The afternoon of a 3 day storm, it finally moved out and sun began to shine and left us with a beautiful phenomenon. A ‘snowbow’! Or more scientifically know as a ‘sun dog’, ‘mock sun’ or ‘phantom sun’. It is a occurrence not seen often and it usually happens when the sun is close to the horizon. The bright spots occur on both sides of the sun, usually in pairs. Life in Wyoming is an adventure!
The renowned Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), is a 65-mile route over the Beartooth Mountains with the Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet, The Beartooth Mountains are some of the planet’s oldest rock with some dating at nearly four billion years. The highway, itself, is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The Beartooths are home to over 300 pristine lakes and waterfalls, some 300 feet. The name of the mountain range comes from a rugged granite peak that has the shape of a bear’s tooth. Our drive starts on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, then up and over the Beartooth Highway.
Through winter as I look up to the mountains, one of the most anticipated weekends that I look forward to is Memorial Weekend when the Beartooth Highway opens up. This year the snow was phenomenal. It was literally like driving through tunnels. Some were as high as 30 feet. Yellowstone Park service is responsible for plowing Highway 212 from the Northeast entrance to the Wyoming/Montana line. Montana plows the from there down the switchbacks. As you can see, there is some big heavy duty equipment used. We came down the switchbacks to Red Lodge, 78 degrees, green grass and wildflowers. I am so fortunate to live in this country of such great contrast and beauty.
A trail ride to follow the history of the Nez Perce flight of 1877 went through northern Wyoming July 21-26. The National Appaloosa Horse Club sponsors a 1300 mile ride from the Wallowa Valley of Oregon to the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana doing approximately 100 miles every year. Thirteen years ago I laid the ride out from Cooke City to Clark, Wyonming. I help with the ride again this year. There were 150 riders from all over the country and some from Europe. There were also Nez Perce on the ride. We started at Pilot Creek near Cooke City and ended on Friday at Line Creek in Clark near the Montana border. Horses on the ride were all Appaloosas, the horse that the Nez Perce bred and raised. In 1877, the Nez Perce fled the Wallowa Valley with 600-700 men, women and children and nearly 2000 horses. They were fleeing to find freedom. General Howard pursued them through Yellowstone and felt he had them trapped as he felt there was no way out. General Sturgis had been camped by the mouth of the Clarks Fork Canyon, but was told by scouts that it was impassable and he moved his camp to where he could watch the Shoshone drainage. The Nez Perce did make their legendary escape through the Clarks Fork Canyon and headed north. The Thursday ride followed the trail of the Nez Perce escape. It comes off a bench and desends 1000 feet in less than one half mile. To ride this trail is almost spiritual thinking of the 600 Nez Perce and their 2000 horses descending this perilous trail known by the locals as Slide Rock Trail. For more see the Powell Tribune, http://www.powelltribune.com/component/k2/item/11282-%E2%80%98something-spiritual
Fall weather can cover a wide range. Mother Nature usually give us a warning of what is around the corner with a cold snap and then we are usually back to an Indian summer with temperature in the 50’s and 60’s. As the days get shorter, temperatures dropped as the sun goes behind the mountains. Sunsets are brilliant.
The Beartooth Highway usually closes by the first or second week in October. Closures in Yellowstone is weather dependent. Prior to the Beartooth Highway and the Park, we took one last drive through on 2 seperate days. Colors along the Beartooth Highway were brilliant. The elk in the Park were majestic.
The renowned Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), is a 65-mile route over the Beartooth Mountains with the Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet, and is surrounded by the Gallatin, Shoshone, and Custer National Forests and sits in a million-plus acre wilderness. The Beartooth Mountains, east of Yellowstone Park, are part of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. This highway is renowned as one of the most scenic highways in America and offers visitors extraordinary views of a variety of ecosystems; a range from pristine alpine landscapes, lush forests, to grasslands sets the stage for over 400 plant species to grow, which is more flora than any other mountain range in North America.
The Beartooths are home to over 300 pristine lakes and waterfalls, some 300 feet . The Beartooth Mountains are some of the planet’s oldest rock with some dating at nearly four billion years. The highway, itself, is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Twenty of the surrounding mountain peaks tower above 12,000 feet; Granite Peak (the highest in Montana) stands at 12,799 feet. Much of the area is covered by glaciers with glacial rock spread across many of the surrounding plateaus. There are about 25 small glaciers that exist today in the Beartooths. The U-shaped valleys were once V-shaped before the massive glaciers slowly ripped through the rocks. The name of the mountain range comes from a rugged peak that has the shape of a bear’s tooth.
While the majority of the Beartooth Mountains are protected as wilderness, part of the range lies outside the wilderness boundary. This unprotected area provides an incredible trail system to hikers, horseback riders, and climbers. Because of the abundance of wildlife ranging from elk to grizzly bear, it is important to take all safety precautions when venturing into this area. It is an incredible area and is right in our back yard.