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Patty Nov 13th, 2019 10:34 AM

A Wine Festival, a Sheep Festival and Stuck in a Snowstorm at Old Faithful
This was a fall road trip that was planned primarily around the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Ketchum Idaho with many add ons that ended up stretching to trip to almost 3 weeks. We were originally going to leave home on Monday October 7th for a very long drive to Winnemucca NV but found out about the Big Crush harvest festival in Amador County CA that weekend and couldn't resist adding it. Found a guest cottage on airbnb that was within 20 minutes drive of the wineries 3 days before departure and spent Saturday and Sunday enjoying the event. All of the wineries had food and many had live music. It made for a lovely weekend and we left with as much wine as we could fit in the already packed SUV. Monday morning we meandered around Apple Hill (can't resist cider donuts), made our way along 50, stopped to stretch our legs at Lake Tahoe and ended up at the Candlewood Suites in Winnemucca for the evening.
Fall in Amador
Grape must
New Mexican brunch and sangria at Terre Rouge
Low country boil at Distant Cellars
Barrel tasting at Helwig
Fresh donuts at Rainbow Orchards
Bridal Veil Falls along 50

Patty Nov 13th, 2019 10:40 AM

On Tuesday we drove up to Boise and visited the World Center for Birds of Prey I hadn't realized they were one of four captive breeding facilities for the California condor in the US. We spent the evening at the Holiday Inn Express near Boise State (I had a bunch of IHG free nights certs I needed to use up) and had a nice dinner at Barbacoa.
Harpy eagle
Golden eagle

Patty Nov 13th, 2019 12:07 PM

Wednesday's destination was Redfish Lake Lodge in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley. We've stayed there twice previously but normally they'd be closed at this time of year so we thought we were going to miss it this time. In late summer they posted on their website that they would be extending their season by another week so I quickly snatched up a cabin with a fireplace, a good thing as it turned out to be the lowest temperatures of the whole trip. It had snowed at elevation on Tuesday and was still snowing on the drive up. I had put snow tires on before we left even though I hadn't really thought we'd run into much snow. We stopped at Stanley Lake and had lunch at Stanley Baking. When checking into our cabin we were told about some extra activities that had been added for this final week including a moonlight boat cruise which sounded a little brisk given the overnight temps were going to dip into the single digits. I was hoping more for bonfire but that wasn't scheduled until later in the week. In the afternoon we just hung out and wandered short trails nearby. Dinner was at the lodge restaurant Limberts. Because they were having live music tonight it was quite busy with lots of locals. Glad we had made a reservation. We're always pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food here.
Hwy 21
Stanley Lake
Gnocchi at Limberts

Patty Nov 13th, 2019 12:47 PM

Thursday was one of those beautiful post storm days where the sun comes out and everything is crisp. We had a yummy breakfast at Limberts and waited for it to warm up a bit before hiking. By afternoon much of the snow had melted and trails were mostly clear though a little muddy. Another delicious dinner and evening fire. We opted out of the boat cruise.

MmePerdu Nov 13th, 2019 01:25 PM

Is Apple Hill the place east of Placerville? I've never heard of it but cider doughnuts may be worth a 50 mile drive.

Patty Nov 13th, 2019 02:28 PM

Today we're driving down to Ketchum for our first taste of the sheep fest activities. We stopped at Galena Summit and the Sawtooth NRA visitor center so my husband can buy his lifetime senior pass, woo hoo! He tells me to stop reminding him at every opportunity of the discounts he can get now :D
Pronghorn along 75
Galena Summit

We had a nice lunch at Rickshaw in downtown Ketchum lucking out on the last 2 seats at the bar as we walked in and then checked into our airbnb condo just on the edge of town. I took a leap of faith and booked a condo that was under renovation with zero reviews but I communicated back and forth with the owner and received before and after photos so felt fairly comfortable. The place turned out better than expected
Pad thai at Rickshaw

The first festival event we attended was a Ranching Q&A at the local library which was quite fascinating for two people who know nothing about sheep ranching. This was followed by For the Love of Lamb where for $20 per person there were 14 participating restaurants in downtown Ketchum serving small lamb bites. While we were in line at our first restaurant, the couple behind us mentioned how competitive this event is. After we heard that, we were determined to see how many we could fit in during the allotted hour and a half. We made it to 11 restaurants and then asked ourselves why we ate so much.

Patty Nov 13th, 2019 02:29 PM

Originally Posted by MmePerdu (Post 17015872)
Is Apple Hill the place east of Placerville? I've never heard of it but cider doughnuts may be worth a 50 mile drive.

Yes, and Rainbow Orchard had fried to order ones

Patty Nov 13th, 2019 03:52 PM

There are a number of festival activities to choose from each day and on Saturday we decided to go to the sheep dog trials and Folklife Fair both are which were in Hailey about 20 minutes south of Ketchum. We started with the dog trials which were a lot of fun and we found ourselves rooting for certain dogs. It helps if you have binoculars as the field is quite large. Then we made our way to the Folklife Fair and had some delicious lamb ribs and enjoyed the festivities.

MichelleY Nov 13th, 2019 10:38 PM

Thanks for the report and photos. The Trailing of the Sheep is on my wishlist. I follow them on Facebook. The scenery looks beautiful and the food looks yummy!

Patty Nov 14th, 2019 10:26 AM

Sunday is the final day of Trailing of the Sheep with the parade down Main St at noon but first we joined the caravan that met at the post office in the morning to drive north of town to photograph the 1500 head of sheep that are being held on the hillside before the parade. It's not far outside of town and you can also easily do this on your own. They were just past the Bigwood Golf Course.

After photographing the sheep we parked back at the condo and walked to Main St for the parade. Many people place chairs on the side walk the day before. We were easily able to find a front row spot to watch the parade in one of the intersections on the north end of Main St. All of the performers at yesterday's Folklife Fair were also in the parade. There was one runaway sheep but it otherwise went off without a hitch. At the end came the street sweeper.
A runaway

There was also a festival closing party in the town square with live music and more food. It was a busy and fun 3 days and we had great weather.

Patty Nov 14th, 2019 12:57 PM

The next part of the trip was mostly unplanned as we debated which route to take home. When I asked my husband where he wanted to stop on the way back, he said "the Tetons!" to which I said "that's not in the right direction!" OTOH it sounded like a great idea so off we went for 4 nights in a cabin at Dornans On the drive between Ketchum and Jackson, we made a brief stop at Craters of the Moon.

It was nice to spend a longer stretch of time in the Tetons allowing us to take some detours and side roads, some of which tested the clearance of our SUV. We saw lots of moose on this trip and had 4 days of clear fall weather until Thursday evening when it started to change. The park is very quiet by mid-October and we didn't run into anyone else on our hikes from Colter Bay and Two Ocean Lake. Only farther south at Lupine Meadows and the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve closer to Jackson did we run into other hikers. We had pizza one night at Dornans. Monday is Hootenanny night and my husband joined in with his ukulele. The rest of the time we mostly picnicked and cooked. On Thursday we drove to Amangani for lunch. They have a beautiful view across the valley.
Jackson Lake
Togwotee Pass
Schwabacher Landing
Beer, check... bear spray, check... ice cream sandwiches, check...
Black bear sow and cub
View from Amangani
Lunch at Amangani
Hootenanny rules

Patty Nov 14th, 2019 02:56 PM

At this point we had debated whether to start the journey home but I'd also found a last minute cabin cancellation at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge on the last two evenings that the lodge would be open for fall. There was a fairly substantial storm in the forecast but it wasn't supposed to really get going until Friday afternoon so we calculated that we'd be able to make it to the Snow Lodge but perhaps not out. We figured worst case scenario, they'd have to keep the lodge open past their official closing date or find a way to get us out so we went for it! We got an early start on Friday so we could get through the south entrance before they close it on us. The morning alternated between sunny skies and flurries. At the West Thumb junction we had to decide whether to continue or turn right. Continuing would take us toward Old Faithful and the geyser basin. I was very interested in hiking the Fairy Falls trail and walking the boardwalk at Grand Prismatic where we'd been unable to find parking on previous trips but as the light was fading, we made a quick decision to turn right and drive along the shore of Lake Yellowstone so we could cruise through Hayden Valley. This would turn out to be very fortuitous as not long after we turned we came upon 4 wolves close to the road. My husband and I looked at each other and thought "are you seeing what I'm seeing?" It was an unbelievably lucky sighting. We pulled over on the opposite side of the road and shortly after another car pulled over behind us. The two wolves in front didn't seem shy with one almost walking toward us before crossing the road behind us. Two more were farther in the woods and more hesitant but eventually crossed as well. We lost sight of them after they all crossed and started down toward the lake but we were both completely giddy by then!
Is he really walking TOWARD us? Why are my windows so dirty?

Patty Nov 14th, 2019 03:24 PM

I forgot what we did the rest of the day ;) Seriously, we did drive through Hayden seeing many bison. At one point there might have been a grizzly in the area but no one looking seemed to have actually seen it. We stopped at the Norris Geyser Basin and Midway Geyser Basin where Grand Prismatic Spring is. At this point the wind was blowing so hard all we could see was steam and I was worried we'd get blown off of the boardwalk. We did get nice views of the two smaller pools, opal and turquoise. Next we tried to stop at the Fairy Falls trailhead to discover that it had been closed for 3 days already due to bear activity. Oh well, I don't think we would've gotten any better views from up there and we definitely made the lucky decision to turn right. We proceeded to Old Faithful and saw our first of many eruptions. We also had time to hike up to Observation Point before checking into the Snow Lodge. Dinner was at the Obsidian Dining Room which was OK. I think they're starting to run low on supplies cause everything came with the same dry roasted vegetable side dish. Not long after 6pm I started getting text alerts as the roads started closing. AT&T service is much improved since our last stay and the lobby wifi is now free and better than when you had to pay though still slow. As the evening progressed the snow came down heavier and heavier.
Midway Geyser Basin
Turquoise Pool
Observation Point
Bison near the trail

Clousie Nov 14th, 2019 08:39 PM

Wonderful report and pictures. Looking forward to more after the snowstorm.

Leely2 Nov 14th, 2019 08:44 PM

Fantastic photos and amazing sightings!

Patty Nov 15th, 2019 09:47 AM

As expected all roads except the northern one between Gardiner and Cooke City were closed this morning. We were literally stuck at Old Faithful with more snow to come. We walked the Upper Geyser Basin in the morning at times finding ourselves the only people standing in front of Old Faithful erupting. At one point an emergency vehicle came by and announced that they were organizing a convoy out. We asked if we were required to leave to which the answer was no so we kept wandering. After the convoy left, there were about 50-60 guests remaining. By late afternoon we were snowshoeing. Other people were having snowball fights and building snowmen.
Solitary Geyser

Patty Nov 15th, 2019 10:13 AM

By Sunday morning the weather had cleared and we were waiting for road clearance. We were hoping to head up to Gardiner but were told we could only go to West Yellowstone in the morning convoy. We asked about the chance of Madison to the north entrance opening today at the Old Faithful visitor center, while in the convoy line and at the West Yellowstone visitor center. At all 3 locations we were told there was zero chance of that happening (we were hoping to have lunch in West Yellowstone and drive back through the park again) so we decided to drive the long way around via Bozeman. Half an hour before we got to Gardiner I got a text that Madison to the north entrance had reopened! Oh well, it was a very pretty drive through Gallatin Canyon and we got to see that tiny sliver of the northwest corner of the park. Roads were clear all the way to Gardiner. There was a line of cars at West Yellowstone when we exited and I felt bad for anyone staying there that weekend as inbound traffic was pretty much closed from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. We checked into the Yellowstone Gateway Inn in Gardiner after dodging elk and deer through town and had a nice dinner at Wonderland Cafe. I was told it hadn't snowed in Gardiner over the weekend.
Gallatin Canyon
The deer in Gardiner use the cross walks.
Jalapeno cornbread at Wonderland Cafe. I want one right now.

Patty Nov 15th, 2019 10:57 AM

More snow was in the forecast on Monday so we felt that the only safe road to take to prevent being stuck on the wrong side of a closure was the one from Gardiner to Cooke City and even then we were slightly concerned but at least there are hotels in Cooke City if we needed a place to sleep. We got an early start and drove through Lamar Valley stopping to chat with wolf watchers a couple of times (no one had seen any). We took a short hike around Trout Lake. We drove out of the northeast entrance all the way to the junction of the Beartooth and Chief Joseph. Returning into the park, the ranger joked that we were stuck on this side. That's not funny! We did learn that all other roads had closed so at that point decided we should start heading back to Gardiner. Traffic was stopped in both directions after Tower while they cleared a few stuck cars off of the road. Then the sand truck came by. I have some nice sandblast divots on one side of my car now. Once we got through that we figured we were home safe so stopped for a short walk to Wraith Falls and again at Mammoth Hot Springs. We enjoyed Wonderland Cafe so much we went back for dinner.
Trout Lake
Slough Creek
Overlook along the Beartooth
Waiting for the sand truck
Wraith Falls
Elk at Mammoth Hot Springs

Patty Nov 15th, 2019 12:28 PM

After continually heading farther and farther from home for the last 8 days and waking up to sleet in Gardiner, we decided it was probably time to actually start our journey home. We needed to be home by Saturday and wanted to give ourselves some extra cushion. The road through the park heading south from Mammoth was still closed so we again went the long way around via Bozeman. It was snowing as we passed Big Sky and through West Yellowstone. We weren't sure how far we'd get today but were making good time and had been curious about City of Rocks in southeastern Idaho. There's only one small inn near the reserve so I left a message hoping someone would call me back. I also called the City of Rocks visitor center to ask what would happen if I just showed up at the inn. I was told that probably wouldn't work since no one is onsite at the inn. Luckily as we were having lunch in Idaho Falls, I got a call back and cabin booked. We reached Almo Idaho in the late afternoon after a long travel day and stopped at the visitor center to pick up a map and trail information before heading over to the Almo Inn to find our unlocked cabin with the key inside. Dinner was out of our picnic leftovers as there was not much other than a small general store nearby (in summer there's a pizza place open).
Almo Inn

The next morning we headed into the reserve early stopping at various rock formations and hiked at Creekside Towers. We saw a few cars in the reserve but no one on the trail. This place turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise.
This was part of the California Trail

Patty Nov 15th, 2019 12:49 PM

After our morning in the reserve, we decided to continue on. Heading south we drove miles and miles of gravel roads (the roads inside the reserve were also gravel BTW) through northwestern UT before finally hitting asphalt and crossing into NV. We stopped in Elko to check out the newish Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum, the exhibit at the Western Folklife Center and some of the new murals around town from the mural festival last month before ending up for the evening in Winnemucca again.

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