Sunday, June 25, 2017

Yellowstone Day 4

We didn’t have to move cabins this morning, so we decided to get up early and go looking for animals. There’s been a famous grizzly bear and two cubs down the highway, and there are rumors of other bears, too. The boys only needed four more animals to blackout their bingo sheet: beaver, moose, bald eagle, and grizzly bear. We hoped we could get a few of them.

We left the cabin at about 5:40 am and drove down to Pilgrim Creek Road. We saw a few elk, but the road and fields around it were flooded. At one point we had to cross a 5 inch deep stream. Luckily, the roadbed was gravel so it wasn’t a problem. The next day this road was even closed! After that, we tried Signal Mountain. The drive was pretty, but the animals just weren’t out. Finally, we tried our favorite, Pacific Creek Road.
The sun coming up on the Tetons was beautiful.
The boys were pretty tired and not so sure about the early start.
We’d only been as far as the pavement on Pacific Creek, and by the time we got there, we still hadn’t seen anything but empty beaver ponds. We turned up the dirt road and saw a few more elk. We followed the dirt road all the way to the end where there is a trailhead for Two Oceans Trail. Everyone was tired and grumpy and disappointed, but Seth asked if we were finally to our hike. This hike is 6.5 miles, and we knew we weren’t up for that. Actually, we weren’t really up for anything as we hadn’t planned on hiking, so we hadn’t packed anything. But we started up the trail anyway. We found a little creek over a bridge and played the boys favorite game, Pooh Sticks. Suddenly, everything seemed a little better. We did about a mile of the hike, and it was beautiful. Everyone was smiling, and even though we only saw a few geese, we had a grand time.
Two Oceans Lake is a beautiful spot. We can't wait to come back and do this hike another time.  
Everyone perked up when we crossed the bridge. 
Pooh Sticks is our favorite game. 
It's a serious competition. 
I love watching them enjoy the outdoors.
We usually have some sort of stick on our hike. 
We really enjoyed our morning hike.
Seth takes the silliest pictures. 
The views and the lake were gorgeous. 
We started back toward our cabin at Colter Bay, and on the way we ran into the grizzly and her cubs. They were about 75 yards away, and she was lying right in the stream flat on her belly. The cubs played around trying to climb the trees. The boys really loved it! She was only out for about five minutes and they she wandered into the trees. It was a perfect sighting!
The Grand Tetons are such a beautiful sight!
The grizzly bears were hanging out in the shadows when we first pulled up.
They moved into the sunshine. It was fun to watch the babies play. 
Our favorite part was when the mama bear plopped down in the water.  
Back at the cabin we had breakfast and showers, and the kids played games. Then we started off for a real hike. The Webbs wanted to tag along, even though we were going on a three miler called Swan Lake and Heron Pond Loop. The hike was really pretty with a few exceptions. Dad and Seth had to run back to the car after the first quarter mile, which added an extra half mile for them. But they soon caught up and enjoyed the hike. The highlight was when Dad spotted a bald eagle soaring over the lily covered pond. It was really beautiful.
The hike begins by part of the lake. 
The four oldest cousins were great leaders on our hike.
I love when we can get a family picture! 
We were excited to see a bald eagle. 
You could hardly see the geese swimming through the lily pads.
Trying to get all 6 kids in the air was tricky.
They loved that they had matching backpacks, and matching hiking sticks. 
Swan Lake was beautiful as you walk along the edge of the lake.
After the hike we came back to the cabin for lunch. After sandwiches, we hit the road as we were supposed to meet Grandma and Grandpa in Moose for dinner at 5 pm. On the way, we made a stop for another hike called Leigh Lake. This hike begins at the Jenny Lake area, and it was very busy. There were paddle-boarders, swimmers, canoers and hundreds of hikers. Still, we enjoyed the nice flat hike and made it all the way to Leigh Lake. It is amazing how much we’ve hiked the boys around on this trip. Looking back, in these four days, we’ve done a total of thirteen hikes! Granted most hikes are short, that is still a lot for our boys. They haven’t complained for a single step, though.
We have hiked a lot these past few days. 
We love String Lake. We spend time here every time we visit. 
Leigh Lake was beautiful, too!
Mark is always looking for something to see.  
Mom stuck her foot in first. 
Then the boys decided they needed to cool off, too!
Beautiful, beautiful Tetons!
Oh Dad! 
We continued on down to Moose and did a quick drive out Wilson Road, but we didn’t see anything. Then we met Grandma and Grandpa and the Ferlans and Webbs for dinner at a pizza place in Moose. Mom and Dad shared pizza and nachos, and the boys all had pasta and fun with cousins. Afterward, we went out in the parking lot and they ran and played tag and statues for another half hour. We also took a quick walk down to the river. 
Seth with Grandma and Grandpa.
It was fun to be all together for a bit.
These crazy kids make me laugh.
They were all amazed at how high the river was.
Mom with two of her four sisters. 
We love this cute girl. 
We spotted a hummingbird.

On the ride home, we decided to take a drive out Gros Ventre Road, even though it was getting late, and we’d gotten up early. We drove quite a ways out the road and saw a beautiful four point buck, still in the velvet. After we turned around, we saw three big horn sheep, which is something we didn’t even know existed in the Tetons. We had such a fun day, but we still need to see that moose and beaver!
We spotted this beautiful Mountain Bluebird. 
The Bighorn Sheep were right on the side of the road.
The rangers didn't even believe that we saw them. 
We also spotted an Osprey.

Yellowstone Day 3

Duck Lake is one of our favorite spots in Yellowstone.
Today we checked out of the cabin at Lake and headed south. We had one particular hike in mind, but we had heard it was a little muddy and might even have snow on it. Still, we drove south to West Thumb so we could hike Duck Lake. We got there early, and there was almost enough snow to turn us back. Luckily, all the snow and mud was still pretty frozen from the night. We did the hike, and it was as beautiful as ever. This time, all we saw were a few leeches. The rest of the day didn’t go much better as far as animal viewing goes.
There was still a lot of snow on the trail!
We love the solitude that we find here. We have never seen anyone on this trail.  
We saw some bear tracks along the lake, but we never saw the bear! 
Leeches! Our boys are terrified of them. 
We love being together no matter the trail conditions.
We drove out of Yellowstone to the south and stopped at Moose Falls. It was raging, and we took some great pictures. The spray was flying everywhere and the boys were freezing after a few minutes of being by the water. This was the boys' favorite part of Yellowstone. They all said Moose Falls was the best. 
Lewis Lake was still frozen over. It was pretty amazing to see. 
Moose Falls was huge!
The spray reached pretty far, and the boys loved that it was so cold!
You walk to the top of the falls on this trail, too.
Seth loves taking his binoculars on our hikes.
Dad loves the waterfalls in Yellowstone. 
I love my boys!
We have a goal to take more pictures together!
Mom thinks this bridge is cool!
Dad helped Seth leap over the water on the trail.
Mark took the leap all by himself.
Dax also insisted on jumping on his own.  
Dad had the best pose for his leaping picture.
A little while later we arrived at Flagg Ranch. Dad had researched a hike there called Polecat Creek Loop. It was a little long at two and a half miles, but we decided to try it anyway. Unfortunately, this trail is also used by horse outfitters, and it was horribly dusty except for a few spots that had moist horse dung. We didn’t see much along the way, and the trail wound through a nice pine forest. But last year the entire forest was burned, so we were walking among gigantic burned out lodgepole pines. Still, the boys were good sports and didn’t complain much.
The trail was quite dusty, but Seth was happy with his hiking stick.
There was a section of the trail that was beautiful. We saw lots of ducks, but no mammals.
Dad is always so good to help Seth when he gets tired.
The boys are great hikers. Mom and Dad are pretty proud of them.
The whole forest had burned, so I missed the shade.
We decided to reward them with lunch at a restaurant. We stopped at Sheffield’s at Flagg Ranch, which was a bit expensive, but it was really amazing. Dax kept picking at Mom’s buffalo salad, and Dad’s cheeseburger had huckleberry jelly on it. Everyone ate really well, so it was a successful lunch. The people working at the restaurant were very kind and helpful. They told us all about the bears that were hanging around in the Tetons. 
Mom and Seth loved relaxing in the nice Flagg Ranch restaurant.
We love spending time in this National Park, too!
As we were leaving the restaurant we ran into Melanie and the Webb children (Jason stayed home for job interviews), and we spent the rest of the day with them. First, we took a ride out a nice little road called Grassy Lake. It was the perfect habitat for moose, beaver, and bears, but we didn’t see a thing. Next, we drove down to the Colter Bay Visitor’s Center and checked in at the cabin. The boys started their Junior Ranger activities, and we took a short hike. This hike was called the Shoreline Trail and led right around a little thumb that stuck out into the lake. It was another two miles, but the kids were hiking with cousins, so they had a great time. We stopped to throw rocks into Jackson Lake a few times, and once we even took off our shoes and waded into the frigid water. The only wildlife we saw, though, was a tiny frog.
The cousins love hiking together.
Everyone, including Randy, had fun skipping rocks along Jackson Lake.
This is the tiny frog that we spotted. Can you spot it?
Everyone wanted a picture by the sign, but for some reason Mark is in the background. 
The water was freezing, but the views were amazing!
Look how clear the water is!
The older kids created a whole munchkin army. It was pretty hilarious.

After the hike we had sandwiches in the cabin, and by then it was getting late. After a few games of hide-and-seek, we piled back in the van for a late drive. We found a “bear observation area” with a lot of lookers and no bears. Then we drove out to Oxbow Bend, but it was flooded, and we only saw a few elk. Finally we drove all the way to the end of Pacific Creek Road, which is our favorite spot to see beaver, but there were only a few elk out there. To make up for the poor animal watching day, we plan to start all the earlier tomorrow. The alarm is set for 5 am, and we are hoping to have better luck!
We love the cabins at Colter Bay. They are spacious and comfy. 
We put the cot in the middle and it's a whole wall of beds. 
Down on Oxbow Bend, the river was spreading all over onto the road.
Normally you park in front of this sign, but there is so much water this year.  
The Oxbow Bend area is so beautiful.  
We only saw elk on our evening drives today.

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