August 22, 2011


We'll be sipping the nectar of life for awhile, visiting with kids and grandkids.  Hope you all enjoy the last days of summer. We'll be back to blogging in a couple of weeks.

August 19, 2011

Sunrise Trail

Our Mount Rainier National Park hike began at Sunrise Trailhead.  A visitor's center, gift shop, and day lodge are located there.
The trail provided views of mountains all around, some green,
and some rocky, jagged, or snow covered.
This is Frozen Lake, appropriately named.
In the first few miles, we saw a couple of dozen hikers, but after we passed through this enchanted forest, we were all alone. 
One somewhat hysterical hiker, bear spray in hand, reported she had just seen a grizzly. Since no grizzly is known to live in the area, according to several rangers we spoke to, she probably saw a black bear.  We didn't see any bears, black or otherwise.
Only chipmunks, and the cute marmots shown above.  Rodents like people, who tend to leave lots of lunch leftovers for them to feast upon.

August 18, 2011

Rainier Flora

Mount Rainier National Park features several plant species that we don't find, or only rarely, in the Uintas:
Avalanche Lily

Pasqueflower Seedheads
Shooting Star
Magenta Paintbrush
Lupine leaves with morning crystalline dewdrops
It's still spring at 6000 feet in Mount Rainier National Park.  The snow in the meadows probably didn't melt until a month ago, since snowbanks still remain on some parts of the trail. 

August 16, 2011

'Rithmetic + Rainier

We just returned from Seattle, where we proudly observed our second son defend his dissertation.  The complex mathematical formulas were Greek to us, but he sure did look good and sound smart.  It was fun to bask in the reflected glory of his success.  (Photo is by Steve's cell phone.  Not the greatest, but we didn't dare distract son or professors by whipping out a real camera!)
Then we were off, with son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law to Mount Rainier National Park for an overnight backpacking trip to Grand Park.  The views of Rainier were impressive.  This shows the north side of the mountain, about 8 miles from the peak.  We were able to view the Liberty  Ridge route, (prominent steep ridge to the right) by which our 2 sons summitted a couple of years ago.
Flowers painted the meadows.
With moonrise came a ground-hugging mist.  The guys insisted on sleeping outside. 
Their sleeping bags were frost-covered in the morning. The ladies had more sense and slept in the tent!

August 8, 2011

Osprey Action

Here are a couple of videos of the osprey nest.  In the first one, the 3 youngsters are exercising their wings.  In the next, a second adult bird lands in the nest, probably the daddy with a fish for the young.  I can't figure out how to embed the videos full size.  If you right click and choose "watch on youtube", you can see a larger version.

August 7, 2011

Yellowstone Falls

No trip to Yellowstone is complete with out a visit to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the two major waterfalls. 
The above photo was taken from the brink of the Upper Falls, which drops 109 feet into the canyon below.
And here is the Lower Falls from one of the many viewpoints.  It drops 308 feet into the canyon. The canyon walls were formed from lava flows during the area's active volcanic period.  Yellowstone received its name from the yellowish color of the canyon walls.  Most of the yellow color is due to iron in the rhyolite, a volcanic rock.
When the light shone on the water just right, we saw a rainbow.
From the waterfall viewpoint, looking downstream, we saw an osprey nest located on one of the pinnacles in the canyon.  I've marked the location in the above photo.
The adult and 3 chicks showed off for the tourists, occasionally flapping their wings for exercise. 
They called out as another osprey soared through the canyon.  We assumed it was the other parent hunting for a fish meal.  While we watched, the second parent landed in the nest,  then quickly flew away.  Our view wasn't good enough to see if he left a fish, but the crew seemed to be eating after that, so we assume the hunt was successful.

August 6, 2011

A Day's Dessert

We arrived back at Roosevelt Lodge in time to eat with the first dinner shift at 4:30.  Delish!  That's me front and center.  I was so full, I was barely able to shuffle out of the place.
To work off the meal, we ventured out on a short hike to the confluence of the Lamar River (on the right) with the Yellowstone River (left). 
Along the way, we met:
A curious doe
Spotted Sandpiper
And, not surprisingly, we encountered another bison jam on the road.
This solitary bull must be British.  He drives on the wrong side of the road.  Or perhaps he's just passing a slow car.
When he moved to the side and regally allowed traffic to pass, I snapped his profile for posterity.

August 5, 2011

Hellroaring Trailhead

Yellowstone River view
On our second full day, we headed for the Hellroaring Trailhead. 
Fireweed and Groundsel
? Duncecap Larkspur ?
We walked about a mile through beautiful wildflowers to the Hellroaring Bridge.
After crossing this suspension bridge over the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, we hiked upstream along the Yellowstone River to a likely looking fishing spot.  The salmon fly hatch is an important July food supply for cutthroat trout.  The flies are up to 3 inches long.  To the trout, this is a full meal deal. 
The hatch was over in this area and most of the salmon flies were gone, but the fish still showed considerable interest in an imitation. 
This Yellowstone cutthroat trout was one of many that Steve caught and released that day. 
Hiking the 3 miles or so back to the trailhead, we came upon an antler shed by an elk.  We took a photo and left the antler there for the next hiker to find.

August 4, 2011

Yellowstone Bonus Finds

We'd had a perfect day, a nice hike, and had already seen plenty of wildlife.  After chowing down on Babyback Ribs (I highly recomment them!) at Roosevelt Lodge, we drove to the Lamar River for a short walk. 
This antelope was hanging out by the river.
Her baby popped up out of the brush.
Mama urged baby to move along.  She didn't want him too close to those nosy tourists.
Yet another tourist pleaser was this grizzly.  Yes, that's the road in the front of the photo.  See how close he was?  Less than 100 yards, I would guess. A ranger was there, making sure no one approached the bear, which was a good thing.  Some people were out of their cars.  We took our photos through the window. 
He looked thin.  Maybe he was an old bear.  It's unusual to see a grizzly near a road, especially so close.
The grizz was fascinating to watch.  But the big find of the night was this:
He was running beside the road.  He looked like a wolf, but wolves usually stay well away from cars, people, and roads, so we were thinking he had to be a coyote.
Then again, he sure looked like a wolf.  Turned out, he was, indeed, a yearling wolf.  The wolf watcher police came along in a truck and said they'd used a pellet gun to chase the wolf away from the road, an aversion technique sometimes used to keep wild animals wild, and to keep them from getting run over by traffic.
Well, that was the find of a lifetime.  We certainly didn't expect anything more.  But yet another wildlife bonus came our way.
This black bear was hogging up on berries maybe 50 feet from the road.  Way close, for a bear. 
Again, a ranger was there, monitoring tourists, trying to keep them out of trouble.  The bear didn't seem to care one way of the other.  He was really enjoying his berries.
Black Twinberry, a bear's choice

We'd had a more than full day.  Back we went to our little cabin at Roosevelt Lodge.  It's not what you'd call a 5 star accommodation.  The bathroom is in a communal building, and you can see light through the cabin walls.  However, the bed was clean and fairly comfortable.  We slept well, with visions of bears, wolves, and antelope dancing in our heads.


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