Sunday’s weather provided a beautiful backdrop for our drive and hike within the Waterpocket Fold District within CRNP. Our drive began with a thirty mile trek down the sandy and occassionally muddy Notom Road which provided spectacular views of the Reef and the Henry Mountains. We turned east at the junction with the Burr Trail to drive the incredible switchbacks to the top of the Reef. We then left the Burr Trail to journey up the 4WD track to the Strike Valley Overlook trailhead. After hiking up to see the impressive view of the full length of the valley we hiked back down and then hiked the Upper Muley Twist Canyon stopping at the Saddle Arch before returning to the jeep and back down the wash to the Burr Trail. The Burr Trail becomes paved after several miles and winds its way through numerous canyons ending at Rte 12 in Boulder. Boulder is an impossibly small town 40 miles from any other town but fortunately is the improbable home to a highly rated Zagat restaurant – Hell’s Backbone Grill. We had a great dinner and bottle of wine before heading north over the 9600 ft elevation of Deer Mountain within Dixie National Forest. A great way to celebrate Stephen’s birthday with a beautiful day and a wonderful dinner.
Today we traveled from Price to Torrey where we will be staying while exploring Capitol Reef National Park. Along the way we traveled through the northern section of the San Rafael Swell to visit the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry which has one of the largest and densest concentrations of dinosaur fossils ever found.
From there we traveled further south with the intent of driving through the Buckhorn Wash to visit the Wedge (aka the Little Grand Canyon) but rain overnight made the sand and dirt roads impassable. Instead we ventured south on Route 72 which took us through Fishlake National Forest and over the summit at Hogan’s Pass where we encountered gale force winds and snow.
Tomorrow we begin our hiking at Capitol Reef National Park.
On Sunday we took the day off from skiing and snowshoeing and hit the road to visit the “big city” of Nelson (pop. 10,000). The ride up provided the excitement of driving through the Nancy Greene Summit Pass (check out the video) and then motoring along the Kootenay River (pictured below). Of course, a major goal of our trip was to find the best coffee roaster in the region.
Happily, we can report that we had productive and delicious stops at Oso Negro Coffee Roastery and John Ward Fine Coffee both located on Ward Street.
With cold temperatures and rain showers in the forecast we elected not to hike today. We took a road trip over to Browning to visit the Museum of the Plains Indians. The museum is located within the Blackfeet Tribal Indian Reservation which spans approximately 1.5 million acres. The Blackfeet Indians owned the land that now constitutes Glacier National Park until it was purchased by the federal government in 1895.
The museum has many artifacts from various Plains Indian tribes – clothing, jewelry, weapons, tools, household items and musical instruments. The displays were very informative and interesting.
We met several Blackfeet artists that were working at the museum today. A jewelry maker named Rene Bear Medicine and a young artist named Jeremy (self taught).
From Browning we looped around to East Glacier where we stopped for a late lunch at the Two Medicine Grill. We then drove back to St. Mary on MT 49 known locally as Looking Glass Hill Road. The road provides tremendous views of Two Medicine Lake and the valley below when the weather is clear. It is a curvy mountain road that is closed from November through April because of snow and frequent landslides. MT 49 is cattle country and we encountered many cattle on and along the road which along with the many hairpin turns makes it a slow but exhilarating trip.
A relaxing day and a chance to rest our tired legs.