TR: A hodge podge two week Wyoming adventure

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pudgy_groundhog

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In August we returned to Montana and Wyoming for our fourth annual trip. Our two weeks were a mix of hiking, backpacking, running, fishing, geyser gazing, and sightseeing in the Beartooth Mountains, the Wind River Range, Yellowstone, and the Tetons. All our pictures with trip notes are posted here. This is the summary from our webpage:

In August 2012 we made our fourth annual trip to Montana and Wyoming for two weeks of outdoor adventure. For our first week we were again based at Two Rib Cabin with my parents in Cooke City, MT. Cooke City is a one road town nestled in the Beartooth Mountains near the Montana/Wyoming border and located five miles from the northeast entrance of Yellowstone. With unparalleled hiking, fishing, wildlife, and scenery at our fingertips, it made the perfect base for exploring the Beartooth Mountains and northern Yellowstone. Steve had the opportunity for several long runs in the Beartooths and his favorite was a run from Island Lake he dubbed the 26 Lake Hike (the Beartooth Plateau has around a thousand lakes!). While Steve and I did a loop hike past Beauty Lake, Norah enjoyed playing with Grandma. She also had fun fishing with Grandpa and we dined on the fresh trout she caught.

The main attraction of our second week was a five day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range. Last year was our first time visiting the Wind River Range and we were immediately hooked. This time we planned a trip out of the Big Sandy trailhead with camping at Big Sandy Lake, Deep Lake, and a day hike to Jackass Pass in the Cirque of the Towers. The scenery was amazing, the weather beautiful; we saw moose, short tailed weasels, pikas, and marmots; and there were no bugs. In short, it was an awesome five days!

Before returning to Billings after our Wind River excursion, we had a few days to sightsee in Yellowstone and the Tetons. During our first week we were in and out of Yellowstone for day trips and at the end of our trip we stayed at Old Faithful Inn for one night. We love all that Yellowstone has to offer: scenery, wildlife, and especially the thermal features. Steve and I enjoyed a hike along the north rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and we all liked the various pools and geysers we saw; the standouts being the Grand Prismatic (or the Problematic as Norah kept calling it) and the geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. Two new geysers for us this year were Grand and Riverside Geysers. Last year a highlight was watching Castle Geyser erupt at night with a full moon and this year I had the chance to watch it erupt at sunrise. Pretty incredible!

Steve was able to fit in one last run in the Tetons and really liked his twenty five mile run through Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons (including seeing a mother moose and her baby and a black bear on the trail). Norah and I were a lot less ambitious and joined a ranger led hike to Inspiration Point. It was a pretty hike and I really enjoyed the ranger talk on the geology of the Tetons. The lack of foothills, the dramatic rise of the mountains, and the relatively small size of the range make the Tetons a very photogenic park. We made sure to stop at many of the viewpoints and overlooks, especially at sunrise and sunset, to take in the beautiful scenery.

All in all we really enjoyed our two weeks and look forward to another western adventure in 2013!
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A few favorite pictures:

Watching in awe as Castle Geyser erupts at sunrise in Yellowstone:

415_castle_geyser_kathy_boardwalk.jpg


Cirque of the Towers from Jacka$$ Pass (Wind River Range):

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Steve and Norah descending from Jacka$$ Pass (Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range):
268_steve_norah_trail_towers.jpg


Sunset from Oxbow Bend (Tetons)

378_ox_bow_sunset_sunburst.jpg


A bird eye's view of the Grand Prismatic (Yellowstone):

390_grand_prismatic.jpg


Some fall color at Deep Lake (Wind River Range):

300_yellow_bushes_east_temple.jpg


A steamy Castle Geyser prior to eruption:

409_castle_geyser_steam_bw.jpg


Daisy Geyser erupts (Yellowstone):

402_daisy_geyser_erupt.jpg


Thistle with a view (Tetons):

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Steeple and East Temple rise above Deep Lake:

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Norah and Grandpa off to fish (Beartooths):

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And for fun ... the family at Big Sandy Lake:

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Thanks for looking!
 
Wow, the pics in the thread and on the linked site are stunning-been past the Wind Rivers, but this makes me want to visit the Cirque of the Towers
Many thanks
Jim
 
Absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for posting these inspirational family memories. Where did the perfect sky come from? Was your trip before all the fires that hid the Montana mountains from our eyes later in mid-September?
 
Thanks everybody!

Where did the perfect sky come from? Was your trip before all the fires that hid the Montana mountains from our eyes later in mid-September?
Our first week in the Beartooths/Yellowstone was really hazy from smoke. We drove through the Tetons on way to the Wind River Range and couldn't even see the Tetons! We were pretty worried about visibility in the Wind River Range, but for whatever reason, it was clear down there for our trip. It was smoky when we came back through the Tetons and Yellowstone on our way back to Billings. This was the last two weeks in August. Such a dry year!
 
Finally finished going through all the pics. Awesome as usual!

How did you get that birds-eye-view of Grand Prismatic Spring? Is there a trail to that view, or do you have to bushwhack? I don't think I've ever seen a picture of that thermal area from that particular vantage point (and now I obviously have to go back!).

Wind River Range is definitely on my short list, and your pictures of it are superb. Question - do you know if there any grizzlies in that area?
 
Thanks!

How did you get that birds-eye-view of Grand Prismatic Spring? Is there a trail to that view, or do you have to bushwhack? I don't think I've ever seen a picture of that thermal area from that particular vantage point (and now I obviously have to go back!).
There are two short off trail routes that provide the bird's eye view. After looking up pictures we thought one looked better than the other. It's a short, steep scramble up a burned hill to the southwest of the Grand Prismatic. Kind of a pain - packed dirt (i.e. slick), lots of downed trees, etc., but worth it. Although it's not an official trail, it's clear where the herd path is when you are walking on the trail to Fairy Falls. Definitely recommended - we really enjoyed the view.

Wind River Range is definitely on my short list, and your pictures of it are superb. Question - do you know if there any grizzlies in that area?
Although anything is possible, we didn't worry about grizzlies. A poster on another board that is very knowledgeable about the area said this:

Grizzlies are now seen in the Northeast Winds. One was shot well south of Pinedale on the west side a few years back. But I do agree they are rare in such a rugged range.

Black bears are more common, but not an issue yet. We had a campsite at Big Sandy Lake that was close to a bear box that we used. I did carry bear spray (already had it for our time in Yellowstone/Beartooths, so went ahead and brought it with me).

I'm glad the Wind River Range is on your short list - it's one of our favorite places for backpacking. Such a beautiful area and you don't have to go through the hassles of permits, designated sites, etc. Steve did an additional trip there this July with a friend and they had an amazing trip as well (definitely more ambitious than our trip with a four year old, lol): Eight day Wind River trip
 
What great pictures!! Love the family shot..........great timing!!

We visited the Winds, Tetons and Yellowstone this year also, such beauty. You capture it amazingly well. :)
 
You take the greatest trips. As usual, your photos are stunningly beautiful. Your eye for composition and exposure are excellent. The night shots from Oxbow Bend and Colter Bay are so cool. You have guts, hanging out there by yourself after dark.
 
Beautiful pics, the Wind River Range is pretty Spectacular. Been there once, but only for a day in a whirlwind tour- would love to get back there someday!!
 
Thanks everybody for the kind words! :)

We visited the Winds, Tetons and Yellowstone this year also, such beauty. You capture it amazingly well.
Where did you go in the Winds? When was your trip? Did you run into a lot of smoke?

You take the greatest trips. As usual, your photos are stunningly beautiful. Your eye for composition and exposure are excellent. The night shots from Oxbow Bend and Colter Bay are so cool. You have guts, hanging out there by yourself after dark.
Thanks! And I don't know about guts - I spooked myself for those night shots so didn't do as much as I had intended. I was by myself at Oxbow Bend and while I logically told myself the noise in the bushes was just a small mammal that was no problem, the rustling finally got to me and I snapped some pictures and got back in the car. :p
 
Many many virtual greenies for this - I had worked for a company in Wyoming for a couple of years, and visited often, but never had (more like never took) the time to play. It's such a beautiful place.
 

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