Friday, October 14, 2016

2016 - Wyoming, Montana, & South Dakota - Part One

2016 – Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota


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We left home by 5:20 a.m. on Friday, September 23rd, making a quick stop at Starbucks to fuel up.  We headed west on I-74 and I-80 stopping on the west side of Omaha at a Holiday Inn Express for the night.  On Saturday we drove as far as Rawlins, WY and again stopped at a Holiday Inn Express.  After breakfast we headed for Lander, WY and Sinks Canyon State Park, Popo Agie (Shuh) campground.  There were a number of dispersed areas to camp, but I wanted to fly fish and this campground was a 2 minute walk to the river.

This trip was planned around places to visit and places to camp on recommendations by Ski, Frank, Foy, and Stew.  Before I get into the trip I wanted to make sure that Susan and I thanked each of you for making this an unforgettable trip.   Those recommendations took us out of our comfort zone, and there were times we thought we were on a wild roller coaster ride. 
Septmeber 25th – 27th Lander, Wyoming
The camp ground at Popo Agie (Shuh), described by Native Americans as the gurgling river, was beautiful and it was close to Lander so we could drive back into town and have lunch at the Lander Brewing Company, one of 5 micro-breweries that we visited during our trip.

The Popo Agie River flows underground at a place called the Sinks and and surfaces at a place called the Rise.  All types of testing was done to see whether the river water flowing into the Sinks was the same flowing out at the Rise.  Dye was used and they discovered that it took upwards of 2 hours for the water to flow out at the Rise.   The Rise is full of Rainbow and Brown Trout, no fishing allowed.  Traveling through the Sinks Canyon one can see billions of years of geologic history of the Wind River Range and Basin.  This area is part of the Shoshone National Forest.

 The Sinks
 The Rise

 The Wind River Range was snow capped and provided a beautiful backdrop.

The river is full of boulders and the fly fishing was a challenge.  I was able to fish for 1-1/2 hours each day, but with not even a bit.  For someone new at fly fishing this river gave me more than I was expecting

After two days in Sinks Canyon it was time to move on.  We drove the switch back road for the second time and past Frye Lake.  This was considered as a possible camp area, but when we drove by the lake  was approximately ¼ of the size shown on a satellite picture.  Many lakes had low water levels.  Taking 131 south it changed to single-lane gravel, with some sharp drops and beautiful fall colors and mountain lakes.  The Cottonwoods and Aspens were golden and made every stop a great photo shoot.

 Hwy. 131 headed to South Pass
 Louis Lake on Hwy. 131

Even a little snow on the ground along Hwy 131 on our way to Atlantic City, WY

We continued to Atlantic City and South Pass were we saw the old Mercantile buildings in each of the towns.   

 Mine in Atlantic City

 Carissa Gold Mine

We stopped at the Carissa Gold Mine near South Pass.  There was a school field trip at the old Carissa Gold Mine and another in South Pass where there were a bunch of small homes where the miners lived.  Stew thanks for pointing us to the Wind River Range and Sinks Canyon.  The weather was great and there was plenty to do, including a couple of mile hikes.  We found out very quickly that altitude can stop you in your tracks.  Considering we are both fit, it was a rude awakening when we had to catch our breath.  We continued to cross over the Continental Divide over the next several days with elevations reaching 7,750 ft.

September 27th – 28th Green River Lakes
Our plan was to take the Lander Cut-off and head to Green River Lakes.  Susan had our Wyoming Benchmark open and we took one last look together, locating  the Oregon Trail marker, and other noted landmarks.  We found this beautiful sign along the road, but no road marked with a sign “Lander Cut-Off”, or a highway 446, nor did we find the Oregon Trailer marker.  There was one road with a brown sign that said Big Sandy.  We missed the cut-off and continued southwest on Hwy 28 until we got to 189/191 and headed to Pinedale.  We stopped for lunch at the Wind River Brewing Company and then continued on to Cora and Green River Lakes Campground.  Not long after we started on the gravel road portion of the road we saw a Bull Moose in the field.  This area is part of the Bridger Teton National Forest. One interesting thing is that Wyoming is still an Open Range State and cattle were roaming along the road, blocking the road, and just going at their slow pace.

When we entered the Green River Lakes Campground, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the Wind River Mountains and Flat Top Mountain.  The campground was closed for the season, so no fee.  There were several boaters and a few occupied campsites.  We had a nice campsite to ourselves and hiked down to the lake.  We arrived late so no fishing and or our planned hike along the Continental Divide trail.  Ski thanks for the recommendation on Green River Lake.  One night didn’t do it justice, so we have a reason to wander back on another trip.  On the way out we had a Bald Eagle flying the opposite direction over the Green River and the cows to dodge.

Bull Moose on drive into Green River Lakes

Our campsite at Green River

 Wind River Range & Flat Top Mountain
 Flat Top Mountain

Flat Top Mountain with morning fog over the lake

Blocking the road along the Green River

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