29 September 2015

Stardate 2015.745

Home James – Day Four

As usual, the time to leave comes too soon. The Yellowstone/Teton region is a place I would like to visit yearly. I also would like to give the Jackson Hole Ski area, about 30 miles south, a try. I'm envious of those who live and work in this region. I even selected to earn degrees (BS & MS) that may land me in a small mountain utopia. The cards read otherwise. There are a few places in Colorado and Utah I feel the same about.

Just before heading out, we followed a little fishing road for a spell and were treated to a fairly good-sized bull elk. I can't count how many times I've been treated to this. I'm spoiled; yet, I never tire of it. Part of this trip was spent listening to numerous bull elk and their eerie bugling. If you are close enough to one when it bugles, it will make your neck hairs rise. I kid you not!

Some of the shrubbery along the Snake River was in fall costume.

A good number of quaky stands (aka: aspen trees, Populous tremuloides) were in full-on color mode too.

Another annual player, SNOW, is currently heading down the latitude latter.

Sheeeesh, it seems like ski season just ended.

Wyoming's breathtaking Absaroka Mountains are a delight any time of year.

We weren't far from the lightly frosted summit of 9,658-foot Togwotee Pass (pronounced Togatee).

The pass separates Wyoming's Jackson Hole Valley from Dubois and provides access to southern Yellowstone from the east. Togwotee was an under-chief of Chief Washakie of the Sheepeater branch of the Shoshone Tribe. These mountain dwellers traveled and lived throughout the Yellowstone region.

A riparian zone shares its gold on the east side of Togwotee Pass.

The eye-catching Breccia Cliffs remained shy, hiding their heads in the clouds.

That's it for Yellowstone and the Tetons 2015. Now it's time to take on Colorado's color season. Stay tuned!


25 September 2015

Stardate 2015.734

Mount Moran shrouded in clouds, Grand Teton National Park

Wet And Woolly – Day Three

Day Three slid into Yellowstone in the rain. A wet day; it was a good travel day back to the Tetons. Our route took us through the park villages of Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris, Madison, Old Faithful and Grant Village. We spent another night in the Signal Mountain area. Close animal viewing had been a bust. The only animal I can think of whom might enjoy the deluge would be a moose. On the other hand, I'm sure there were some very happy land agency firefighters.

I actually enjoy rain days while traveling. You get to see and feel an entirely different persona of the landscape.

In places the understory was radiant in full-on autumn gold. The wet seemed to intensify the coloration.

We visited some geysers and hot springs along the way. The following pics are from the Norris Geyser Basin where we spent a soggy minute or two at the Artist Paint Pots.

We also visited one of the hottest springs in Yellowstone. Beryl Spring boasts 196 dancing Fahrenheits at any given time.

I tried to get a video of Old Faithful when it erupted but had a malfunction right at spew time. Oh well. As we left Yellowstone and entered Grand Teton National Park, the weather opened up a bit. Grand Teton was busy trying to shed its snow-laden shroud.

The mountain gods were busy with Mount Moran, as well.

Don't you want to see what's up Leigh Canyon? I do! Perhaps next year we will return for some hiking, climbing and running from bears.

Keep tuned for Day Four...


23 September 2015

Stardate 2015.729

From Majestic Tetons To Diverse Yellowstone
Day Two

Day Two found Snowcatcher and I trying to get sunrise on the Tetons from String Lake. After sunrise we worked our way north through Yellowstone National Park. Our route took us through the West Thumb, Lake Village and Canyon Village area. From Canyon, we traveled over Dunraven Pass (we've spied grizzly here in the past) down into Tower-Roosevelt. From here we ventured northwest to Mammoth Hot Springs; the north entrance of the park. We splurged and rented a room in Gardiner for the evening. At sunset we drove a dirt-loop across Blacktail Plateau looking for game. All we encountered was a herd of buffalo. Following are some pics from Day Two.

The Grand Teton (center peak) patiently waits for the sunrise.

The Grand Teton (center peak) tickling cloud bellies far above String Lake.

The Tetons rise abruptly from the west shoreline of String Lake.

String Lake wetlands

Sun hit!

It was a beautiful morning, and the Lewis River riparian zone shared some of its fall color in south Yellowstone.

Very blue and pristine, the Lewis River flows south out of Lewis Lake to its confluence with the Snake River, close to the southern park boundary.

Yellowstone Lake lapped against its western shoreline about 20 minutes south of Lake Village.

Buffalo were everywhere in the Hayden Valley. Here they're lounging along the banks of the Yellowstone River, south of Canyon Village.

The source of most of our smoke was in Hayden Valley. The fire was lightning-sparked; favorable rain was in the forecast.

Still more to come...


21 September 2015

Stardate 2015.723

The Grand Tetons – Day One

Snowcatcher and I recently returned from a 5-day trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Beaverhead-Deer Lodge, Gallatin and Shoshone National Forests encompass the parks and make up the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the largest, close to intact, temperate-zone ecosystems on the planet. Yellowstone is at its center.

We enjoyed 2 full drive days and 3 play days. Forest fire haze was a daily constant, but not overwhelming. Normally, we see lots of animals, including black bear, grizzly bear and moose. Sadly, this trip did not yield any of the latter. You win some and lose some. On the weather front, it was quite comfortable. We enjoyed lots of sun and peaking fall colors. However, the morning of our return included snow sticking below 9,658-foot Togwotee Pass, which is cradled in the southern end of Wyoming's Absaroka Mountains.

Please excuse any photo replication; I'm kind of partial to the Teton Range, visually and historically. In the pic below, the Grand Teton and company pierce the sky from the vicinity of Jenny Lake.

Grand Teton

Teton Range—I think I'm looking at Cascade Canyon (left) and Paintbrush Canyon.

View from Jenny Lake

Grand Teton from Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake morning reflection

Jenny Lake morning

Both black and grizzly bears thrive here. Campsites at many campgrounds now have steel, destroy-proof bear boxes at each campsite for safe storage of anything that smells, which is just about everything, including sweaty clothes. They bear boxes are large enough to store everything needing storage. Backcountry bear-proof food containers are now available for backpacking as well.

During the 1960s and 70s, as the Park Service was weening bears off human food, the grizzly population declined to less than 200 individuals. The current grizzly bear population in the GYE rebounded, and is estimated at between 600 and 800. I've read that the current population may be at the region's carrying capacity. Not bad after 20 or 30 years of having to learn how to be wild again. Park/Forest Service personel recommend hiking in groups of at least 3 people, each armed with bear spray.

Fall is in the air.

Sunset on the Teton Range

More to come...


10 September 2015

Stardate 2015.693

The Lizard's 2nd Quilt, washed

A Little Rag Time

Hi folks, I'm learning how to quilt, and I'd like to share the results of my first two attempts. Snowcatcher has documented the process via photographs. Both are rag quilts, albeit no official rags were employed.

I'm not sure people would like me using official rags.
Rags, Rags, Rags

Work station

The first quilt is a baby rag quilt. I cut and joined 6 x 6-inch fabric squares, then cut to fray and washed. A super cuddly felt backing mitigated any need for filling. The baby quilt measures 28.5 x 28.5 inches.

The Lizard's 1st Quilt

My second quilt is a lap rag quilt measuring 38 x 38 inches. The theme is a kaleidoscopic montage of lizardness (imagine that). I used heavy yet soft flannel as a backing; and like the baby quilt, I did not use any fill material. The lizard squares were cut to 6 x 6 inches.

Deciding on layout pior to stitching

Finished and washed quilt
The Lizard's 2nd Quilt, washed

I'm currently working on a summer/bohemian/gypsy dress; we'll see how that goes. Gasp... NO, it's not for me. Lizards prefer birthday suits.

Short blog today, see ya!


08 September 2015

Stardate 2015.688

Chatfield Reservoir wetlands

Late Summer Wetlands

Yah ta hey!

Below are some pics from a recent ride Snowcatcher and I took through the wetlands of Chatfield Reservoir, Colorado. We don't ride here much because the area is devoid of any climbing, and also you need to watch out for equestrians, fishermen and hikers. Nonetheless, the riparian area along the South Platte River above the reservoir is lush and full of wildlife. In places, the flora was so impenetrable it reminded me of my MS field sites in western Oregon.

Our steeds await our departure into the green abyss.

Chatfield Reservoir wetlands

The horse path eventually turns into a narrow fisherman's trail, providing for delightful singletrack riding.

Chatfield Reservoir wetlands

Cottonwoods and Virginia creeper catch the eye. Two hundred years ago, this riparian zone could have been a camp occupied by the indigenous Arapahoe Tribe.

Chatfield Reservoir wetlands

You need to watch your step if you venture off trail for fear of things that rattle and bite.

Chatfield Reservoir wetlands

Virginia creeper doing what it does best – creep.

Chatfield Reservoir wetlands

The flowered head of a Mullein plant
Verbascum thapsus
Figwort family

Flower head of Mullein

The highly controlled flow of the South Platte River quietly continues its journey toward its confluence with the North Platte River in Nebraska; at this point, they become the Platte River. Then it's on to the Missouri River, Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

South Platte River

South Platte River

South Platte River

Later gator, that's it for now.

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