Exploring the national forests

While Grand Teton National Park offers many excellent hiking trails for all levels of abilities, we have decided this summer to spend more time away from the crowds on the trails of the US Forest Service.  The trails, while still being well-maintained and most have vault toilets near the trail head (something that I prefer), are seldom used by the tourists.  If you only have a limited amount of time in the park, most visitors will do the “popular” park trails.  But if you have more time in an area, or want a more “serene” experience, then check out the forest service trails.

Our first hike, with our co-workers Shawn and Erin, was a trailhead behind Togwotee Mountain Lodge, at an elevation of 8654 feet.  Brad, our boss and life-long resident in this area, recommended this trail to us, and said it’s “about 6 miles,” and “all downhill.”  Since this was going to be a one-way, downhill  hike, we left one vehicle down near Turpin Meadows, and took the other car up to Togwotee.

The wildflowers were in full bloom, which made the hike extra special.  Even the vault toilet at the trailhead was surrounded by flowers.

DSC05253 (2)

The Grand Tetons, about 45 miles away, are peeking out over the forest, with wildflowers covering the hills.

DSC05273 (2)

Erin, Shawn and Dan, on our “downhill” hike…

DSC05272 (2)

We made it down to the river.  You can see where we started, by the red X in the photo.  Dan checked his elevation app that he has on his phone, and it said we were down to 6800 feet, from the 8600 feet when we started.

DSC05296 (2)_LI

But once we made it down to the river, we realized the trail did not follow along the river, but instead went straight up a hill.  Brad and Joanne don’t go hiking, they take their horses and go riding in the forest.  That should have been our clue when he said it was all downhill…..!

So off we went up a steep hill, only to realize once we were at the top, there was another one we had to climb as well!  It was a bit of a struggle, as I checked my Fitbit, and we had already hiked over 6 miles.  Once we made it to the top of the second hill, Dan’s app read 7800 feet.  But we could finally see the end in sight.  In the photo below, our car is where the red mark is.  Only a few more miles…

DSC05304 (2)_LI

All together, the “6 mile, all downhill” hike that Brad recommended, was 8 1/4 miles, with 1800 feet downhill, followed by 1000 feet uphill and another 1000 feet downhill.  When we mentioned to Brad about the uphill portion, he said “oh yeah, but it’s only 20 minutes,” to which we replied “if you’re on a horse!”  But the spectacular views, and seeing the wildflowers in full bloom, was well worth it.  And we were the only ones on this hike.  We had the forest to ourselves!

BROOKS LAKE/JADE LAKE HIKE

Dan and I spent another one of our off days taking advantage of another forest service hike, at Brooks Lake, which is part of the Continental Divide Trail.

DSC05344 (2)

The loop trail starts at an elevation of 9100 feet, and is relatively flat for the first 1/2 mile.  Then you climb 700 feet in one mile, which may not sound like much, but when you are starting out at such a high elevation to begin with, it really gets your heart rate elevated. We had to go up and over the tree line in the photo below.

DSC05310 (2)

We took it slow, and stopped several times.  Dan asked if I wanted to turn around, but this time we knew that once we made it to the top, the remaining five miles would be relatively easy.  After 40 minutes, we finally made it to the top.  Then it was just a another mile until we got our first view of Upper Jade Lake, which was spectacular.

DSC05319 (2)

The trail gradually descended down to the lake.  The wildflowers were just past their peak, but still pretty.

DSC05316

We had to cross over the river between upper and lower Jade Lake, and the trail wound around lower Jade Lake.

DSC05337

The trail crossed over the river two more times, before going out into a meadow for the last mile of the trail.  I managed to make three of the four river crossings without a problem.  On the last crossing, one of the rocks that I stepped on moved, and down I went into the river!  The water was cold, but it was so hot out, it was actually refreshing.  And on a positive note, I discovered the hiking “fanny pack” that I use, is waterproof, as everything inside the bag was dry.

Since the last mile was out in the open, I was able to dry out a little on the way back to the truck.  We had a nice view of Brooks Lake on the way back.  Our truck was parked on the other side of the lake.  I usually bring a change of shoes/socks when we hike, but from now on, it will include a complete change of clothes!

DSC05342 (2)

WORK UPDATE

We continue to be busy at Luton’s Teton Cabins, at least for another week.  Then we enter the “change-over” of the summer, when kids are back to school, so the family vacations end, and the “newlyweds and nearly deads” begin their vacations.  We will have about one week when our occupancy is light.  It will be a much appreciated break, as our cabins are full for the month of September.  The downtime will give us time to clean and prepare the truck and fifth wheel for our trip to Arizona for the winter.

Quote for the Day:  “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

Summer 2017 ‘a bear-y good time’

We have finished our summer work camping job at Luton’s Teton Cabins, just east of Grand Teton National Park.  Dan feels the summer flew by, but I think it was just the right amount of time.  There was snow when we arrived in May, and snow when we left in October…a lot of snow!  We were the last ones to leave, as Dan was busy steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins. Although the weather was supposed to be 50s, we ended up with about 7 inches of snow!  It was pretty though!

IMG_3128It did make for an interesting drive over Togowotee Pass, at 9600 feet and a steep grade! And this is after they had “cleared” the pass!  Normally we like to leave early in the morning when we are in travel mode, but we had to wait until late morning for the road to improve.

IMG_3138

 

We had another hard working crew this summer, and six of us will be coming back next summer.   Last summer, with my broken foot, we did not get to do as much hiking as we had planned.  This summer, we did many hikes, and even got our bicycles out.  The Tetons and Jackson Hole are very bicycle friendly areas, with miles of paved paths.

IMG_3047

Dan and Al had a great summer fishing (and catching!) trout.  After a slow start due to the spring flooding, they were able to get enough to have a pot luck fish fry for everyone.  Al brought his inflatable Sea Eagle boat, and they floated down the river many times.  The boat folds up into a small bag, and is strong enough to hold both the guys, and all their gear.

IMG_3100

The highlight of the summer, for me, was seeing (and experiencing) the Solar Eclipse.  You can read about that here.

A close second was watching a grizzly and her two cubs, feasting on berries.  (a special thanks to our co-workers Karen and Al for texting us when they spotted them in the park – about 2 miles from us).

 

We also had a bull moose run right across the road on our way back from the grocery store.  I have learned to always carry my camera in September, as the wildlife is very active.

P1010122 (2)

After we left Wyoming, we had a long travel day and stopped at the Cabela’s in Rapid City, South Dakota, which lets you stay overnight in their parking lot.  We were woken up very early to an alarm going off.  We though it may have been our carbon monoxide detector.  We both woke up in a panic, and started searching, only to discover it was our temperature gauge, which has an alarm clock.  We have had this for over 8 years, and never knew it had an alarm clock!  Apparently when we packed it up and put it away for travel, a button must have been pressed to set the alarm.

IMG_1669

And 10 minutes later…we discovered it has a snooze feature!

Since we were up early, we just got on the road (it was 5 am), and watched the sunrise as we traveled east.

IMG_3144We are now back in Wisconsin.  Originally, we planned to be here a few weeks, then head down to Amazon in Kentucky.  However, our friend Mike’s bar and grill that we had helped remodel is not yet open.  He was very busy this summer with his landscaping business, and did not finish the remodeling.  So we are back helping him out, probably through Thanksgiving, and then we will head south for the winter.

Quote for the day:  “You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”  Joyce Meyer

 

 

 

 

Cousins come a callin’

First off, thank you for all the wonderful comments, e-mails and telephone calls from our last blog post.  It really meant a lot.

Dan’s cousins, Roni and Jodi, made a long road trip from the Twin Cities to come out and visit with us for two days.  We tried to pack as much as we could in the short amount of time they had, and we think we succeeded.  The only thing they were not able to check off their list was seeing a grizzly bear.

We spent the first day on a quick tour of Grand Teton National Park, trying to stop at some of  the highlights: Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain, String Lake, Jenny Lake, Lupine Meadows, The Chapel of Transfiguration, Schwabacher Landing, etc…

DSC04471 (2)

Dan, Jodi, Roni

DSC04472

After seeing some of  the highlights, we stopped in Moose for a little pizza at Dornan’s.  While sitting outside we were briefly entertained by a fox walking near the deck.

DSC04474 (2)The next morning we headed up to Yellowstone, making a few stops in the Tetons to view a herd of Elk,

P1000307 (2)followed by a mama and baby moose!

P1000363 (2)And no morning is complete without a stop at Oxbow Bend, with the low-lying clouds covering parts of Mt Moran.

P1000311 (2)

Yellowstone was pretty busy, but Roni said she had “positive vibes”, especially after our wonderful start to the day.  She was right, and we never had issues finding parking spots!  Our wildlife sightings continued, with an Osprey in a nest,

P1000516 (2)and a lone buffalo taking a nap along the side of the road!

P1000500 (2)The cousins were impressed with the view of the Lower Falls.

P1000429 (2)P1000426 (2)

I think Roni and Jodi may have a new future career in the park service!

P1000472 (2)No stop to Yellowstone is complete without a visit to Old Faithful.  It was Roni’s first time seeing the geyser go off.  Despite its name, it did not erupt until 25 minutes after its scheduled time.  The crowd of thousands was growing very restless, and a lot of cheers erupted when it finally went off.  Roni said it was worth the wait!

P1000601 (2)

Although their visit was very short, we had a wonderful time and are thankful Roni and Jodi decided to venture out west to see us!  Our door is always open for our family and friends to visit!

Quote for the day:  “Nobody will understand the craziness of your family better than your cousins.” – unknown

 

Settled in for summer!

After we left Wisconsin, we stopped in Minnesota for a few days to visit Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia.  We originally planned to stay at a local county campground, but it was booked up solid for the weekend.  Julia had met us out at the campground, and Dan rode with her to a private campground a few miles away, to check for availability.  They had not been answering the telephone.  I stayed behind with Makena in the truck/fifth wheel.  They were able to get a spot for us.  Turns out there was a Harley festival going on, so everything was pretty booked up and the gal in the office was too busy to answer the telephone.  I drove the fifth wheel all by myself, to the campground.  I have driven it a few times before, but never by myself.  Now I just need to stop looking in the rear view mirror!  I met up with Dan at the campground, and he had me back into our spot.  Never did that before!  But he provided excellent guidance, and I feel a little more confidant now.

Gary and Julia are now grandparents for the first time!  Their daughter Carmen and husband Luke stopped over with Simon, who is now two months old!  Welcome to the world Simon!

IMG_0859 (1)

napping with Uncle Dan

We had a nice time visiting with everyone, and headed towards Custer, SD to visit with friends and former co-workers.  The best part of working for Amazon, is the people we meet.  And we have been able to meet up with fellow Amazon Camperforce everywhere we go.  Although I forgot to bring the camera along for a few meals, we met up with Linda and two of her co-workers in Keystone, where she will be working this summer at a gas station/convenience store.  The next day we met up with Bob for a good meal at the Alpine Inn in Hill City.  We were joined by our friends and former co-workers at Crazy Horse Phil and Rudee, and both Margaret’s that we had worked with.  They have both since retired.  Bob will be working this summer at Crazy Horse and has been very impressed with the fact it is more than just a mountain carving.  You can look back in our blog to the summer of 2014 to read more about our Crazy Horse experience (or type Crazy Horse in the search box on our site).

The next night we managed another get together, and our friends Chery and Dick also joined in.  We were happy that Bob could join us again, as it is always nice to meet fellow work campers.

IMG_2431 (1)

Dick, Phil, Jonell, Bob, Rudee and Cheryl

We hope they all have a wonderful summer, and will certainly meet up with them again!  Since we had a long drive from Custer to Moran, WY, we left very early and had a pleasant day of driving.  We knew we were getting close to our summer “home”, when snow started appearing out our window!  Yes, 65 degrees, sunny and snow!

IMG_0908 (2)

We arrived late afternoon to Luton’s Teton Cabins, and were met with hugs from the owners, Brad and Joanne.  Wonderful people to work for!  Co-workers Karen and Al had arrived a few hours before us, and we met another new co-worker, Melissa.  There will be two additional couples coming this week.  Dan and I start on Monday, May 15th, and we are excited to get back to work again.

Most of the snow at the lower elevations (we are at 6800 feet) has melted, but the Tetons are exceptionally beautiful this time of year.

IMG_0951 (1)

We have already seen a moose, fox and Makena has been keeping an eye on a gopher that is just outside of our fifth wheel.  We are looking forward to another great summer!  I will post more on our jobs once we get started for the season.  This is our view for the summer, from the cabins.

IMG_2438 (1)

Quote for the Day:  “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neal Donald Walsch

I Like It Here!

Hello Everyone!  I’m back, your favorite blog posting full-time dog!

makena blogging 2-09-2014

Keeping my peeps informed!

I am really enjoying my time here in Moran, WY just outside Grand Teton National Park.  My parents have found a dog friendly work camping job.  I am not allowed to go in or near the rental cabins, so I can’t go to work with them (I would be good at licking up all the crumbs on the kitchen floors in the cabins!), but having 100 acres to roam around, is doggie paradise! (even if there are 6 other big dogs on the property)

Before I talk about my current activities here, I will get you caught up on what I have been up to the last few months.  After leaving Florida, we went back to my favorite “campground”, Camp Meyer.  (Dan’s sister and brother in laws house).  I have the full reign of the facilities, and they have several acres to roam around on.  I was able to visit with my great nieces.  They gave me lot’s of attention and snacks!

image

Teaching Ellie about treats!

image

Raya and Leia playing with me

I briefly visited with my doggie cousins Rudy and Reagan, who, after sniffing my butt, pretty much ignore me now.  My kitty cousins were not happy I was eating their food, and Bandit hissed and pawed at me quite a bit.  Callie was much nicer to me this time and Jonell’s sister Margie and her husband Greg always treat me well!

Veterinarian Visit

As many of you may recall, last year my doctor was concerned about my weight, and said I needed to lose 1/2 pound.  This year I weighed in 3 ounces MORE than last year!  But, the doctor noticed I was much leaner and more muscular, and had a low heart rate, so he was very happy with my appearance this year.  I am a lean, mean, football playing machine!!

My parents were concerned about my scratching and licking my butt for the past couple of months.  They thought it was fleas and fire ant bites from Florida.  Turns out, my anal glands were full (sorry if this is grossing you out, but this can be an issue with us dogs!).  In 9 years of living, I have never had that problem. The doctor was able to “express” them, and boy did that make me feel better!

The doctor recommended that I have some canned organic pumpkin to eat (a teaspoon or so with my food).  I guess that helps keep things from clogging up!

After my doctors visit, I joined my mom for her annual patio beers with her friend Amy, and I made a new friend, Taco.  Taco and I really got along, once he stopped poking around my rear end!

image

did you get your anal glands expressed?

image

My buddy Taco and I

And now back at the ranch…

There are miles of walking trails all over the property here.  Just look at this view I have every day. You can see my path just goes on and on.   It truly is doggie heaven!

image

A dog’s dream field

I have been marking my spots all over the field, as there are all kinds of wildlife that come through this field.

DSC03597 (1)

The owners have about 11 horses on the property.  I was pretty scared of them at first, and when we went walking with my parents friends and co-workers Karen and Al, I stood behind Al while he pet the horses.  But then I warmed up to them, and realized they had no interest in sniffing my but, despite their large noses.  They are obviously civilized animals!

DSC03606

Al is protecting me!

DSC03612

you have a big nose Mr. Horse

There were cows on the property for a few weeks, but they have been moved to higher elevations for the summer.  I was reprimanded for going under the fence to get a better view of them!

 

My parents have started allowing me to go off-leash on the property for part of our walks.  But, after a few drop and rolls in some big horse poop, I have been warned I may lose my off leash privileges.

img_0577

I have to stay out of the piles to keep my freedom!

I’m glad that I took agility class, because I have to be careful crossing over the cattle guards when I am carrying my football out to the playing field.

img_0762

walking a straight line

Unfortunately, my mom broke a bone in her foot last week.  She was carrying their laundry basket down the steps inside the 5th wheel, and didn’t see her shoes at the bottom of the steps, stepped on them and fell.  So she is in a walking boot for the next 6 weeks, which means we won’t be doing this for a while.

img_0557

Mom and I. Cabins in the background.

But my dad is still taking me out to play, and hopefully he will take me out for some long walks.  I miss those.  It’s such a pretty area for us dogs and being off leash to bound around the ranch is awesome!

Take care everyone, and thanks for following along with me!

Quote for the day:  “I have a simple philosophy.  Fill what’s empty.  Empty what’s full.  Scratch where it itches.”  – Alice Roosevelt Longworth