Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy 10th Anniversary to One Day in America!

          One Day in America celebrated its 10th anniversary in March of 2021.  To commemorate the occasion I chose to share ten former posts written about destinations I have visited only once, but long to see again.  


Sandhill Cranes take flight at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.



          1.  Redwoods State and National Parks, California.  A stroll through California's Redwood forests should be required of every human.  This may sound like hyperbole but I nominate Redwood Trees for the title: 'Earth's Greatest Living Beings'.  I would like nothing more than to walk among the giants again.  Feel small and insignificant—but in the best possible way—by clicking here.

The big trees are calling, and I must go.
Yes, that's the trunk of one redwood tree, to my left.


          2.  White Sands National Park, New Mexico.  Surely there are other phantasmagorical locales on our planet.  But when you arrive at White Sands—as I did on a March day with few other visitors—and gaze upon the endless folds of white, you can't help but feel as though you're living a dream.  My goal is to return and camp overnight in this ethereal world.  Live the dream here.

A lone hiker in the White Sands.


         3.   North Captiva Island, Florida.   You know how we're advised to visualize our "happy place" when we're feeling stressed or sad?  Well, North Captiva Island off Florida's Gulf Coast qualifies as one of my happy places.  You can't help but smile when you're watching White Pelicans dip and soar while listening to the ebb and flow of the tide.  Upon arriving home from North Captiva I vowed to go back within a few years.  I regret to admit it's been 24 years and I have yet to return to this happy place.  But, don't worry, be happy... and click here.

White Pelican conference on North Captiva Island.


         4.  Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.   I have witnessed many a spectacular sunset, but the sunsets—and sunrises too—at Bosque del Apache are beyond spectacular.   Add to it the cacophony of tens of thousands of migratory birds, and you have an "I can't believe I'm alive to witness this" experience.   Share in the magic, by clicking here.

Sunset in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.


              5.  Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes, Idaho.   If you have a road bike and don't want to cycle in traffic, this 72 mile paved rail trail is the way to go.  Spanning Idaho's panhandle, this easy trail is a delight.  You'll ride past marshlands, woodlands and welcoming small towns.  Go along for the ride, by clicking here.

Crossing a lake in Idaho's panhandle on The Trail of the Coeur  d' Alenes.


        6.  Hovenweep National Monument, on the Colorado/Utah border.  The treasures of Hovenweep inspire reverence for the ancient inhabitants of our continent.  The Puebloan ruins there have stood for an amazing 10,000 years.  Be amazed by the ancients here.

A ruin with a view, in Hovenweep National Monument.


       7.  Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, Nevada.  A gold and silver mine and giant prehistoric fish-lizard bones?   Yes, artifacts of both can be found in this park which was once a great inland sea.  Intrigued?  Satisfy your curiosity here.

A return to this desert campground in Berlin-Ichthyosaur S.P. would be fine with me.


       8.  Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.  To those who have never been there, your first view of Crater Lake will take your breath away.  When you begin to breathe again you will continually blink your eyes to be sure the vision in front of you is real.  The magnificent blue reflected back to your eyes is the result of the lake's depth and clarity.  To read about another of the lake's wonders, or, if blue is your favorite color (it is mine), click here.

You can stop pinching yourself now.  The color is real.


       9.  Coyote Buttes, Arizona.   This is a tough one.  Do I wish I could return to this geologic wonderland?  Yes, I do.  But in reality, like too many wondrous places in America, Coyote Buttes has been "discovered".  To protect this fragile area only a certain number of visitation permits are issued per day.   And while it was once easy to secure a permit in the off-season (I was there one January) people now wait years to secure a lottery permit, or wait in long lines at the BLM office to snag one of a handful of first-come-first-served daily permits.  The area is worth a visit, but it will take some effort to do so.  Check out the surreal landscape here, then decide whether or not to get on the waiting list.

The next time you complain about the wind, behold what the wind can do.


         10.  Medicine Lodge Archeological Site State Historic Park, Wyoming.   When Tim and I drove into this park in July of 2020 I thought:  This could be any old campground in any old place.  We stayed for two nights, but I wished we could have stayed much longer.  Medicine Lodge has an indescribable allure.  It could be the wildlife, the wilderness, the archeology and paleontology, or even the blue-ribbon trout stream.  Whatever it is, the attraction is strong.  And before you realize it, you know you're in one of Wyoming's special places.   Experience the enchantment of this park by clicking here.

Not just any old place.  Medicine Lodge takes hold of you.
 I will return.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

All Alone in Yellowstone: Winter Treks and Trails

           All alone in one of our nation's most heavily visited national parks?  Well, technically, no.  But practically, yes.  The section of Yellowstone between the northern entrance in Gardiner, Montana and the northeastern entrance in Cooke City, Montana is lightly visited during winter.

          Trails and byways along the 56 mile road between the two towns are open to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking.  What they are not open to is snowmobiling, resulting in blissful quiet and solitude. 

          The map below shows the locations of six trails Tim and I accessed on a recent trip to Yellowstone National Park.  (Numbers and arrows in bold black.)

Click on map to enlarge.


            1.  Mammoth Upper Terrace Loop Trail.  This trail, just south of the town on Mammoth Hot Springs, leads to views of hot springs, travertine terraces, and the surrounding mountains.  

            What are travertine terraces?  The following definition is from Wikipedia:  "In Yellowstone, travertine results from a simple interaction of hot water, limestone, and a fault zone. The mineral-rich water then travels to the surface along a fault zone.  Travertine terraces are some of the most bizarre-looking geological formations on Earth. The rock that makes up these unique formations is a type of limestone commonly deposited by mineral springs through a process of rapid precipitation of carbonate minerals.”

            And there you have it, the reason we ski the travertine terraces loop every time we're in the park—to view these bizarre and beautiful formations without the crowds.  We encountered six other people while skiing this loop.

The Upper Terraces Loop Trail winds around this travertine terrace formation.

            2.  Blacktail Plateau Ski/Snowshoe Trail.  This groomed 8 mile trail follows open meadows and then descends into a spruce-fir forest.

We traveled only a short distance in the open meadow.  
Tim snowshoed along the edge while I skied.


              3.   Tower Fall Trail.   This trail ascends a gradual slope to Tower Fall and Campground.

Skiing the Tower Fall Trail.  Notice two bison grazing in the distance
to the left of the trail.  The Park Service requires visitors to remain 25 yards 
from Bison and other large animals, and 100 yards from wolves and bears.


            4.  Trout Lake Trail.  This trail is more easily snowshoed than skied.  During the summer season a steady stream of tourists crowds this trail on their way to the lake—renowned for its trout fishing.  On a January afternoon—save for a lone bison grazing in the forest—we had this trail to ourselves.

View from the Trout Lake Trail.

Tim crosses a bridge at the west end of Trout Lake.


            5.  Pebble Creek Box Canyon.  This very short trail leads from Pebble Creek Campground (closed in winter) into a stunning box canyon.  

We snowshoed into the canyon until a tangle of deadfall blocked our path.


            6.  Barronette Trail.   This trail, in the northeastern-most section of the park, is a 3.5 mile section of the Old Cooke City road.  The trail lies mostly in conifer forests beneath Barronette Peak.

Orange blazes (tree on the right) mark this trail.

View from the Barronette Trail.


            Do tourists visit Yellowstone in winter?  Yes, they do.  Snowmobilers and wildlife photographers "crowd" some sections of the park.  Less popular are the trails through meadows and forests.  Perhaps this post will inspire others to experience solitude while exploring Yellowstone's winter wonders.   

Monday, January 4, 2021

A Snowshoe Outing in Southeast Utah's Ashley National Forest

         One advantage to living in Price, Utah is the ability to find snow—somewhere—all winter long.  No snow in town?  Hop in the car and drive to the top of the nearest mountain. 

         Last week Tim, Annie and I snowshoed Gray Head Peak Trail at Indian Canyon Summit in the Ashley National Forest, half an hour from our house.  To reach the summit—at 9100 feet elevation—a long, winding, and sometimes treacherous drive is required.  But it’s all worth it to arrive at this winter wonderland destination.

     Annie is a happy dog who loves all sorts of adventures.  
But I think she’s at her happiest when dashing through the snow.

Gray Head Summit (center) is straight ahead.  
From this point it’s another 3.5 miles to the summit.  
I’ve never made it that far but this trail is a rewarding one—no matter how far you go.

         Trail magic is the name for those unexpected delights you discover while walking in the wilds.  In the Ashley National Forest on Indian Canyon Summit trail magic is supplied by a couple of old-time "Mountain Men" named Steve Fischer and John McCurdy.  

         Steve and John have been hiking and cross-country skiing the mountain top for decades and long ago they decided the trails could use rest stops along the way—sheltered places to set up camp, or simply to build an afternoon campfire, rest on a large log, and revel in quiet and solitude.

       While hiking Gray Head Peak trail last summer I discovered one of these hiker's havens set off the trail in a small group of trees.  

       "Who built this?"  I asked my hiking companions.

       "That would be McCurdy," they replied.  "He's old-school, a real mountain man, skis on wooden skis, carries a bota bag of wine, builds campfires in the woods."

        Last week, as Tim and I prepared to snowshoe Gray Head trail a beat-up pickup truck pulled in to the trailhead and a lean, white-haired gentleman emerged.  He retrieved a pair of old wooden skis from the bed of his truck. 

       Seeing the wooden skis (but no leather bag of wine) I had to ask: "Are you John McCurdy?  I heard you built the fire pit up on the mountain."

       "No, I'm Steve Fischer,"  was the reply.  "John and I are friends and he's the more flamboyant of us, the one people remember.  But yeah, I'm the one who mostly built that fire pit, and several others in the mountains around here.  John and I have skied almost every square foot of these mountains and we never tire of the fresh air and the views."

      "So then you're the original mountain man," I said.

      "Well, I don't know about that, but I sure would have loved to have been alive in 1850 and explored this area back then."

       "Did you cut the logs for benches?"  I said.

       "Yep, and every year—after the hunters have gone—I haul a load of firewood up here for the pits."

       "Thanks for taking care of these mountains."

        "Oh, sure," said Steve.  "Hey, you should come up here sometime to snowshoe or ski when the moon is full.  It's magical.  Well, have a good time out there today."

We did have a good time out there.  And maybe we'll take Steve's advice and return on a full-moon night, to snowshoe this mountain top by magical moonlight.  

Friday, November 20, 2020

Medicine Lodge Archeological Site State Historic Park, near Hyattville, Wyoming

         First impressions can be fickle.  Like a novel which begins with an enchanting opening line, only to deliver an uninspiring, boring tale.  Or the log-cabin cafe in the mountains that at first glance appears appealing, and then dishes a dreadful, tasteless meal.

         First impressions, however, can also be the other way ‘round...

        “We drove all the way here for this?”  My frustration is evident as we pull into our reserved campsite at Medicine Lodge Campground.  An outhouse sits directly across the lane from our site.  Beyond that three house-sized travel trailers host a large family gathering.  Kids splash in Medicine Lodge Creek and race their bikes on the dirt road, creating dust and noise.  Adults hoot and holler as they listen to Grandpa’s stories. 

         The campground is located miles from anywhere in a high desert prairie.  Medicine Lodge Creek, which flows through the campground, has its origins in the Big Horn Mountains to the northeast and its cold waters support a healthy population of trout.  A designated wildlife habitat area, dinosaur tracks, archeological dig sites, and a wilderness study area surround our oasis in the desert.  

       The boisterous city park atmosphere however, is antithetical to the wilderness setting I had expected.

This creekside boardwalk trail is well away from the group campsite.

         After setting up camp it’s time to stop complaining and begin exploring our “home” for the next couple of days.  We walk the creekside trail, immersing ourselves in the riparian habitat.  Then we visit the campground’s main attraction—a 750 foot-long rock wall filled with pictographs and petroglyphs.  The 2000 year-old rock art includes etchings and paintings of shield-bearing warriors, grizzly bears, bison and elk, and also abstract symbols.

The imposing rock wall doubles as an artist's canvas.

Shield-bearing warriors etched into the wall.

          The more we explore, the less annoyed I am by our noisy neighbors.  Tim fishes Medicine Lodge Creek in a remote desert basin north of the campground and proclaims it the best fishing of the summer.  And just like that, the frolicking kids downstream are forgotten.

Tim caught brown and cutthroat trout in Medicine Lodge Creek.

         Our neighbors pull out on day two, hauling their homes behind them.  All is quiet.  The following morning I listen to a variety of bird song in the cottonwoods, accompanied by the melodic, bubbling stream.

Evening campfire in our cozy campsite.

         First impressions can be wrong indeed!   Our conversation around the campfire on our final night is filled with reflection and contrition.   

        Medicine Lodge Archeological Site is one of Wyoming’s special places.  Unlike a boring novel or a dreadful cafe, my experience here has left me eager for the next chapter and hungry for more.   I will return.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Scarecrows on Main, Price, Utah

             The first annual 'Scarecrows On Main' contest is taking place this October in Price, Utah.  Street lamps, doorways and storefronts on Main Street have been decorated by various businesses and organizations.  

             Below is a sampling of this season's contest entrants, photographed on a brilliant October afternoon.

             I've chosen my picks for first, second and third place awards.  Have a look at these scarecrow creations and judge for yourself.

This is the first time I've seen a beach/snorkeling scarecrow.
Could it be this business owner would rather be in Hawaii?

I like the dia de los Muertos theme of this brightly attired scarecrow.

How about a real "Crow scarecrow"?  Makes sense to me.
And so I chose this avian scarecrow as my #3 pick.

Okay,  this one is truly creepy.

Star Wars scarecrows in front of the library.

After reading 'Crow Scaring for Dummies' this one should have an advantage over the others.
This is my #2 pick.  I love an educated scarecrow.  Love the boots too.

The curse of Chucky?

Here's a guy representing Bookcliff Workwear, dressed for the job.

This foxy scarecrow in bird slippers stands outside the "Corner Coffee and Tea" shop. 

This Dino Scarecrow is stationed  in front of the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum.
It's my #1 pick.  

The museum is a national treasure and features collections and exhibits focusing on specimens  indigenous to the Price area.  If you're ever in Price, check it out:

Would you like to see more scarecrows?  If so, check out these photos from the annual Scarecrow Bash in Del Norte, Colorado.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Taste of The Colorado and Continental Divide Trails near Lake City, Colorado


         The Colorado Trail (CT) meanders through The Colorado foothills and mountains for 486 miles from Denver to Durango.  Over its length it shares the same path as the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) for 234 of those miles.

         I've hiked in Colorado for decades but had never spent any time on either The CT or The CDT.   During a recent vacation to Lake City, CO my husband Tim and I made up for lost time by sampling both trails simultaneously. 

         Seventeen miles southeast of Lake City The CT/CDT crosses Colorado Highway 149 at Spring Creek Pass.  A large parking lot, picnic area and restroom make this an appealing spot to begin a hike in either direction on the trail.   


Segment 21 of the CT—San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Pass.

         Tim and I hiked a few miles of this trail in the "opposite" direction (Spring Creek Pass to San Luis Pass) to an area just above treeline.    This 14.8 mile segment is one of the most remote on the entire Colorado Trail.  

A rest stop above treeline on The CT/CDT.

Annie rests on an uphill section of Segment 21 of The Colorado Trail.
We always dress Annie in her day-glo orange vest during hunting season.


The section of trail above shows beetle-killed spruce trees. Unfortunately much of the high-altitude forest has been destroyed by climate-change enabled beetle-kill. 


Segment 22 of the CT—Spring Creek Pass to Carson Saddle.

          This 17.2 mile segment of trail spends most of its time above treeline with sweeping mountain views, and reaches the high point of The Colorado Trail (13,271') at mile 15.6.  Tim and I hiked a few miles one-way to an alpine meadow which provided a glorious setting for a lunch stop.

This meadow is a perfect place to plant your poles
and sit down for lunch.

Our public lands are mostly multiple-use.  We passed this shepherd and his flock while hiking on Segment 22 of The Colorado Trail.

The view across the valley—returning to Spring Creek Pass from our alpine meadow 
lunch stop.


          If you have an appetite for adventure, satiate it by adding all, or part, of these high-elevation trails to your menu.

Silver Street, Lake City, CO on a late September morning.

         The town of Lake City has been designated an Official CDT Gateway Town and offers free shuttle service to and from Spring Creek Pass.  In the quaint mountain town you'll find lodging, showers, two grocery stores, a brew pub, and various eateries.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Outlaw Cave Campground, Wyoming: Livin' in the Wild, Wild, West


         Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch used Outlaw Cave as a hideout to stash stolen money and cattle during their fugitive days in the late 1800s.
         One hundred and thirty years later Outlaw Cave Campground retains that Wild West spirit.
         After setting up camp Tim and I walked the premises, searching for the trail into the canyon leading to the Middle Fork of the Powder River.  We passed a neighboring campsite and spied a young man reading in the shade of his pickup truck.
         "Where's the trail to the river?", Tim asked.  "And how's the fishing?"
         "Right across the way", he said.  "The fishing here is great.  It's my favorite place on earth."
          As the young man stood to face us we noticed a hand gun strapped prominently to his chest.

          We returned to our campsite where we met another camper, a gentleman from North Dakota.
         "Will you two be hiking into the canyon?", he asked.  "My knees are too bad to make the trek, but when my wife hiked down to the river yesterday I sent "The Judge" along with her."
          "The Judge" by the way, is a short-barrel revolver, capable of firing both shotgun and pistol ammo.
           Are these folks expecting The Hole in the Wall Gang to reappear?  Do they have their own stolen goods to protect?  No.
          "There's bear and mountain lion around here", said Mr. North Dakota.  (By way of explanation for all this open-carrying, I presume.)
           Our plan for tomorrow is to hike into the canyon to the river; we'll take our chances with the lions and the bears.  Humans are more of a threat in the backcountry than wildlife and, in any case, we wouldn't consider taking firearms into the wilderness.

Could these caves by the river be the ones used by Butch Cassidy to stash
his stolen goods?
           The following morning, under crystalline blue skies, we hiked the trail to the river—no bears, lions, or outlaws in sight.  Tim fished for several hours while I hiked back to our campsite to relax on the plateau overlooking the gorge.
           Tim returned in the mid-afternoon and reported fantastic fishing in the pristine, remote waters of the Middle Fork of the Powder.  A little later our neighbor from North Dakota walked by camp.
           "How was your day in the canyon?", he asked.  "Did you have your guns?"

            It's been a long time since outlaws inhabited the isolated high plains and steep-walled canyons of north-central Wyoming.
            But, if Butch Cassidy and his gang ever return to this region of the Wild West, the gun-totin' campers in Outlaw Cave Campground will be ready for them.

You can see our campsite tucked into the shade of the trees.
(Green tent, white vehicle.)

Overview of Outlaw Cave Campground from the rocky outcrop above our site.
Outlaw Cave Trailhead is near the car parked at the center of the photo.
The campground is remote; the nearest town, Kaycee, is 26 miles away
and boasts a population of 274 people.