May 8 - Tetons and Crater of the Moon
Had a great time this morning chatting with the woman rangers at Gros Ventre CG at the southern end of the Grand Tetons. We stopped at the ranger station as we were leaving. Overnight, a couple came in, camped in a tent, packed up early this morning and left a fully involved fire in the fire circle. Idiots! The office sent someone to put it out as we did not have a good water carry bucket handy. They gave us some great places to go both locally and into Wyoming. Unfortunately, a phone call by them confirmed that the south road into Yellowstone had a delayed opening until probably Sunday so we decided to move on. We've had enough snow for one year.
Followed Route 22 out of Jackson through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest along the Snake River which was flowing quite well. This must be a pretty rugged route to drive in deep winter with warning signs about chain up and no plowing from 9PM to 5AM, In other words - stay home! Crossing back into Idaho, from Victor to Swan Valley, we followed 22 and then caught 26/20 for the rest of the day. A lot of this land is worked for uranium and we were constantly passed by double and triple ore carriers. Atomic City, ID is the first city in the US to be lit by atomic power. Learned that from a banner across the one block town as we stopped to let horses and riders go by.
We have been to Craters of the Moon National Monument before but didn't walk all the trails. Now that we are trying to do 3-4 miles per day it was a good excuse to get some touring in. I will applaud the National Park Service in their attempt to have some of every park's trails and walkways be handicapped accessible. We often see people in wheelchairs enjoying the park sights. They also do a really good job of putting up information signs that explain the geology, ecology and history of what you are seeing.
This was NOT one of the handicapped accessible and got a lot steeper fast through the lava beds and cinders. Didn't make the whole 1.8 miles one way but got a lot of it done.
As Easterners we just aren't used to how huge the west is and how far into the distance you can see. Today we could see the weather as it occurred with sun in the mountains and storms ahead. It is endlessly fascinating.
Tonight we are in Mountain Home, Idaho in an Air Force fam camp. Immaculate, inexpensive for retired military and fun to chat with others camped as they pass through. Tomorrow westward again. We think we turned north too soon as the weather is still quite cool and when it rains, it slushes.