Saturday, September 28, 2013

Montana - Day 7

We went for a nice long hike again today.  The weather forecast was calling for a high of 17 C and sunny weather but it was only about 4 degrees when we started. Coulee was carrying t-shirts and toques - just in case.  We were wearing wool shirts and sweatshirts to start.  Turns out they were very wrong about the forecast - thank goodness we had warm clothes on. I never came close to even removing my sweatshirt. 

You'll notice it's mainly Coulee in these photos. That's because she does this posing on the trail thing all on her own.  She trots ahead and then as she gets to a corner, or the top of a little hill, she'll stop, turn around and wait for us.

Lacey on the other hand barely stops moving. She is bouncing around up and down the path and in the bushes, usually nose to the ground looking for squirrels or other fun things.

For once Coulee chose the right path at the fork.  :)

The first part of the hike was pretty open. There had been a forest fire in 1988 so the vegetation was still a little sparse.  Once we were out of that region in became quite a beautiful forest.

Lacey was still ever watchful.

To say that the trail was muddy would be an understatement.  There were barely any dry areas at all.  Our legs were tired just from being so tense as we were trying not to slip.  We often walked off the trail to avoid areas like this.  Coulee never minded.

The river crossing was a little tricky.  There was no bridge and in most areas we would have been at least knee high in water.  We found an area that with a giant leap and a little help from a tree on the other side, we could make it without getting too wet.

A tree pooped on Marlin.  ha!

The higher we got, the more snow we had to deal with.  It wasn't really helping our slippery footing.

We saw a Grizzly on the way to the trailhead while we were still driving.  I'm not sure who was more startled - us or him.  We also saw some tracks... we made lots and lots of noise the whole way!

 I took some really bad pictures of the lake at the end of the trail. By the time we got there, we were more than ready to turn around.  Poor Marlin. He'd been all set to fish, but it was way too cold and wet. Lacey's soaking wet because we are on our way down so she's romped all over the mountain side in the snow.

Coulee doing her waiting/modelling thing again. It gives you a good idea what the trail looks like.

Stopping to enjoy a view.  As usual, no one is enjoying the same view.

I love this picture of her gazing up at Marlin.

The trails look like they had maintenance done on them many years ago and nothing since. Some logs have been cut when they crossed the path, others are just left lying right across it and you are forced to try and find a better route. This "boardwalk" is literally falling apart.

 Just some more trail pictures.  :)

As we were driving back to the cabin, we saw this hawk fly up to the side of this cliff and I managed to take a picture just as he was taking off again.  It isn't crystal clear, but close enough for my needs.  :)

It would have been an absolutely beautiful hike if we hadn't been walking through mud and snow.  As it is, we are all happily exhausted so it was still a good day.  I think we'll be taking it a little easier tomorrow - maybe we'll head down to Yellowstone again.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Montana - Day 6

Today we headed over to the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.  We totally lucked out and a tour was leaving about 10 minutes after we got to the visitor center.  We had enough time to grab some warm clothes and head on out.

The caves were fun but the tour was quick.  It took about 2 hours but we didn't really get much time for more than a cursory glance in each room even though there was only 4 of us on the tour.  They take up to 35 people at a time, and I can't even imagine what that would have been like.  I felt like we were rushed... they must basically run from room to room to get it done in time.

As you can imagine, the lighting sucked and my photos do not do them justice.  I asked if they ever do photo tours and they don't.  I was surprised as they don't allow people to bring tripods and such as they take too much time.  :)  I can't believe a photo-club or something hasn't tried to set up a private tour.

After the tour we went on a short hike with the dogs. Nothing really photo worthy on the walk although the dogs enjoyed the SNOW.  Ugh.  It has been slowly creeping down the mountains every night. I'm hoping it will melt before we get to it tomorrow on our hike.

We didn't get too much accomplished today - the park was about 2 hours away so that killed some time, but it was worth the drive.  It definitely wasn't something you get to see every day.

Montana - Day 5

Yesterday we headed out on the hike we had originally wanted to do on Monday.  The hike was to Passage Falls. It wasn't very long, or very steep and was for the most part a walk in the forest. 
We got to see a Pica.  Thanks to Lacey for pointing it out.  :)

Then we saw a couple of ruffed grouse (we think that's what they are).  Again thanks to Lacey and Coulee for flushing them - much to all of our surprise.  ha!

The terrain was very similar to the hike we did on Monday as it was in the same area.  Marlin is constantly playing with his binoculars trying to find wildlife.

There was a fork in the trail - one trail headed to the falls, another to a ridge. Coulee really wanted to go to the ridge (probably because that was the route most of the horses probably took).

She wanted to go so badly, she posed for me.  :)

Lacey was much more interested in hunting than posing.  She is ALWAYS on the look out for squirrels.

Again, we were the only people on the trail so the dogs got to go off leash the whole time.

The falls at the end of the path.  Quite pretty.  I can never seem to get these kinds of pictures quite right.

I tried one of those slow shutter, dreamy water pictures.  Not as easy as it sounds when you need to straddle a log and balance your camera on your thigh instead of a tripod.  ;)

Coulee was happy to reach the top and have a chance to frolic in the water.

And on the way down, it was back to the bridge again.  She got a little dirty on the hike.  You can even see horse poop on her neck if you look closely.

We could tell the dogs were happier with this length of hike.  They still had a spring in their step on the way back.

It wasn't even 1:30 when we were done so we decided to head out to Yellowstone. We only had a few hours there but it was pretty amazing.  Our first sighting of a bison in the distance excited us.

Then we saw a grizzly bear on top of a recent kill.  He was napping when we first got there, but briefly got up before laying back down to nap again.  I had serious lens envy... you should have seen the photographers and their HUGE lenses photographing this guy.

Then on the way back, we saw a herd of bison.  It also started to snow...  :(

And then, just as we were almost back out of the park again, we ran across this gorgeous elk and all his ladies.  :)  There was also a large herd in the townsite but it was so nice to see them in some natural terrain.

The only thing missing was wolves... Hopefully we'll see one next time we head down.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Montana - Day 4

Today was another town day.  The clouds were very low and there was a chance of rain all day, although it never actually rained.  We went into Bozeman and toured around and had a much more productive day than when we toured around Livingston yesterday.

We went to a fun pet store, then a golf store (where I read a photography book in the car and actually picked up a tip on back button focusing that FINALLY convinced me why it would be better for me - gotta figure out how to set the camera up right first though.  I'm excited to play though.), then we went to REI (my first one ever!) where we bought a hiking book and map for the area.  Then we stopped in a Starbucks and poured over the book and map to find some hikes for when the weather improves.  We then went and toured West Paw Design.  So fun.  We popped in unannounced and they had no problem taking us around.  We saw stuffies, and beds and their hard plastic toys being made.  And we got to see Coulee's picture on the wall.  They'd asked to buy it a few years ago as they were looking for images to decorate the office. It was huge - probably around 3x4'.  I've never printed anything so large so it was nice to know it still looks decent at that size.  We joked about bringing her in to sign her image but we left her in the car.  ;)

And now we are back "home".  Marlin is preparing his fishing stuff and I'm wrestling with WiFi.  There is about a 1 ft square space on the kitchen table where we can get wifi about 25% of the time.  LOL.  Everywhere else you can only get it for about 1 minute at a time and then it takes 45 minutes to reconnect.

Sorry no photos today.  It wasn't that kind of day!

Montana - Day 2 (& Day 3)

Our first full day down here had great weather so we had to take advantage with a hike - especially as the next few days looked like they would rain.

These first two pics are taken out the car window on the way to our trail head.  We are seriously hanging out in a gorgeous place.

The trail we had originally decided on had 2 horse trailers parked at the base so we decided to go back to do another one we had passed that had no one in the parking area.  It was a great choice as the dogs were able to run free the whole time.

They started off soooo excited and were running back and forth all over the place.  I think they were happy to not be spending 10 hours in the car again.  The vegetation was interesting the entire trip. I have no idea what kind of plants these were below but they were a very cool pinky peach colour.

Unknown to us before we'd started, a forest fire must have been through in the previous year or two.  After the first couple of km, the pretty evergreens gave way to dead and burned trees.

The shrubs that had grown though were beautiful in their fall colours.

And so were the trees in their own unique way.

Hiking to the top of the ridge proved to be very frustrating.  We kept thinking that the next peak that we could see was the top, only to find another one behind it that we couldn't see until we got there.  Finally after thinking this for the 4th time, we were right.  :)  It was quite the 360 view at the top.

Then it was back down through the forest the same way we'd come.  We all got home tired and happy. Coulee actually got fed "Dinner in Bed" as she didn't even get up when I got their meals ready.  LOL.

Day 3 was spent just puttering around. The weather hadn't sounded promising although it turns out we could have gone for another hike. :(  We went in to town to try and get more information on hiking trails etc, but the hiking store was closed due to a big sale they are having today. We walked the dogs along the river and Marlin looked for some decent fishing places - he's pretty excited to give it a try.  The number of boats and fishermen on the river is crazy!  And there must be at least 4 fishing stores in town and it isn't that big of a city. We have a few more days of foul weather ahead so we might make another trip in to town and maybe go down to the hot springs nearby.