Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our Last Nights in Gardiner, MT

Our last campfire in Gardiner was on a typical cool evening with the gentle breeze that always blew through the mountains.  We made some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches in our pie iron - Yum!  We hated to go to bed knowing that we only had one last day in this peaceful place.  The next day we packed up, took a walk, and had dinner at Rosie's.  We met some good friends there for a last drink or two and promised to stay in touch.

Grilled cheese done to perfection!

Doug, Ben, and Wilson - some great friends in Gardiner.
We certainly have done everything we wanted to do (except for my zip-lining) and definitely more than we expected.  We saw some beautiful places and went to areas where only a few lucky people get to go.  It was such a privilege to be able to experience YNP the way that we did.  Doug has been scouting out all of the best spots for the past several years and he picked out all of the best ones to share with me.  We are in awe of the beauty and majesty of this place and marvel at the diversity and openness.  My favorite spot was the waterfall at Sheepeater.  Thank you Doug for making me walk up the rock into the waterfall.  Thank you for taking me up to Slough Creek and into second meadow.  Thank you for pushing me to climb into canyons, wade through rushing streams, hike up to higher vistas, and do things that I was almost afraid to do.  With you as my guide, I had the experience of a lifetime and will treasure the gift of this trip forever.  Love you! ~Michelle

Living in Gardiner, MT

Living as a Gardiner MT resident for a month was wonderful.  The pace is nice and slow, the air is soft and cool.  The town itself is small and you can visit each store and business easily within a few hours.  There are no stop lights and the library is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.   Once you are done checking out the town, there is nothing left to do but read, fish and relax. In Gardiner we walked everywhere.  It was good daily exercise since our campground was up a pretty steep hill.   Right next door is the amazing Yellowstone River and we could go over and play anytime we wanted to.

Looking up at our campground.  Those buildings with red roofs are little cabins that you can rent.

This is the view from the bridge going over the Yellowstone river.  See the campground in the upper left?

Parks Fly Shop

This is Park's Fly Shop where Doug works - or worked.  He is still tying flies for them throughout the year but he was not doing much guiding this year - except for me!  The shop has been here in Gardiner since 1953.

Across the street from the fly shop is the Two Bit Saloon.  You can get breakfast, lunch and dinner there and a $1 PBR.  One of our favorite restaurants called the Raven used to be attached to the Two Bit but was sorely missed this year!
Here is Rosie's where you can have a good dinner downstairs - The Big Sky pasta dish is Doug's favorite and I had a great rib-eye there.  The you can move upstairs and have a PBR on the roof and look out at the park.  We watched the sun go down and the moon come up on several nights.  Usually we had some good company with us also.
Here is the rest of this stretch of Gardiner.  Most of these are little souvenir shops but there is also a good little coffee place.
This is one of my favorite views and places in Gardiner.  This is the arch that welcomes people into Yellowstone National Park.  "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people" is engraved on the top.  Built in 1903 it is a cool monument.  We can't wait to see it again soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Last Chance" on the Yellowstone River

Last night we had Wally and Wilson up to our RV for dinner.  Hots, hamburgers, baked beans, deviled eggs, coleslaw and homemade camper cookies for dessert.  Michelle out did herself...  Later a campfire, a few PBR's and LOTS of fishing talk.  It was great to spend some time with the guys.

With only today to fish and tomorrow for packing up and prepping to leave Yellowstone Country I fished my "Last Chance" for this YNP season.   We head back to VA. early on Monday, Aug. 22nd...

Michelle decided yesterday's fishing was tough to beat so she settled in with a good book and the mountains for company.  But I had to get out one more time for a couple of hours on the Yellowstone River down the old road...  With 14 fish brought to hand and the landing of my first "double" in YNP,  I couldn't ask for a better ending.

Here are some photos:

Beautiful Cutthroat

"Last Chance Double" a Cutthroat and a Rainbow, netting two fish at once is tricky...

Rainbow on a Dave Downie Fox Squirrel Nymph
see here:

"Last Fish"

What a wonderful time we have had experiencing the sights and wildlife of Yellowstone National Park as-well-as fishing it's rivers and streams.  It's truly been a gift and to do it with my wife, what a joy!  I couldn't ask for a better partner.  Michelle, I look forward to our next fish, "on the fly". ~ Doug.

Note: For those of you keeping score at home the Antler Round-up is over,
final score: Doug = 13 Michelle = 0, she never got off the schnide...

Video of Gardner's Hole - One of our Favorite Places

Take a look at this short video clip from our hike into Gardner's Hole.  At the end of the clip you will see a dark green stand of pines.  That was where we were hiking for our fishing trip that day.  This is as close as I can get you without a plane ticket!  Enjoy!

Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley is in the southern part of YNP and a beautiful place to go to see wide open spaces and wildlife.  Well, we saw plenty of space but not much wildlife.  The gorgeous scenery made up for it and we had a great day.  We stopped at Canyon Village and checked out a small museum there along with the gift shops.  Of course we had to get an ice cream cone too!
This is a view near Tower Falls area.  There is a river way down at the bottom of the canyon.  The rock formations are so varied and unique.

A view of Hayden Valley.
We saw a grizzly bear from the road and that is about as close as I care to get!
Here is one of the tour buses that will take you through the park.

This view is near Mt. Washburn.  We were so high up and could see for miles!  Notice the burned trees in the foreground from the 1988 fire.  The forest areas are reseeding themselves and the new trees are getting taller.  We are fortunate to be here at this time since five or six years from now these new trees will grow up and obstruct many of the wonderful views from the roads.

On our way out of the park we finally saw some sheep that had come down to take a drink from the Gardner River.

We were rewarded with a beautiful sunset back at the campground.

Fishing in Gardner's Hole

Gardner's Hole is a favorite fishing spot of Doug's.  We hiked in about 2 miles past the stand of pine trees that you see in the picture.  There is a small canyon just beyond that spot that Doug wanted to explore and fish.  This area is so awesome - as in big and beautiful!  When you stand up on the trail and look out it is just amazing.  And you don't hear any noise but the wind!  It was a great day and hard to say good-bye to this amazing place on earth.  But we will be back!

This is where we started fishing.  We worked our way up into the canyon area along the winding river.

Doug found these elk sheds right around the river.

Can you even ask for a more wonderful place to spend the day?

We fished for several hours and caught a ton of fish!  Many of them were small brook trout but they are still fun to catch.  The male brook trout are so colorful.  Here are some pictures of Doug and I catching one of the many fish of the day.

Doug found this monster elk shed on our hike out of Gardner's Hole.  It is the biggest one that he has ever seen.  Check out the length compared to his arm.  The diameter of the shed was incredible.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Michelle and I had fabulous dinner at Rosie's here in Gardiner.  After dinner we met up with Ben and Wilson and had a few PBR's and of course talked about the guide trips the guys had and our day on Slough Creek... At some point in the conversation Ben said he had the day off tomorrow and that he had marked me off on the PFS guide trip calendar as well, hmmmmm...

I said: "Where are you thinking of going?"

Ben said: "Black Canyon."

"Wow, that's a good hike and I just did 11 miles into Slough Creek, the Black Canyon will be another 8-9 miles..."

"So, are you game?"

"Chelle is it OK with you?"  She said: "Go have fun."

"OK I'm in." I said.  (thinking I must be crazy for doing back-to-back hikes on this ankle)

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone - hiking in...
Suspension Bridge over the Yellowstone River

BUT--- I'm so glad I did... Ben and I had a great day of fishing and fellowship.  He is great to be around, easy going, carefree and one hell of a fisherman.   We caught a boat load of fish in the 12-16 inch range.  Ben's best fish was 18 inches, which we failed to capture on film and mine was also about 17-18 inches the photo is below...

Another wonderful day in Yellowstone, thanks Ben for dragging me another 9 miles to go fishing ~ I loved every minute of it... ~ Doug.

On the streamer in a big eddy, it's so cool to see them come and get the fly.


Ben's Cutthroat - we caught almost all Cutthroats

A hopper-dropper accounted for a bunch of fish too...

Fat healthy fish - just beautiful...

My fish of the day...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fifth-Wheel Life

It has been over one month living in our fifth-wheel RV.  We have two more weeks to go and so far we are really enjoying it.  Our "rig" is very comfortable with all that we need and more.  There is just enough room for the two of us plus our dog Stella.  Here are some pictures of our home away from home.

Dining Room and entertainment area.

Bedroom; with sink, toilet and stand up shower.

Kitchen, living room, foyer.  Can you find Stella??

Here is a view from our campground in Gardiner, MT.

This is the entrance to the campground and the view as I take my walk into town almost every day.

Slough Creek - Second Meadow Hike

This is a picture that Doug took at Slough Creek in 2008.  I have had this on my computer screen at work for a long time.  We also had this picture put onto a canvas and hung it in our living room.  This place looked so picture perfect that I was always wishing that I could go to that spot someday.  It is an all day hike since it is 5 miles just to get to this spot.  Well, I finally made it!

The location has changed a little bit but it is still a beautiful spot!
 The Second Meadow at Slough Creek is a magnificent spot!  It is a long hike in - about 5 miles -  with much of it uphill.  We started the trek in at 6:30 am.  The moon followed us in for most of the morning.

After reaching second meadow and the "picture spot", we rigged up and started to fish.  We worked our way around to this canyon that had many boulders.  Doug had me rock hopping to get to many small pools.  Yes, we worked our way right down the stretch in the picture standing on rocks to fish.  The fish were not interested in dry flies at all and it was probably because the water was very cold.  We were there early in the morning and we could still see frost on the plants.  Not only that but when you are rock hopping, you are almost guaranteed to be in the water at some point!   We know first hand just how cold that water is!

Here are some bear tracks that we found on a small island in one part of the creek.  We were happy to see the tracks with no bear in them.
We had almost no luck catching fish until we moved to another part of Slough Creek.  Once Doug figured out what to use to catch these stubborn fish, we had a ball!  We caught several large cutthroats that were at least 15 inches and so colorful.

Doug netting one of his fish.

My biggest fish so far and he put up a fun fight.

Then we caught a monster fish!  This cutthroat was 20 inches long and had such a big head and mouth.  It was so much fun to net this fish for Doug and see the smile on his face!  We moved on to another location after having some lunch in this sweet spot.  We had a great fishing day as you can see!

Who's smile is bigger??  A 20 inch cutthroat is a giant in YNP.
We walked out of Second Meadow starting at about 3:00 with tired feet but some great memories.  Along the 2 hour walk out we again took notice of the scenery around us.  We both feel so blessed to be able to experience the magnificent beauty and majesty of YNP.  Here are a few pictures that we took along the way of the natural beauty of Slough Creek.

See the buffalo lying down in the bottom left corner?  He was right near our path so we decided to take a detour.  I don't think that even our bear spray would phase these giants.

This could be our next picture on the wall at home.  For this one, I don't have to wish that I could go there - I already did!