Saturday, August 12, 2017

The land of Bison and the Broncos

After our town day in Laramie we spent the next day traveling to Saratoga. On the way we stopped in Medicine Bow National Forest for a short 5 mile hike to Medicine Bow Peak. It was a nice way to break up the drive with beautiful views, which I have yet to get tired of seeing.

 view from the parking lot

Almost to the top

at the top!

We went to Saratoga for one thing... the hobo hot springs. It's a 24hr hot spring that is maintained by the city, has bathrooms and showers. It was wonderful. It's also right next to a river so when we got too hot from the 106 degree hot spring we took a dip in the river. We met a lovely older couple that did what we are doing, minus the rock climbing and backpacking. They traveled the world for 10 years before he felt like he wanted to stop and use his hands to make things. They are now retired and do short travels. It made me wonder how long we will travel before the desire to set down roots hits.

 the hot springs had two pools, this was the hotter one

the slightly cooler pool

We drove to a campsite in Riverton that was amazing! There were about 4-5 sites with picnic tables and bathrooms surrounding a lake. We had a large spot to ourselves for a while. I had a very strong urge to skinny dip. I made an attempt but someone drove by and parked close enough along the lake that I had to get dressed. Boo. So we put on our swimsuits and swam a bit. We got a neighbor later in the evening but he was a solo traveler who was quiet and kept to himself.

 view of the lake from the car

In the morning we headed to Cody, making our way to Yellowstone. On the way we drove through Thermopolis, stopping at the Legends Rock Petroglyph site. We also saw a father and son playing with plastic swords in the front yard through Thermopolis which made us very happy. We found a very cool spot in Cody overlooking the city, and with an impressively stacked fire ring.

One of many cool petroglyphs

nicely stacked fire ring

The next day we were in Yellowstone, with the first order of business to acquire a campsite. Matthew did some quick math and determined it would actually make more sense for us to just pay for a site than to travel the 3 extra hours per day to camp for free. Once that was done we went exploring. Our first stop was the Lone star geyser. It's a 5 mile walk to the geyser, we got there as it was towards the end of an eruption. That was exciting because we just went having no idea if we would see it erupt. On the way back we ran which felt really good, it's so easy to run on flat ground when you are used to hiking mountains.

 I think this was called cascade falls, it was at the parking area to hike to Lone star geyser

 Lone star erupting and cute guy showing off his chest

We spent the rest of the day near Old Faithful. When we got to the parking lot it felt like parking at an amusement park. We wandered over to the geyser and heard whispers from others around us that we had about 30 minutes until it was to go off. We wandered around a little, got ice cream, then watched Old Faithful erupt. After that we wandered some more around the boardwalk. We don't know how long the walk was but in the area were 50+ geysers. By the time we got back to camp it was 9:30 pm and we went right to bed.

Old faithful geyser 

Castle geyser, this sucker went off for at least an hour

We woke the next morning at 6:55 am to get dressed and moving. It was an attempt to see some things before it got crazy. I'll just show you photos of the day. That evening we were unable to get a campsite before they filled so we camped outside of the park. We got lucky and got free wifi at the only visitor center that offers it free and I found a spot only 10 minutes out.

 First photo of the day, I was still half asleep. This is at Black sand basin

 My favorite pool, Sapphire pool.

 Grand Prismatic spring from an overlook you can hike to

Mud pots, basically boiling mud.

Canary springs at mammoth springs

Terraces at mammoth springs

campsite for the evening

On the third day we saw a few more things, went on a short hike and left. We could have easily spent more time doing hikes, unfortunately due to fires in Montana and Idaho the air quality was not great for Matthews asthma. We will likely go back some time when there are no fires to make up for the lack of hiking.

Why did the bison cross the river? to get to his buddies on the other side! 

Sulphur Caldron... very stinky 

Dragons breath at the Mud volcano area 

hike along pelican creek

One of the best shots I got of a bison before we left

We went south to the Grand Tetons. We found a free campsite in the national forest next to the national park and spent a day projecting. I did a lot of small projects mainly fixing things and Matthew did a lot of sewing for his no plastic/synthetics backpacking project.

The following day we did a 14.8 mile hike around two lakes and to Grand View Point. Unfortunately the wildfire in Idaho and Montana are sending a lot of smoke our way and the views are not clear of the Tetons. The hike was gorgeous, we started by going through a bunch of wildflower fields. It took us a while to really get moving because we kept stopping to look at all the plants. It was a fairly easy hike since most of it was fairly flat.

View from one of the lakes 

 Grand tetons in the smoky distance from Grand view point

Looking at the lakes from Grand view point

The next day we returned to the same area to do a short 6.5 mile hike around one of the lakes. Matthew wants to try going barefoot more and the trails here nice for trying. It's mostly dirt with only a few short spots that are rocky. We started the hike barefoot. I lasted about 1.5 miles and was done with it. It wasn't too bad but it was chilly and my feet were cold making the pain a little worse. Matthew managed to stay barefoot for most of the hike, only giving in about half to one mile before the end. This was impressive since he went about 3 miles barefoot the day before.

Only photo I took that day

Now we are in Jackson Wyoming eating my belated birthday pie at a coffee shop. I'm going to do some research on these fires and decide where to go next. We'll likely stay here until the eclipse though, doing more hikes.

Huckleberry pie for breakfast! Wooot!!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Goodbye Colorado, into the land of the Broncos

 Campsite at Hartman rocks, in my new dress!

It's been almost three weeks! So we went to Gunnison to rock climb at Hartman Rocks. We had a great time there. Hartman rocks is just a beautiful open area with fun dirt roads to explore, dispersed camping and really fun slabby climbing. The first climbing day we took it easy and did some climbs at the beginner wall. We met an older lady and her twin son and daughter. They were really nice and told us about another wall that looked fun.

Only photos from that day are from watching motorcycle trials that were happening at Hartman rocks. Very cool to see how skilled some of the riders are. 

The next day we climbed at the wall they told us about. While there we met a couple climbing on the wall and ended up climbing together for the rest of the day. I think we did about 7 or 8 climbs that day. To include top roping on a 5.10a (hard) at the beginning of the day. It was a blast.

Only photo from that day. Simulclimb! The couple we met had a friend join us later in the day, so I was able to get this photo

Our last day climbing here Marissa came to visit with the pups! It was the first time in over a year of traveling that someone came out to visit us, and do what we do on a daily basis. We had a great time showing her the climbs and challenging her. We were too sore to challenge ourselves. She told us we had the BEST view of anyone she knows :-) So you should come visit us.

 Happy climbers!

Missed her immediately after she left.

From there my memory is a little fuzzy. I know we went to Telluride and just wandered to check it out. We liked it more than Aspen, but still a very expensive place. On our way there we stopped by Black canyon national park, did a short drive to look at views, then kept going.

Black canyon national park, the Empire State building stands at about half the height of this canyon wall

We also stopped in Ouray due to an event we could tell was going on. It happened to be the FJ summit. We enjoyed walking around and seeing the different set ups.

at the FJ summit in Ouray

We then camped... somewhere north of Silverton, then did the Black Bear pass, an off road drive, back to Telluride. This was a last minute choice, we were told it was an amazing drive, weren't sure where it was but happened to camp off a dirt road that was the start of the drive. It was a phenomenal ride, with amazing views and some very tricky spots. I had to get out of the truck about 4-5x to spot Matthew. Mainly to keep the truck from tilting too much and flipping on the side. It was great.

 at the pass

 a little before the pass

 view on the way down

 Telluride in the distance

 checking out a tricky spot

So we were in Telluride again, stayed briefly to take a break before riding back around to Silverton. We stopped in Silverton to pick up some packages we mailed general delivery. Then, we drove along the northern section of the Alpine loop, to Lake City. A while back we did the southern section when there was a lot of snow still, we were unable to complete the loop due to avalanches on the northern part. So we returned to finish and it was great to see the views clear of snow.

 Engineer pass, the first one you take.. I think the only one on that side.

Lake City was a very sleepy town, we didn't stay long. We did a short hike that was supposed to be a run but it was very steep so we hiked up and ran down. We had extra motivation to run down as it started to rain when we got to the top. We then drove back to Hartman rocks! It was on the way to our next destination and a good midpoint to camp for the night. The next day we were in Salida. We walked the town and planned to hike Mt Shavano and Tabaguache (14ers) the next day. I was unwise and ill prepared. I didn't hydrate well for the hike and really struggled. That being said I still was passing people the whole way up. It was also much colder on top of Mt Shavano than I expected. By the time we got there I decided to head back down. Matthew wanted to do the other peak which was 0.8 miles away and primarily scambling over rocks. If I wasn't so cold I would have gone with him. Instead I ran the whole way down. Matthew said he would do the other peak then 'catch up' to me. Not only was I cold but that comment hurt my ego so I kept up a good pace on the run down so he would not be able to catch up.

 Almost to the peak of Mt Shavano

On Mt Shavano with Tabaguache in the background

We then went on to Canon City to do some climbing at Shelf road. We weren't there long but will go back. There are hundreds of climbs in this area but I think we were a little worn out. We only did two climbs, it was also very hot so we only climbed early in the day. By this time we were starting to feel like it was time to head out of Colorado. We'd spent 2 months already exploring the state. I think we have more thoroughly explored Colorado than any other state.

 Matthew on top of the second climb

What it looked like when I turned around

From there we went on to Colorado Springs, spent most of the day wandering around Garden of the Gods. In the evening we met up with some friends (well friends of friends I'd only met once), Josh and Tanya. They have lived in 'the Springs' for 16 years. And it was neat to hear what it used to be like in Colorado. They are also just super fun human beings and we loved them. In the morning we were off again heading north to make our way out of Colorado and to Wyoming.

We contacted Ashley (Matthews friend in Boulder) since we were going to be passing through to see if she was free to hang before we left. We had a day to spend in boulder before she could meet up so we spent it at museums. Our favorite was the Dougherty Museum a little north of the city. It is a collection of very old cars, farm equipment and instruments, all from one farmers collection. Here are a few photos..

 That's Nancy, a sweet volunteer that showed us all the instruments

We met Ashley the next morning and ended up hanging out all day. First we wandered the Farmers market, then went on a walk, she then tempted us with bouldering at a climbing gym, followed by a get together/birthday party for a friend of hers. It was so much fun! We met a bunch more awesome people, played groundies (I'd never heard of it and if you haven't we should play), and talked late into the evening.

The next day we finally made it to Wyoming! We drove into Cheyenne, did a tour of the governors mansion, then camped out by the Vedauwoo climbing area. We took an 'off day' because we were pretty sore from hanging out with Ashley. We spent the day hanging out at camp and did a hike to locate the climbing area so the next day it would be easy to get to. This ended up being a little bit of an adventure as the gps coordinates on mountain project were incorrect. We found a different wall than what we were looking for and climbed there the next day.

Most of the climbs in this area are Trad, which we have not done in a long time. So, Matthew did the first climb which was supposed to be a 5.6. I guess it was but it had a tricky off width start and I didn't find it very fun. Next we did a 5.5 trad, he lead, and I did it on top rope while practicing placements. I'm not as experienced with this as he is so I don't feel as confident. By this time it was mid-afternoon and a storm was just starting so we called it a day.

And now we are up to date! Today we found Matthew a new 'town' shirt since all of his have gotten stained or torn, then explored the University of Wyoming geological museum and now are 'interneting'. I can't believe it's August already, and my birthday is one week away.