A Travellerspoint blog

Dream Fulfilled

Hiking in the Wind River Range

We had long heard how stunningly beautiful the Wind River Range in Wyoming is to anyone who loves the mountains. They are often eclipsed by the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and they are not nearly as developed for the casual visitor.

However, we were fortunate to learn of a hiking trail in the Wind River mountains that seemed accessible to our level of hiking, and would give us a great window into this very special place.

Well! After about 12miles of hiking-- a little over our normal daily limit on a once-in-a-while schedule --we did it!

The Pole Creek Trailhead is about 14 miles northeast of Pinedale, Wyoming. We had camped at Elkhart Park, the trailhead area, the previous night, so we were able to start our trek in the early morning. Good thing, for the trailhead begins at about 9,300 feet elevation, so we acclimated some. Good thing also, the first 3 1/2 miles are up, up, up through forests and mountain meadows. The trail stretched beyond for another mile or so in more open landscape where mere tantalizing mountaintops could be glimpsed. Finally, with little but blue sky ahead, we came to Photographers Point.

What a grand view! Nearly the entire Wind River Range, which includes some of the continental divide, rolls up out of the river valley and fills the view from left to right. The landscape reminds me of pillows piled upon one another, because much of the rocky exposures are nearly white. These rounded bluffs are woven together with sparse layers of green trees. The mountaintops are jagged and strong, topped by Angel Peak at 12,402 feet.

We made a loop hike by picking up the trail past Middle Sweeney, Little Sweeney and Miller Lakes. These are lovely small alpine lakes, and we were surprised to find lily pads in some places. Boulder-strewn shorelines lured us to snack and nap stops here and there.

The tedious return to the RV seemed so long, but we high-fived at the end, knowing we had completed a dream, in a pretty spectacular place.

Posted by Joyful Feet 20:38 Archived in USA Tagged wyoming wind_river_range pole_creek_trail elkhart_park Comments (0)

Volcano Country

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Labor Day, 2013
We spent the afternoon hiking the viewpoints at Craters of the Moon National Monument in central Idaho. Black chunky stretches of lava bend up slopes to cinder cones and craters. All the viewpoints have informative signage that helps one understand how this landscape was formed, and continues to evolve.

The last lava probably flowed here about 2,000 years ago -- pretty recent, in the grand scheme of things! I had no idea we had such volcanic areas in the "lower 48" states. We climbed a barren black cinder cone to gaze at the entire rift area, stretching out across the low landscape. We wound up paved walkways to peer into spatter cones. We strolled the level paved path through the Devil's Orchard to understand the limber pines and the ground plants that thrive in the crevasses. We climbed over rocks and into lava tube tunnels to marvel at the size and implications of these tubes.

I couldn't help but consider the first wagon train scouts that came upon this area. Beyond the obvious question of how to get horses, oxen, wagons and people across this jagged "mess," were they afraid of the cinder cones erupting? Did they comprehend the significance of the landscape? How did they explain the strange rock formations and the odd colors of the earth to their children?

Posted by Joyful Feet 21:07 Archived in USA Tagged idaho craters_of_the_moon Comments (1)

On the road again...

Into eastern Oregon

There is just something calming and peacefully exciting when we drive east from Bend. Is it the wide open high desert, with the broad horizontal lines of the sky meeting the sagebrush? Perhaps the sweep of mountains rising from the irrigated fields brings a sense of contentment. Maybe the calm is found in the blue of the sky, with the drift of creamy white clouds creating shadows over the land.

Whatever it is, I find each time we drive east from Bend, it is the beginning of an adventure I look forward to embracing with a calm pleasure. This trip is no different...plans to see places, do things and find challenges that will stretch my experience and give me renewed gratitude for being able to travel these wondrous roads.

Bud and I soaked in the flat and full landscape that first evening, literally, at Crystal Crane Resort. This is not a fancy RV resort -- seven RV gravel pads with power and water hook-ups pretty much like a parking lot. There are also a few rustic cabins, a teepee, and a few motel-like units, all collected around a central "campers kitchen" and a rec lounge. In short, a funky place in the middle of Oregon.

But -- the real draw is the hot springs pool! The pond is fed by natural hot springs, with the hot water pumped onto the pool continuously. A black-pea-gravel bottom in the pond makes it easy to enter and walk around, finding a personal special spot where the temperature is just right, cool or hot. On this evening, the water temperature was reported as 96 degrees at the warmest spot ,but normally it is just over 100. The pond is large, quite easy to socialize with the few others in the pool, or just hang out by yourself and enjoy.

A great way to begin a Weg Wandering!

Posted by Joyful Feet 20:01 Archived in USA Tagged oregon hot_springs crystal_crane_hot_springs Comments (1)

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