We’re way too damn far north for this time of year…just look at the photos below and you’ll see whaddimean.
It rained all afternoon yesterday and the high for the day was all of 37 degrees…then down into the upper 20s last night. Tonight is another upper 20s and then low 20s Sunday night. Luckily…we’re headed to Hardin MT Monday for two nights and the lows there are only in the upper 30s and then over to Spearfish SD for the NHOG rally on Wednesday…it’s only in the low 40s overnight there.
It’s crazy talk…Ima tellin’ ya…crazy talk.
I can’t believe this happened…Ima blamin’ it on the rally…if it weren’t for that we woulda already headed south for the winter.
Guess I’ll just have to tough it out the next couple of nights. Luckily…it’s melting quickly.
Anyway…back to the Fun Stuff©…our original plan was to drive over and go up the Beartooth highway over on the east side of the park out to Red Lodge and back…but we decided it was just a bridge too far. It’s going on 2 hours to get from here over to the east park entrance and then another 70 miles over to Red Lodge before heading back. This was originally planned for Thursday but it would have been going on at least 10 hours on the road there and back since the Beartooth is one of those curvy scenic mountain roads. The drawback was that it was supposed to rain in the park and eastwards Thursday afternoon…and we decided that coming back in the rain…over the curvy scenic mountain road…that went up to 11,000 something feet and would probably be freezing rain or sleet instead of just rain…well we just decided that was not a great idea. So we cancelled that…which conveniently let us move our drive down to Grand Tetons NP from Sunday back to Thursday…thus giving us the opportunity to not have a long drive the day before we traveled.
So…with that figured out…we headed off early again. It was in the low to mid 30s when we left…which we hoped would give us the mist on the Madison River that Connie blew the video of the other day. We stopped and picked up a couple of maple donuts…well maple bars actually…but they’re just rectangular donuts…and headed east into the park. Once we got to the same pullout we were at the other day…we shot a couple of videos for ya…Madison River Mist 1 and Madison River Mist 2…neither is really as good as the one she borked up the other day but there was more mist then and Neil hadn’t trained her yet to always, always look at the video before you leave.
You probably/maybe/mighta/sorta spotted the elk over on the other side of the river during the videos…here are a few shots of them.
Across the mist.
These Canada geese were on our side of the river.
We continued on south towards Moose MT…crossing the continental divide 3 times on the drive. For those of you not familiar with what the continental divide is…it’s a somewhat nebulously drawn line running basically north/south through the western mountains…Rockies, Cascades, Tetons, and the other ranges…anyway any stream or river on the west side eventually drains to the Pacific and those on the east side eventually drain to the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. There’s actually one lake up at the top in the southern part of the park that during the spring melt actually drains both ways.
Along the way we stopped at Lewis Falls for a few photos…then continued on south.
We continued south out of Yellowstone NP and across some National Forest land along the west ridge of the Snake River towards Grand Tetons NP.
Grand Tetons NP is…of course…named for the mountains it contains, the eastern portion of the Tetons Range is in the western half of the park and the Teton Valley and Jackson Hole is on the eastern/southern portions of the park. The Teton Range is named for the three Tetons…Grand, Middle, and South…they were originally named by French explorers as les trois tétons…or the three nipples…due to their distinct breast like shapes. The three Tetons are the 1st, 3rd, and 5th highest peaks in the Teton Range with Mount Moran (2nd highest) a bit further to the north and the other peaks of what’s called the Cathedral Group of the range Mount Owen, Mount Wister, Buck Mountain, and Static Peak a little farther to the west and south. The Tetons are different from most other mountain ranges in that they are bordered to the immediate east by the Teton fault and hence have no foothills or lower peaks to obscure the views of Moran and the 3 Tetons from the east…these 4 peaks are about 4 miles directly west of the main road through the park and 7,500 feet higher than the road elevation with nothing to obscure the view.
Pano looking across Jenny Lake towards the northern peaks of the Teton Range.
Flora at the lakeside.
We took a short side trip up Signal Mountain Road…here’s the sign at the bottom of the road.
Neil wanted to stop by the park headquarters and ‘splain to them that they needed to redefine what they thought was a steep, narrow road…this one was paved, mostly not on the edge of the cliff, wide enough for two trucks to pass, and nobody even had to backup to find a wide enough spot to pass. Compared to Blue Mountain Road and Obstruction Point Road over in Olympic NP this is practically a highway. Even the No Trailers limitation really didn’t apply until the last couple of switchbacks in the last half mile to the summit. Connie wouldn’t let him stop though.
Views from the summit…although both are unfortunately looking east into the valley and not west towards the mountains.
Flora at the top.
After coming back down…we headed south into the central portion of the park…the weather was not looking promising…clouds coming over the peaks from the west and obscuring the views…and off and on rain with occasional periods of pretty heavy rain.
At that point…we had…mostly…despaired of really seeing the 3 Tetons…but pressed on anyway taking shots whenever an overlook and less cloudy moment allowed.
Grand Teton (right) and Middle Teton (left) just barely below the cloud tops…as we headed south from here it started to rain harder and we figured this would be the best view we got all day.
Looking southwest across Jenny Lake towards 13,775 foot high Grand Teton and Mount Owen to the right side.
We stayed at the lake a half hour or so…running out between rainstorms to get what shots we could…when it was raining we completely lost sight of both Grand Teton and Mount Owen to the right of it…at one point we could barely make out the trees in the foreground on the edge of Jenny Lake.
Grand Teton, the lower slopes of Mount Owen to the right, and Cascade Canyon in between them. The peak to the left side is either Middle or South Teton…South we think with Middle hidden behind Grand.
Mount Owen to the left and Mount Moran to the right, looking northwest across Jenny Lake.
Grand Teton summit.
Coming out into the valley…the weather unexpectedly cleared…the storms had passed and the next line was 20 or so miles to the west heading east.
Pano shot of all 3 Tetons…South Teton to the left, Middle Teton almost dead center and Grand Teton obscured by the cloud and Mount Owen to the far right. We had some issues identifying them for sure…and there was no sign at the overlook to help. Neil took some compass bearings and compared them to the park map and where we were pretty sure we were on the road.
We were quite surprised by how much better the weather had gotten in a half hour since we left Jenny Lake. Grand Teton coming out of the clouds.
Middle, Grand, and Owen.
We headed on down into Jackson and had lunch at Snake River Brewing…bison burger for Neil and Bacon Mac’N’Cheese for Connie along with pints of milk stout…then split a creme brûlée for dessert. All quite yummy and we had leftovers for lunch on Friday.
After lunch we stopped by the National Elk Refuge visitor center in town to see where the elk were…turns out they haven’t come down from the high country yet. So we got a shot of the Antler Arch across the street instead.
We filled up Big Red with fuel…it’s 25 cents a gallon cheaper down here and we needed about 67 gallons so we saved about 1/3 of the price of our lunch then headed back to West Yellowstone…we elected to take Teton Pass to the west and then some state highways back north…the speed limit was higher than going back through the park and the mileage was about the same.
Some shots from the top of the 10% grade Teton Pass…we went over this pass in Neil’s old VW Bug back in the 70s when we were stationed in Idaho Falls and both ways across it’s little tongue was hanging out.
We got home about 1700…which considering we left the house at 0700 was about a 10 hour day…if we had stuck to our original plan to do this drive Sunday after Mass we wouldn’t even have left West Yellowstone until noon…so it would have been well after dark when we got home with a travel day the next morning. Excellent outcome.
On the way north on the ID state roads…we thought we were going to get caught by several serious rainstorms…we could see the sheets or rain just a few miles off. Luckily…we managed to thread the needle between them as the road curved and we got lucky…got a bit of rain but nothing serious that required us to slow down for visibility. By the time we turned east on US-20 the last 25 miles or so we were in the clear weather wise.
Friday…we just stayed home as it was going to rain most of the day. Did laundry then went out to the Slippery Otter Pub in town for dinner after spending a couple hours in the library downloading stuff…internet here at the KoA is terrible.
Overnight to Saturday…well, it snowed as I showed you at the beginning of the post. By 1100 the weather was clear and the snow is melting…hopefully it will be all gone by the evening. Tomorrow we’ll get packed up to leave and head off early Monday morning for the 290 mile trip to Hardin MT where we’ll spend 2 nights. While there…we’ll go visit St. Labre Indian School…it’s a combined orphanage/boarding school for Indian kids. Connie’s mom supported them for many years and we’ve also supported them since Connie and Neil were married. Then it’s off to Spearfish SD for the NHOG Rally which starts on Thursday…we’ll spend some quality time with our friends Bill and Linda Napier and the rest of the NHOG group before heading south to Denver, Colorado Springs, and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.
Interesting stuff from the net.
Bet ya didn’t know this.
Meanwhile in Ireland.
This is a house in the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River…they better hope the creek don’t rise.
Another terrible superhero.