It has been over 100 degrees for three weeks straight. No rain in sight, in fact, no clouds for a bit of reprieve from the sun, even. Been wishing and praying for rain, especially after hearing a frightening statistic about wildfires this week.
Over 1400 fires burning in the northwest right now.
Each day the risk increases exponentially. So when the thunderheads rolled in over the Yellowstone River two days ago while we were out on a river clean-up project, I was looking forward to the forthecoming storm. It rained for a few hours and blew on past. The tempterature dropped twenty degrees, and we could feel a breeze. What a blessing. And today when I woke up, I awoke to a spattering of rain drops falling through the mesh upper of my tent. I had left the rain fly off to enjoy the stars. It feels good to enjoy the rain. More please!
Friday, July 20
One of my youth crew leaders, Noah, scaling the rimrocks north of Billings. We took his youth crew rock climbing on Monday. Unfortunately it was 100 degrees out and half of the crew were not interested in stepping out of the shade to scald hands and feet on the rockface. The route that Noah is climbing is called "Welcome to Billings". I tried it and got about halfway up before my muscles told me I was to go no further. This route is for the super strong, I guess. The trick is wedging both hands in the crack, pulling as hard as you can away from the wall as if you are trying to open the crack, and walking your feet up the wall. Right....
Monday, July 16
As Maddie and I walked along a boardwalk over the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, I began explaining to her why the earth and water were so colorful there. My explanation, of course, contained some scientific terms like, microorganism and acidic. And as she was asking me some clarifying questions about the afore mentioned, she slipped in this statement in a very serious voice.
"Leslie, I didn't know you knowed so much."
I had to stop and laugh a bit at that priceless moment. I must normally come off quite ignorant in Maddie's company. I'll have to work on that.
After Emily, Franz, and the girls drove south out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Saturday morning, I drove north to the Tetons and backpacked into a campsite about eight miles in. My campsite was situated behind the Grand Teton and in a canyon called Cascade Canyon. I saw plenty of day hikers, lots of wildlife, a handful of raging waterfalls, but not too many backpackers as I hiked to my campsite.
During the night, of which I slept little, I was disturbed at various times by a marten that was very interested in the items I had under the vestibule of my tent. Each time I heard it moving very close to my body, with only a thin nylon barrier separating us, my heart skipped a beat, or two. An elk wandered into my campsite, as well, scaring me once again. I knew I shouldn't have read Night of the Grizzlies, before traveling into the backcountry. Morning came none too soon and I was packed up and hiking by 7 am.
Saturday as I hiked into my campsite, I passed four moose munching on an afternoon snack. I was very excited to encounter four at once. If you look closely at the picture you can see one moose feeding and then another to it's left lying in the grass. All you can see are the antlers and part of it's head.
In 2002, Megan and I had backpacked in the Tetons and spent some time at Jenny Lake. It was fun to come back and take looksy at the lake again.
Emily, Franz, Madeline, and Katie made the cross country trip from Illinois to Montana. Arriving safely, and amazingly sane in Billings last Thursday evening. I've never heard of a driving route from Chicago to Phoenix, by way of Montana, but hey, anything goes when you're pushing 100mph in a slick black mercedes, I guess! I was thrilled that they visited, and excited to tour Yellowstone National park with them and stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday night before they split for the last leg of their long journey home.
Saturday, July 7
After spending six days in the Little Belts, I drove up to Glacier National Park to meet my college buddy, Amber, and her husband Dan and their friend Dan. We spent four nights in the backcountry of Glacier, viewing the spectacular vistas, climbing over mountain passes, cooling off in the frigid glacial lakes, fording rivers and being ever watchful for Grizzly and Black Bears. Alas we saw no Griz, but we did spot a Black Bear from across a creek.
Since the Senior Youth Crew Leader from Great Falls left her position a month ago, I was asked to visit her youth crews at some point in the season. I had been looking forward to visiting the Expedition crew from Great Falls because they are the older kids (16-18) and their session is all backcountry work for four weeks, in which they don't go home at all. The youth are from all over the state of Montana, instead of a specific region. And since all of their work is backcountry, they usually get packed into a campsite with pack horses and mules. June 24th, I headed up to the Little Belt Mountains to work on Off Highway Vehicle trails. I spent a week with the Expedition crew living in the mountains, working on trails, laughing around the campfire, and dodging hale stones.