The trail was steep and rocky, but we weren’t going to wuss out with our smoke jumper guide, Darcy!
Here are Darcy and Suzanne at the top of the cascade when the spring has stopped for a 15 minute “breather”. Note that there is no water around the rock cairn….
Here is that same cairn with the spring running a few minutes later….
So here is the deal… it was one of the coolest hikes we have had this summer. Thank you, Darcy!!!
While in Thayne, Wyoming, we had a problem with a leaking valve stem on one of our big tires, the same type that semis use. We found a tire shop that could remove and repair the tire in an hour, but you can see by the size of it that it’s not something that we could have fixed ourselves on the side of the highway!
Our next stop in Wyoming was Pinedale, where our dear friends Gina and Bob live. When they heard how much our puppies loved the four inch long elk antlers that we get at the pet stores, Gina said, have I got a gift for you… Gina and Bob had been riding out in the high country a few years ago when they watched a big bull elk shed this antler. After the elk wandered off, Gina rode over and picked it up, and graciously gave it to us for Rusty and Nellie. Thank you, Gina!!! It will have a place of honor on our living room wall at home in SC!
Pinedale has beautiful American Legion Park right downtown, along Pine Creek, with lots of grass for the puppies to run through, and benches for visitors to sit on while enjoying the scenery.
The scenery isn’t just trees and flowing water… right after taking that photo, Suzanne pointed across the creek; at first all I saw was a big brown blob….
But then the blob resolved into a big cow moose, and her calf who is almost totally hidden in the tall grass just below her rear legs. One thing I’ve learned is not to try to take a close-up selfie with a cow moose guarding her calf!
Pinedale is at 7,182 feet, on the west side of the Wind River Mountains. It can get snow any month of the year, so we were relieved to only have lows in the 30s during our visit in August. It has gotten to -49 F in January here, and residents are tough.
From Pinedale, we headed to Utah. Suzanne had an event in Park City, and this would be our first long visit there. Our office staff worked filling folders with handouts, but Rusty gave up early, complaining about not having thumbs to make the job easier…
After the event, we met some friends for dinner – here are Nicole Reilly and her daughter Aubrey, MLB, Karen Crawford, and Monica Trepagnier, who graciously made the cute bandanas for Rusty and Nellie in the following photo.
We stayed at a campground in Heber City near some great mountain biking trails, but there were numerous deadfalls that made biking slower than normal. 16 year olds may be able to hop their bikes over these downed trees, but it’s a skill I haven’t yet (or likely will ever) develop… sigh…
While in Park City, we were fortunate to spend time with our friends and nearby neighbors Kim and Tom Kennedy, who were visiting from Hilton Head, South Carolina. Meals with them are always accompanied with much laughter, as this photo shows!
We also visited the Hill Air Force Base Aviation Museum with Tom and Kim. Here we are in front of a B-52 bomber. The Kennedys were much better at finding fun things to do than were we… they researched thoroughly, and always found unique places, like the Homestead Crater, where you can scuba dive, SUP or float in an underground warm mineral pool.
Our next stop was Page, Arizona, where we camped at Wahweap Marina Campground. A bike ride brought us to an overlook with this spectacular view of Lake Powell and in the distance, Glen Canyon dam, built in 1964. The lake level is down 125 feet from its high, due to the Colorado River being sapped by ever-expanding large cities in California and evaporation due to a decades-long drought in the West. Lake Mead near Las Vegas is suffering similar low water levels. It is a sensitive issue for locals here and all along the Colorado River.
As many parents are aware, getting school age girls interested in science has always been a challenge. We have all read about STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), but in this age of political correctness, evidently art teachers decided that they could jump on the STEM bandwagon, so now we have STEAM….. (I hope I don’t get hate mail from the art community for this…)
From Page, we drove south to Flagstaff, Arizona, where we would spend two weeks. “Flag” is one of our favorite places, and meeting up with our friends Janean and Jack Quigley for an ebike tour around Mormon Lake was a highlight. 27 miles later and we were TIRED! Their ebikes gave us a boost when needed going uphill, but they still had to be pedaled, if for no other reason to keep Jack in sight (he is an ANIMAL!). Janean is no slouch either; she does high elevation trail runs that would kill most people. Flag is also at almost 7,000 feet elevation, and coming from sea level in the Lowcountry of South Carolina put us at a disadvantage. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!
Another day found us hiking with Janean and her energetic doodle dogs Luna and Dobby on the Sandy’s Canyon trail, part of the Arizona Train that runs from the border with Mexico to Utah. It is a beautiful hike, ending (at least on this day) at a stunning cliff and cave; on a previous visit we had hiked up to the overlook, which has panoramic views toward Walnut Canyon.
We took the puppies for a walk at Northern Arizona University (NAU), a beautiful campus with lots of cutting edge features, like this robot that delivers food and coffee to dorms and campus offices. Rusty didn’t like this mechanical devil for some reason…
Nellie asked for equal blog time; she chose this picture of her with her favorite pillow… she loves to bury under it and the blanket while Suzanne does readings or her radio show.
During our time in Flag, Suzanne and I both got out for overnight backpacking trips, separately because of the puppies. One of our favorite trails is Passage 34C of the Arizona Trail, near the San Francisco Peaks. The weather was perfect….
Here is Hiker Chick with her new backpack, stuffed with 35 lbs of gear, including a new inflatable sleeping pad, lots of water, and her favorite trail meal, dehydrated Chili Mac. I had hiked with her for an hour, and then had to return to the bus to take care of Rusty and Nellie. You can see the orange top of a can of bear spray just behind her arm, and a Marine Corps K-Bar knife on the other side of her pack, but I insisted that she wouldn’t need them because at this time of year bears were at higher elevations. She replied, “Ty, we ARE at higher elevation… over 9,000 feet right here!” I dismissed her concerns… not my best decision, as time would tell.
Our campsites were set up in exactly the same spot – shaded by aspens and pines, relatively soft ground, and near Bismarck Lake, which is really just a big mud puddle this time of year. I was alone during my visit, but there was a group of 4 other backpackers about 50 yards away when Suzanne was there.
She was out watching this spectacular sunset after dinner, enjoying the solitude, and when walking back to the tent passed the other campers who said, “Hey, you just missed the big brown bear that walked past our tents…” “Ty, you are in such trouble…” She sent me a text with a note about the bear visit, then shut her phone down to save battery power; I was worried all night that the bear had returned and she had had to fight off the bruin with bear spray and K-Bar, but was relieved to get her morning text that she was fine.
So when I hiked in to meet her in this aspen grove, I was somewhat chagrined to have been so cavalier about bears. I may have put my foot in it by saying, “Well, he was probably lost, and just trying to get back to higher elevation…”, but she just laughed it off.
But Suzanne got her revenge on me… she ordered this cool tee shirt that has a couple in a tent with bears outside, and the husband is saying, “Honey, you have to stop thinking that every sound you hear is a bear.” She has such a sense of humor…
Finally, I have to show what a crisis looks like in our household…. here is My Lovely Bride trying to get the last miniscule crumbs out of a container of Locatelli Peccorino Romano cheese. Thanks to Irene Vouvalides, we are addicted to it, and evidently it is only available east of the Mississippi River. (I wonder if UberEats could deliver us some in Sedona?????)