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.