Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moose and Squirrel

We have friends who travel to Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming each year to camp, hike and paddle whitewater; this year we joined them. We hadn't spent much time in Wyoming before and we really enjoyed it.

It's a long two-day drive from Minneapolis, which we stretched to three days each way so we could see more during daylight. Not knowing what the rivers would be like we took four canoes, including an inflatable, on our trailer; the Subaru ran hot and slow through the mountains, but we got there and back fine.

There was very little traffic on the mountain roads, for which we were grateful. We thought of the high cost of gas as a surcharge that kept more RVs parked at home, and while it made our trip expensive it otherwise served us pretty well. Even the campgrounds had vacancies over Fourth of July weekend.

As soon as we arrived at the campground Ann saw a moose wade across the creek towards camp, and we had moose (and evidence thereof) in and about the campground throughout our stay. We also saw a pair of golden eagles, two scrawny foxes (scrawny despite dining on ground squirrels), a pine marten feasting on a red squirrel, and various deer and antelope playing. Coincidentally or not, we didn't hear any discouraging words. We were at the end of a ten mile dirt road along Granite Creek and it was blissful. The area had 600 inches of snowfall - half again more than usual - so there was snow on the mountain tops, a profusion of wildflowers, and much more water than usual in the rivers. We slept late, paddled most afternoons on the creek or the river it flows into, hiked, ate, and sat in the evening overlooking the creek and mountains watching wildlife and telling tales. It was a nice group we'd vacation with anytime; in fact we may join the every-year club. We'll see. I'm at some risk of being employed, and thus less flexible, by the time the next opportunity arises.

On our drive home we detoured through the Black Hills of South Dakota to see the Crazy Horse monument, which Ann and I had both seen about 20 years ago. The face has been completed during the interim but there's a whole lot of warrior and horse left to do. We were caught in two hailstorms and greeted by a good old-fashioned Midwestern thunderstorm when we arrived in Minneapolis.

I have never been in South Dakota without experiencing car trouble; this year as we stopped for gas on the way home we noticed one wheel of our trailer hanging on by the grace of God alone. The mechanic next door had the right size bearings and time to help us, so we were on our way in another two hours.

Pictures have been posted at our Picasa site, here; we may add more as we get them from the other campers.