Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Road Trip Photos

I am back!

What fits in a Fit:

Hard to see the bike and rocket box on top. A goodly portion of our load on the way out was a 100-lb bass amp. Yes, we did make it through the mountain passes, but not very quickly. I did learn the value of shifting into D3 on the way back though.

Maud S Canyon - my first run:

This picture was taken the day after, when I went back to hike the trail I had run. We arrived in Butte on Thursday (Duluth to Billings, MT on day one, Billings to Butte on day two). Butte is at around 5400' elevation, quite a change for this flatlander from Minnesota. I decided to head out and run a trail in town as an antidote to two days of sitting in a car. The "kids" dropped me off at the trail head with the promise to come back in about an hour to pick me up (1 hour to run 5 miles seemed reasonable). It was kind of overcast, but no prediction of rain.....

I made it to the top of Maude S Canyon in about 35 minutes, with the skies getting darker and winds stronger the whole while. Made me think of what the folks at Leadville had gone through. Took a quick look around, then headed back down the trail the way I had come up. It is so much easier running down then up; though the switchbacks were tough in spots, no trees to grab on to and swing around on the way down. It started to rain as I was approaching the railroad track that bisects the hill, then it started to hail! Now I really felt close to the Leadville folks (minus 95 miles). Got to the bottom of the hill and no car, no kids. Took shelter from the wind and rain here:

Crouched behind this rock waiting for the kids to get back. There were two other cars in the lot - no one offered me shelter. Suppose I could have knocked and asked - and probably would have - if I 'd had to wait much longer.

My destination:

Off to the left are more hills and the (a) Continental Divide. Apparently, at some point in the future, this trail will connect with the Continental Divide trail (if it doesn't already).

View back down the canyon:

Despite growing up in Minnesota with it's dense greenery, I found this area beautiful. A bit barren, but I was fascinated by the plant life and the geology (Boulder Batholith, granite and who knows what else). Did get reassurance before heading out that there would be no rattlesnakes on this trail. Did see a snake though! Looked garter snake like, from what I saw of it.

I think going for a run the first day really helped me adjust to the altitude. Though I just about passed out in the first 5 minutes of the run. The trail did not look that steep, so off I went. I was walking pretty soon as the world started to look a little dark ;-> I ended up doing a mix of walking and running up the 1000 foot climb. But like I said, the run down was great! Took only 25 minutes, even with needing to slow way down to navigate the corners of the switchbacks.

On Saturday we headed to Toll Mountain (in the Highland Range) and a national forest campground. I sat in the back while Sarah drove up the very windy mountain road. Some of the highlights of that trip:

I loved the color of this lichen, so intense.

The view from atop a rock outcropping:

Got in another run on Sunday, despite the heat (mid - upper 90's). Waited until late in the evening and headed up to the "M" above the school to do a trail run. Erik and Sarah were on their mountain bikes. It was quite a few blocks of uphill running to reach the trail, then up the side of the hill to get to a trail that ran around the mountain. This was one of the first single-track rides for Sarah and it was a doozy. Tough stuff. She did well. I ended up running for about half an hour, mostly on trail with some roads as I headed back to campus. Got in at least 8 miles or so of trail running, plus another 5 or more miles of hiking all told. Think the 5 days of altitude training will show???

On the trip home I was by myself in an almost empty car. I planned on spending the night in Dickinson, ND, which is about the halfway point. It is about 30+ miles east of Medora, ND which is where the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located. Took some time to drive a loop road in the park as I really wanted to see the badlands. What I got a really close look at was bison:

On the way back out I came upon this scene:

All the park literature essentially says: "Do not piss off the bison. Do not startle the bison"

Wish I had a photo of the bison next to my car, but I can tell you, they are bigger than my car. I parked myself on the road and waited. I did not think it a wise idea to drive into the middle of a herd of bison.

These folks (with a little encouragement from a ranger) didn't seem to have any qualms:

After they drove through the bison gathered in the middle of the road. I don't know if you can see it, but there are two motorcyclists on the other side of that herd. They are responsible for finally clearing a path. Way braver than me!

Made it home this afternoon. I am off to bed soon, then a day off tomorrow to get caught up on a weeks' worth of stuff. Back to work Thursday, Friday and next week and then off to Isle Royale!

Oh yeah, there is a knitting store in Butte. Run by a great lady in her early 80's with ties to this area. Got some yarn for a secret project....


Chris said...

Wow, you really had quite the load in the Fit! I bet your gas mileage was a bit better on the way back (well, plus it's sort of downhill all the way back).

Aren't bison amazing?! But I am always stunned at the people who don't seem to grasp that they are large, dangerous, WILD animals. Not cows.

Glad it didn't hail while you were "sheltering" by that rock...

Lisa said...

Mileage was a bit better on the way back, but not great. My plan had been to put the rocket box and racks inside the car after unloading the girl. No such luck, the rocket box was about an inch or so too long! So, I drove back with an empty box on the roof and wind advisories across Montana and North Dakota yesterday. Howling cross winds are exhausting to drive through. It could have been worse, could have been a head wind, but that would be highly unlikely as I was heading east ;->

Umm, blew me away when the ranger in her very large pick-up advised us to drive through, then turned around and drove in the opposite direction without waiting to see if there would be carnage. Talk about mixed messages!

There may have been a bit of hail. I know that by the time I spotted the car on the freeway overpass I was beginning to think dark thoughts about teenagers....

All makes for good stories though.