stop.  It’s now the 10th and we just rolled back into the US.  Now sitting in a coffee shop in a sweet little old west town in Washington, Winthrop.  It’s near the campground in Okanogan National Forest and I’m trying to catch up with internet stuff before the tourists rush the town.  I came back to this and will catch you up on the rest later.

Sad to leave the Canadian Rockies, such a spectacular place, but glad to be where I know what the speed limit it and how much money I’m spending.  🙂

Still Rolling in the Northwest.

Lynn and Xena

ps – I’d love to hear from you, please write, email, text, call.  Been missing my peeps and news from home, especially while I didn’t have service in Canada.  Now that I’m back, texting is probably best, even tho I still won’t always have service, only occasional wifi but will check email as long as I have data.  Hope you’re all doing well and staying cool, well those of you in NC or otherwise in the south.  slh

 

 

Glacier

Before I write about Glacier, a little real time news.  7/3/18 – Banff NP, Alberta, Canada.  7am. -2 degrees C, 30 F!!!  Snowing!!!  What!?!?  Good day to do some writing.  Back in time to Glacier time.

6/21/18 – Sad to leave Yellowstone, not nearly enough time there, but excited to move on to Glacier and the famed Going to the Sun Road.  Long drive, got there kinda late and got I think the last available campsite.  It wasn’t good, in a dip and camper door facing away from picnic table.  So didn’t unhook camper, figuring I’d get another spot early in the morning since it’s a first come campground.

6/22 – Which I did, right across the camp drive up a few spots.  Perfect.  But, but, but, Going to the Sun wasn’t open!!!  The main thing to do, the way to see Glacier, what else do you do here?!  Hiking of course, lots of fantastic hiking trails but I certainly can’t hike across, plenty of folks biking it tho.  It goes east-west across the giant peaks from one entrance of the park to the other.  The only road. They have to clear it each Spring of all the 80′ of snow and avalanches.  And repair, and replace the guard rails on the winding, narrow, clifts-edge road.  They take them down before snows start because avalanches do it for them if they don’t.  Well, it was open part way from each direction, so we’ll just have to drive the west portion.  Then next day drive around the southern boundary road and start from the East entrance.

The first days drive was great, around Lake McDonald, the huge, long lake the campground is on, water falls and some 8-9000′ peaks.

 

The next morning the Ranger came by and said the Sun Road was open!!!  Yippee!!!  So off we go to do the whole thing.  What a spectacular road!!!  An engineering miracle for sure.  Fantastic views of peaks, Going to the Sun Mountain at 9642′ being the highest.  As you’ll see in the pictures, it was rainy, misty, socked in, and very scary driving at points.  Could have as easily been named “Going into the Clouds Road”.  Very limited visibility, but fantastic anyway.  We were in the clouds, on top of the world.

 

The last 2 are looking down into the valleys, zoom and you can see the rivers.

 

If you can zoom in on the signs, interesting info and the 3rd one has a map.  See how close the road is to the “wall” and cliff?  Yikes!!

 

Bikers, above the clouds.  See the road going across Bird Woman Falls? Just went over it.  Glaciers.

The “weeping wall”, driving right in it’s waterfall.  Interesting info about Logan Pass and Glacier Park.  Wonder how these trolleys make it on those sharp turns and not hit the wall.  All that can be seen of the visitor center, all socked in, and looking away at the view.  Except this little fella, just chattering away, probably saying “what are all you folks doing here? I was having a nice quiet spring!  There were people standing all around watching and listening.

 

Coming down the other side got a little clearer, St. Mary’s Lake.  We then drove up to the Canadian Waterton Lakes National Park..  Waterton was established as a NP by Canada in 1895, Glacier by US in 1910.  They adjoin each other on the US Canada Boundary which led to the two governments linking the two parks in 1932 as Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. The land has always been sacred to the Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai Indians.  Now, 2 countries and the tribal people share stewardship, protect and celebrate this beautiful, sacred place.

After very exciting day returned to camp, scurrying over the mountains as it was getting late, so not many return pictures.  Leaving the next day for Banff NP in Canada.

See you in Canada,

Lynn and Xena

 

 

 

Yellowstone!!!

6/13 – From Bighorn I was entering Yellowstone from the east, had gone through Cody on the way, Buffalo Bill/William Cody fame. There’s a huge Buffalo Bill Museum/Historical Center but I wasn’t able to go. No dogs allowed, and it was sunny and hot and no shade for parking. Soooo, on to Yellowstone.

I didn’t have reservations, it was late afternoon and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a spot so I stopped at a little campground called Eagle Creek, with plans to drive in to one of the “first come” campgrounds early in the morning. Just 5-6 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone, in the Shoshone National Forest. Interesting that Yellowstone NP is surrounded by National Forests, all the land in that area of the country is so magnificent, definitely worth saving. Anyway, campground right on the Shoshone River, I could hear and see it from my campsite, and mountain behind it. (bottom pix).   Really nice.

After setting up I immediately drove into Yellowstone, just couldn’t not, even tho it was getting late, but not dark til 9-9:30. Didn’t realize the entrance was 25 miles from the active area of the park! But what a drive! Just Wow!!! Drive through a pass between mountains, snow still on the higher elevations, then as the road rose there was the snow at our level. And the road fell to the Yellowstone lake. Just a fantastic drive. I decided even tho it was a drive, I liked the CG and the drive so much I’d stay a day or two then move into the park.

Next day drove back in early, saw many wonders I didn’t see the night before. Stopped to watch some kids sliding down one of the avalanche snow banks. Cold bottoms! And as I got close to the lake a crowd of cars and people pulled off and standing with binocs and big lens cameras. What? Bear!! Ranger there telling everyone it was Rose, a 3 1/2 y.o. who was just separating from her mom, Raspberry, so she could mate again. Could see it with my binocs but the ph. camera zoomed all the way could barely get it. It was so exciting to see how happy and excited all these people were, me too, at seeing a bear even from a great distance. Ear to ear grins, excited yelps, everyone friendly and talking to everyone, sharing the experience with strangers. What fun!!  Zoom in and you might be able to see the cub in the first photo.  2nd is the crowd watching.  What’s left of avalanches.


Many of you have been to Yellowstone, for those who haven’t, it’s huge, but most of the hydrothermal action is in the center “caldera”, a crater that was formed by a volcano and then carved and filled by glaciers some 14,000 yrs. ago. The caldera area contains the geysers, hot springs, fumaroles (hot steam coming out of the ground or water), mud pots, etc., and is surrounded by mountains, big rivers with waterfalls forming canyons and lakes. The active center area is basically an irregular circle, and there’s a drive probably 150 miles, plus a road cut through the middle. No matter where you stay, a lot of driving is required. At strategic points, at each of 5 entrances and each big action spot, there are “villages”, really congested spots with visitor centers, stores, gas, lodges, camping, large parking lots, etc. The visitor centers are really good, I always stop at them, educational materials, displays, often movies, rangers to answer questions, Since it was raining a lot they were very popular places, along with gift shops which I basically avoid tho I did buy a T-shirt!!, so crowded but still good. Sooo much to see in Yellowstone, it’s not just Old Faithful.

It rained every day I was there, tho not all day long. It was pretty amazing even with cold cloudy rain, I’d love to see it all in the sunshine tho. I ended up staying at the Eagle Creek CG 3 nights, those days I drove all the sights on the east side, and every day’s drive into the park center was a new adventure. The east side included the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and it’s waterfalls, pretty amazing overlooks to view them.  Mud Volcano Area on the way.

And one day I went south to the Grand Tetons, impressive gigantic mountain peaks.  On the way once again even bigger crowd close to the same spot.  Not only saw Rose, but across the road was mom Raspberry and her new beau.  As far away as previous, so won’t post pic.

Xena saying goodbye to the Tetons and saw another bear pair (not sure if it’s mom and cub or mating pair cause the male is so much bigger than the female)

The last day at EC, again cold (below freezing the morning before!) and raining!, I went to the Old Buffalo Bill/William Cody Lodge Museum on the way into Yellowstone.  He build a hotel in Cody (and much more) and then this lodge at the edge of Yellowstone as tourism was growing here.  Very interesting, with an interesting William Cody lookalike as tour guide with lots of Cody (the man) stories.  There’s new lodge and cabins (built on same spots as original ones) and a restaurant where I ate a buffalo burger for early lunch.  I was glad I stopped here since I didn’t get to the museum in Cody.

There’s a Bald Eagle in that tree, zoom in.  An eld in the meadow and fumaroles everywhere.

After 3 days I went to the campground at Norris Geyser Basin on the west side. which was really I think the best Geyser Basins (where geysers are clustered together at particularly “hot” active spots). After I got settled, it was raining particularly bad, I went into the town of West Yellowstone west of the park, to do laundry, grocery shopping, much needed shower, and WiFi (no success there). The guy who owns the laundromat, with showers, worked in Yellowstone for years so he knows what the campers need. Got a booming business going. He should also have WiFi! Just sayin’. All those services are available somewhere in the park but far away in the busiest areas and very expensive.

Norris Geyser Basin has all the different kinds of hydrothermal action in Yellowstone.  That last photo in particular shows the dramatic scene of the steam and clouds meeting.

Those days at Norris I did all the other west side attractions, including Mammoth Hot Springs, the other Geyser Basins and Old Faithful. Mammoth Hot Springs are amazing, steaming water flowing over huge rock “terraces”.  And as you would expect, huge crowds.  The “village” area includes and area of old buildings from old fort used to protect Yellowstone in the past.

Those pix were all from a viewpoint above Mammoth, the last one you can see the boardwalk trail that takes you from this viewpoint down to Mammoth.

And these are from below, including a flower growing through it all.

I saw OF erupt but it wasn’t very impressive, all steam, not much water spewing visible. Apparently when it’s cold, when the hot water hits the cold air it condenses quickly and is all steam. Managed to see it 3 times since I walked around to see all the Upper Geyser Basin where OF is, which took a long time so it was ready to go again, and again.

I heard a child near me say that last spring should be named pac man.  Can’t remember it’s name, but that’s more appropriate.
I was in Yellowstone for 8 days, could have stayed a month, so much to see, and I was blown away by it all. My head is still reeling. And there’s so much geological information and history to take in too, I could write forever about it all and not make a dent.

A few parting shots of some of the wildlife.

In case you don’t recognize it, that’s my car!  In the campground.  That buffalo chased a man who ran in between my car and camper!!!  Thanks.  Elk in the field.  Buffalo mom and babe.  Elk mom and babe.  Well that’s not wildlife, it’s a woman from FL who spends 5 months in the summer in West Yellowstone.  She comes out everyday and patiently, meditatively waits for some of the geysers to erupt that aren’t so regular.

That’s all folks, til next time.

Lynn and Xena