Tag Archives: montana

Yellowstone Trip: Day 8: The Grand Tetons

So it’s been over a month now: I seriously need to finish up my narrative of Jared and my trip out west…

Day 8 was our last in Wyoming, but we made the most of it.  After waking up to our final “Super Start” breakfast at Jared’s dreaded West Yellowstone Super-8-without-a-pool, we piled all our possessions back in the Corolla and drove into Yellowstone for the last time.  Turning south at Madison Junction and again after Old Faithful, we stopped in for one last cascade, and then found ourselves crossing the Continental Divide at a quiet, peaceful little lake called Lake Isa.  In wetter seasons, this lake drains in both directions, and ultimately feeds into both the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico!
Firehole River CascadesA Duck Swimming the Continental Divide

This way to the Gulf of Mexico:
Isa Lake Drains That Way to the Missouri, Mississippi, and Gulf of Mexico

And this (currently dry) way to the Pacific Ocean:
Isa Lake Drains This Way (In Wetter Seasons) to the Snake River, Colombia River, and Pacific Ocean

Shortly past the Continental Divide, we found ourselves headed out of the park and into a National Forest of some variety between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  The park itself didn’t hold our attention too long, other than a brief stop at some fancy lodge to try (unsuccessfully) to find an official map, but the view of what was coming next certainly grabbed our eyes:
Grand Tetons Ahead

Arriving at the park with no map, we made a few pitstops through ranger stations and such before we finally got our bearings, and then just made our way lazily down through the park, stopping wherever the view was awesome enough 🙂  One great spot was on the shores of Jenny Lake, where we actually met a couple from UW-Madison who took a picture for us.  This was the same spot that I had seen a picture from my friend Ben Broerman earlier, which convinced me to make the trip to the Grand Tetons in the first place.  Pretty awesome view, plus they have a glacier!
Jenny Lake and the Grand TetonsJared and Colin at the Grand TetonsTeton Glacier

We had lunch at an outdoor BBQ type place, with a grill and lots of picnic tables.  It was a nice change to just be sitting outside eating off a paper plate instead of in a restaurant.  Fit the location very well, though it would have sucked if it were raining…

After leaving the Grand Tetons through the southern entrance, Jared navigated me a scenic route (Wyoming Hwy 20) through the Wyoming countryside into Idaho, and over to I-15, which led us away to Montana in the north.  Once again, taking the scenic route over the main highway really paid off in terms of awesome scenery, and frankly, the bug count was only going up in either case anyway:
Wyoming Highway 20We Have Bugs.Idaho

Idaho was mostly sage… sage and sky and then there was a really cool rainstorm, which we could see coming for miles and miles.  And possibly the highlight of the trip for Jared: We stopped at a rest stop in Montana to get a hotel reservation and, well, use the restroom of course.  Except that Jared saw a portable toilet sitting out behind the main restroom, so he decided he had to use that instead.  Turns out it was the cleanest, best-smelling portable outhouse he’s ever used… ask him about it sometime.
Nothing But Sage and SkyNow Approaching StormThe Best-Smelling Porta-Potty Jared Has Ever Stopped At

And after the excitement of the outhouse, it was straight on to Missoula, MT, where we walked a mile or two to supper and back, and then hung out around the outdoor swimming pool with our beers.  Not sure whether that was kosher, but the college guy running the hotel for the night didn’t seem to have a problem with it, so there you go.  We even got to lock up on our way out.  Good show, Missoula.

Yellowstone Trip: Day 5: Big Sky to Yellowstone

On day 5 of our Yellowstone Trip, Jared and I left behind Big Sky, MT, and headed to Yellowstone National Park for the second half of our sightseeing.

Before we left, though, we took one final hike in Big Sky, to Ousel Falls. The trail was a really nice community project that was well-maintained and fun to walk, and the falls were wonderful:
Our Last Big Sky TrailOusel Falls in Big Sky, MT

After filling up the car we set off to Yellowstone, where we started our tour at the Lower Geyser Basin. The volcanic scenery in the caldera is absolutely surreal. Everything looks just like your imagination would paint a primordial planet with bubbling cauldrons, sulfurous steam hissing up out of every crack and cavern… one thing that came to mind immediately when we took our first walk out on the boardwalks that the Park Service has put in place is that the designers of the Channel Age in Myst have most definitely been to Yellowstone. It was cool, in a really nerdy way: it was like walking through Myst, with the howling winds coming from holes in the ground, the brilliant red and orange colors in an otherwise dead landscape, everything.
Brilliantly Colored WaterThermophile MatsHowling FumerolesThis Geyser Pumps 500 Gallons Per Minute into the Firehole RiverFirehole LakeSteady Geyser: This guy is continuously erupting

We took a break for lunch at a pizza place in West Yellowstone, MT, called Murphy’s, which had really excellent pizza. Later in the afternoon we traveled deeper into Yellowstone to the Canyon Village area, where we drove and hiked around the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”. Awesome views there, too, of the Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River.
The Upper Falls of the Yellowstone RiverThe Lower Falls of the Yellowstone RiverJared Taking In Artists PointStunning View of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artists PointJared and Colin at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Then as we were just driving back out of the park, Jared yelled “Buffalo!” right in the middle of his sentence as we came around a corner and within a few hundred feet of a buffalo enjoying his evening meal:

Later on, since everyone else had stopped and blockaded the roadway anyway, we snapped a few photos of a group of elk cows having their own meal:
Elk Cows

Finally, just to comlete the theme of evening meals, Jared and I stopped at a local counterpart of a Dairy Queen (across the street from an actual Dairy Queen, in fact) to pick up malts and some chili for supper. Add a few Grolsch from the supermarket and you have a great 10pm dinner!

Yellowstone Trip: Day 4: Fly Fishing the Gallatin River

Day 4 of our trip was again in Big Sky, where we spent the vast majority of the day trying out some fly fishing. We rented waders, rods and reels, picked up Montana Fishing Licenses and a half dozen flies, and headed out to the Gallatin River to try our luck.

Jared caught one really nice rainbow trout in the morning, around 12 inches long. Unforunately, I hadn’t brought my camera for fear of the water (which, given what I did to my last camera in the Great Salt Lake, demonstrates that I learn from my mistakes :-)), and the fish got off the hook before we could get him on shore to run back to the car. So no picture there, but it was a nice fish! Jared got a few bites in the afternoon as well, including two that took off with his bait. I didn’t get much myself, but it was a fun day nonetheless.

Only a few pictures from today, since we fished all morning, took a break for a late lunch, and then fished again from 4 to 7. I do want to point out the caption on our beer picture today: after the great experience yesterday, we went back to the Lone Mountain Brewery and picked up their “Grand Slam.” Basically, we downed 7 beers each by 3:30pm 🙂 (Ok, so they were 4 oz each and we split them, leaving us each a bit shy of a pint, but that was really fun to say!)

Here goes:
Jared Suited UpReady to Go Fly Fishing!Shortly Before A Trout Bit Jareds Fly Clean OffWe Each Had 7 Lone Mountain Brewery Beers By 3:30pm :)  (totalling 32 oz each...)

Yellowstone Trip: Day 3: The Insanists-Only Frisbee Golf Course

Day 3 of our trip was our first in Big Sky. We had researched a bit before we left, and learned of a frisbee golf course at the resort. Asking around informed us that it was located at the top of Andesite Mountain. That sounded pretty cool, and between a $19 lift ticket and a 1300′ elevation rise hike, we decided hiking would be just fine. So up we went, and then played frisbee golf all the way back down.

What we thought would be a morning event soon turned into a morning + afternoon affair… the top 9 holes of the course were gorgeous, but the back 9 can only be described as “An Experience.” The front 9 meander the top of the mountain, while the back 9 take off all the way down the ski runs. A moderate toss easily sent the frisbee 100 yards down the course due to the dramatic elevation change… unfortunately, Jared even lost one of his discs. 🙁 All in all though, the course was awesome, with enough challenge that Jared describes it as, “Insanists Only. Extremists: go home. Amateurs: ha.”

By the time we ultimately made it down, we were pretty beat, so we cooled off with some lunch at a restaurant called “Choppers” in the Meadow Village, and then hit up the Lone Mountain Brewery to see what the local fine beverage selection was like. Excellent, as it turns out.

In the evening we took a drive around the area to see the sights and plan some fishing for the next day. Big Sky Resort, we conclude, is in a beautiful spot.

Here’s some pictures (which will warp you into a gallery for Day 3):
Our First Big Sky Hike: Moose Tracks TrailWhat a Ski Run Looks Like in SummerJared and Colin by Lone Peak MountainBeautiful throw, beautiful course.We Hiked Up 1300 Feet to that PeakJared Needs a Beer After Exhausting Frisbee GolfSunset Over Lone Peak Mountain