The Journey is the Thing

Old Jun 3rd, 2021, 05:48 AM
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May 15 –

As it happened our room was located directly over the swimming pool, and due to some bizarre acoustics, it got crazy noisy when people were in the pool; it seemed as if they were in the room with us (only a problem the first night, otherwise the hotel felt pretty empty).


Sign on door leading from hotel to parking lot


At the suggestion of the woman in the Visitor’s Center Bill had popped into The Great Outdoor shop the previous afternoon and picked the brains of one of the guys there who gave him some pointers on what trails could be accessed this time of year.

So, armed with the map he’d purchased, we headed up Freemont Lake Road/Skyline Road/Half Moon Lake Road in search of the Half Moon Lake Trailhead in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which we found some eleven miles from Pinedale.

The trail was undulating and serene, we only saw seven other people. We hiked 3.5 miles, just over two hours, but had to turn back at Pole Creek since neither of us could get excited about wading through knee deep water. I was surprised by all the downed trees, which would become a theme over the next few days.



Half Moon Lake


We then decided to approach it from the other side (Little Half Moon Lake) driving back to town then taking 191 to 121, which we followed for eleven miles, two of which was very rough 4x4 road. We’d been warned that the Forest Service didn’t have the funds to maintain many of its roads, and that was definitely our experience. As soon as we got onto a Forest Service road, things got interesting.

Alas, Pole Creek separated us from the trail again, this crossing the size of Texas, so we settled for following a primitive elk and moose poop-riddled track around Little Half Moon Lake which led us to yet another Pole Creek crossing. So we walked along the creek to an area overlooking (Big) Half Moon Lake, logging another 2.5 miles and seeing not another soul.



Little Half Moon Lake

Then it was back up that bone jarring dirt road, back to Freemont Lake Road/Skyline Road/Half Moon Lake Road one more time for drinks on the peaceful patio of Half Moon Lake Lodge overlooking…the lake. It’s here that Bill discovered his new favorite beer, Wasatch Brewing Company’s (Utah) Apricot Hefe.



Drinks with a view, Half Moon Lake Lodge

Our circular route had taken us some 65 miles, yet we didn’t really go anywhere.

Back in Pinedale we popped into Heart and Soul Café, where the woman manning the place glanced up from her cell phone and gruffly advised us that the only option tonight was pizza and it would be a 40 minute wait, yet only one table was occupied. We passed.

That evening we lost electricity in the hotel for about two hours. We learned later that it was wildlife related, and affected several towns.

To be continued…
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Old Jun 4th, 2021, 02:17 AM
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I'm really enjoying this. Great photos with some stunning views. We've been to that part of the world but in summer. The snowstorm you encountered sounded very scary. I much prefer the hot, dry weather we had on our last visit to Colorado and Utah. When you mentioned long drops, I immediately thought of what we call long drops in Australia (extremely rustic toilets). I'm trying to figure out what you meant...
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Old Jun 4th, 2021, 07:05 AM
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Kay - thanks for coming along. Unfortunately, I can't read most of your post due to the mysterious grey square! I hope they get this fixed soon - its maddening.
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Old Jun 6th, 2021, 10:53 AM
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May 16 –

We found it interesting that no employees in our hotel wore a face mask, yet they didn’t offer any service either. Until the last day of our stay, breakfast was all pre-wrapped, paper plates, plastic cutlery, etc.

We had to empty our own trash and collect more soap at the front desk. None of this was mentioned when we checked in. It was all due to COVID of course, but it felt as if the hotel had implemented only the protocols that benefited them.

It was 43 F when we left the hotel and drove west on 191, turned right on 352 towards Cora, and then joined CR 162 and New Fork Lake Road and entered the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the last two miles on rough dirt road. We saw plentiful antelope and raptors during the drive, now some 26 miles from Pinedale.

Our destination, the New Fork Lake Trailhead, but we drove into the campground first, the bear lockers reminding us that we’d need to carry our bear spray.

We spent the next three hours walking above the lake and then into the wilderness area at the base of the Wind River Range, seeing bear scat, but fortunately no bears. The views were gorgeous, the people few, and we even saw a wolf! A gorgeous hike on a gorgeous day.


New Fork Lake Trail

New Fork Lake Trail

New Fork Lake Trail

New Fork Lake Trail

We then continued north on 352 until the pavement ended and became Green River Lakes Road, deciding to turn around when the road became too rough.

What we didn’t know at the time, is that Green River Lakes is one of Wyoming’s most scenic drives; the lakes are 52 miles north of Pinedale in the northern Wind River Range and are considered the source of the Green River. I’ve since read that the road leads to a ‘stunning view’ of Square Top Mountain looming over the lakes and is a good place to see moose, elk, deer, bear, hawks and eagles.

Damn. Now we have to go back.


Green River Lakes Road


On a whim we followed a dirt track back to Kendall Valley Lodge, where we sipped cold beer and cider at their picnic table, the temperature a lovely 64 F. Here we discovered from the woman manning the lodge that Green River Lakes Road is a popular spot for snowmobilers in the winter. One of the guests staying at the lodge showed us photos of a moose he’d taken just hours before.


Drive to Kendall Valley Lodge


The dining table in our room came in handy that night; Bill zeroed in on the barbecued ribs in the warmer at the Ridley’s grocery store and just had to give them a go (he said they were really good).

To be continued…
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Old Jun 6th, 2021, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by KayF View Post
I'm really enjoying this. Great photos with some stunning views. We've been to that part of the world but in summer. The snowstorm you encountered sounded very scary. I much prefer the hot, dry weather we had on our last visit to Colorado and Utah. When you mentioned long drops, I immediately thought of what we call long drops in Australia (extremely rustic toilets). I'm trying to figure out what you meant...
I meant exactly what you think I meant.

I picked up the phrase long drop when I lived in Australia. Here they're known as outhouses.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 05:51 AM
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May 17 –

With only a short drive to our next stop, we walked from our hotel to Boyd-Skinner Park to see if the moose was still there. We found her, noshing on the trees very near the playground, making us wonder if the parents of Pinedale remain on high alert. We continued walking for a while along Pine Creek, enjoying the quiet cool morning, not another person in sight.

We then walked over to the very pretty Cooley Memorial Park to get in some extra mileage, but not expecting to see a male moose, dozing in the weeds. Not wanting to test his temperament by walking past him, we got a few poor quality long distance photos and returned the way we'd come.


Cooley Memorial Park


It was 52 F when we left Pinedale around 10 am, headed northwest on 191 for the 77 mile drive to Jackson, WY. About 28 miles later the drive became much prettier, the trees leafless. Soon we were driving through a fog bank, the temperature dropping to 45 F.

We passed through Bondurant, population 100, seeing patches of snow on the hills ahead and then snow covered mountains. The landscape became prettier and prettier and we were soon driving alongside the Hoback River.

We entered Teton County and turned right towards Jackson, a major road construction project underway, now down to one lane, necessitating a short wait.

Soon we were driving alongside the Snake River, the trees in full leaf, and then suddenly…we were deposited in very busy Jackson. We followed the GPS through town, trying to find a lunch venue I’d sussed out in advance, Persephone Bakery.

Jackson’s town center was under construction as well, some roads closed, making the clog of traffic even worse. We lucked into a parking spot and settled in for an al fresco lunch.

The bakery was hopping, people inside and out. We’d only been in town for a few minutes, but had already seen more people here than we had in a week. Our food was okay, certainly nothing to get excited about, and rather pricy for what it was. But this is the tourist town of Jackson.

It was too early to check into our hotel, so we hightailed it out to Grand Teton National Park, entering at Moose Junction. We collected a hiking map at the Visitor’s Center (busy, but not horrible), finding the sign outside the entrance interesting – vaccinated, no mask needed, non-vaccinated, wear a mask. Of course few people were wearing one. There was also a sign advising that every trail in the park likely had snow.


Grand Teton National Park


We decided to hike the first trail we came to; Taggart Lake, snagging the last available parking spot.

The trail was pretty busy, but most people just hiked to the lake and back. We continued from Taggart Lake to Beaver Creek making it a loop; this section of the trail had a lot of snow drifts covering the trail, ice and mud, but we had it to ourselves other than a young couple hiking in flip flops (four miles, 2:15).



Hike to Taggart Lake

Taggart Lake

Taggart Lake to Beaver Creek


On the return drive to town we saw a white fox in a standoff with some cyclists on the bike path. The cyclists were patiently waiting for the fox to move on, the fox seemed frozen in place.

About those bike paths – we were last at Grand Teton in the 80’s - a lifetime ago - so we were surprised by all the bike paths. A Google search turned up this interesting timeline of bike pathways in Grand Teton, an idea that was born in 1978 and not implemented until 2008.

https://www.wyopath.org/brief-histor...comment-again/

We then checked into the most expensive accommodation of our trip, The Lexington (three nights, $637, booked two months in advance), which turned out to be a great choice (excellent service, great water pressure, spacious and comfortable, short walk to town, average breakfast, thin walls, extremely hot hot tub).

Dinner found us at the Silver Dollar Grill at the Wort Hotel, drawn in by their $6 Monday night margaritas. The place was busy, full capacity, not a mask in sight. It was good - fish and chips for Bill, corn chowder for me, tart margaritas, just how we like them.

To be continued…
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 04:41 PM
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Thanks Mel. Great trip report and fabulous photos.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 09:21 AM
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Nice to see you here marg!
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 09:47 AM
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May 18 –

By 8:15 we were on our way back to Grand Teton National Park, and at Jenny Lake by 9 am, where we spent the next four hours and 7.2 miles hiking the Jenny Lake Loop, a beauty of a trail, even with the snow, ice and mud. We saw what we think was a yellow-bellied marmot, bravely walking across a bridge, seemingly unafraid of humans.



Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake Loop

Jenny Lake Loop

Jenny Lake Loop

Fearless

Yellow-bellied marmot (?)


By the time we finished the hike, the parking lot was full and every available spot along the road was taken as well, making us wonder where all those summer visitors were going to park if it was already this busy. It was 48 F when we started the hike, 68 F when we finished, perfect.

Afterwards we spent a couple of hours driving through the park, passing String Lake, Jenny Lake Lodge (closed), following the Jenny Lake Scenic Trail, driving up to Jackson Lake and Colter Bay, seeing fewer cars and people.

We then backtracked to Moose and then on to Teton Village to see if the Mangy Moose was still in business. It is! Bill has fond memories of the Mangy Moose from a ski trip back in 1978. We enjoyed drinks on the terrace (where he discovered a nice Wild Berry Wheat) and had a nice chat with a waiter who told us the place has been in business since 1966. We also discussed the local housing issue – evidently Jackson currently has 450 job openings and only three housing opportunities. He and his co-workers have been running their tails off, each doing the work of about three people. Sounds like it’s going to be a long summer.



Mangy Moose, Teton Village

Then it was back to Jackson via Wilson and a stop at Wendy’s for a quick bite, surprised to find their dining room still closed considering all of downtown Jackson was open to full capacity (perhaps an indication of those unfilled jobs).

The traffic was awful, the town felt even busier than the day before.

To be continued…
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 12:37 PM
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Yep, that is a yellow-bellied marmot. They are pretty common above tree line in RMNP. Have you managed to see a pika yet? You often hear them before you see 'em. They are so cute. Great report.

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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 12:44 PM
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No on the pika, at least not that I'm aware of.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 07:57 PM
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Melnq8: Your photos are OMG-AWESOME!

It looks like a fantastic trip. I think CO needs to be on my radar--especially since I do some work (online) in Boulder.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 05:11 AM
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Thanks Songdoc, good to see you here.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 06:34 AM
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Great going so far, I hope to make it there this summer and that there are not too many crowds.

The pictures are stunning
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Old Jun 11th, 2021, 12:27 PM
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May 19 –

We left the hotel at 7:50, the NO VACANCY sign still on display as it had been since our arrival. We drove back to GTNP and set out on the String Lake Loop, encountering more snow and ice than we had on previous trails.

As we detoured from the trail to the Leigh Lake overlook, we encountered a young couple at lakeside, one sleeping in a hammock, the other making tea on the steps leading down to the lake, a tent nearby. Legal camping? I’m not sure. I know that dispersed camping/boondocking is legal in national forests, but national parks?

As we backtracked from our detour, we passed two other hikers, who asked if we’d seen the bear. Huh? Evidently, they’d seen a bear in an area we’d passed just minutes before. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

This was yet another lovely trail, four miles 2:20.



Leigh Lake

String Lake Trail

String Lake Trail

String Lake Trail


There were even more people in the park today; the Taggart Lake parking lot was completely full, every available spot alongside the road taken (this at 11:20 am on a Wednesday).

As we left the park, we made a pit stop at the Visitor’s Center. When I was here two days prior I was immediately let in by the woman counting the number of people entering, but today I had to wait in the queue, as the center had reached its full COVID limited capacity.

We then took Wilson Road back towards Teton Village in search of the Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop, mistakenly turning off on a paved road that quickly turned into a rough rutted dirt road. We followed the road to its end, discovering when we got there that it led to the Death Canyon Trailhead.

https://www.nps.gov/tripideas/deathcanyon-hikes.htm

We hiked to the Phelps Lake Overlook (2.2 miles, one hour return), which we had entirely to ourselves for a while. We sat on logs and ate lunch while we soaked up the lovely views.

The overlook soon became busy with other hikers, including a woman carrying a dog dangling from her backpack (pets are allowed inside Grand Teton National Park, but they must be restrained at all times and are not permitted on hiking trails, inside visitor centers or other facilities).

A hiker climbing up to the overlook from the valley below warned the dog owner that she shouldn’t proceed any further as there was a black bear down there who might take an interest in her dog.

We were a bit surprised at how busy this trail was considering the rough road to get there. And even more surprised when Bill’s phone, which rarely rings, suddenly blared out the Swiss Post Bus three tone horn, his ringtone of choice.




Death Canyon Trail

Phelps Lake

Dog torture or bear bait?

Back on Wilson Road we found the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and the trailhead for Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop, which we decided to save for the next day.

https://www.jacksonholewy.net/park_h...r_preserve.php

Then we drove back to Teton Village for an encore at the Mangy Moose. A storm was moving in, so the terrace was blustery, sending many patrons inside. Then came the rain.

I found it interesting (and encouraging) that Teton Village isn’t overgrown like so many ski areas. It’s managed to retain its character (and perhaps it’s exclusivity), but it looks like that is going to change:

https://www.jacksonholerr.com/area-info/teton-village

As we drove back to Jackson, we saw a moose grazing in a field, but too far away to get a good photo.

To be continued...


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Old Jun 11th, 2021, 07:38 PM
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> Dog torture or bear bait?
Either way that is one unhappy looking dog.

You guys really manage to pack in a lot for one day. Great Teton / Mount Moran photos. But not much snow up there for mid - May, is there?
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Old Jun 12th, 2021, 06:05 AM
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Nelson - there was still plenty of snow on the trails. Drifts mostly.
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Old Jun 12th, 2021, 08:11 AM
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May 20 -

Wanting to get one last GTNP hike in before leaving Jackson, we were in the breakfast room when it opened at 6:30, and on our way to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve shortly thereafter.

We made a left at Moose Junction and then a left onto Wilson Road, passing the sign to Death Canyon that we hadn’t seen yesterday.

There was only one other car in the parking lot as we set out on the three mile Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop; it was 1/3 full when we finished at 9 am.

We thoroughly enjoyed this trail, which we had almost to ourselves so early in the day, although I was a bit jumpy thinking about bears, bear spray notwithstanding. We took lots of photos and dallied at the lake, serenaded by frogs.



Park near Jackson

Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop

Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop

Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop

Bidding adieu to GTNP

It was 55 F when we left Jackson; we couldn’t help but feel that we were leaving just in time, as a steady stream of traffic was headed towards Grand Teton National Park, this week before Memorial Day.

When planning this trip, we’d considered a two night stay in Pocatello, wedged between our three night stays in Jackson, WY and Park City, UT as a way of seeing some of Idaho. When I floated this idea to fellow Fodorites and over on TA, I was strongly discouraged from doing so, especially since Jackson and Park City are less than six hours apart even going by way of Idaho.

Fodorite tomfuller then suggested that if we wanted to spend a night in ID that we look into Lava Hot Springs; the seed was planted.

And so began our day of diversion.

We began our meandering wander by taking WY 22 over Teton Pass west to Wilson, where there was plentiful traffic and lovely views. As we crossed the state line into Idaho, WY 22 became ID 33. We were now in the Teton Valley, where we called in at Grand Teton Brewery in Victor, makers of the Wild Berry Wheat Bill had in Jackson, but it was closed.



Departing Wyoming (taken from across the highway eastbound into Wyoming)

Entering Idaho

The scenery isn’t nearly as dramatic on this side of the Tetons, and we found Victor rather dull, but we continued north towards Driggs, which was much prettier and felt much bigger than its population of 1,600. Cute town this, I could see myself spending some time here.

We then turned towards Alta, now back in Wyoming, where we poked through the Altamont housing area trying to jog memories of a land hunting trip through here years ago. We continued driving east through Targhee Town, looking for forest service access, and then drove up to the Grand Targhee Ski area, stopping at an overlook to take in the views and admire all the healthy looking pines. Now this was more my style, pretty, peaceful and secluded, a nice reprieve from busy Jackson. And this was Bill’s kind of ski area, the kind where you park and walk to the slopes.



Drive up to Grand Targhee Ski Area

It had taken us two hours to drive 54 miles. It was going to be that kind of day.

We then backtracked to Victor and continued towards Swan Valley via 31, stopping to photograph the huge spud at the Spud Drive-in (Driggs).



Driggs, Idaho

Soon we were in Targhee National Forest again, the aspen in leaf. We worked our way over squiggly Pine Creek Pass (6,747 feet), the road in bad shape. We then passed field after field of overturned soil being prepared for…potatoes?

We turned east on 26 towards Irwin (population 26), where we detoured for a quick picnic lunch, and then continued on to the massive Palisades Dam and Reservoir, which straddles the Idaho-Wyoming border in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, stopping to take in the views from the overlook.


Palisades Reservoir

Then it was on to Alpine, now back in Wyoming, where we were surprised to see watercraft border patrol inspecting all watercraft entering the state. Alpine is where the Greys, the Salt and the Snake Rivers merge and flow into the Palisades Reservoir. We were also just 37 miles from Jackson, having taken hours to get there. I’ve just read that many who work in Jackson live in Alpine.

Now on US 89 (which links seven national parks across the Mountain West), we encountered a massive road project. Worried that the GPS was taking us on wild goose chase, we nevertheless obeyed as she directed us out of Wyoming and then back into Idaho (only knowing this when she said “Welcome to Idaho”) via a series of country roads, diverting us from the construction and joining ID 34 west, signs telling us we were now on the Pioneer Historic Byway.

We entered Caribou National Forest, driving alongside Tincup Creek, the road curvy and wavy, our surroundings a vibrant green. We passed Caribou Mountain, and skirted Gray’s Lake Wildlife Habitat, the countryside now lonely, the undulating road requiring every bit of Bill’s attention.

The landscape ran out of pretty near Henry, ID; we were now in the land of silos and potato farms.

The curvy, wavy road finally straightened out and we passed the Conda mine, (which I’ve since learned mines phosphorus-phosphates) and then a huge plant, which I now know is the 800 acre Monsanto Chemical Company (interestingly enough, our waitress in Lava Hot Springs had no idea what this plant was when we asked, and she’d lived in Soda Springs her entire life. Ah, youth).

Soon we were passing the Soda Springs geyser, which was spouting, but at this point we were too tired to garner any interest. Per the Soda Springs website:

In 1937, local businessmen set out to find hot water for a commercial bathhouse and health resort. On Nov. 28 of that year, the drill struck a carbon dioxide gas chamber 315 feet underground. Hot water soon began shooting out of the ground to more than 45 feet in the air. Once the 3,500-pound drill bit was removed, the water shot even higher to more than 70 feet. The Soda Springs Geyser was born. After a few weeks, the city received a telegram from the Secretary of the Interior asking them to turn the geyser off because “… it is throwing the world-famous ‘Old Faithful Geyser’ off schedule.”

The City of Soda Springs has the geyser set on a timer to go off every hour on the hour. You can see the Geyser today blow 70 feet into the air and hear it roar "Like a mad dragon," as described by one of the developers in 1937. The Geyser is open to the public year round, no fees.

We also passed another drive-in theater, the second in the same day; I’ve since read that Idaho has six drive-in theaters still in operation.

We then turned onto 30 west for the final 21 miles to Lava Hot Springs, which felt like a super highway after 34. The drive became interesting again as we edged over Fish Creek Pass, elevation 6,109, now on the Oregon Trail. The descent into Lava Hot Springs was really pretty; we’d turned a 2.5 hour drive into a 6+ hour scenic meander, and I for one, was ready to get out of the car.

Lava Hot Springs is a town of 232, so not a whole lot on offer. We’d booked an overnight/dinner package at the Riverside Hot Springs Inn and Spa, which touts itself as a historic boutique hotel located next to the Portneuf River. What they failed to mention is that the hotel is also located right next to the railroad tracks.

Because the hotel has its own private hot springs in their basement, we never planned to visit the town’s hot springs, although we did get a glimpse of them.

The hotel is indeed historic, full of creaky character. Our room was comfortable enough, and the newly renovated bathroom was lovely, the water pressure excellent, but our bedroom and the common areas of the hotel felt grubby and in need of some attention. Historic is one thing, unclean quite another.

We were two of five guests in their dining room that evening. Bill ordered a huge steak, which he thoroughly enjoyed, I had the artichoke pasta which was pretty average.

Guests can register for ½ hour private increments of soaking time, so we’d signed up for two sessions, one after the other, planning to move from one tub to another at the suggestion of the woman in reception. I like my water quite hot, but those springs were piping, and we ended up not needing a full hour.

Idaho never had a state wide mask mandate, so it was no surprise that no one was wearing one.

To be continued…

Last edited by Melnq8; Jun 12th, 2021 at 09:04 AM.
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Old Jun 12th, 2021, 09:45 AM
  #39  
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May 21 –

A couple of trains rumbled by during the night, blasting their warning horns and depriving us of a decent night’s sleep. Our overnight package included two $10 vouchers to use for breakfast in the coffee shop, and I was very much looking forward to redeeming mine on a latte. But no, they wouldn’t allow the voucher to be used for their espresso based drinks, they offered free filter coffee instead…blech! They also controlled what you could use the voucher on, one yogurt, one juice, one bagel and a pastry or one egg sandwich and a pastry. It seemed unnecessarily complicated. Ten dollars is ten dollars right?

Our stay in Lava Hot Springs had served its purpose, but the whole experience just felt a bit odd.

The most direct route from Lava Hot Springs to Park City, UT takes about 2:45. But we didn’t want to do that, so we’d mapped out a longer, potentially more scenic route.

It was 47 F and raining when we left just before 9 am, driving through town for a good look at the place. Then it was back towards Soda Springs, where we made a quick detour to the geyser, but it wasn’t due to blow for 25 minutes and we weren’t that interested, so we moved on.


Soda Springs Geyser (sleeping)

We followed 30 east, back on the Oregon Trail, passing through the agricultural towns of Georgetown and Bennington. We then turned south on 89 at Montpelier, noticing that every small town in Idaho seems to have an Ace, a Subway and a Broulims grocery store (had this been Colorado, it would have been a cannabis shop and a dollar store). Bear statues and bear benches dotted the streets of Montpelier; and a bit of trivia for the next pub quiz…Montpelier was the site of a bank heist by Butch Cassidy and members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in 1896.

We crossed the Bear River and motored past a lot of cows and green irrigated fields, now on the Oregon Trail Bear Lake Scenic Byway.

We passed through Paris, population 497, Bloomington, population 206, St Charles, population 131,…one tiny town after another, surrounded by barns, Mormon tabernacles, huge parked recreation vehicles, cows, propane tanks and rolling hills.

Thus far the drive wasn’t as pretty as yesterday.

Then came Bear Lake State Park, more massive tabernacles, and the town of Fish Haven, aptly named given its proximity to Bear Lake. I told Bill the glacial blue lake reminded me of a few in New Zealand, its color barely muted under today’s grey skies. I’ve since read that Bear Lake is often called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” due to its intense turquoise blue water. Bear Lake is 20 miles long and eight miles wide, and is divided almost equally between Idaho and Utah.

Huge houses began to appear in the hills above Bear Lake and along its shores, giving this away as a resort area, and surprising us after so many small non-descript towns.

We entered Utah and motored through Garden City, then turned right to stay on 89 towards Logan, the landscape becoming prettier and hillier. Soon we were entering Cache National Forest, our surroundings now full on gorgeous.




We stopped at the overlook/visitor’s center and learned that we were on the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway – choosing our route based on the green swaths on the map had paid off. The wind was blowing a gale up here, the temp 45 F; it was no wonder that the bus load of old timers from Florida were freezing their bits off.

https://utah.com/scenic-drive/logan-canyon


Logan Canyon Scenic Byway


We continued our drive, which just got prettier and prettier as we worked our way through the canyon, a bit of snow in spots. We were in the mountains now, passing Beaver Mountain Ski Resort and plentiful aspen as we followed the winding road alongside the near to bursting river. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were cutting through the Bear River Mountains, a branch of the Wasatch Range (pardon the poor quality photos - shot through dirty windshield).


Logan Canyon Scenic Byway
Logan Canyon Scenic Byway

Logan Canyon Scenic Byway

Logan Canyon Scenic Byway


As we made our descent into Logan, UT, its size caught us both off guard, neither of us expecting a city of almost 52,000. From this vantage point it seemed to go on forever. We drove right past UT State College, surprised again at its size, so I googled on the spot and learned it has some 28,000 students.

I’d made a short list of promising spots for lunch, so we followed the voice to one of them, Romo’s Mediterranean Grill. Great choice this. Not only was the food very good, the service was wonderful. It’s here that I learned about fry sauce, which was offered to me by our waitress. My confused expression said it all, these folks aren’t from Utah. Turns out fry sauce is a mix of ketchup, mayo and various spices, and evidently it’s a Utah staple. I stuck with unadulterated ketchup.

Afterwards we followed Main Street, surprised at the volume of traffic. I liked what we saw of Logan – a pretty city surrounded by mountains.

The landscape changed almost immediately as we turned east on 101, now driving through the Blacksmith Fork Canyon, once again in the Cache National Forest, so green it was surreal. Giant recreational vehicles were camped in the grassy areas alongside the river as well as what we think were mobile shepherd huts.


Blacksmith Fork Canyon

Blacksmith Fork Canyon


We’d expected 101 to join Ant Flat Road. But instead it just suddenly ended at a large dirt parking area (Hardware Ranch Trailhead). Uh-oh.

Unable to access the map Bill had sent to my cell phone, I told him he was going to have to do that most dreaded of guy things…ask for directions.

There were a few groups of people in the parking lot unloading some sort of off road vehicles, so he went out to discuss our predicament. After a long confab, he returned, and we followed one of the guys back to the turn off to Ant Flat Road, as evidently we’d sailed right past it.


Our kind escort


Turns out that Ant Flat Road is 14 miles of rutted dirt…and of course, the skies took this opportunity to open, making for a very interesting drive. Just as I was beginning to think we were hopelessly lost, we joined a paved road (UT 39) and turned south towards Ogden.

We followed curvy, wavy UT 39 to Huntsville and eventually joined UT 167 towards Snow Basin; it was gorgeous through here; the homes massive, the RV’s enormous, the various off road vehicles immense.


Snow Basin area

Snow Basin area


We eventually joined I-84 E. We’d hoped to turn on 224, nine miles after getting onto I-84, but we couldn’t find the exit. So we continued on I-84 until it ended, then joined I-80 W towards Salt Lake. Then after more curves and torrential rain we finally arrived in Park City, some seven hours after leaving Lava Hot Springs. It’d been a long day, but the pretty drive made it worth the effort.

Bill said the drive into Park City reminded him of Telluride. For some unknown reason I’d expected Park City to be a small town. But, it very much felt like a city, with wide highways, suburbs and shopping centers.

We checked into our accommodation, Peaks Hotel, a nice place just a short hop to Old Town Park City, yet away from the traffic and chaos. Our room was spacious and comfortable, and had the biggest television I’ve ever seen in a hotel room. The style over substance furnishings and the thin walls left a bit to be desired, though. The hotel was hopping, and we worried we were in for a noisy weekend. The parking lot was full, the restaurant seemingly packed, and the swimming pool and hot tub a sea of bobbing heads.

To be continued…
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Old Jun 12th, 2021, 11:29 AM
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May 22 -

We were up and out early trying to make hay while the sun was shining, as snow was predicted for the next day. It was 34 degrees when we set out on the Park City Hill track accessed from Quinn's Junction Trailhead just seven miles from our hotel.

We didn't have high hopes, but it surprised us - 700 acres of preserved open space, with a very nice recreational complex nearby; only two cars in the lot when we arrived on this beautiful Saturday morning.

Quinn’s Junction consists of a large network of walk/hike/bike trails. We meandered a few trails before making the climb to PC Hill, which leads to an overlook with great views of Park City. Afterwards we followed a few random paths and even walked up into the neighborhood of ginormous houses overlooking the recreational complex (1:42, 3.7 miles). When we finished at 10 am, the large parking lot was ¾ full, and felt like Subaru Outback Central.



There is no poop fairy!

Trail to Park City Hill, Quinn's Junction

Views from Park City Hill

Views from Park City Hill


We then took UT 248 to Kamas via Hideout, UT, made a left on Main Street and then joined UT 150 E, planning to drive the 31 miles to Mirror Lake.

When planning this trip I’d read that Mirror Lake Byway “is one of Utah’s most scenic mountain roads, and snakes through the Uinta Mountains past numerous lakes and streams, over Bald Mountain Pass (elevation 10,700) through beautiful forest, and ends in Evanston, WY”.

It sounded right up our alley, but this being May, we weren’t sure it would be doable. Bill had checked the state’s website the night before which indicated the road was open and dry, so we figured we’d check it out.

When we stopped for gas in Kamas, the gas pump started playing music – this also happened in Vernal - a radio began playing through speakers on the gas pump as soon as a credit card was inserted. This was a first for us – or a second at this point - and a bit annoying – what customer wants to be blasted with radio advertisements while pumping gas? Which begs the question, is this another Utah thing, like Fry Sauce?

Our drive took us past the Beaver Creek Nudist Ranch, and oddly, a sign posted some eight miles before Mirror Lake Byway advised that it was closed. We drove on anyway, thinking maybe it had just opened and the sign hadn’t been removed yet.

https://todaysmama.com/traveling-wit...k-nudist-ranch

But no, when we arrived at the start of the byway, there was another sign which said it was closed, yet the gate was open and the sign was off to the side. Hmmmm.

We backtracked to a nearby parking area and as we sat there trying to decide what to do, we watched car after car come off the byway. Say what? One car parked next to us and the driver got out to use the loo. Bill popped out and asked the man if the road was indeed closed, and was told that he’d wondered the same thing, but he’d driven past the closed sign and there were loads of cars and campers up there. He told us there were some waterfalls, and that there was snow on the road eight miles up.

Okay then. Off we went.

Soon we were in Wasatch National Forest, making our way up the Mirror Lake Byway, surprised to see so many people camping – not in campgrounds as most were closed, but just anywhere they could find a pull out. Either the state’s website was correct, or Utahns are a bunch of rule breakers.

Some six miles in we found the three tiered Provo River Waterfall and set out to explore the various short paths that led to several viewing points. Beautiful. It’s here that we needed our heavy jackets for the first time since we left home. It was freaking cold up here; the wind was fierce.


Provo Falls, Mirror Lake Byway

Provo Falls, Mirror Lake Byway


We continued driving up UT 150, but turned around at mile marker 26 due to the slushy snow on the road.

As we worked our way back towards Park City, we kept our eyes open looking for hiking opportunities. We parked at the North Fork Trailhead and walked several sections of the Pine Creek, Bear Creek and Soapstone trails, turning back when we came to my favorite thing, a river crossing (3.6 miles). The storm was moving in; our car got blown all over the road on the drive back to Park City.


Not another river crossing!


After consulting my short list of potential lunch spots, we drove into Old Town and located the Bridge Café and Grill for a late lunch. I’d read several glowing reviews about their all day Eggs Benedict, and Bill, being an Eggs Bennie fan, was looking forward to giving it a go.

Here we had a nice chat about housing prices and job opportunities with our Romanian waiter.

Bill's assessment of his Eggs Bennie lunch? "Near the top of the US scale, average on the world scale". Are you listening Australia and New Zealand? You still rock.

Then followed a six block uphill walk through a swarm of Saturday ice cream-eating, slow moving pedestrians, to Wasatch Brewing Company for a six pack of their Apricot Hefeweizen for the beer drinker, followed by a quick trip to the state liquor store for some warm white wine for me, thanks to Utah's bizarre liquor laws.



Bentley anyone?

To be continued…
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