Bob's World Travels

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Wrather Arch April 17, 2016
In the Canyon April 17, 2016
Buckskin Gulch April 17, 2016
Pariah Canyon April 17, 2016
Squaw Mountain Lookout March 18, 2016
Norris Geyser Basin February 23, 2016
Fairy Falls February 21, 2016
Wildlife at Yellowstone February 21, 2016
Black Sand Basin February 20, 2016

Wrather Arch

In the morning of the third day, we left our packs and hiked up Wrather Canyon. This was a small side canyon full of lush vegetation. Near the top, we climbed steeply up to admire large Wrather Arch from high on the side of the canyon.

In the Canyon

Back in Paria canyon, there was a quicksand incident. Dan found himself sinking into the wet sand and we ran over to him.  I gave him my trekking pole to help him get out.

When we arrived at our campsite, the walls were over 1,000 feet above us. We camped on a sandy bench above the creek under large cottonwood trees.

The next day, we walked nine miles down Paria Canyon, walking through the ankle-deep to knee-deep water much of the way. In the morning, the walls of the Canyon were monumentally high. In the afternoon it opened up more.  We had to walk around some large boulders that had fallen into the canyon bottom. At one point, Cheryl's leg sank all the way into quicksand and she had to be helped out. The walls were covered with natural abstract art colored with orange, white, black and mostly reds.  We followed animal tracks in the wet sand including deer, possible desert sheep, coyotes and bobcats.  We were likely seeing the tracks of mountain lions We camped on a bench with nice large cottonwood trees with very green leaves.  In front of us were very high walls fractured chaotically in every direction. The creek water was silty and known to be polluted by upstream agriculture.  So we got our water from small pools seeping up from springs in the fractured rock walls.

Buckskin Gulch

Before we reached our campsite in Paria Canyon, we reached the confluence with Buckskin Canyon, left our packs on rocks, and hiked two miles up the much tighter Buckskin Canyon. In places, Buckskin was less than ten feet wide with high, dark, scalloped walls.  The shapes and patterns on the walls were of infinite variety.

Pariah Canyon

On April 6, we walked from the White House Trailhead down into Paria Canyon, starting in the desert of southern Utah close to the Arizona boundary.  The canyon started wide with low sandstone walls. Immediately as we walked down the canyon, we began constantly crossing the creek from one side to the other. We would walk for a short distance on the beach on either side before walking through the murky, moving stream. The water wasn't too cold but our feet stayed wet. When we walked under, electrical lines running above the canyon, we knew we were in Arizona. As we continued downstream, the red canyon walls became higher and higher and the canyon narrowed.  At one point, the walls were fifteen feet apart.

Squaw Mountain Lookout

Last Saturday, I took some friends to spend the night in the historic lookout tower above 11,000 feet on Squaw Mountain.  It gave us a complete, high view of the Front Range from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak. Immediately to our west the view was dominated by Mount Evans at 14,265 feet. We explored the summit of Squaw mountain under cloudy skies but with comfortable conditions. After dark, we had an extended view of the lights of the metropolitan region to the east.  There was a kitchen in the stone base, so we ate well.  Gale force winds shook the tower all night. Sunday morning, it was pleasant again for our descent.

Norris Geyser Basin

Finally, we stopped at the Norris Geyser Basin and toured the smoking basin, the hottest thermal area in Yellowstone. On the long drive back to the lodge in the Bombardier, we passed more swans and many bison. We had to wait from some bison to get off the road. We were told that this was the last winter for the Bombardiers and that they were all to be auctioned to the highest bidder, to be replaced by more modern vehicles.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

On my fourth day, I went on a ski tour riding a Bombardier out to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We started with a ski from the Canyon visitors center, up a road to the canyon rim. We proceeded to ski on the north rim of the canyon for about a mile. It was the most spectacular cross-country ski I had ever done. Below us was a canyon over 1,000 feet deep with a pink rhyolite lava-flow based on the volcanic character of the area. The rocks have essentially been cooked over the ages causing the unique forms of erosion. We arrived at a view of the 300 foot lower falls. Back in the Bombardier, we stopped at two different overlooks, including an overlook of the 100 foot high upper falls. We next skied down to a spot at the top of the upper falls. On the way back, we stopped to ski in sunshine by the Virginia Cascades. Here the snow was sticky and I was tired after four days of skiing. I struggled to finish the ski.


Fairy Falls

On the third day in Yellowstone, I went with a group that rode a Bombardier to the Fairy Falls trail head. We skied from there to the falls. While we were in the park, the high temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s, so the snow was melting and sporadic. We began by skiing next to the Midway Geyser Basin, an expansive, open area scattered with steaming geysers and grazing bison. We passed bison in the distance and at one point had to ski around a bison who was on the trail. The snow was spotty and crusty, but in the forest, it began to snow, heavily at one point, and another inch of snow was added to the trail. This improved conditions, but since it was warm, the snow was sticky in places. We arrived at 197 foot tall Fairy Falls with its lovely ice formations forming curtains of icicles around the falling water. When we got back to the trail head, it was no longer snowing. At the trail head, we watched nearby bison. We met someone who had just skied our next trail, the Powerline Trail, and he told us conditions were bad on that trail. Several of the group decided because of various issues to call for a Snow Coach to take them back from the trail head to the lodge. Five of us skied back on the main road to Biscuit Basin. From there, we returned past the geysers and hot springs, finishing our ten mile ski back at the Lodge.


Wildlife at Yellowstone

During the afternoon of my second day, I went on a trip to the Madison River portion of the Park with a guide to look for wildlife. We rode in one of the historic, yellow Bombardier Snow Coaches. They were first used in the Park in the 1950s and our driver thought the one we were riding in was likely built in the 1960s. These vehicles are cramped, uncomfortable, smelly and loud, but they are nice because they have hatches on the top so you can take pictures of bison without risking getting out. At times there were bison along the road and sometimes blocking the road. We saw trumpeter swans paddling on the river. The trumpeter swan is the heaviest living bird native to North America and is the largest waterfowl with a wingspan that may exceed ten feet. The highlight of the afternoon was when we stopped to see three coyotes running on the opposite riverbank. The driver told us to get back in the vehicle because he thought he knew where they were going. He drove a bit up river and we found the coyotes have dinner on a bison carcass.

Black Sand Basin

Early on my second day in Yellowstone, I skied by myself out into the open country under the rising sun. I skied down to Black Sand Basin, named for the volcanic sand in the area. I then skied several miles up the main road to get a quick glide down to the lodge on the Kepler Cascades Trail, my favorite ski run in the area.

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