Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 49

We were not early risers thanks to habit and our late-ish night.  The entire camp save one had evacuated on foot or horseback, swarming up the hills into the back country, exchanging intended itineraries for safety and assistance. 

Not long after we got up, US forest Service pulled in with a horse trailer and unpacked three riding mounts and a stocky pack horse that looked and acted part draft (steady and cool which also means stubborn and slow).  He was nearly as wide as a car once they got the bags cinched down on him.  We chatted with them as they prepared for their expedition.  They would be on patrol for three days back in there.  Smart of them to show up a bit later in the morning after most everyone had already left.  We found out that they red-stemmed bushes we’ve been seeing in all of the valleys are a type of non-flowering dogwood.  Also that there is a storm coming across the northwest, bringing 5” of snow here to start with and -9 degrees for a week.  That’s a bit much.  

Two more forest service guys showed up to shuttle one of the trucks to where the mounted crew would end up at and to write down plate numbers on everyone at the campground.  I’m pretty sure one of them was Ben Haumesser’s twin … not sure which is the evil one.  ;)  Even after talking to him for a bit, it was still close enough that it kinda freaked me out.  Mom talked to the other guy while we finished packing.  He remarked that people take care of their critters first around here and everything else second.  They take serious offense if you go spooking their horses with an ATV on the trail.  He said you might get shot if you took at ATV up to Sphinx Mountain.

Once we were packed, we mixed store bought granola with some rolled oats for breakfast on the road.  We left around 11:30am, heading for Livingston to camp near West Boulder again.  

There was a white water boat on the river out of Quake Lake, someone rowing a raft on another creek, hikers and people fly fishing everywhere.  Many of the federal land lots were filled with hunters scanning the hills with binoculars and scopes, horses and ATVs waiting.  Everyone seemed to be making good use of a beautiful Saturday in Montana.  But we had a storm bearing down on us and decisions to make.  

Never seen a laminated line pole before!

We got gas at Four Corners, groceries and water at the co-op in Bozeman, and stopped at Home Depot and Sportsman’s Warehouse.  We had left camps with dishes undone so we could get on the road earlier.  If we weren’t going to get to camp early enough to take care of that before dinner, we would eat out.  That was the deals we made before we left camp, except no one took time to specify what time that was.  :)

These candles "sparked" a long line of thinking in my head ... about priorities, quality
over quantity, the little things in life, simplicity, beauty in the everyday.
More concisely the art of celebration.  Everyday, not just on birthdays.
Ask me about it sometime.

We headed toward Livingston, using the hot spot to research campgrounds and weather forecasts.  The weather going to be rough for a week.  We could either go to the west coast for a week (Joshua’s vote) or put our trip on fast forward, skip some things, and get to northern Colorado by tomorrow night.  Either way we were looking at lots of driving.  If we went west, there was no guarantee that we would have a good stretch of weather when we came back either.  So south it is.

Mom looked at the mountains near Livingston again.  Paradise Valley was on the guys’ list.  From there to the north entrance of Yellowstone NP.  All but the northern road had closed on November 6.  Even more roads were closed because of the impending storm.  

We bought gas filling up the extra 5 gallon can on top of the van and refreshed the cooler ice in Gardiner, MT around 6pm.  We sat in the parking lot for a while on the internet trying to figure out where to go and how to get there with the road closures.  An elk cow and her baby came walking calmly down Main Street past the gas station.  Past cars and people walking their dogs.

And there's baby.
We talked to a local who pleaded with us not to camp near town because of the grizzlies.  They were thick.  And fearless from feasting on field dressing remains and entire animals stolen from hunters.  Gun shots were their dinner bell and they would show up within 10 to 15 minutes. 

We knew Beartooth Highway  was closed at Cooke City, but not sure if that meant we could get to Cooke City and out another way.  Jeremiah checked the oil and topped it off.  We let the dogs out and stocked the snack bag with yogurt, raisin bread, and fruit for dinner.

It was 7pm and pitch dark.  And there we were, driving throughout the bit of Yellowstone we were going to see.  In the dark.  You can’t quite cry, so the other option is to joke about how that would be just like the McLaurens.  The moon was only a shade past full.  It was beautiful in its own right with the light reflecting off the snow.

We made it out of Cooke City and headed toward Cody, WY.  We stopped in the Walmart parking lot so Jeremiah could research the next leg of our trip.  It was 10pm.  I bought some lunchmeat, cheese, and a sharpie pen (my uniball ran out).  I took out my contacts and dug out my pillow.  I’m told we left just before 12:30am.

I woke in Thermopolis.  It was before 3am and Jeremiah had stopped in the middle of the road and was checking maps and asking if we would rather camp earlier and skip the Tetons.  It would be almost three hours before we got to the further one and it would also make for a longer drive after we camped. I felt up to the drive to the further camp and after sleeping 5 or 6 hours I could do a good bunch of driving.  Thermopolis police stopped and checked in on us.  He didn’t quite seem like he believed our story.  That or doubted our sanity.  Either way, he was kind enough to not check our papers.

I pulled out my iPod and settled in for the drive, listening to “Who Am I” by Mark Driscoll and thinking about his situation right now, some Iron and Wine, and Sarah Groves.  

in Christ.
There were places where the deer were really thick, dodging them on both sides and dead ones in the middle.  Saw a shooting star.

I pulled into Horse Creek about 4:45am.  There were four other campers there  We pulled out the cots and slept under what was left of the stars.  

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