Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don and Robb's Most Exciting Road Trip - YNP Part 2

Whew!  We decided to take it easy and clean up our camp and gear in the morning.  Our view was great.

We didn't have the trailer and car to block our view.  We were on the next site over to the right.  We had our breakfast outside every morning except for one rainy day.  Breakfast was usually Kashi Honey Almond Crunch cereal with powdered dry milk and water or instant oatmeal with raisins.  We didn't use a cooler as it was too far to get ice every other day.  For lunch, we packed PB & J sandwiches, fruit, granola bars and our drink.  Supper was a can of chili, or tuna helper, or spaghetti and sauce.  We did do spaghetti the real way! (not out of a can).  It was much easier to cook when you only had to fire up the propane stove and heat up something.                                                                     

The mountains are amazing in YNP.  You always have a mountain view.

This was the mountain closest to our campsite.  Robb wanted to climb up to the top but we never seemed to find the time.

We hit Cooke City for laundry day.  It is only about 9 miles out of the entrance in MT.  I knew we could go down to the basement of the Hotel and find some coin-operated washing machines.  Robb went for a walk and I read while we did a load.  It was 8 quarters to wash and 8 quarters to dry!  It took one beer and two chapters to finish!

About 6:00pm we got back to camp and put away our clothes and decided to fish the evening on Soda Butte Creek, right below the Horse Trail to the upper Lamar River.  We walked about 200 yards across the sagebrush to an open corner of the river.  Robb found a spot he liked that had faster water against the grass bank.  I moved down to a nice run.  It was getting cloudy and rain was coming in.  I used a size 12 black leech and caught three nice cuts.  Robb was playing with a large fish that kept swiping at his fly.  Upstream there was a group of fisherman and they started waving at Robb.  I thought , "Why are they waving at Robb, he isn't in their group?"  Robb said he kept hearing "Air, Air".  Then he thought, that rhymes with "Bear, Bear".  We started walking over to the hill to see the guys.  They pointed out the large grizzle bear that was crossing within 20 yards of where I was fishing.  Those Pittsburgh boys saved our butt!  One guy went to Slippery Rock University, where I taught.

The next morning, PA Frank and NY Bob had us over for pancakes and eggs in the motor home.  It was a nice change to sit inside for a real meal.  Then it was back to Soda Butte to fish.  I wonder if the bear is still around?  We fished the same spot and caught 2 more nice cuts on a bead head black leech.  It started to rain and then it hailed and still we fished.  Later we got cold and headed back to camp.

The buffalo was walking right beside us, maybe he was joining us for supper?  We picked up buffalo winter fur as we fished and I have a Walmart bag full of it.  Now I have to find someone to card it and knit me something wild!

We had a wet, chilly evening in camp.  It got so cold that Robb's wet canvas belt froze overnight.  I was fine in my down sleeping bag but Robb had a light weight summer bag and most of his clothes on all night.  Next morning we decided it was time to hit Gardiner, MT.  We drove out of the Park.

This is the view at the North Entrance to the Park.  We checked our e-mail at a a little cafe and bought fleece pants and loaf of bread.  When we returned to camp (about 60 miles round trip)  we found two cans of tuna and four apples in a bag from PA Frank.  The cold and rain made him decide to hit the west side of the park.  We knew that Soda Butte was muddy and the upper part of the Lamar was muddy but maybe we could sneak across the buffalo flats and hit the lower Lamar.   

We loved watching the buffalo play.  Now if we could just sneak by them down to the river.  We made it down and the water was fishable.  Soon the mud from up above would hit us but we had a couple of hours to fish.

The large rocks made a great spot to fish from.  Robb left his backpack on the shore and fished from this rock.  I kept my backback on and waded out to a rock.  After a few casts, I leaned over to see the water and the weight of my backpack started leaning me over.  Robb said it was like a slow motion film, I kept leaning more and more.  I tried to straighten  but the gravity was slowly pushing me towards the water.  I ended up taking a header into the water with my fishing arm holding my fly rod up out of the water.  One shoulder was not wet.  My clothes and backpack were soaked.  Then I remembered my camera and started looking in my wet pack to find it.  As I pulled out my wet rain gear, my wet camera, I found my wet wallet.  I always leave it in the car so whoever finds my body will find my ID in the car.  Nope, not this day, everything was wet.  I took off all my clothes and wrung them out and placed them on the beach to dry.  Yes, I continued to fish!  (no pictures available)  I did find a set of elk antlers.

The next day it was time to hit the Yellowstone River.  Soda Butte and the Lamar would be muddy but the Yellowstone would be OK to fish above Tower Falls.  Here is a shot of Tower Falls.

We had a great day on the Yellowstone.  Robb and I caught 12-15 cutthroat trout each.  We got them on Caddis dry flies and wet leeches.

This is where we hiked down Tower Falls to the river.  The Yellowstone is a large, fast river.  We caught all our fish within 10 feet of shore as our flies swung back towards the shore.

The Yellowstone will always have a happy place in our memories of YNP.

Robb gets a nice one on a caddis dry fly.

As we hiked the three miles upstream to fish we saw evidence of bear activity.

After fishing we decided it was shower time at Rosie's!  After dinner we had a ice cream and headed back to camp.

The next day we tried to hike to Hell Roaring Creek but about 15 minutes into the hike, we saw that the Yellowstone was muddy here so we went to where the Lamar feeds into the Yellowstone.  It was a fun hike back in.  After we hit the river, I caught a 20" cutthroat on a bushy dry fly on the first cast behind a rock. 

Ross get another fish.  On the way out, Robb realizes that he lost his camera.  We hiked back to where he thinks he lost it and start searching around.  I spot it on the ground in the small black camera case.  That wins me a free beer at Rosie's. 

Then we hike up the Gardner River below Mammoth to the "Boiling River".  The hot springs from Mammoth runs into the cold Gardner River to form a 'hot tub' for the locals.  We soaked for 1 1/2 hours.  The pool has hot and cold water in it and it is so relaxing. Afterwards we hit the K-Bar in Gardiner, MT for pizza and beer.

We saw elk on the grass in Mammoth.
It was getting dark as we drove back into the park.  We saw Big Horn Sheep up on the cliffs and then as we entered Lamar Valley, the buffalo were on the road.  They were all over the road and around the car.  Boy, are they big!

After we got back to camp, our neighbors invited us over to their campfire.  We talked with each other about how great Yellowstone is for a vacation.  They made a hot drink called "apple pie"  which had apple cider, cinnamon, and Everclear?.  It was like hot apple cider with a kick. 

The next morning would be our last day of fishing in the park.  We decided on float tubing Trout Lake.  We had breakfast in camp and drove over to the parking spot.  We loaded up our tubes and packed our rain gear and lunch in the tube's pockets.  This time we had our fleece pants on.  We fished from 9:30  to 3:00 and had a ball.  The fish were biting.  Lots of people hike up over the hill to see Trout Lake and some people fished from the edges.  It is hard to get a good cast out to where the fish are cruising.  We would float over the fish and it didn't scare them.  It was hard to land the fish from a float tube and the next time, I'll bring a small landing net.

I landed 8 trout that day.  One was 20", four were 18, and three were 16".  What a great ending day for our trip.  The weather cooperated and we had a great fishing.

We packed up camp and got ready to leave in the morning.

The next morning we hooked up the car to the Scamp and off we went.

We headed up  towards the Bear Tooth pass.

The sun was coming up and we were on the road again.

The badlands were coming up on the foreground and we were heading east.

The rivers were swollen with the rain.

Finally we reached Sioux Falls, SD where we again spent the night with Robb's friend from Med School.  Beth and family lets us shower and we spent the nght in our trailer in their driveway.  We were up by 6:00 am and ready to travel thanks to coffee form our hosts.  Next up was Iowa - a long state to get through.

After two days of driving we reached Indy, where Robb now starts his practice and calls home.  Two long days on the road and it is back to reality for us. 

YNP is now a fond memory of 11 days of great fishing with beautiful scenery.  We both know that we will be back.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don and Robb's Most Exciting Road Trip - YNP

I got a call from Dr. Robb and he wanted a fishing trip in early August.  I suggested Yellowstone National Park and the trip was confirmed.  This would be my 14th trip to YNP and the 1st for Robb.  I got the Scamp ready for the trip by buying two new tires and a new battery.  After greasing the wheel bearings, the Scamp was ready.  I drove down to Indy to get Robb and we left the next AM.  We drove to Sioux Falls the first day and stayed with Beth and her husband (Robb's med school friend).  Next AM we headed out and  crossed South Dakota and Wyoming.

The land was flat and vast.

We stopped at Cabela's in Mitchell and got some fishing gear and a float tube for Robb.  As we left we started counting Wall Drug signs.  Wall is a small town near the Badlands.  It offers free ice water and 5 cent coffee!  We saw over 100 road signs for Wall Drug.  We stopped and had coffee and donuts.       Then it was on the road again.

The clouds were forming as we drove west.  We noticed all the bikers heading out for the Sturgis Bike Rally.  It was going to get wet today!  The Scamp was pulling great and the Explorer was humming along.  I did notice that with the Thule roof storage carrier and the Scamp that the mileage dropped from 19+ MPG to about 16 MPG.  It was nice to have all the fishing gear in the Thule carrier on top.                                 

Towards late afternoon, we were going through Gillette, WY when the storm hit.  It got very dark and the rain was so heavy most cars pulled off the road.  Robb said to put on my polarized sunglasses and it did help to see the road.  We limped on at a very slow speed and drove out of the storm.  At Buffalo, we took route 16 over the Big Horn Mountains towards Ten Sleep and Worland.  In the mountains we saw a huge motor home lose it's brakes.  He made it to a run away ramp.  We wondered how his day was going to end?

We drove up to Cody and bought $160 of groceries and camped for the night. There had been a grizzle  bear attack in Soda Butte Campground where I usually stay and we wanted to avoid that area.  We were heading up Chief Joseph Scenic Highway to the NE Entrance to YNP in the morning.  This was planned so we would arrive in Pebble Creek Campground around 8:00 am to get a camp site.                       


The rain clouds were out but we were on a mission.  The campground doesn't take reservations so you try to be there early to get a site.  The Scenic Highway goes up to over 10,000 ft and is a beautiful drive.  We stopped at the NE Entrance to the YNP and got our fishing permits, our float tube permits and entrance fees paid.  Since I am a retired senior citizen with the Golden Age Passport, the entrance fee was free!  We paid about $20 for our fishing permit and $15 for our float tube permit.                                    

This is the sign that greeted us as we entered the campground.

We found site 18 open and we grabbed it.  It was right beside Pebble Creek and we could hear the bubbling creek all day and night.  What a way to sleep!  Plus we could look right out at the morning light on Thunder Mountain.  This would be a great site as it had morning sun and shade in the afternoon.                     

The severe rain had dampened the couch cushion so we put it out to dry as we unpacked.

This was a good place to start.  Soda Butte is a small stream that empties into the Lamar River system.  We would wet wade this stream and I caught my first cutthroat trout of the trip here.

It wasn't a big fish and you have to release all cutthroat trout in the park.  The next day we hiked into the Lamar River to get away from the road fisherman.  We hiked about 3 miles up the Lamar.

We caught a few fish and then Robb said that the water was actually warmer than he had anticipated.

It had been two days since our last shower so off with the clothing and into the pool!  We swam around and cooled off.  As we waited for our bodies to dry, we picked up our fly rods and started casting.  We didn't see anyone around but if someone had a camera, it wouldn't be a pretty sight and would be tough to explain!

After two days of river fishing it was time to try out the float tubes on Trout Lake.

I have a 15 year old float tube so I put a new truck tire inside it before I left for the trip.  Robb has a new float tube and this would be his 1st experience fishing from a tube!  It is a short 15 - 20 minute hike up to the lake.  We carried our lunch in our backpacks and the float tubes on our backs.                  

This is the small lake that we fished.  It is a lovely lake that has the mountains in the background and huge fish swimming around under your tube.

I caught a nice cutthroat trout on a small nymph under a black leech fly.  We used wet flies that had a bead head to get the flies down for trolling.  We paddled around with our fins and had a ball.

Robb's new tube was great.  It kept his hips up out of the water and handled better than my old tube.  We wore our light waders and shoes to keep our legs warm.  We got cold after a few hours.

This was a 20+" cutthroat trout that Robb caught on a small size 14 or 16 nymph.  My camera broke and all the pictures are from Robb's camera.   This fish almost towed Robb around the lake.  We caught 16" to 20" fish and had a ball.  We will certainly do this again.

This is a shot on Soda Butte across from the Ranger Station and Yellowstone Institute.  The river had changed since my last trip in 05.  The buffalo were still in the Valley.

We picked up a bag full of winter fur from the buffalo.  They like to make a huge dust hole and then roll in it.  I hope to have someone card it and make a fur/wool item for me from it.

Next day we decide to hike 6 miles up to 2nd Meadow on Slough Creek.  It took almost 3 hours and when we got in the water was great.  After one hour we ran into fisherman around several corners.

Robb was enjoying the stream.  He is a good fly caster and always got some great trout.  After the 6 miles in and 6 miles out we were tired so it was time to hit Roosevelt Lodge for a shower and a cold beer!

This was one of our favorite spots.  The view was great and we could rock away and watch the tourist.

We spent a couple of late afternoons relaxing here after a hard day of fishing.  We had a buffalo taco salad here one night.  The rocking chairs are so comfortable and the view is great.

OK, that is it for YNP, part one!  I have some more pictures to share and a few good stories, so check back and I'll get Part two up and running.  Let me know how you enjoyed the pictures and story so far.