Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wildlife in the Grand Tetons

The swan actually belonged to a woman who was tent camping with a big white dog. They would walk around the campground with the swan following behind. Not sure if they all slept in the tent together. Quite an interesting group.
Monday evening we walked along the river trail again and saw another great horned owl fly from one tree to another, then a few minutes later spotted this moose. We scared it and it ran across to the other side of the river. That was pretty exciting.P1010464P1010468 
Yesterday we hiked the 6 mile loop around Taggart and Bradley Lakes. We were warned about the possibility of bears on the trail but the most we saw were squirrels and chipmunks. It was a lovely hike anyway.
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On the drive back from the trail, we saw several bison along the road. Just after Jim took it’s picture and started driving off, this one ran out in front of the car. He was a big guy!
Last night we went back down to the river looking for the beaver. We not only got to see three of them swimming and going in and out of the water, but there was also a bald eagle in a tree on the other side. After seeing nothing but lizards and a few snakes in the desert for so many months this has been great.
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Grand Teton National Park, WY

Saturday we did something we never do anymore, and that is drive 250 miles in one day. We wanted to break up our trip and stay in an RV park in Boulder, WY, 150 miles from Flaming Gorge but it was full and there really weren’t any other options so I called to be sure we could get a site here and we continued driving to Grand Teton National Park. We are staying in the Gros Ventre (pronounced Grow Vont)  Campground 10 miles from Jackson. We visited the Tetons and Yellowstone years ago, and remembered Jackson as a quaint little town, but we barely recognized it now. Crowds of people filled the sidewalks along the main street lined with shops and restaurants. It reminded us of Gatlinburg, which isn’t a good thing. We will have to go back and check out the town on another day, not on a Saturday night.
Gros Ventre Campground has 350 sites, so it rarely fills and they don’t take reservations. There are no hookups but they have a dump station and water for $20/night. You really get to pay for the privilege of staying in a national park, but it is worth it here. We got a fairly decent site Saturday, but it was on the main road, so we moved to a much better one yesterday after the masses cleared out from the weekend. This is our view and we are loving it.
There are two other Lazy Daze couples here, Ron and Jane, and Frank and Cookie, who we met at the southwest get- togethers, and we sat by their fire Saturday evening. On the way back to our site, we spotted several people with binoculars and cameras looking up into the trees. There is a family of great horned owls living in the campground, right behind our first site. This is the only time we’ve ever seen one not in captivity. We even got to watch the mother fly off to a different tree. Incredible and cute!
We passed through the edge of a thunderstorm Saturday, so the car and rig were covered in gray mud. It was even too much for Jim to look at, so we spent yesterday morning cleaning the rig. Then we rode our bikes on the multi-use paved 8 mile trail to Jenny Lake. It was a perfect day and the scenery was beautiful. We hate the overuse of the word “awesome”, but Jim said this is a place where it is appropriate to actually call it awesome. And he is right.
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Last night Ron and his grandaughter came by to see if we wanted to go down to the Gros Ventre River and look for beavers. We didn’t realize there was a trail to the water right behind our site. They are building a huge dam in the river, and sure enough we spotted one a few minutes after we got there. That was another first for us.
And one more first. We found a mouse in the cabinet under our stove last night. We really would rather keep the wildlife out of our house, but that will be a project for today after a trip to Jackson for a trap. We were hoping the cats got hold of it during the night, but no such luck. It is always something!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sheep Creek Canyon Scenic Backway


Yesterday we took a scenic drive about 15 miles west of here to Sheep Creek Canyon, near Manila, UT. It is a 10 mile loop through some interesting geological formations and lovely scenery. After a big climb up lots of switchbacks and a view of the Flaming Gorge reservoir, we came down into the canyon and got to see our favorite, rocks. The first part of the road was like a mini Zion canyon, with huge red rock cliffs. The sun wasn’t right so no pictures of the really pretty part.

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There was a pull out with a sign that said wildlife viewing area, but we saw nothing there. Just a short distance past it a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep walked across the road in front of us to get a drink in the creek. We got out to try and get a picture, and heard a strange noise. I looked up the cliff and there were three more. Not sure if they were females or juveniles as their horns were small, but they were having a bad hair day. Guess that winter coat is still coming off.

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We then came to Palisades Memorial picnic area. In June of 1965 a family of seven in a travel trailer were killed in a middle of the night flash flood/debris flow at the former campground here. Sounded much like the recent episode in Arkansas, but they were the only ones camped there that night. The campground was closed after the incident.

We then climbed out of the canyon to views of the Uinta fault, which looked much more impressive in person. It was truly a scenic drive.


Today we went back to the Little Hole trail, but this time started at Little Hole, the other end of the trail. We hiked a couple miles along the river and saw a few rafters and lots of fly fishermen.

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We’re glad we came to Flaming Gorge, but tomorrow we’re off to Wyoming.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Flaming Gorge Dam and Little Hole Trail


Yesterday we visited the Flaming Gorge Dam and Visitor Center and hiked the Little Hole trail. Since we volunteered at Bonneville Dam last year it is always interesting to see another one. This is from the reservoir side.

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This dam is smaller than Bonneville, and they did not put in any bypasses or fish ladders, so most of the native species died off when the Green River was dammed here in the early 1960’s. They do stock the cold, clear river with various species of trout, so it is very popular with fishermen.


The Little Hole trail is a 7 mile hiking/fishing access trail along the Green River, beginning at the spillway. The water is so clear you can see the trout, but it appeared the trout could see the fly fishermen, too, as they were not biting the lures.


This was one of the prettiest trails we’ve been on, and we walked for a couple hours enjoying the sound of the water. The quiet was only interrupted a few times by rafters full of families with screeching kids (our favorite sound)!  But we only saw 2 other hikers on the trail.

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There are lots of other forest service campgrounds in the area, and we drove into a bunch of them to see what we missed. Luckily we picked the nicest one by taking the advice of this online Forest Campground guide. They have done a great job of sorting them all out in an easy to use website, much better than trying to access the USFS site.

We are staying a couple more nights since we have such good neighbors, and very few of the human persuasion.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flaming Gorge, UT

We are at the Firefighters Memorial Campground in the Ashley National Forest, part of the the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. ($18/night, no hookups but there is a dump and potable water.)  We are in Utah, near Dutch John, but part of the 91 mile Flaming Gorge area is in southwest Wyoming. This is a nice campground, although we couldn’t find a site with a good view of the reservoir. They were either taken or too small for our rig. We can see a tiny bit of water, and it’s nice to be in a forest for a change.
We would have liked this site but there wasn’t enough room to park.
Yesterday we hiked the 1.5 mile Bear Canyon trail across from the campground to an overlook of the gorge. We almost didn’t finish the hike due to a herd of cattle grazing right on the trail They weren’t wanting to move, so we finally found a detour around them rather than make them mad.
The view at the end of the trail. Luckily the cows were gone on our way back.
Today we drove to Red Canyon, where there is a nice Visitor Center with floor to ceiling glass walls looking out over the canyon. We hiked a couple miles along the Canyon Rim trail, where there are numerous overlooks. Unfortunately it turned mostly cloudy, but it was still pretty there.
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This is another place where we have hardly seen any other people. How nice!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Dinosaur National Monument


Yesterday morning, on our way to Vernal, UT to do laundry and pick up a few groceries, we took a side trip past the campground to the end of Cub Creek Road. There are a couple short hiking trails and some petroglyphs at the end of a mile dirt road. Jim stayed in the car and read a magazine while I checked out the rock art. This is what he missed. They were supposedly done by the Freemont People (Native Americans) about a thousand years ago but no one knows what they mean.

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We hiked to Box Canyon and Hog Canyon, and the homesite of Josie Morris. She and her grandson built the place in 1914, and she stayed for over 50 years until a horse knocked her down and she broke a hip and died at age 90. It was a lovely and remote spot to live.

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This morning we drove 20 miles east to the Colorado side of the park to take the 34 mile Harpers Corner Road in the monument’s canyon country. We stopped at all the overlooks and hiked the one mile Harpers Corner trail at the end of the road. It was a very scenic drive, and we saw some wildlife all within about a mile section of the road. First it was 3 mule deer, then a couple ibex.

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Right after the ibex, this bunch was blocking the road and we had a hard time getting them to move.


The Harpers Corner trail ended at an overlook of the Green and Yampa Rivers. More great views.

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A couple more views from the overlooks along the road. We were surprised that even on a Sunday we only saw about a dozen cars along the entire drive, and only a few people on the trail. Everyone is missing a beautiful park, but we aren’t complaining. We will be in the Grand Tetons soon and I’m sure we’ll find the crowds there.