Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas on the Pecos

In a canyon along the Pecos River. I didn't expect to get a signal but surprisingly it worked. I may stay here through Christmas.

Although narrow, the river is fast flowing enough to keep from completely freezing over.

A river view from my bedroom window.

There is good hiking and a lot of history here. That's enough for me.

Monday, December 10, 2007


New Mexico is added.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back in Colorado

I finally left the Bridger National Forest on Monday.

I took a final hike up the mountain on Sunday.

It won't be long before snow covers these peaks.

I passed through Flaming Gorge. The decent and climb with miles of 8% grades was tough on the equipment. If you go to this area in an RV I would recommend leaving it outside the gorge and visiting in a smaller vehicle. I planned to stay in Utah longer but after the decent to Vernal I was out of the national forest and wasn't going to make the climb to get back in. I fueled up and continued for western Colorado.

Camped in a canyon by Stinking Water Creek in western Colorado. That's Spooky Mountain in the distance. I do enjoy the names. It's back to summer weather, at least for a while.

Well, that completes "the loop". I plan to winter in southern New Mexico and Arizona. I am changing my focus to earning a living so I don't expect to update this blog regularly or frequently. It was a memorable summer but finances will dictate if I can do it again next year.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bridger National Forest, Part Three

I've settled into a routine of six nights out and then one night in town for housekeeping chores. I work most of the day and hike almost every afternoon. I won't have time to camp all the areas I want before the cold drives me south. I don't mind the cold but don't want to freeze a water pipe.

My current location twenty miles further south of last week's location.

The pine tree cover is more sparse than to the north with still more aspens. I like the more open landscape although the pine forests are still quite thick in the canyons.

There are plenty of beautiful areas that are almost pristine. This one is on a plateau 500 feet above the valley floor. Most people travel in the woods on ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) or horseback, both of which are restricted to designated trails. If you are willing to climb, hike a few miles and make your own trail you can go days without seeing another person.

Another "million dollar" campsite. Of course it's a two hour climb to get here.

I have heard elk bugling over in the next valley the last two days so today I went over to get a picture. There were a lot of elk and bear tracks but I guess they all heard me coming.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Bridger National Forest, Part Two

I like this area. It is large enough so that, despite being a holiday weekend, there are plenty of campsites available. I chose a spot that was secluded and undesirable but perfect for me and it has worked out well. I have no neighbors.

A satellite picture of my location. The photo was taken when snow covered the peaks to the west. I climbed the ridge directly to the west but forgot the camera. I think it's having problems anyway.

There are a lot of deer in this area. The first night here, a doe and two fawns walked within a few feet of my back window. This is the second fawn. I have seen "bear sign" but no bears. I walked outside this morning while frying sausage and eggs and heard a large animal but didn't see it.

When you climb out of the valley the tree cover is sparse. There are a lot more aspens than I have seen to the north and they are definitely starting to turn.

This area is only about 50 miles south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming which is the southern gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The scenery here may lack the Grand Tetons and Old Faithful but I like it just as well.

As you can surmise, I haven't had an exciting week although every week in the forest is enjoyable.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bridger National Forest

My current location. I'm just inside Wyoming and about ten miles into the Bridger National Forest.
Who was Jim Bridger? Trapper, scout, explorer and mountain man. A singular character from a short but exciting period in American history.
As usual, my hike today took me "up". I started up a canyon and reversed directions to get the view from the top.
The ultimate campsites are available only on foot. This one goes in my "top ten". A pine grove with a view and a soft bed of pine needles. Seclusion here would be limited only by food and water.

The river valley and dirt road go for sixty-eight miles south, all in National Forest. I will probably be here for a few weeks at least. Now, I can go back the way I came or see if I can get down following that ridge line. No need to flip a coin, I'll give it a try.

A little "ridge-running" was the easy part. The trail of deer droppings kept me confident that I could get down this way.

It's a little steeper than I thought. I can still turn back at this point, but who wants to climb back up there?

I'm getting close but there is no obvious way to get "there" from "here". Is that my "house" down there?

While "noodling out" the way down, I had a nice view of the confluence of Grey's River and the Little Grey river, joining from the left

It wasn't easy but I got back down. I like this area and hope to remain for a while although I'll be changing campsites every week. It's been getting down to the mid-thirties the last few nights and some of the aspen are starting to hint at turning. I would like to stay until they fully turn.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hike in Eight Mile Canyon

I have left Birch Creek, stayed a day in Idaho Falls and am now camped in the Bridger National Forest, Wyoming. I did have a good hike on Sunday and knew that if I didn't post the pictures now they would be lost.

There are a lot of caves in this area. I'm sure that if I came back in January this one would be occupied. You can't see it in this picture but there is bedding material left from last year.
The higher I climbed, the more spectacular the rock formations became.

As I moved above the tree line it became windy and much colder.

I don't know much geology but this looks like a sedimentery layer that has been uplifted.

The "view from the top" at 9,703 feet. I left the pickup at 5,800 ft. Very cold and very windy.

A "meadow" at 9,700 ft. Small sagebrush, some grass, colorful lichen and some dandelions seem to thrive here.

The changing light made the same rock formations appear "new" on the way down.

It was nine miles round trip but I didn't see the lakes because I took the wrong trail. I didn't have a local map. But despite that it was a very enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Change of Scenery

I've drifted southeast from the Salmon River valley down the Lemhi River valley to a spot about 60 miles northwest of Idaho Falls. I left the Lewis and Clark Trail abeam Lemhi Pass.

After a month in narrow, forested valleys this wide and arid valley is a nice change of pace.

I've been camped along a narrow but deep and fast running creek. Canyons run into the mountains on both sides of the valley.

It doesn't take long to get back into the pine forests as you go up the canyon.

This is Eight Mile Canyon. There is a lake further up and I may take a hike there tomorrow. It was stormy this morning so I worked inside most of the day.

My next stops are Wyoming and Utah. I am starting to think about an uncrowded spot for the Labor Day weekend. The Thunder Basin National Grassland looks interesting since they don't have any developed campgrounds but permit dispersed camping. My road atlas doesn't show any lakes or large rivers. That means just a lot of open space. That should keep the crowds down while suiting me just fine.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Tails of the Three Bears

I did't get to it yesterday so I climbed the ridge again this morning.

There is a perfect "sitting rock", complete with a cushion of pine needles, to watch the sun come up. The smoke is a little thicker today.

Hiking the ridge was easy and it was obvious that many of the animals use it also.

The ridge eventually ran into a trail. This young deer didn't quite know what to make of me.

This squirrel did. He lectured me from the tree stump for some time.

I was on my way back and didn't have the camera ready when I startled a black bear. He ran quite a distance before I got the camera out. I got him to turn around by making a "kissing" sound. He seemed a little too interested so I decided to move on.

So I've seen the Tails of the Three Bears, one grizzly and two black. To paraphrase Lewis' journal: “I find [my] curiosity ... with respect to this animal is pretty much satisfied.”

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Salmon National Forest

I finished essential shopping in Missoula and headed south on US-93 to leave the area of "extreme" fire danger. Here it's only "very high" at present. The RV with pickup in tow had a tough climb over the Lost Trail Pass but made it. I have intercepted the Lewis and Clark Trail but opposite their direction of travel. They had an extremely difficult time crossing the Bitterroot Mountains.

There are a lot of Ponderosa Pine which is my favorite tree. This specimen, three feet in diameter, sits outside my door.

I enjoy looking at it but the squirrels feed on it and drop seeds and pine cones on the roof from a considerable height. The noise is loud but as long as they do it during working hours I'm OK with it.

The cemetary at Gibbonsville, the nearest town. It is listed as a "ghostown" on but the current residents might object to that characteriztion. It is active and well kept though the mine is abandoned.

Looking north toward Lost Trail Pass. The wind has brought smoke from the fires and that's a reminder to keep moving. I have to stay in the area long enough to pick up a General Delivery in Salmon next week.

It was a steep climb to get the previous picture. The Lewis and Clark Journals comment extensively on the difficulty of crossing this area and I can only imagine how hard it was for young Sacajawea with her newborn baby.

The ridge top is narrow and rocky but interesting so I'm going to hike there this afternoon. I found what is probably a bear den but that won't be occupied for several more months. This ridge is what I call a "slider" as opposed to a "vertical". I'm hiking alone and I'll climb "sliders" since the risk of serious injury is low if I fall but I avoid "verticals".

Saturday, August 4, 2007

He Bearly Made It

I didn't post this morning because I didn't really have anything of interest. It's been a quiet but productive week. I thought if I took a long hike I might find something. I was all set to pan the area for a lack of wildlife.

I found a beautiful and secluded campsite with a view. This and previous experience has convinced me to change my method. When I come into an area I am going to park the RV and scout for sites in the pickup and on foot. I'm camping in good spots but missing the great spots.

The number of streams at the higher elevations continues to amaze me. People pay a lot of money to put a water feature like this in their yard.

After four hours all I had were hot, sore feet. A quick trip to the spa fixed me up. I had seen some deer and what I thought was bear scat but nothing living except a few squirrels.

This spa is open 24/7/365.

I was reading at my computer when I sensed movement. I paced it off and that bush is about fifty feet from my window.

This "ID'd" him as a black bear. "Roman" snout, no hump, and longer ears.

Definitely a black bear.

He broke a tree limb and nibbled at a few things before leaving. He kept sniffing the air but treated my vehicles and satellite dish as if they weren't there. I normally keep the trash tightly sealed inside the RV but it was right after dinner and I had some chicken bones as the latest item in an open and nearly full trash bag. This may have been what he smelled but my camp was strange enough limit his curiosity.

I'm going to Missoula tomorrow for a couple of days. Next post Saturday morning unless something interesting happens.