Venture Crew 27 embarked this morning on our 2013 Super Trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We left San Mateo sharply at 7AM and traveled east on US 80 for a mere 11 hours. A lovely lunch under a shedding cottonwood grove (Fernley, Nevada) broke up the monotony of the drive. We are camped for the first night just south of Wells in a spectacular campsite at Angel's Creek, perched up well over 6500 ft. We are in an aspen grove with a panoramic view to the southeast and snow-capped mountains to the west. You would be amazed at how quickly all pitched in to assemble tents, cook dinner and prepared for an early start in the morning. Spirits are high and the group is beginning to gel nicely together.
Early on the road towards Idaho. Had a very nice lunch at Shoshone Falls and then on across Idaho to Craters of the Moon NP. Just incredible: miles of volcanic rock, cinder hills and sparse vegetation. We explored a series of caves formed by lava tubes, descending from 90 to 30 degrees F. The favorite was Boy Scout cave. Also, hiked up a cinder dome.
Then on to Lonesomehurst Campground in West Yellowstone, Montana. Arrived late and crashed into "bed". We packed a lot in and drove 390 mi!
We awakened on the edge of a beautiful lake, no Mountain Man though, too frigid.
We entered the magnificent Western gate and were immediately struck by overwhelming nature and wildlife. It's still very green and lush.
We proceeded to the Norris Geyser Field, home of the Steamboat Geyser. We saw all of the different forms of eruption, including hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles and geysers along the Porcelain Trail.
Then on to Gardiner, at the Northwest Entrance, and after gobbling a standup lunch we suited up for kayaking down the raging Yellowstone River. Almost all were newbies to the sport, but most caught on quickly, or else you were swimming. We were humping the haystacks in no time and had a grand ole ride. To celebrate we went for ice cream.
We camped locally at Eagle Creek CG and relaxed with a leisurely dinner. Three elk were resting in a meadow next to the campground.
Early AM left NW gate to Mammoth Hot Springs. Saw beautiful water lattice deposits of minerals in golden brown hues from iron. Did some hiking.
Continued on to Canyonland Gorge carved by volcanic eruption: the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Drove down to view the two falls; one 132 feet and other 300 feet. The Yellowstone Falls are beautiful where ever you look.
Followed a herd of bison down the road at 3 miles per hour. Nothing rushes them. Later we hit another traffic jam but this one was caused by 2 grizzlies 30 feet from the road. Everyone wanted to see them. We also saw 2 male elk in one area and some female elk in another, along with some Pronghorn antelope.
We camped at Madison CG and make a Dutch oven dinner. At night all food and toiletries were locked in the car - no bears showed up. While cooking dinner we had a light flurry of snow and some rain. We were holding an umbrella over the Dutch oven so our dinner would cook.
Hiked to Fairy Falls and Imperial Geyser. After lunch went to Old Faithful. As we were driving in, it was erupting. Timing was great, because we had time to check out the visitor's center (and gift shop) and got front row seats for the next time it went off, right on time. The geyser gives a 2 minute 30 second display. This area is very built up with 100s of people.
Yellowstone is incredible with steaming vents, mineral pools, mud pots everywhere. Spectacular and lush.
Drove South out of park into Jackson Lake area to Colter Bay CG. The view of Grand Tetons is great. We arrived at 5:30 pm and have 3 campsites.
Lisa N. (Crew 27 alumnus) joined us and will be with us today and tomorrow. She is going to school in Montana. Everyone was excited about getting their FIRST shower of the trip, but the showers closed before we got there. Everyone is looking forward to a shower tomorrow, since we are staying at this CG two nights.
We are camped at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton NP. Last night we had a mini campfire, battened down in defense of bears and had a good rest. After breakfast, some had waffles, others had muffins (monkey bread was too slow), we headed off under overcast skies to Two Ocean Lake. It was closed (federal sequestration!!), so we hiked instead to Emma Matilda Lake (2-3 mi). The lakeshore was a gold mine of elk bones and fresh bear tracks. Beautiful pristine view of the Teton range in the background. Very fascinating for all. We followed with lunch and returned to camp for long awaited showers. That sure elevated our spirits for the evening chuck wagon dinner. We arrived to find a team of Belgian horses and a cowboy to drive us out to our dinner, nestled in a lovely pasture. The driver was very entertaining, for example, "know what a vegetarian is? ... a terrible hunter! Well, the family served a down home western barbecue steak dinner and accompanied it with a young cowboy country western singer to serenade us and sing our favorites. It was a wonderful conclusion to the first day of summer. Back to Colter Bay campsite and get ready to hit the road tomorrow.
What a great day. The Crew was fired up at the crack of dawn, and blitzed out of camp in record time. We switched campsites into one called Gros Ventre, near Jackson Hole.
Then we dashed into town to the Mad River Rafting Co and got suited up in wetsuits. We rafted down the Snake River about 8 miles, numerous rapids, great guides, and no one ate it in the 36 degree water!
Next, we donned uniforms and the Crew toured downtown Jackson while the Adults stocked up on fresh food. We had a picnic dinner in the Square and were treated to a Wild West fight out with blazing guns on the street corner.
Next, we topped it off with the local Jackson Hole Rodeo. What a phenomenal treat for everyone. Cowboys are so cool!
Today was spent at a nice pace, and we all enjoyed the activities. We made mountain man breakfast: eggs/hash brown potatoes/cheese/bacon in Dutch Ovens.
Then on to a mountain flume ride on wheeled platforms that speed down. You control your own speed, and guess who the dare devils were?
From there we drove up to Jenny Lake. After taking in the visitor's center, we hiked around the lake and shuttled back by boat. This lake lies at the foot of the Grand Teton mountains, they make an extraordinary backdrop to pictures of the lake. Absolutely beautiful.
We ended with a chicken pot pie dinner and a campfire with marshmallows.
It was an early revelry to insure a timely arrival for horseback riding. What teamwork, on the road by 7:45. That was facilitated by a simple "grab 'n go" breakfast.
Well, we woke up the horses. The cowhands chose appropriate mounts for all and we took off up the mountain trail, ascending 2000 feet to a breathtaking peak overlooking fields of flowers and the Grand Tetons in the distance. Everyone did an outstanding job guiding their horse and the ride was flawless. Once we returned to the corral and collected ourselves, we had a roadside picnic lunch and began the return drive.
We wended our way through Idaho Falls to a campground in the vicinity of Twin Falls. There we cooked sumptuous dinners, undaunted by the light rain showers. Tonight we can let down our guard, there are no bears in these hills to worry about! I believe that the singing and laughter throughout dinner attests to the overall great spirits that the Crew maintains, it's wonderful to witness this and be a part of it all.
Today was spent in the beautiful Lamoille Canyon in northern Nevada. Some say this Canyon is now what Yosemite was like before it was developed. Carved out by glaciers some 250,000 years ago, we discovered it to be a beautiful sanctuary for our final activities.
We drove 4 hrs from Idaho Falls under cloudy skies and accessed the Canyon through Elko. We were immediately struck by the awesome rock formations and the creeks teaming with water. We hiked up a rugged trail to ~9800 ft. from a base of 8500. There we viewed the splendor of the canyons, threw snowballs and observed an intricate array of lakes and ponds engineered by beavers.
We returned to our campsite somewhat exhausted, but certainly glad to have made the climb. We had foil dinners and a lively game of Kubb (aka Viking Chess).
Wednesday, June 26
Long driving day today. We stopped at a park in Winnemucca for lunch and then at Cabela's near Reno to look around and have dinner. Almost everyone tried something new, either elk, bison or boar. Delicious!