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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grand Tetons and Yellowstone - https://plus.google.com/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5657837867757998513

Up til now

The trip has been great, we left the Tetons a few days ago and are meandering through Utah soon. Dinosaur was a neat stop and Conner happened to be the 1st Junior Ranger sworn in at the new Visitors Center, unfortunately we missed the opening of the new exhibit hall that isn't scheduled til next week. That halls been closed for 5 1/2 years and contains the best samples of dinosaur fossils that the park has. The Tetons were amazing, Jen and Timmy joined us there and we hit the trail most days. On the 1st day we hiked up to Inspiration point from our campsite at Jenny Lake. The 3rd day we did a 10 mile grueling trail to Amphitheater Lake, it earned it's Most Strenuous rating with 5 miles of steady climbing. Conner did great as usual. I'm taking a hiking break and letting a wicked blister heal from the trek. So worth it tho, the views were outstanding and getting back into the Tetons is spectacular. Backpacking up there would be great. After the hike we jumped in the frigid Jenny Lake and shared a couple beers on the shore, the water was "refreshing" it felt good to be clean :) Conner made some new friends who were rooting him on to dive in. They came over and visited with us for a while, I am always amazed by how easily he makes new friends. In between big hiking days we drove the loop for views, hiking short trails, seeing the Tetons from a distance. Conner and I headed out just after sunrise one morning to see wildlife and were rewarded with Moose, Wolves, Bison, Pronghorn, and Elk. That was the same day that we hiked to Amphitheater and on that trail we saw a red tailed hawk, a bald eagle and a deer. It was a stellar day for everyone. We drove up to Yellowstone and did the loop in one day. The geology of the park is pretty cool. Conner earned his Young Scientist patch since he already did his Junior Ranger there last year. It was a long day, in the evening, we saw lots of bison, a fox catching a critter, but not much other wildlife. I have to say the Tetons are not to be missed, Yellowstone has to be seen for it's geological elements alone, but if you had to choose.... the Tetons would be my pick hands down. The town of Jackson was very friendly and we had a great time the day we left the area. We went to the rec center for a shower and found out that we could use the pool with a huge water slide... we had a picnic in a park in the center of town and then went back to play once the pool opened to kids. Who knew that would be part of the day? The highlight for me was 2 showers in a day :) I've not been painting and we're probably going to speed through the next section of the trip, we're in need of a break, funds are extremely tight and I really want to paint. It's been such a great trip, the country constantly amazes me, and I can't wait to get back to some of these places.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon Photos - https://plus.google.com/photos/101238042997102842287/albums/5657816578417146705

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yosemite and Backpacking near Bishop, CA

Yosemite Valley is one of my favorite places on earth and after spending a week there that hasn't changed. We got in miles and miles of hiking, some meadow painting and after backpacking in the Eastern Sierras, we've decided to go back for 3 more. We've had to skip around to different campsites because it's so popular, but it's not been too difficult. I can't wait to get back. Hiking from White Wolf campground to the Valley was spectacular, it was 15 miles in total and with playing in the Yosemite Creek for a couple of hours it took 9 hours. I busted my face coming down the Yosemite Falls Trail, and it's just healing now over a week later, truth be told I would have done it all over again even knowing what would happen. Granite doesn't give, and it's also a bit slippery with sand on it. My eye was a mess for a few days, oozing and really swollen, now all I have left is a little swelling and a nice bruise on my cheek. The Yosemite clinic gave me antibiotics and cleaned it up a bit on the 3rd day just to make sure I didn't get infected. Mom, I'm fine :) Spending 4 days with Betsy, Peter, Caitlin and Sarah was a highlight, it's great to share such a wonderful place with great friends. Conner and Caitlin were exploring constantly and loving the wilderness and boulders of White Wolf.

Backpacking near Bishop was incredible. Conner carried his own gear + some food for the crew and tho not without a little complaining he made the 7 mile ascent to 10,500' at a good pace. I was feeling my pack by the time we got to the top so I knew he must have been as well. His pack was somewhere around 1/2 his body weight, possibly more. After taking a rest at Blue Lake, he managed the rest of the journey with speed and no complaints. We lightened his load for the journey down, but he still managed to carry all of his things.

The high Sierra's are stunning, we camped at Dinglenberry Lake (I know, nice name) We hiked to Midnight Lake and Topsy Turvy lake the next day. The guys fly fished and I drew. Conner had his first fly fishing lesson too. They caught enough fish for lunch and fried them up next to the lake. The next day we had planned to head up to Hungry Packer Lake and Moonlight Lake but the weather had other plans for us. That night we hung out at camp, fished a bit more in the river, drew some, and watched the moonrise over the mountains after dinner. One night before the full moon. We retired to our tents and played Yatzee until it was time to sleep. The temperature was pretty nippy at 10,500 so when the sun went down the tent was the best place to be.

That night the rain came, we had thought about trenching around the tent when we arrived, but forgot to, unfortunately a river ran through our tent and in the middle of the night we had to trench and mop up the water in the tent. The sleeping bags were soaked from the knee down... the next day it was socked in and around noon we decided to hike out. Sad we missed the other lakes but we only ended up leaving a day early. The hike out was a lot easier considering it was all down hill. We did the 7 miles out in about 2 1/2 hours. It was beautiful, cloudy and the rain had heightened the colors in the mountains.

I will post photos as soon as I have a long enough internet access. I took around 1400 pictures between our first stint at Yosemite and the high Sierras, so I have a bit of picking and choosing to do.

Home has been on my mind a lot. My town was flooded badly and I am sorry that I'm not there to help. I'm glad the community is coming together. Tho Conners school had a delayed opening due to the damage it sustained, his home schooling has started, it has it's challenges, but it's going quite well.