Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Another Day In West Yellowstone

Today we did a five-hour 70-mile ride out of West Yellowstone: west on the Two Top trail, then the Lionshead loop in Idaho and the Valley trail there, then back to Two Top, then the Powerline trail to Black Canyon and then finally the South Plateau trail back to West Yellowstone. Lots of stops, of course, but lots of riding. The snow levels here are relatively low, but tolerable, the grooming OK, the weather warm (for West Yellowstone and 7,000 feet), and there are far fewer sleds out than we remember from the early 2000s. Pretty nice for snowmobiling, really.
Wintry morning scene on the trail--it was 9 degrees last night but hit 40 this afternoon

View east from Lionshead

Closer up; we conjecture it's called Pyramid Peak

Mountains all around

The trail crosses route 20 right at the Continental Divide and
the border between Idaho

And Montana

The Valley trail took us into the outskirts of Island Park

More mountains everywhere

Including the Grand Teton in the distance

But then we turned back east toward Two Top

Along the aptly named Powerline trail

No sled zone...we've ridden in Yellowstone three or four times over the years,
but not since 2006 or so; current regulations call for being on state-of-the-art
four-stroke machines (read:2015 models) and on a guided tour; maybe again,
someday, but for now there's too much else to see; the 2015 models we have
seen, BTW, are almost dangerously quiet...

Lest anyone think we're slumming, parked next to us today is an Earthroamer
(priced between $300-600,000); a nice couple from Calgary; and I figured we'd
be the only people camping/sledding here...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Top and Big Spring

Monday we did the loop ride to Two Top and then on to Big Spring, in Idaho. We carried on a bit, looking for savage camping spots, but ended up lost in the suburbs/summer homes of Island Park, ID. With a low fuel situation--this is one of the thrills of snowmobiling--we carried on back to West Yellowstone and our campsite there at the Branding Iron Motel. Another exciting day. All of it coming back now. I think we are ready for some of the bigger rides!
Winter wonderland, approaching the top at Two Top

In the distance. the Tetons

Closer's supposed to be 129 miles from West Yellowstone to Grand Teton
National Park, but I think we're much closer here

Looking toward the top of Two Top; our first ride, after purchasing our
snowmobile in 2003, was here, and, we thought, hey, with a 1000cc engine,
we can do anything those smaller sleds are doing...resulting in our first
crash and rescue; more than once were we rescued by the kindness of strangers...
anyhow, after a number of further rides and incidents, we figured out that
the 1000cc meant really heavy, and that should stick strictly to groomed trails...

More winter wonderland at 7,000 feet

Lions Head, in Idaho

Snowy mountains everywhere, all around

Big Spring, a giant natural spring, a favorite destination in

Up closer

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hebgen Lake and Horse Butte

Saturday we took a leisurely ride west of town along the Lionhead trail. Easy going, settling into all this very deliberately, allowing old bones and joints and reflexes to adjust. Also marveling at how much our snowmobile pants have shrunk over the years. Sunday we thought we'd keep it on the easy side, but do a longer ride, up to Hebgen Lake, along its Madison Arm, and then up to the top of Horse Butte and its forest service lookout station. It was a pleasant ride, a bit cloudy, but not too cold and not too much traffic, unless you count the sled dog rigs out practicing for the Idiotrod.
At the Madison Arm of Lake Hegben; the boat ramp,
campground, and "resort" all closed for the season

Vicki at Madison Arm; Madison, as in President Madison,
named by Lewis and Clarke, one of the most storied of all
fly-fishing rivers; "all them memories come floodin' back..."

Montana version of "share the road"

Horse Butte lookout 

A bit of Lake Hegben from Horse Butte

Tomorrow, after the weather clears a bit more, we'll do Two Top, a longer and higher trail, and possibly over to Island Park, ID. We've done Two Top many times before and especially enjoy its view of the distant Grand Teton range.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snowmobiling The American West, 2015

As students of this blog know, we took up snowmobiling in our latter years in Missoula, purchasing a 2003 Bombardier Grand Touring Skidoo, two-up, 1000ccs, totally-duded up with saddle-bags, winch, and many other amenities and paraphrenalia. Between 2003 and 2008, we covered most of the groomed trails of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, many of them more than once. From these travels, I did several posts with a number of pix from the Sherouse Family Digitization Project, in 2012, and these may be found at, and later posts.

We put our snowmobile in storage, along with everything else we either held dear or couldn't sell or give away, in 2008, planning, after a year or two of retirement travel, to come back to Missoula and snowmobile the winters again. Plans change, of course, and after six years now we were back in Missoula trying to dig our old trailer out of a friend's snowy and frozen back yard and trying to get our dormant snowmobile up on it and to a Skidoo dealer for pre-season maintenance and resuscitation. The details of all this, re-wiring the trailer, and further work on the camper, took a week. We also played some and visited friends. Eventually, the dealer we took the machine to was in West Yellowstone, the same one from whom we bought it in 2003. The Missoula dealer was busy, and the weather was "improving" in West Yellowstone. Happily, the snowmobile fired up perfectly well after its six year sleep, and we've driven several hours now on the trails near West Yellowstone, trying to re-learn the sport and get everything back into shape. So far, so good. More pix and posts will follow.
Outside our storage unit in Missoula

En route to West Yellowstone

Camping in the Big Sur

We took P on another camping trip, in part to distract her from Mama's absence, this time to the Pfeiffer State Park in the Big Sur country south of Monterey. We have driven the coastal highway many times--it is one of the world's great ones, and Rebecca lived for several years just north of it, in Pebble Beach. It was our third or fourth outing among the redwoods in a couple months, although the ones at Pfeiffer were the biggest yet for this California visit. All this is to say I did not take very many pix. Except one spectacular event as we were driving back home on CA 1.
Our campsite at Pfeiffer; note BIG tree in background

Big Sur River; the  Big Sur is the land south of Monterey, not
just the coastline

P and Grandma on our hike to the waterfall, the trickle in the
distant background

Playing by the river

The spectacular event was seeing whales, seemingly a dozen
or more, swimming quite close to the cliffs...perhaps only
a half or quarter mile away


And thus; and especially the video at

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles At The Oakland Zoo (And Some Animals)

Among our better outings with P was the Oakland Zoo, which sports a variety of rides and other attractions as well as animals and an excellent educational program...
Great zoo,rides, animals, education...



And automobiles...well, she chose the fire engine

In parks likes this, one has to pace oneself...

They have animals

Mostly what she likes doing, however, is climbing everything
in sight


And thus

And thus

The grandparents insist, however, that we occasionally look at
the animals


And thus

And associated droppings

And thus