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Moraine Lake, near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, AB

Monday, 25 September 2017

Yellowstone National Park

Sunday, September 24th

Up fairly early, dumped (the coach that is) and took on fresh water before leaving Lewis and Clark Caverns Campground and on the road by 9:30 am. It's only a 2.25 hour trip to our next destination which is Baker's Hole National Forest Campground, a short drive from the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We chose this campsite as it is outside the National Park so the dog can walk the trails as noted by Nina and Paul in wheelingit.us , whose blog we use a s a resource for "paw friendly places".  We left a 4200' elevation and are now at 6500' elevation. A balmy 50 F. and wind when we reached the campsite. Out come the hats and gloves again. :)

Mostly cloudy  for the way down Hwy 287 to the Hwy 191 Junction. We stopped for a few pictures here and there along the way as the Madison River Valley is absolutely huge and beautiful. We followed the river for quite a few miles before reaching the junction.

Look at all the snow we missed. Panoramic view of the Madison Valley.
We stopped at a rest area in Harrison along the Madison River. Lots of people fishing today although the river seems hardly deep enough in a lot of spots. We must've seen at least 20 people fishing from shore and about the same number of boats as the highway followed the river.

At the junction of Hwy 287 and Hwy 191 ww carried on through the town of Ennis and Ennis Lake.

Coming into the town of Ennis

Ennis Lake
Ray and I are quite excited to finally see Yellowstone National Park. Although Ray mentioned he will be glad to see it in the rearview mirror as it is a huge supervolcano and if it erupts ... we are dust. See the following article:

Earthquake Lake 

This article was published on Aug. 16, 2009, on the 50-year anniversary of the Hebgen Lake earthquake.

A night of tremors, terror

The chain of events began at 11:37 p.m. Aug. 17, 1959, when two blocks of the Earth's crust north of Hebgen Lake dropped over existing faults, setting off an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale.

Waves on the waters

The drop caused Hebgen Lake's north shore to tilt downward, sending lakeside cabins into the water and flooding parts of Highway 287. It raised the south shore so much that docks once lapped by water stretched across dry beach.

Tidal waves of water sloshed across the lake and crested Hebgen Dam. Although the quake cracked the dam, it didn't give way as some feared it might.

The most dramatic event unleashed by the quake was several miles to the west near the narrow mouth of Madison Canyon.

The quake cracked dolomite underpinnings of an unnamed mountain, sending 80 million tons of rock rushing down over the river and the west end of a campground and partway up the other side of the canyon, damming the Madison River.

So much rock fell in a few seconds that it created near-hurricane force winds that would kill and injure several people and beat camp trailers and cars into twisted wreckage.

The survivors soon were confronted with rising water as the river began backing up against the landslide.

Cut off

Those trying to flee in their cars found their way blocked by a highway that disappeared into floodwaters or dropped off over broken pavement.

Nineteen people were thought to have been buried at the undeveloped western end of the Rock Creek campground. It would take weeks to piece together stories from families of missing vacationers to indicate that they were probably caught in the slide.

The developed part of the campground now lies under Earthquake Lake, formed when the Madison River backed up behind the slide.

At the Cliff Lake campground west of Hebgen Lake, a man and his wife were crushed to death by a large boulder that crashed down them where they slept. The boulder missed the man's three sons sleeping nearby and a picnic table full of food.

Five more bodies - four from a single family - were found near the slide. Two people who initially survived later died at a Bozeman hospital.

Through the long night and into the next day, survivors were cut off from the outside world.

Fear of flooding

Worried that the quake might have damaged Hebgen Dam and could flood Ennis downstream, authorities evacuated the town.

The quake, with its epicenter about 9 miles north of Hebgen Lake, was felt as far away as Seattle and caused damage in West Yellowstone, Ennis and Virginia City.

In Bozeman, bricks shook loose from Montana Hall on the Montana State College campus and chimney tops of homes along South Willson Avenue.

In Yellowstone National Park, the quake collapsed a fireplace and chimney at Old Faithful Inn, sent rock slides across several roads and altered hot springs and geysers. After the quake, the average interval between eruptions of Old Faithful increased by a few minutes.

To prevent water backing up behind the slide in the newly named Earthquake Lake from eroding the natural dam and flooding Ennis, a channel was cut through the slide to start the Madison River flowing again.

Here is a view of Earthquake Lake across from the Visitor's Centre. See the mountain missing a whole bunch of rock?
Earthquake Lake

All the dead trees left standing from the creation of the new lake.

Next picture is Hebgen Lake. The lake that tilted 20 degrees after the quake.

We were all set-up in the campsite by noon, had a bite to eat and then it was off for a walk along the Madison River adjacent to the campground. Freya had a great time. Large campsite back-in with 50amp $23/night. Not bad.

View from our river walk with Freya.
When we got back, we made a campfire and spent about 1 1/2 hours outside but the temps were dropping again and the sun nowhere to be seen so back inside. We do have a lovely view out are front window though, of a snow-capped mountain.

Athough we do get cell service here with the booster. It is not very fast and uploading pictures is painfully slow. I may not do much blogging until after we leave here.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Lewis and Clark Caverns, Whitehall, Montana

Friday, Sept 22nd 

We woke about 5 am to blustery winds and heavy rain. I guess we are below 4500 feet. Once it got light we did see new snow a few hundred feet up the mountains surrounding us. Temps stayed at 3C on the valley floor, hence the rain. Weather news for Montana and Hwy 2 was talking about heavy snow so I guess we made the right decision. Tonight is calling for flurries of snow down here in the Valley but Saturday is mostly sun from then on.

This is a lovely campsite with lots of space between campers.

The cave is somewhere in the top left corner.
Ray woke up in terrific pain after such a long day yesterday. We are having a "day off" today. It is not nice out anyways. With 50 amp power, I can bake, cook and generally turn on everything I want for the first time since we left Surrey. It was cold and rainy all day until late afternoon. As  it's an inside day anyways, I put on my "Suzy homemaker" apron and served up Eggs Benedict for breakfast and Beef Bourguignon for dinner. In between I made a batch of cookies for Ray. (This also included doing 2 batches of dirty dishes!) Kept me quite busy until supper.

Apparently this valley is in the rain/snow shadow of the Rockies and only gets minimal snow all year. A desert in itself more or less.

View from our campsite Saturday morning with snow on hilltops.

The Jefferson River Valley. Train operated by Washington Marine Group.
Saturday, Sept 23rd 

Up at 6am and noticed right away that it was a bit warmer this morning, about 4C or 39F. The weather today is supposed to be cloudy with sunny periods so we will go up to the caverns for the tour. A 1/2 mile walk to the caverns would not have been very nice yesterday in the rain/snow if Ray could have even done it.

Out the door at 9:45 am to go up the mountain to the cave. They told us yesterday the trail was completely muddy with snow and rain all day so it was a good thing we postponed our trip until today. The road up the mountain is very windy, climbing 1000 feet in 3 miles to the Visitors Centre.

The Slow to 20 signs abound

We opted for the Paradise Room tour which takes you in through the exit. This is a shorter tour for people with physical limitations. You walk a 1/2 mile level path into the entrance of the biggest and most prominent room in the cavern, walking into the entrance tunnel of over 500 feet and then about half an hour spent in the Cave while the tour guide gives you an informative narrative. Back out the same way you went in through the tunnel and back the 1/2 mile trek back to the visitor centre. Ray's not up for "waddling or sliding or bending" of the other tours.

Here's a description of the "standard tour" which Ray couldn't manage:

Take our standard cave tour to experience these spectacular caverns lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns and helictites. The tour begins with a 1-mile gradual uphill walk to the cave entrance. The route inside the cave is lighted for a safe and enjoyable visit, and the caves are naturally air-conditioned. Kids especially have fun on the tour's famous Beaver Slide and enjoy the occasional bat sighting. The tour includes 600 steps and involves ducking, waddling, bending and sliding as you make your way through the cavern.

These caves are quite small in comparison to the Carlsbad Caverns we saw last year, but still very interesting. There is also quite a bit of damage from unregulated tourism in the 20's through the 30's with many of the stalactites and stalagmites broken or touched/ruined from humans or the blast to open up the access cave we entered through.

Waiting area for the tour.

Entrance to the Caves

500 plus foot manmade tunnel to the entrance of the Paradise Room
 They have a double door system to get into the cave as if you opened only one door the wind would get up to almost 50 mph from the top of the cave and dry out the cave in under 15 minutes and it would take a year for the formations to start growing again.

Cave bacon with blast damage

Cave baseball bat, unusal in that it was smooth.

Example of Cave Columns

Cave Columns

Cave Flowstones

Flowstone up close

Cave flowstones

"Froggy" This was one of the stalagmites that people were encouraged to touch in earlier times and because of the oil off their hands it became shiny and never grew any more. This is why they do not want you to touch any of the cave features.

Helictite where the water pushes underneath the formation but never rises to the surface.

Next pictures are of the actual Paradise Room

Cave popcorn and flowstones

Cave Soda Straws

"Totem Pole"

Actual travertine steps.

The original trail up to the caverns.

Saw these guys on the drive back down the mountain.

 Looking out at the Jefferson River Valley

Back home for lunch and spent the rest of the day relaxing. Pretty cool outside to sit.