Floating the Yellowstone

10505156_10204721835352399_587330890761709051_oIf given the opportunity, I think I could float down a river every weekend. It is one of the most relaxing things ever. Great friends, a cooler of beer, good food and a raft with a lazy(ish) river might be the best combination of things ever. For the last two weekends, I got to enjoy this wonderful combo followed by more relaxing by the river. I love summer in Montana!

The Sunday after the Fourth of July and the next Saturday, my friend Dawn invited us to float with her and her best friend Ang’s, family on the Yellowstone south of Livingston. We rented rafts from Rubber Ducky and dropped in at Emigrant. We spent about four to five hours on the river with a few stops along the way, stopping at Mallard’s Rest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10536234_10204721864673132_5555038360798993101_oThe first weekend we had a fishing boat and non-fishing boat. Since John, Ang’s husband, and The Sexy Electrician were the only guys, they were our captains for the trip. TSE had never rowed a raft before, so it was kind of entertaining watching as his fisherman directed him from one side of the river to the other looking for sweet spots. Unfortunately, it was midday and warm so no fish were caught. It seemed very few people were getting any bites, so we didn’t feel too bad. The fisherman and grandson decided to stay at the house when we stopped by their river beach for a bathroom break. The rest of the float was pretty easy for TSE.

YS River round 2 (1) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYS River round 2 (2)The following weekend, the same crew was out with a few different faces. There was no fishing and another friend brought their raft, so their rowed and TSE got to relax the whole time. I was lazy the entire time. The only thing I did was occasionally grab a beer or snack for someone.

After finishing up, we piled in to the car we had left at the end and headed back up to grab the other vehicles at the launch. And maybe a drink at the Old Saloon before heading back to grab whoever was waiting at the end for a ride back to Ang’s parent’s home.

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Weekend one we had a fun ride back

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YS River round 2 (29) YS River round 2 (15) 10454503_10204759648737710_6044981636864666661_o

I would like Ang's Parents to adopt me

I would like Ang’s Parents to adopt me

They have an amazing house with a huge porch and property right on the river with a stretch of beach. We hung out drinking, celebrating my and Ang’s birthdays a bit. Both days were so great, it was hard to pack it up and go home at night. Hopefully they invite us back again. In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll head out on some other river adventures.

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*PIctures of me from Dawn or Ang. Or The Sexy Electrician

Livingston Fourth of July Celebration

4th of july rodeoThe Fourth of July was a blast. I love the Fourth. It might be my favorite holiday. This year a group of us went to Livingston for the big PRCA Rodeo and stayed over night in my boss’s studio downtown so we could enjoy all of the night life.

Via The Sexy Electrician

Via The Sexy Electrician

We arrived early on the Fourth to check out the studio and set up the extra bed for Dusty before we headed out for the day. My boss’s husband is a blacksmith artist, (remember this trip home?) and they purchased a studio for him downtown. Inside the studio is an actual living studio that is adorable. The whole space is really cool with a gallery space in front and all of Ira’s stuff in back with his forge. There is always something new and interesting to check out.

Liv 4th RD  (7)

Hang out in the Gallery     Via TSE

Gallery Shots Via TSE

Liv 4th RD  (8)

Studio Interior    Via TSE

Liv 4th RD  (1)

Studio Interior     Via Dawn

Studio Interiors Top two via TSE and the bottom two via Dawn

Anyway- after we set up the extra mattress, we moseyed down to the Art Fair by the old train depot. I was on the hunt for some cool jewelry. There was definitely some eclectic stuff, but nothing that was really amazing except one booth’s pieces. In the end I didn’t get anything, but it was fun to look at all the photography, metal-smith pieces, paintings, the list goes on. It was getting pretty warm for mountainy Montana so when Dawn and Dusty told us they had secured a table at the Rib and Chop, we were on the way for some tasty drinks and an early dinner before heading to the rodeo.

Not a bad scene for a rodeo

Not a bad scene for a rodeo

The rodeo was awesome as expected. We sat at the far end, next to the roping chutes so we had prime seating for the steer wrestling and roping. The steers were pretty smart that night and kept stopping short so the cowboys were riding right past them.

One of the few who caught his steer

One of the few who caught his steer

Barrel-racer blur

Barrel-racer blur

As usual, the bronc, bareback and bull riding were my favorite part. The rodeo clown was pretty funny, but not my favorite. He did have some adorable dogs doing adorable things.

At the end, all the lights went out and the fireworks commenced. I didn’t even take pictures, I was too excited. I love fireworks!

The 'burb was a bit full, The Sexy Electrician opted to ride in the way back.

The ‘burb was a bit full, The Sexy Electrician opted to ride in the way back.

After the rodeo, we crammed back in the suburban and downtown for some fun. We were dancing at The office, enjoying my coworker’s boyfriend’s band at the Murray, and had one drink at The Owl to top off the night. It was so fun wandering around. We had our drinks in plastic cups and just went from bar to bar. The cops didn’t say a word when we passed them. When everything was shut down, the four of us staying at the studio went back there and hung out talking for a bit listening to some music, (that would later be needed to drown out Dusty’s snoring), before crashing.

4th of july gilsIn the morning we packed up and headed to Gil’s for a quick breakfast and to the little wine shop across the street to pick up our hosts a thank you bottle before heading out on a hike. It was such a great time. We only had one true fail and that was the lack of late night snacks. We’ve got it covered for next year.

Purple Mountain Trail [Yellowstone Day Two]

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (85)After a rain free night camping, I made pancakes for breakfast. Shake them up in bottle. My mom was happy to see I was using the mini cast iron skillets she gave me.

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (81) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (87)We packed up camp and headed north to check out some mud pot and mud volcanoes. I love mud pots. They are just so fun to watch boil.

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (96) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (95) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (99) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (90) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (91)We continued up the road to Artist’s Point to check out The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls. I have been to this place many times and it never gets less beautiful. On the way there we saw a bit of wildlife and some beautiful mountain views. And some silly tourist.

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The Sexy Electrician took this one with some awesome filter

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (92) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (93)After the Canyon Village, we set out to do some hiking. Based on the discussion we had with a ranger earlier, we decided to hike up Purple Mountain, just north of Madison Junction. It was around six miles round trip, up and back down the mountain with a elevation gain of about 1600 feet. For the most part, the hike was in a heavily wooded area with a steady incline. As we hiked higher, we did start to get some amazing views of the valley below. When we got to the top, we wished we had grabbed the park map and brought it with so we could decide where we had been hiking the day before. We could see the waterfall we were going to hike to after Sentinel Meadows, but decided not to.

Purple mountain

Amazing panoramic views of the valley below

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (104)After the hike, we headed out of Yellowstone back to West Yellowstone. We had to stop for coffee again at  Freeheel and Wheel on our way out. Then we took the beautiful road through Big Sky back to Bozeman and made it back before 7 PM. I was exhausted after all the hiking, slightly cold weather, and camp sleeping, but it was an awesome trip. We spent most of the drive back looking up hikes and features in the park, planning future trips. In fact, since this post, I’ve already been back, but more on that later.

 

Sunday Afternoon Coffee [Birthday Edition]

Sun Bday coffee (1) Sun Bday coffee (2)If we were having coffee this afternoon, it would be on a river. The Yellowstone River to be exact. In a raft, so let’s be honest, we are drinking beer. We’ve had lots of coffee already this weekend.

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you that today is my mom’s birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!) Which means my thirtieth birthday is tomorrow.  Not going to lie, I am not entirely looking forward to it, even though everyone tells me your thirties are the best. I figure I get a couple days to wallow, a few drinks and I’ll get over it. Will report back once it’s over.

If we were having coffee this morning I would say THANK YOU to my friend, K, who sent me an awesome birthday care package. She is the best.

I do love a good care package

I do love a good care package

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would show you pictures of my sister being silly at Yellowstone. She came to visit last weekend and brought the remaining things I had left there and I took her down to Yellowstone for a day. She loves it and had been bugging our parent to take her out there for awhile now. We had a good time despite the fact that it was raining on and off. Her quote of the day was, “It’s like the smell of a rotten fart, but a delicious geyser. I love it!”

Ahh Sulfur

Ahh Sulfur

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you that summer has officially started in Bozeman. Music on Main started two weeks ago. Despite some rain before the show was to begin, The Clintons did an awesome job and Andy Frasco was hilarious. Such a fun way to spend a Thursday night.

Andy is crowd surfing and chugging a beer, he challenged the audience to carry him.

Andy is crowd surfing and chugging a beer, he challenged the audience to carry him.

The Clintons

The Clintons

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you that my friend Ben, a branding and graphic designer, was shooting a commercial for one of the bars we frequent in town and asked us to help them out. I thought we were just going to be sitting there hanging out at the bar, but we actually had to do some random stuff like we were having the time of our lives. It was pretty entertaining.

Our friends being shot

Our friends being shot

If we were having coffee, we would talk about how surprised you are that I watched the USA MT’s world cup matches. The guys at Massive even had them projected on the wall at the office. I will not lie, I got a bit board towards the end… Sorry Kurt.

Sun Bday WC (3) Sun Bday WC (2)If we were having coffee this afternoon, we would talk about what we did for the Fourth. Probably my favorite holiday. A group of us spent it in Livingston watching the rodeo. It was awesome. You really cannot go wrong with bull riding followed by fireworks. More on that later.

Beautiful location for a rodeo

Beautiful location for a rodeo

Happy Birthday, MOM!

Thank you, K!

And Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

 

Pony Duck Races

So really, I should have posted this before anything about camping and Yellowstone, but I just didn’t feel like it for some reason. So this is a bit out of order, especially since I have one more Yellowstone post, but hey, I’ll work on being better. Promise. And now on with the Pony Duck Races recap!

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Pony

Every year the town unincorporated community of Pony and the Pony Bar, hosts a rubber duck race on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Pony is about an hour west of Bozeman set at the base of the Tobacco Root Mountains. Beautiful place to hang out for the day and watch some duck float down a creek for about five minutes.

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Pony Bar

Pony Bar

The races are the reason, but not really why you go to Pony. It’s just a really good time. For $10 you get a duck, a drink at the bar, and a barbecue dinner. Everyone shows up early, typically before noon to get a duck, they only have around 500, (we think), and they sell out around noon when the races are not until 4.

Selecting a duck

Selecting a duck

You pack a cooler full of whatever you want to drink for the day, some snacks, your tent and sleeping bag, (no driving home drunk if you drink!). Then you spend the day hanging out with friends, drinking, playing horse shoes, eventually dancing, and having a good time. This year, I had to head back to Bozeman, so I didn’t drink, the cops are out in mass, and didn’t camp, but I still had a ton of fun. You can see by the pictures below, we all had a blast.

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Pre-party tailgate

Pre-party tailgate

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Catching the stragglers

Catching the stragglers

All dogs are allowed, especially cute ones

All dogs are allowed, especially cute ones

The bar sets up a corral to keep the drunks off the street, I assume...

The bar sets up a corral to keep the drunks off the street, I assume…

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Ducks!

Ducks!

 

DT was killing it at horseshoes

DT was killing it at horseshoes

So was RB

So was RBT and I did okayT and I did okay

We dealt with a bit of rain, but it was beautiful

We dealt with a bit of rain, but it was beautiful

Climbing the Pony Pony. A series.

Climbing the Pony Pony. A series.

Pony Duck races (26) Pony Duck races (22)

The whole crew!

The whole crew!

Sentinel Meadows Trail [Yellowstone Day One]

After camping near Quake Lake Friday night, we headed over to Yellowstone, (you can check out the trip map here). I had originally wanted to explore the southern part of park, but most of it is still closed. A lot of hikes are still covered in snow, so we stuck to the northern part of the park. After a quick stop at the Madison Junction Information Center, we decided to head out on the Sentinel Meadows Trail to the Queens Laundry Hot Springs, a five to six mile loop, most of which is considered back country, which means no tourist.

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (54)The day was perfect for hiking and the hike was really easy. There was little or no elevation gain. I did get a little nervous when it started to feel like we lost the trail, which the guide books will tell you is common since there is nothing to attach the markers to in the meadow. We could see the white mounds of the hot springs and knew we were headed in the right direction. Once we could see around a hill, we could see a marker on the far side where the trail picked up again.

panorama of the Queens Laundry hot springs mounds

panorama of the Queens Laundry hot springs mounds

There was no one else on the trail and it was awesome. We wandered on around the hot springs and checked out the first structure that was commissioned in the park. It was suppose to be a bathhouse fed by the hot spring, but the park commissioner changed and it was never finished.

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (57) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (58) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (59)

This is not advisable.

This is not advisable.

The second half of the loop was much easier to follow through a wooded area. We did have to go through another mush area and I was not wearing the right shoes for it. We were thinking about continuing the hike down to Fairy Falls, but we spent so much time wandering around the hot springs, we headed back to the truck see more of the park.

This is also not advisable. I did not approve it.

This is also not advisable. I did not approve it.

Fire damage

Fire damage

After the hike, we went over to Old Faithful, we were not interested in seeing it erupt, we were interested in looking at the Visitor Center. It was the first project I ever worked on. Due to budget, a lot was cut, a lot of what I worked on, but it was still cool to see. After seeing the center, we headed over to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. After a stroll on the boardwalk between the geysers and Yellowstone Lake, we did one more little hike to Duck Lake.

Geyser in the lake

Geyser in the lake

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (68) Quake Lake & Yellowstone (107)The hike to Duck Lake is only a mile round trip. Along the way, you can see both Duck Lake and Yellowstone Lake. When you come across the power lines, head up the hill and check out the view of the lakes from there. The trail comes out of a dense woods onto a nice little beach. Across from the beach is the road looping around at a higher elevation. People were stopped taking pictures of the lovely view. I like to think that when they saw movement across the way, they thought some typically unseen animal was coming out. Nope just us. Someone had build a tepee like structure on the beach for us to hang out under and watch the people watching us.

Duck Lake shore

Duck Lake shore

Looking at the tourist across the lake

Looking at the tourist across the lake above the snow

Once we were over the lake and getting hungry we headed to our campground at Bridge Bay via a beautiful drive along Yellowstone Lake.

View across Yellowstone Lake

View across Yellowstone Lake

Stay tuned for the last day of our awesome weekend.

 

Get lost

off trail pics

buffalo

duck lake hike too

 

Quake Lake [First Summer Camping Trip]

Camp Site

On Freaky Friday we took off work a little early and headed out of a rainy Bozeman towards Yellowstone National Park. We were doing a two night camping trip and the first night we were staying about 20 miles west of the park at the Cabin Creek Campground between Earthquake Lake and Hebgen Lake. I had been here a little over 10 years ago on a family trip and remember it was beautiful. It’s about a two hour drive and sunshine was waiting for us when we arrived.

We set up camp, (I recommend getting reservations, you can do it online for most campgrounds and on short notice) and after talking to the campground host, headed over to drive along the Madison River on Ghost Town Road.

Let me back up here and give you a bit of info on Quake Lake. Back in 1959 around 11:30 PM on August 17th, a 7.3 Earthquake occurred with an epicenter in Hebgen Lake, which sits on the eastern edge of Madison Canyon. The Madison River flows through the lake and continues on through the canyon. The earthquake caused a landslide at the west end of the canyon and closed off the river causing a lake to form. The earthquake also damaged the road and trapped over a hundred people in the canyon. The the water surges swept cabins away and 27 people died with many more injured.

Earthquake Lake

Earthquake Lake

As you drive along Ghost Town Road you see many cabins on the opposite side of the river. Some look fairly intact, while others are clearly caved in and damaged. All of them were moved to their current locations by the water after the earthquake. You eventually hit a point where you cannot drive any longer and we went for a little hike along the river. It was around 7:30 or 8PM while we were doing this and across the river we saw a group of Mountain Goats. There were even a few kids in the group. This is a pretty big deal cause these guys are not so easy to find, typically high up on the cliffs, not down low like we found them.

Collapsed Cabin Roof visible across the river

Collapsed Cabin Roof visible across the river and more cabins farther back

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White trees stand in the water where they were flooded

White trees stand in the water where they were flooded

Mountain Goats! In the red boxes.

Mountain Goats! In the red boxes.

Looking East along the Madison River

Looking East along the Madison River

After watching them for a bit, we returned to the Visitor Center that sits high above the river and directly across from where the landslide occurred. It is built on the boulders and earth that was moved across the canyon. It was kind of awesome to be there after it was closed because no one else was and we could walk around the trails reading about the earthquake and what happened with out waiting for others. We could also enjoy the spectacular views of the canyon alone. We decided we would check out the small visitor center in the morning before headed out to Yellowstone and returned to our campsite as the sun disappeared.

Landslide location

Landslide location

The view east of the canyon from the visitor center

The view east of the canyon from the visitor center

The view west of the canyon from the visitor center

The view west of the canyon from the visitor center

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (45)We built a fire and enjoyed a quick and easy dinner followed by s’mores while waiting for the Harvest Moon to appear. Since we were still in the canyon, we were not sure we were going to get to see it, but it did make an appearance between the clouds briefly. We decided we should probably crash before it started raining and called it a night.

Quake Lake & Yellowstone (36)Quake Lake & Yellowstone (38)

Harvest moon making a creepy appearance between the clouds

Harvest moon making a creepy appearance between the clouds

The next morning, we woke up, made breakfast and broke down camp before heading back to the Visitor Center. Most of the information they had inside, they had out on the signs that we read the night before, so we didn’t spend much time there, but there were a few more interesting facts. After that we headed east to Hebgen Lake. Just east of the dam point, there is another area where cabins are sunk in the water and were moved from their original locations due to the earthquake. This is the spot I remembered from our family trip and it was interesting to see it again not as a snotty teenager and actually appreciate what happened.

 

Coffee.

Coffee.

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Quake Lake & Yellowstone (49)Cabins damaged along Hebgen Lake

From here we went into West Yellowstone, grabbed some coffee at Freeheel and Wheel before entering the Park. I’ll follow up with the rest of the trip in subsequent posts. In the meantime, here is a link to the map I made of the places we went on this trip.