Saturday, September 9, 2017

2017, August 28 to September 5 - Grand Teton National Park, plus Bridger-Teton and Shoshoni National Forests

In Dubois WY we stayed at the Longhorn Ranch Lodge & RV Resort just outside of Dubois WY, which is a great park with very ample sites, well maintained and very clean. Our site was right next to the river so the view was spectacular with views of people fly fishing and inner tube rafting in the river with all their clothes and shoes on (not kidding)... see the photo. Due to the trees we were not able to connect the Dish satellite, but they were supposed to have about 16 channels of Cable, however only 2 channels came in clearly. The rest had too much snow/static to be able to watch them. So we tried the TV antenna.  Actually, we got better reception on the TV antenna, but still not good enough to watch it. So we relied on our DVR (pre-recorded) movies. They did have a pretty good, free, secured Wi-Fi that we could hook up to Netflix or Prime with, but never did, as there was too much too do around here and going to the National Parks and Forests as well as going into Jackson WY (Jackson's Hole).

Dubois (pronounced locally as Doo-boys) is a small town of just about 1,000 people (971 in the 2010 Census), located about 3 miles away from the Longhorn Ranch Lodge and RV Resort, on Hwy 26 in Wyoming. However, during the summer its population just about doubles with part-time (seasonal) residents. Many parts of Wyoming are shut down and isolated from pretty much everything else during the winter months, due to winter storms closing down the highways and thoroughfares, which probably explains why (like our campground) so many businesses close in mid October through mid April. During our stay however, the average temperature was in the mid 70s to low 80's during the day and in the high 40s to high 50s at night. The closest airport is in Jackson (85 miles away) about a 1-1/2 hour drive away.

Surrounded by public lands and wilderness, Dubois offers unparalleled opportunities  to explore the wonders of nature on your own. As an example we found a single girl (40s) at the Cowboy Café in town that came from the Netherlands and was hiking the different wilderness trails... on her own. That perhaps is a little to 'adventurous' for us, but we do love nature and exploring it... 'gently'. Dubois is one of the last real Old West towns, and a charming gem in the rough with the authentic feel of the old frontier. It is barely an hour's drive from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and another half hour longer to Jackson, over a smooth and scenic highway, its beauty and peacefulness abound in the Wind River Valley. However one does not have to go too far to find things to do. There's miles upon miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and wildlife viewing. And an area favorite, fly fishing and four wheeling. Even in winter there's snowmobiling and Nordic skiing.  We were here for a week and went to the Grand Tetons (via two daytrips) and to Jackson (Jackson's Hole), as we had already done Yellowstone NP from Cody.

An original business in Dubois was the Welty's General Store (above photo, left of photo).  It was originally located in a log cabin on the outskirts of Dubois by Frank A. Welty in 1889.  Later it was moved to the main street location where it is still in business today.  There was an interesting sight across the street from the General Store. (Photo left). It appeared for all the world to be the entrance to a mine, right on the main street of Dubois.  However, while we were in Welty's, we inquired about the "mine."  Turns out that it was Welty's original "refrigerator!"  Back in the day, as they say, goods that needed to be kept cool in order to stay fresher, were placed in caves designed for this purpose.  This would be a fancier, commercial version of the "cave or root cellar" at the pioneer homestead we visited in the Badlands. 

Located about 12 miles northwest of Dubois along the Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway is a monument called the Tie Hack Memorial. It is dedicated to the hard-working men and women  and their families whose sweat and work contributed to the building of the first transcontinental railroad linking the continental U.S., coast to coast. Railroad ties were made from trees hacked and cut by hand, hence the name "tie hack". Tie hacks were a special breed of loggers who could quickly fell and limb a tree, and fashion the tie down to the specifications demanded by each contract for the railroad. Tie hacks were paid 12 cents per tie in 1913, which grew to 30 cents in the 1930s, and by WWII to 50 cents each tie. A good tie hack cutting 50 ties a day could make $25 a day, In the early days cut ties were delivered to the railroad by floating them down the Wind River on the annual "long walk" to Riverton, WY. This  'walk' took place after the Wind River peaked in the Spring runoff, so the ties would move more swiftly downstream, but it was a difficult and dangerous endeavor. Wooden water channels (called 'flumes') which sometimes can still be seen in the area, and which one is placed next to the memorial, were built and used to send logs down steep canyon sides to await downriver transport. Later the tie hacks and tie drives were replaced by gas powered sawmills, sawyers, cutters and skidders, who pulled the logs to a mill. Eventually, railroads closed as  the trucking industry flourished and because gasoline was inexpensive.

One thing that you will notice in the following (and previous posts') photos is that they are not as clear as one would expect from the low humidity Western weather.  Well, while in Cody a nice gentleman at the Ace Hardware store explained the phenomenon to us.  It seems that starting in about July every year, a haze develops in Western Wyoming.  The cause is the wild fires in California, Idaho, and Montana this year.  There is no smell of smoke, just a blue/gray haze settling across the landscape.

DAY 1:
Our first real 'outing' was a trip to the Grand Tetons, on the northern route, These mountains are much more impressive than the mountains of Yellowstone, as the Tetons just jut out from a flat valley land next to them and they are much higher and more snow capped. 

The town of Moran sits just outside the Moran Junction Entrance to Grand Teton NP.  The town only has a population of 501 but it does have a US Post Office (Zip code 83013). It serves as one of the principal fee collection entrances to Grand Teton National Park.
Here a Park Ranger accepts our 'Geezer Passes'.


Off the beaten path (on dirt roads) there are campsites listed as Campsite #X - 1 site (or 2, 3, 4 etc sites). Each has one restroom for as many sites as are available in that location, so the 1 site campsites have their own restroom. The boxes covered in black plastic bags are for food storage as they are bear proof. After a certain date camping is restricted to hard sided (trailers +) only, due to the presence and disposition of bears looking to forage for their coming hibernation

A female Sage Grouse crossing the road

The sign says " Hang Game Meat 10 feet off the ground" (so the bears can't get to it). We have always wondered if bears can learn to open a door, why can't they learn to untie a knot or chew the rope that is keeping them from their bounty?

Bill took this photo of a Golden Eagle (on the ground).

Mary found this Golden Eagle on a tree.
A flock of Canadian Geese

And this black bear decided to cross the road right in front of us...

One last look at the stupid tourists...

The second day we visited the Tetons again, but taking a southern route, venturing out on the non-paved roads for at least 10 miles, hoping to see more wildlife. Unfortunately, we did not see as much wildlife there as in Yellowstone, but did get to see a Black Bear on our second day outing, on our way back home. You'll love his (or her) photos. We also went to see and photograph the most photographed barn in America, lying in the Mormon Row Historic District. In 1890 Mormon homesteaders began arriving to the area from Idaho, creating a community called "Gros Ventre" by the Gros Ventre River, which between 1900 -  1920 had developed with a total of 27 homesteads. Gros Ventre, which means 'big belly' in French (now referred to as Mormon Row Historic District) is a line of homestead complexes along the Jackson - Moran Road, near the southeast corner of Grand Teton National Park. in the valley called Jackson's Hole. This area is also known as Antelope Flats and the nearest cities are Kelly and Moose, in WY. They constructed homes, ranches, a church and a school... a true community.  Among the more notable resident families were that of John and T. A. Moulton, Andy Chambers, Joseph Eggleston,  Albert Gunther, Henry May, Thomas Murphy and George Rinker.  Today a few of the homesteads still prevail, but mostly it is visited by tourists and photographers on account of the historic buildings, the herds of bison and antelope in the area and the majestic Tetons in the background. The Andy Chambers Ranch is the only remaining nearly complete farmstead in Mormon Row, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, under the National Park Service.



The sign says "Signal Mountain Campground 3 Miles (right arrow)"  Are they kidding?
The trail is about 12-inches wide and beyond 50 feet it's almost a straight drop downhill.






Wow! Another two or three feet and it will be a long way straight DOWN. 
This should prove that Bill trusts Mary's driving.
And back at home grilling Bratts... while watching TV outside.
DAY 3:
The third outing was to visit the town of Jackson, WY a town named after David Edward "Davey" Jackson, who trapped beaver in the area of this valley referred to as Jackson's Hole. in the late 1820s, while a partner in the firm of Smith, Jackson and Sublette. Davey Jackson was the first non-Indian (white man) to spend an entire winter in the Valley of the Teton Mountains. Jackson (elevation 6,237 ft), is the county seat of Teton County and was incorporated in 1914, twenty four years after Wyoming's statehood. In the year 2000 it had a population of 8,647 permanent residents. It is known for many things apart from its trapping origins. among them the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has the longest continuous  vertical rise of any ski area in the U.S., rising 4,139 feet from the valley floor to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. And of course there are all those fantastic shops, restaurants and art galleries. If you go there, be sure to take a good supply of cash or credit cards because it not inexpensive, but nested between two mountain ranges it is B-U-T-Ful.

  A plan of the layout of Jackson, Wyoming at the Visitor Center.

A flag depository (above) at the VFW of Jackson (below), where you
can leave old flags to be destroyed honorably.

 OK... Someone please tell us how a Liberty Burger can be a part of a Mexican Café.

 But we had lunch here... at Moe's BBQ, nothing to write home (or tell you) about.
But we did get to watch football there.

  Another of the antler arches (at each corner) of the Square Park.
 The famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar

 A Hyles euphorbiae moth of Wyoming. Can we count  this as wildlife too?

 The Jackson Town Square ...on the National Register of Historic Places
 Jackson Central Square Park

A gathering Place On June 15, 1897 John and Maggie Simpson donated land on which to build a “Gathering Place” for residents of the Jackson Hole Valley. This structure became known as the Clubhouse and originally housed the Gun Club. It also became a community spot for meetings, summertime movies and all-night dances. It was a two-story log and frame building with the dance hall upstairs and the drugstore and mercantile store were downstairs. The  building has survived all these years.
 A working stagecoach will take on passengers for a ride around the square.
Below: The horses carry their own pooper-scoopers to keep the streets clean.

 A log bench

 There is an antler arch at each corner of the central park.

Store in Jackson where we were going to buy
T-shirts, but they were way too expensive.

As in the old days, a horse hitch.

  In the background, the lower ski lift to Rendezvous Peak in Jackson WY
 Stainless steel hors-d'oevre picks in moose and bear style found at a store.

Jackson Harley Davidson

 Albertsons in Jackson, where we stopped in to stock up on groceries for our
upcoming trip to Boulder (for a  week) and then the 4-day run to Texas.
 Above the entrance to the Elk Refuge.
This is a makeshift temporary red light system necessitated when the Snake River erosion eroded the roadway and forced the two-way road to be rerouted into a single way road with limited passage. See the photos of the eroding river and damage to the road.

Further down the road (on the same Gros Ventre Road) we came upon several deteriorated and abandoned cabins, around an old fenced area. There were no plaques or any information about them whatsoever. It was not until a few days later, while researching the possibility of what this site was that we found out that these cabins are familiarly known as the "Shane" cabins, because that was where the movie was filmed in 1953. Historically they were actually the Luther Taylor Cabins & Homestead, but in the movie they were the Ernie Wright Cabins and Homestead.

 This was a separate cabin at the back of the fenced property.
And another cabin (maybe where the stock was kept).

 The main cabin.

These beautiful thistle flowers were also on the property. See the bumble bee? 
Further on, on the way back to the campground we passed a ranch field with about 30 horses. Many of them had these birds just standing on their backs. Some had 1 bird, others 2 or 3 and others several (like 6-8). For some reason though it was mostly on the grey or white horses. Really curious! 

Then we had to cross a Continental Divide...

 And then there was this ranch that Mary said "I wonder if they flipped a coin to see if she got the BIG DIAMOND Ring or Ranch. If so, GREAT CHOICE, Girl! Unfortunately Bill didn't have a ranch to offer Mary, so she took the ring.

Moving on to our next destination, in Boulder, WY (not CO) we passed two interesting points of interest, which we just happened to notice the signs and later looked up their details. The first was near Ft. Washakie, WY... Sacajawea's Cemetery. We have all heard of Sacagawea, the Indian woman of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, right? But does anyone know how she lived, died, and where SHE is buried? Though there is question as to her 'real' burial site and date, we passed right by one possible burial site, with no clue of it being there. She was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who is known for her help as a guide to the Lewis & Clark  Expedition in achieving their chartered mission in exploring the western lands of the US. Her presence as an Indian, a guide with knowledge of difficult terrain, a translator and as a woman helped dispel notions that their party was coming with intentions of conquering the native tribes and confirmed the peacefulness of their mission.

(Photo courtesy of Melinda Bryan)

Of her death two basic accounts contradict each other. What is known is that she married a man by the last name of Charbonneau, who also had several other 'squaw' wives.  She was born in 1788 in Lehmi County, Idaho and in one account is said to have died on December 20, 1812 at the Ft. Manuel Lisa Trading Post (aka Ft. Lisa, Ft. Manuel and/or Ft. Mandan) in an area near what is now Kenel, South Dakota, on the Missouri River. That story is based on the account of a trapper in 1811 stating that she and her husband Charbonneau were living together in Ft. Manuel and then of another trapper and clerk at Ft. Manuel  (John Luttig) who wrote in a journal that "the wife of Charbonneau had died on the post on Dec 20 1812, of a 'putrid fever' (thought to have meant 'typhoid fever') and since it was known that Sacajawea had lived there with Charbonneau, it was assumed that it meant her.  Unfortunately, he did not identify which of Charbonneau's wives he was referring to, by name, as the polygamous Charbonneau had several squaw wives at the time. However, another story claims that she did not die there, and actually left Charbonneau when he took still another wife, and then she married a Comanche warrior until his death, and then moved back to her Shoshone people in Wyoming, where she was reunited with her son Baptiste, and lived until her death in 1884, at the age of 96. This story is supported Dr. Charles Eastman, a Sioux scholar commissioned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1963 an inscription on the stone erected by the D.A.R. states that she died in 1884 and that the Rev. J. Roberts who officiated at her burial identified her original gravesite in 1907. Hence, this is the story that her burial at the Sacajawea Cemetery near Ft. Washakie, WY is based. Oddly enough, the complete story of one of America's most celebrated women may never be fully known.

The other is South Pass City, built in 1867 due to the discovery of gold there, is now basically just an old ghost town... an unincorporated community with only minimal population, in Fremont County, Wyoming, located 2 miles south of the intersection of Highways 28 and 131. It is claimed to be one of the best preserved mining towns in the West, and one can actually still pan for gold and gems there. Its history is a long and rich one. Drawn to the region by the hope of finding gold, miners flocked to the nearby hills and streams around 1868-1869, only to have their hopes overcome by the hard work and severe conditions of South Pass. Some however found their niche there and thrived. The Carissa gold mine there was the primary economic driving force for the establishment of South Pass City, which employed many miners, hoist operators and mill hands. The 20th century saw development underground;1929 brought a new millhouse; then, after WWII amazing new technology was introduced to both mine and mill and for awhile it flourished. Unfortunately, bad years followed with minimal production and inability to meet their goals, and as a result in 1954 the mine was closed. Then in 2003, the State of Wyoming purchased the Carissa Mine and launched a major restoration of the mine so that the public can experience what life in a gold mine was, first hand. There are tours available Thursdays through Sundays, at 2pm, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Fees are just $2 for Wyoming residents and $4 for Non-Resident Adults, and under 18 years old are Free. If you want to take a tour make your reservations early as tours are limited to 25 people. It will definitely be on our list of places to go see, when we return to this area.

South Pass City in background (B/W Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

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