Friday, August 25, 2006

It Never Rains In August (Day 2)

So the day after getting rained out, we headed to Hellroaring Plateau, to camp out for the night and then hike into Sliderock Lake early the next morning. Once more, there was a looming chance of rain. Jump to the bottom and scroll up...

Last light, through the mist...

And an even larger one. [Hi-res version]

A killer panorma... [Hi-res version]

Looking out to the northwest, across to the north side of the Hellroaring Plateau. The light is fading quickly now...

Malachi and Jack, posing for the camera

Another great shot, looking back towards Red Lodge

This one was perhaps the best of them all. I haven't seen many sunsets like this...

And another one. I love my dog! :-)

A nice shot of Jack, who came along with us.

Another shot. Stunning.

And here was a REALLY cool shot - Malachi and I watching the last light of sunset as it peaked through the mist.

Looking back to the northeast again, right above the bottom of Hellroaring Plateau. Mountain goats climb up from below here quite often (meaning, the left side of the picture drops off FAST)

Nothing like a cup of coffee and a pipe in the mountains after dinner. Wow. This was beautiful (and cold)!

While everyone else headed to bed, Malachi and I walked up the ridge to look at the clouds.

Here's another look, out to the northeast...

After dinner, just before it got dark, a really cool fog set in. The mountains on the opposite canyon were lit up with sun, but we were standing in the middle of a fog bank, looking out an down. Very eerie, very cool.

What's that? A bird? A plane? Is it the eagles coming to rescue us? Nope. Just Marilyn being wierd... Sheesh. :-)

Yes, Rebekah is hungry.

And then we add in some mushrooms and make some gravy, and voila! A great beef strogonoff!

So what's for dinner? Well we start by boiling some noodles in water (that pot on the left), and while that's working, we get some elk stew meat simmering (there on the right)

Once again, its threatening to storm (see how excited Marilyn looks?). So the first thing we need is a good hot cooked dinner. Time to make a little windbreak and fire up the Coleman Stove!

A great look back up the canyon of the East Fork of Rock Creek...

A beautiful shot of the sun backlighting the clouds. Now THAT is blue sky, folks!

In the end, it turned out to be a good thing that we went back to Billings on Wednesday night, because some things came up with the house that needed our attention. Marilyn spent most of Thursday morning taking care of that, and then in the afternoon, we piled in the car and headed for Hellroaring Plateau, where we were going to camp beside the car and then day hike for a couple of days. Here we are near the top of the plateau - quite a view, to say the least! [Hi-res version]

It Never Rains In August (Day 1)

So one of the "truisms" of hiking in Montana is that it never rains in August. (Honest Taehoo!) Hmm... I'm beginning to doubt this old saying. We headed up for a three day hike with the whole family, and got a little wet, to say the least. Jump to the bottom and scroll up to get the skinny and see the day unfold in chronological order...

So what are we going to do, now that our 3-day camping trip has been spoiled? Head for the Grizzly Bar, that's what! They have GREAT burgers and steaks. So good in fact, that when we showed up at 7:30 PM on a Wednesday evening, the place was packed and their was an hour long wait. *sigh*... we headed over to Red Lodge instead, to eat dinner there and then head back to Billings for the night (and a chance to get dried out)

This looking back up towards East Rosebud, about a mile out of Roscoe.

And a nice shot of the moutains, on our way back out. Hmm.. they look just fine, now, don't they?

And another one

A close up of some leaves in the sunlight.

Panned back out, to provide a little context

A kind-of-cool shot of the stream, rushing down through the bottom of the canyon

And just in case you missed it the first time, they'll do it again (and again)

Marilyn and Micah strike their Lewis & Clark pose...

Back down below Slough Lake on the way out, the sun managed to peak through for a bit, and everything was pretty, glistening in the afternoon light

One very wet lab...

A nice ominous look back up the canyon from whence we just came...

So here we are, on our way back out. The rain has stopped pouring, but the sky is still ominous and we are all still pretty wet. And footsore. And 5-6 miles from the trailhead. *sigh*

About this point in the hike, I turned to my wife and casually mentioned 'Hmm... maybe we should head back' (at which point she's supposed to say, 'No, of course not honey! We've come a long ways and we're really close. Let's just press on! We're tough!" For some reason. She didn't say that. Instead she flashed me that 'well-its-about-time-Einstein' look and said 'yeah, I think so' in that tone of voice that means she really isn't open to discussing any other options.

So she is smiling here because I actually LISTENED to her and turned around (much to my chagrin, I admit). We were SO close to getting there... (of course, they might have stoned me after they had hiked over the next stretch, so maybe it wasn't so bad after all...)

Ok, so remember how I mentioned those clouds? Well within an hour, all of a sudden there were LOTS of them. And then, you guessed it, it started to rain. HARD. So out came the rain ponchos (and we discovered that 3 of them were really old and didn't work so well).

Everyone is still smiling here, but that's because we thought it was going to blow over quickly. It didn't. Instead, it started hailing (marble size), the dog was yelping, we were all getting pelted, and lightning was bouncing off the granite a couple hundred yards above our heads.

Not exactly a safe place to be in a thunderstorm. Especially since the next stretch in the hike is by far the hardest - at this point, we're only about a mile and a half from the lake, but you have to climb up a very steep scree field (that means lots of rocks, from the size of your cat to your kitchen table, all of them loose and shifting). Then it gets steeper, and you climb up a shoot, with rocks the size of Volkswagons. And you hyperventilate and curse the person who brought you on this hike. So that's what lies ahead. And when you add a whole bunch of water and lightning (think 'getting electrocuted while slipping on loose boulders'), well, it doesn't exactly make for very happy campers.

Another view up the canyon, this time with a bit more detail...

Ok folks, back to work. We've got some ground to cover. From Slough Creek to the end of the canyon, its just a nice gradual incline. Not hard, but not exactly short either. Hmm... notice a few more clouds in that sky?

Oooh, watch me shake! Ah! That feels good!

Jack: "Hey, look! You guys didn't really MEAN to throw away that apple core did you? Look, I brought it back for you!!!"

Here's a nice shot of Micah (wearing Great Grandpa Cryder's old fishing hat)

Malachi and Marilyn, resting their weary bones. When you haven't hiked since last summer (and you've spent most of the last 4 years at sea level), the Phantom Lake hike turns out to be quite a bit of work.

Looking back down Slough Lake - you can see how shallow it is. But it sure is pretty...

Notice how there's hardly a cloud in the sky! (in the mountains, that can change real quickly). Where we are headed is about 4 miles further back up the canyon, right at the top of that green tree covered saddle there in the background.

Apples taste really good after you've been hiking all morning

Rebekah and Jack, taking in the scenery

Here we are at Slough Lake - its really more of a wide spot in the marshy meadow than a true lake, but its full of little brookies, and it makes a great place to stop for a water break and enjoy the view...