Yellowstone is an experience like none other, but for a diversion The Man and I took a run outside its limits. We had been told of the incredibly beautiful drive that is the road up over Bear Tooth Pass and the return run back into Yellowstone along the Chief Joseph Trail. God bless those who told us of these excursions.
Bear Tooth Mountain Pass, which is reached via the North Eastern exit/entrance into Yellowstone is a remarkable high mountain trail and it is simply breathtaking.
It is summer here, as I have often noted but this has not relieved the mountain passes of their coats, those deep snow blankets. There are places on the Bear Tooth Pass that are still metres deep in snow, places where the adventurous are still playing in the snow slopes. Places where deep snow banks wait patiently for the chance to slip off the precipitous edge and tumble into oblivion under the encouragement of the summer sun.
The trip up and over the pass was really an awesome drive and there is nothing to compare with the beautiful vista. It is simply unforgettable, as unforgettable as they entire day was. It was the day that I stumbled over my first wild black bear and that was truly a treat! It was the day that we sat atop the peak of the earth it seemed. It was a full day and one that saw us camped up in a forestry camp just outside the Yellowstone boundaries.
These forestry camps are the American version of wilderness camps, they litter the forestry area’s and cost usually a few dollars, $10-$20, to use and are equipped with basic amenities. It is often a self-registration business and often there is a camp chief in residence after a fashion, to help you remember to pay and to assist where needed. They are not all freecamps as the freecamps are few and far between in the US and in places like Yellowstone freecamping is not allowed. Ahh… hum. I do not recommend you break these rules.
Our forest camp was a delight. It was Hunters Peak in the Shoshone National Forest and was just outside the park boundaries. I loved the pump water supply that was a touch of yesteryear that was entertaining as well as useful. Wood is also another factor and not all camps encourage campfires but those that do generally provide sheltered fire sites.
The US has problems with wildfires and finding burnable natural wood on-site is usually not an option. One thing I have noticed with US wood is that it is a mean burn. It is mostly soft wood, pine and the like and it burns lightly and often flames high for a short time. It makes for a spiteful fire, one that goes out readily, burns badly and is not much good for a cooking fire. I miss the gidgee wood of Aus, and the hardwoods of the bush. Mostly for cooking we have been using the little gas burner for our needs.
Ever present is the threat of bears and testament to this is the bear-proof food lockers many camps provide for campers use. You are warned repeatedly, and rightly so. There is often a cold mountain stream nearby which is an added attraction although you wouldn’t get me swimming in it. The little ground squirrels are lovely though, be they of the chipmunk variety or the goffer, they are really entertaining.
While I lament the lack of freecamping, I do enjoy the camps provided by the Forestry & reserves and it seems that the Park Rangers enjoy a level of support from the powers that be, that our Park Rangers could use. Each town of any size has its Park Ranger stations and they are well supported and substantial stations. It seems they are enjoy more support than the Police or Sheriff Stations that are often meaner in appearance and less evident. Not a bad state of affairs I think. I have often considered that our Aus police are more about being traffic cops than law officials which could never make for good public relations.
- American butter is not creamy, even when its supposed to be.
- Most all foods are processed. Sweet is normal, savoury is hard to find. Carbs, fat and sugar rule.
- Coffee here is stewed not brewed. Savings grace is that it is cheap or often complimentary with a meal in a diner… We should do that!
- US pies are deserts… delicious, but I long for a meat pie meal!
Jan is an Australian author and writer. You can find our more about her publications at her official web site. Be sure to check out the reader discounts there.
Read the full travelogue of Jans adventures in the e-book ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’ now available at Amazon for just $US1.99