Look who is back
"You think he got any good pictures? It's been pretty damn
smoky up here in the mountains for the past couple of weeks."
"I dunno, guess we will have to wait and see."
Well, yes it was smoky. When I called in on Saturday night I told
my wife that there was a distinctive "dry smell" that
hit me as soon as I walked out of the terminal. I said that is was
kind of like the mesquite you smell that we have experienced in
Little did I know was that I was smelling Montana, burning.
I hit the road that very night and after a quick sleep I was in
the Glacier National Park by 1:30 or so, not bad for a 350 mile
trip, but then the speed limits in Montana, are well, a bit on the
As I climbed up on the first ridge after parking my car, the smoke
actually hurt my eyes, and there was no view to be seen. I was really
disappointed, and I considered turning around and heading south
to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I'd heard that there was less
But I decided that after driving all that distance I could at least
try the park for a day or two, and if I didn't like it, I could
still have lots of time to explore somewhere else. I took my first
day hike and decided that I'd work with what I had, and concentrate
on trying to find "images" in the near, since the vistas
and the "far" were all thick with smoke and haze.
I smiled at the sign when I pulled into the campground, and for
those of you who remember, I've had a previous encounter with a
bear with a friend of mine named Bill. Since I've been back he confirmed
that he would not have slept in the campground
And so it went, 5 miles walking the first afternoon, 12 the next
day, and 11 more the day after. Then I moved out of the campground
and wandered off into the middle of the park where I found the goats.
That excursion was light, lasting only 8 miles. The next day I walked
16 miles and then when I came back to the campground I said to myself,
"Self, the next 50 miles of walking will probably look quite
a bit like the last 50 miles of walking. Let's get outta dodge!"
I threw my gear into the car and headed out of the park toward
a nice bed and a warm shower. I figured I'd make Yellowstone by
1 or 2 the next day and that would give me a good day and a half
in the park before I had to return the rental car to Bozeman.
When you travel without an agenda however, things that come out
of nowhere can catch your eye and divert your course. Take for example
that big billboard on the road that said "Yellowstone Harley
Davidson - 50 miles ahead. Now if that's not a diversion, what else
The dealership was a mile or two away from the airport, across
the street from the hotel where I was to spend my last night, and
yes, they had a motorcycle for me, but I'd have to pick it up at
5:30 that evening.
All that meant was that I'd need to find something to do, so insert
here a quick trip to Big Sky and a mountain bike rental and then
let's return to Belgrade by 5:00.
I pealed out of Belgrade, Montana and made West Yellowstone just
after 8pm, and just 1 minute before it started to rain. The rain
lasted for only 5 minutes leaving the air clean and clear. Early
to rise, I entered Yellowstone just moments after 8am, and after
paying my fee, I pulled to the side of the road and lashed my helmet
to the top of my day pack.
Later that day I called Mrs from the shores of Jackson lake while
overlooking the Grand Tetons. "Yo, Mrs NSR, this be me, and
I'm livin large today. The sun is shining, the sky is deep blue,
and I'm having lunch looking out at one of the most beautiful places
that I've seen on this planet.
It was all over by 6:30 Saturday night when I turned in the bike.
I ate one more great Montana meal and downed a couple of local brews.
I then drove a block or two away and turned in the rental car.
As I sat waiting for the hotel shuttle, I read over the receipt.
Miles driven: 844. Add another 411 for the Harley, and don't forget
the 50 plus of walking, and the 2 or 3 of those that went straight
I think I need a nap.