Monday, September 22, 2014

One Heck of a Hike!

Bill and I are settled in at our site in Gardiner.  Bill is working 8:00-5:00 Monday thru Friday, so we have real weekends to enjoy.  I have mentioned our friends, Gene and Joyce, several times in the past.  We met them working in Yellowstone in 2006 and have maintained the friendship, even though they no longer work in the park.

Gene and Joyce have lived in Bozeman for 35 years, so they have a wealth of local knowledge.  So, when Gene asks if we're up for a hike, we know we are in for a treat.  His hikes have never disappointed.  Joyce was unable to join us, so on Saturday, Gene, Bill and I headed out to hike to the top of Ramshorn Peak in the Gallatin National Forest, just outside the north entrance of Yellowstone.

The fall colors are at their peak in this area.  Fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the Yellowstone area, provided the nice weather holds.

Today's hike began just beyond this fence.

The aspen were a vibrant gold.  This hike starts out climbing...we will climb 3,000 feet in four miles.

 It wasn't long before we began to have beautiful views.

 
 And the trail continues to climb.  I let Gene and Bill lead the way, while I took my time following behind them.
 
We finally made it to the pass.  At this point, we were just beyond the half-way mark.  We took a nice, well-deserved, break before continuing the climb.
 
 And up we went.....

And here's Bill in the final push to the top....
 

 When you see a mountain goat along the trail, you know you're way up there.  This was a first for us...very exciting!  We also saw a herd of Big Horn Sheep, but they were too far away for a picture, and a Mountain Lion track along the trail, which was very cool.  (At this point, if a mountain lion came after me, he could have me without a fight...I was about worn out!)

 
After climbing 3,000 feet, we made it to the top, and here's the picture to prove it!  We are at 10,296 feet elevation.
 
 We had lunch, relaxed, and enjoyed the 360 degree views around us.  As far as we could see were mountain ranges (Gene could name ten) without one sign of civilization.


 



Of course, what goes up must come down.  I'm sure you've heard the saying, "you get tired going up, but you get hurt going down."  Thank goodness, we completed the hike with no injuries, although all of us were slipping and sliding on the steep and rocky terrain.


 The views going down were nice too.....
 Here we are heading back to the trailhead...

 

One last break before getting back to the truck.

Wow!  What a hike!  This is one of the most strenuous hikes Bill and I have done, and I must say the climb was worth it!  OK, Gene, what's up your sleeve for our next outing????

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back Where We Started

Well, Bill and I are back in Gardiner, MT, just outside the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  Bill extended his contract to work with the Computer Center until October 23, so Gardiner will be our home for the next few weeks.  Me?  I'm going to be a lady of leisure...something I have never done.  Friends say I'll last a couple of weeks before going stir crazy.  We'll see....

Yes, it's been a while since I posted.  In fact, it has been exactly one month.  With such slow internet at Canyon this year, every time I tried to post, it became more and more frustrating.  So, I decided to wait until I had decent internet access.  So, let me fill you in...

After a great summer season at Canyon Campground, we closed on Sunday, September 14.  Like every season, this season presented challenges.  With a staff of 26 and lots of different personalities, having everyone get along is always a challenge.  This year was the same as previous years....most folks got along, but some didn't.  One of the beautiful things about seasonal work is it begins, and it ends each year.  Next year will have its own challenges, I'm sure.  Speaking of next year...yes, Bill and I plan to return to Yellowstone for our 9th summer. 

A big event, for me anyway, was turning the big 5-0 in August.  My crew really pulled one over on me.  In Yellowstone, the whole park celebrates Christmas on August 25.  This year, my crew planned a "Christmas in Hawaii."  We all wore Hawaiian shirts (most purchased from thrift stores in local communities).  Unbeknownst to me, this was actually a Hawaii 5-0 birthday celebration for me.  Believe me when I say, I will never forget turning 50 in Yellowstone.  They even arranged for a real "book 'em Danno" moment by having Park Rangers come and "arrest" me.
Bill and I were able to get out in the park and enjoy the beautiful September weather.  The view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone never gets old.
We were finally able to visit the Midway Geyser Basin, home of Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, without all of the crowds.  September is such a nice time in the park.  We love it when all the kiddos are back in school.

And we paid one last visit to the Upper Geyser Basin, where we watched Old Faithful erupt.  We were hoping to catch some of the other bigger and better geysers, but our timing was off.
Our last hike of the season was Pelican Valley with friends, Lenny and Linda.  There were lots of bison to keep us entertained.

And here we are pulling out of our site at Canyon.  I'm glad to know we'll be back next year.  Plus, I'm glad we'll be in Gardiner for the next 5 weeks.  So, really, we aren't leaving...we're just changing locations.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Our Neighbor to the South

Bill and I decided to take a drive down to Grand Teton National Park.  This park lies just south of Yellowstone, and last year we never made it down there.  We were hoping to see moose, and we have had great luck in previous visits, but today it was not to be.  We still enjoyed the beautiful scenery, however.



Work life continues to go well, except for one couple giving their two weeks notice.  We have one month to go, and they give notice.  Go figure.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

We're Alive and Well....It's Just July

Until you've worked a summer season in a Yellowstone campground, or better yet, until you've managed a Yellowstone campground, I don't think you can grasp the craziness of it all.

Here are a few examples: 

...a 7 year old boy was missing over two hours.  The Park Rangers were getting ready to launch a helicopter to help with the search when the boy was found.

...a 16 year old girl has a seizure while taking a shower in our Camper Services facility.  I called 911; they responded quickly and transported her to the Lake Clinic.  I don't know the end of the story.

...during a horrible thunderstorm, lightning strikes and takes out all of our communications...telephones, computers, cash register.  We must work manually from 7:30 pm until 10:30 am.

...and to top it off, during high winds, the power goes out.  Thank goodness we have a generator at the campground, so we could keep checking folks in.  We had to close the showers and laundry, however, since our boilers run on electricity.  The power was off for about 4 hours.

And all of this happened within the past week.  But, one thing these circumstances show is what kind of crew I have.  During all of this, they didn't miss a lick.  Makes me proud!

However, there have been some good things too.  Some of my blog followers stopped by to say hello.  It's always fun to meet my readers, and I love that they are visiting Yellowstone.  I like to think I had a little something to do with it.  Also, I've learned some of my blog followers are working at Grant Campground.  I have got to get down there and meet them.

After a crazy week at work, our weekend came along at just the right time.  Today Bill and I got out for a short hike...Cascade Lake.  This a nice, level 4-mile round trip hike out to Cascade Lake and back.  It's always a good hike for wildflowers.

Lots of bear warnings at the trail head:
 We didn't see any bear, but we did see this guy walking towards us on the trail.  We saw each other about the same time, and we all froze.  Bill and I are not stupid...we walked off trail to get around him.  Once we left the trail, he continued sauntering down the trail.
 As always, the wildflowers did not disappoint:


And here's Cascade Lake.  We enjoyed a snack before turning back.

Bill and I watched this osprey soar through the air, before landing in this dead tree.

And this picture proves you never know what's just around the bend.....

 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Peak Season and Slow Internet

July 4th typically begins "peak" season in Yellowstone.  For the next several weeks, all lodging in Yellowstone will be full.  Every pullout along the roads will be full.  Every restaurant will be full.  At least Bill and I have a nice big site to retreat to after working long hours at the campground.

With all the masses visiting the park, slow internet is almost guaranteed.  Because of this, posting blog entries can be a challenge.  Bear with me as we get through this crazy time of the season.

Here are a few random pictures from the past couple of weeks:









 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Working and Playing



Canyon Campground has been open almost a month.  The crew has gotten settled in nicely, but it hasn't been without challenges.  I had one staff member take a job in another department; I've had another staff member out sick and actually in the hospital.  I've had a couple fly home due to family emergency.  However, we're hanging in there, and things are working out.  On Thursday, we replaced the employee who jumped ship; today, the employee who was sick is back at work; and the couple who left due to the family emergency will be back in a few days.

I'm so thankful I have a crew who bellies up to the bar and is willing to put in extra hours when needed.

OK - enough about work.  Let's talk about playing.  Bill and I met friends, Gene, Joyce & Jan, just north of Yellowstone for a cross-country hike up to Dog Tooth Rock.

The five of us met at a log cabin located a few miles up a 4x4 road.  To be more precise, Gene met Bill, Jan, and me at a parking area just off Hwy 89 where we left our dually and rode up with him, since this road isn't all that dually friendly.  After about 30 minutes or so, we arrived at the cabin.


 After visiting for a few minutes, we all loaded back in Gene's truck, and we drove to the "trail head."  Once we parked, we headed across the sage covered meadow.  Thank goodness Gene knew where we were heading since there wasn't much of a trail.


The wildflowers were amazing!  Here are Shooting Stars, one of my favorites.  I didn't see any last year but sure made up for it on this hike.  They were all over the place.


 
 And the meadows of Balsam Root were just beautiful.
After a while, our destination came into view.  We had already been climbing up pretty steadily, and it looks like we have a little more climbing to do.

 
After a real climb, we came to a level area before the final push up to Dog Tooth Rock.  I was the first one to reach the level area, and I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I saw a picnic table.  Apparently it had been there a while, as it was barely holding together.


After catching our breath, we pushed onward and upward.  Here's the view from the top.
 And here's the picture of four of us.  Jan was playing photographer.

And what goes up must come down.  And down we went.....

 After getting back to the cabin, we grilled burgers and enjoyed the company of good friends.  We were happy that the afternoon thunderstorms held off until we were back at the cabin.

Today's hike took us through prime grizzly bear habitat, but the only wildlife we saw was one deer.  However, the drive home was a different story.  While we didn't see a grizzly, we did see the black bear with three cubs.  Here's mom with two of her cubs....

...and here's the third cub, looking for mom.

After getting through that bear jam, we saw this fawn with mom leading the way away from the crowd of people.

 But our wildlife viewing was not done.  How about ending the day with a cinnamon colored black bear?
 Today was one of those "perfect" kind of days off...a good hike, good food, good wildlife, and most importantly, good friends.