Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Best Ever Two Top

We've been riding up this little mountain west of West Yellowstone since 2003. Usually later in the season. Sunday's visit was the best ever. Extreme winter wonderland. A fitting end to our winter travels of 2016.

Snowmobiling West of Yellowstone

We got to Island Park, ID, Saturday afternoon, and camped in a large snowmobile parking lot across route 20 from the USFS ranger station, just south of the Buffalo River, near Pond's Lodge. (All this for future reference.) (Island Park and West Yellowstone are neighbors in a vast recreational wilderness complex west of Yellowstone NP; snowmobile paradise; also hiking and fishing paradise.) Next day we did a ride from Island Park to Big Spring, then the Black Canyon Loop, and then up old favorite Two Top. Two Top was the best we've ever seen it and warrants its own post. Next day we moved to our old parking lot in West Yellowstone and did the ride out to Lake Hebgen, the FS look-out there, and back to town. More old favorites. And on Wednesday we did a huge circuit, Lion's Head, Valley View, Two Top once more, Black Canyon, then the long ride along the Yellowstone border back to West. We've done all our favorites.
Riding through Island Park

Big Spring, ID, another gorgeous day, many rentals out riding,
just like we once did

Heading up Two Top, which sort of straddles the ID/MT

Yes, there is a snowmobile speed limit in MT

Among the views from Two Top


Back toward the Black Canyon Loop

Looking past partially frozen Lake Hebgen

Ditto, from the FS look-out

Sunday, February 21, 2016

More Snowmobiling The Continental Divide Trails

We stayed a few days in Dubois, waiting for the cold and very high winds to subside, and then drove back up Togwotee Pass to the Four Mile parking lot, west of the pass, and near the Togwotee Mountain Lodge, for another day or two or three's sledding in one of our favorite places.
At a motel in Dubois; Wyoming tourism always calls for very
large animals; interestingly, on an earlier ride we got stuck and
were rescued by an honest-to-God mountain man, on an sled,
a trapper of martens, with a pelt or two on his sled--we were way
out on the trails; I wanted to ask him if he'd read The Big Sky or
seen The Revenant but figured he was more of the Dancing with
Wolves type; but we were very grateful for his help, coming
just before we set up the winch...

From our campsite at the Four Mile parking lot below Togwotee
Pass; snow high up on the trees

Thus, our home for a few days

Another morning...virgin groomed trail...Vicki says to refer to
this as EVOO, first cold press...

The Divide Overlook, the Tetons much closer than the lens

Another view

Absarokas; four great mountain ranges here coincide

The Tetons from the highway by the Four Mile parking lot

Another day, the Tetons from the CD trail

Pano from the CD

Us, there

Closer up...but not as close as the eye

After a night of snow and high wind...

Not all fun and games...after much blowing and drifting, CD
became a solitary track, and then CDA worse, especially
across a mile or so of high meadows

Bogged down in a drift, but Vicki digs us out...

The grand massif of the Tetons

Mt Moran, named for James Moran, greatest of landscape
painters of the American West

We spent a departing night at the snowmobile lot in Alpine, WY,
and enjoyed their winter festival fireworks show, actually quite
good...but it was time for us to move on and back...to Montana

Not your daddy's Walmart...near Rexburg, ID, a brand new
Super Center, at 185,000 square feet approximately twice the
size of a normal Walmart, with gas station, drive-through,
pharmacy pick-up, pick-up for online orders, organic everything,
and hiring and compensation policies that are changing  much
for the better

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Snowmobiling The Continental Divide Trail; Or, Return To Green River Lakes, 2016

Weather forecasts suggested that the full force of the El Nino was approaching--warmer and drier weather in the northern Rockies--and that we had better do our favorite rides sooner that later. Thus we drove the hundred miles or so from Alpine north through Jackson and east to Togwotee Pass, in the heart of the great Continental Divide Trail system, and eventually to the Warm Springs parking lot we frequented last year, near the Line Shack. There appeared to be several feet of snow all around, except for the southern exposures, and the grooming was great, as usual. So at the first opportunity, with blue skies and temps in the 30s, we headed off onto our all-time favorite ride, the fifty or so miles to the Green River Lakes campground and the view of Square Top and its neighbors towering over the lakes. The route takes you past a national elk refuge, and on the way back we were treated to the feeding of the elks. (See YouTube videos noted below). The next day, Saturday, we did a seventy mile ride in the middle part of the CDT system, but by then the weather was beginning to deteriorate, warmer but ferociously windy, and we decided it was time to get off the mountain and down to Dubois, our refuge at just about this same time last year. Apologies for duplicates of pix I took last year in http://roadeveron.blogspot.com/2015/02/snowmobiling-continental-divide-trail-5.html and others.
Approaching the Wind River Range from the north

We're going to save Kinky Creek for the summer

Arriving at the forest service campground; our third visit in a

The lower lake

And Squaretop

We've ridden past the elk refuge many times in past years, but
never once saw them getting fed; click to enlarge and you'll see
two people on a horse-drawn sled pitching hay at the elk, some
of whom nearly stampede to get at it


And thus; the video, done for our grand-daughter, is on YouTube
at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCIryLlJFxA

Last look, for a while, at a favorite place

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Snowmobiling Greys River, Alpine, Wyoming

At length we departed Missoula, over-nighting in the Bozone, and enjoying the Broncos' very satisfying Super Bowl win over the Panthers. I am no fan of passball, as American professional football has become. My favorite team, historically, threw six passes in its third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, completing five, and still routing its NFC opponent, the hapless Vikings. So I particularly enjoyed seeing Sunday's Hall of Fame and MVP quarterbacks both harassed, hit, sacked, stripped, and intercepted, throughout the game. And the right team won. The Broncos' defense certainly rivals the nearly-undefeated 1986 Bears. But I digress.

From Bozeman we drove on to West Yellowstone, cold and snowy, but covered in dense fog that was supposed to last three more days. Island Park, across the border, was no better, so we decided to keep on driving (hard to appreciate the scenery in a mountain fog), all the way to Alpine, WY, and its great Greys River trails. We camped three nights in the giant snowmobile parking lot there and got out for two 100+ mile days on some of our favorite rides.
Passing by Big Sky, Montana, The Lonely Mountain

Wyoming is the best! Riding an unspoiled groomed trail, variant C, on the way to
Box Y Lodge

Ditto; we did Variant C last year, but we were low on fuel and I wasn't able to
enjoy it fully

We did it three times on this visit, coming and going

Ditto, again

Box Y Lodge; staff actually remembered us from last year

Snow plane at the Box Y (airplane-propeller driven, four large skis)

The river at Box Y

Elk feeding range, some miles south, towards Utah

Riding back on C

Next day, riding east toward the Sherman guard station

50 miles down the trail, great views of the Winds

Looking southeast, toward the south end of the Winds, you can make out the
Cirque of Towers, to the left...

Our style of riding--groomed trails only--depends entirely on grooming; here is a
groomer at the Sherman parking lot

Hill-climbing and high-marking are what we and the groomers don't do