Beartooth Pass, Wyoming/Montana:
Today we started early: 5:40 a.m. We wanted to spot animals in Lamar Valley. As we drove north from Fishing Bridge, fog swirled delicately up from the Yellowstone River, making eerie patterns above the water. The first animals we spotted were elk in the trees next to the river.
For once, we did not spot bison blocking the road in Hayden Valley! Our pleasant drive continued as the sun started to come up. Another herd of elk was past the Tower Falls area.
When we turned east at Tower toward Lamar Valley, we started seeing bison and pronghorns. About eight miles from the junction, cars were stopped in both directions, lining the roadsides. People were out of their cars with spotting scopes, cameras with telephoto lenses, and others just staring at the hillside.
We stopped. It was a brisk morning and we had our binoculars. I scanned the hillsides, valley, trees and ridges for about five minutes but didn’t see anything.
|Fantastic sunrise to start the day.|
|You can see some of the cars in the rearview mirror.|
Finally, I asked a group of people what they were looking at. The ones I talked to said there was a bison carcass up over the ridge and about an hour ago four wolves had been spotted in the valley. Apparently, two packs of wolves were fighting over the carcass. No one had seen a wolf since then, but we could hear them howling. We tried in vain to see a wolf, but didn’t and finally gave up after about 10-15 minutes of searching.
Off we went to Trout Lake for another hike the ranger at Fishing Bridge recommended to us. Just as we reached the Trout Lake Trailhead parking lot, numerous bison blocked the road in both directions. We sat there for quite a while. Two of the cars ahead of us were backing up! Since no cars were moving in either direction, a motorcyclist came charging up from the other way, revved his engines to a throaty roar, and those bison scattered off the road. We waved thanks to him for breaking the car/bison stalemate.
Parked our car at the trailhead only to see a lone bull bison coming down the trail. We waited for him to walk past the truck before hiking. The Trout Lake Trail is 1.2 miles roundtrip. The first 0.3 miles climbs 150’ to the lake. Once at the top, we had a delightful walk around the still lake with mountains reflected in its surface. Otters live in the lake, but we did not see any.
|Steep uphill to start hike.|
From Trout Lake, Beartooth Scenic Highway to Red Lodge, Montana, and back was our itinerary for the day. Such beautiful scenery it is…mountain ranges upon mountain ranges, grassy meadows, Lake Creek Falls, Index and Pilot peaks, Beartooth Lake and other alpine lakes surrounded by rocks/big boulders, Rock Creek Vista Point Scenic View at 9,190’ elevation.
|Lake Creek Falls|
|Beartooth Lake and Beartooth Butte|
|The road below us.|
|The road below.|
|Walk out to viewpoint.|
|Beautiful alpine lakes.|
At Red Lodge, Montana we had lunch on the patio at Box Car Drive-in overlooking Rock Creek. Nothing fancy, diner fare—I had cod fish & chips (potato chips) with side salad and Bob had a grilled turkey and Swiss sandwich (made with actual turkey slices, not thin-sliced deli meat). We both enjoyed our lunch choices. After lunch we headed back over the Beartooth Scenic Highway and we saw it all again from the other direction.
One thing I would like to mention, there is no room for error when driving this narrow, two-lane highway. In some places there is no shoulder and no guard rail with drop-offs that are truly scary. Make sure to drive within the lines and within the speed limit!
Now that I think of it, most roads in Yellowstone are like this: Dunraven Pass, Lewis River Canyon north of the south entrance, the canyon south of Mammoth, and the area around Tower Falls.
After returning to the 5er to feed the kitties, we headed out to Mary’s Point for cell phone coverage. Bob ran and I was able to get online with his Smartphone. I took some time to catch up on reading some blogs. I made it as far as July 27.
We were able to reach Jim and Peri, friends we made while at the RV-Dreams.com spring rally in Kerrville, Texas, to confirm plans to meet in Mammoth Monday morning. We will hike the Beaver Ponds Trail and Wraith Falls Trail. We’ll have a full report tomorrow.
|It has been quite smoky here from fires in Idaho.|
When we returned to our 5er this evening, we had new neighbors behind us with a 40’ motorhome with three huge slide outs. It took up so much room we could barely park our pick-up truck in its designated space. We had to get creative. I had to get out and Bob shoe-horned the truck into the tight space we had left. This RV park has no pull-throughs and is not made for huge rigs. We do the best we can with what we have.
We have four more days in Yellowstone. One full day is set aside for hiking in the Old Faithful area. We plan to do Fairy Falls/Spray and Imperial Geysers (5.25 miles roundtrip), Mystic Falls (2.5 mi. roundtrip), and Lone Star Geyser (4.8 mi. roundtrip). Part of another day is set aside for Canyon North Rim hikes. Sometime we’ve got to do laundry as all of our hiking socks and hiking clothes are dirty.
Must get some sleep. I’ll talk to you more tomorrow.
Travel Bug out.