Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Road Trip: Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

Months ago we penciled Bald Mountain Campground into our trip agenda, situated at nearly 10,000 feet in the upper reaches of the Bighorn National Forest of northern Wyoming. I called the National Forest Service a couple days before our arrival to check on conditions and learned that the camp was still entirely buried with snow (over 10 feet) and was told that hopefully the sites at 8,000 feet would be accessible. All campgrounds were scheduled to open over three weeks ago, but a very late snowpack delayed the launch of the new camping season.
Fortunately the North Tongue Campground was open. We chose a site with no neighbors in eye- or earshot along a branch of the North Tongue River, which was running high with icy melt waters. We had found yet another stunning campsite backyard to enjoy.

After securing the site we ventured out for some playtime in the snow. We spied a large snowfield while driving in, only a short hike from camp. This excursion may have been the highlight of Parker's life. As soon as he reached the snowfield he took to rolling, diving, and sliding down the steep slope. He was dog sledding in the most literal sense. I enjoyed it nearly as much, dreaming of summertime tele-turns. 

From the snowfields we returned for a second hike along the river. An elk crossed our path, putting Parker into a frenzied state of alert and bewilderment. Later that evening when we left camp for a few beers at a nearby mountain lodge, we came upon three young moose grazing in an alpine meadow. A forest ranger told us that a grizzly bear visited the area the day before, but we weren't graced with an appearance during our stay.

That night we enjoyed a fire at our secluded site and slept soundly until 4:30am, when another fierce lightning and hail storm ripped across the Bighorn Range. After a couple more hours of fitful sleep, we packed up and headed off to Yellowstone National Park. 

As we crossed the highest mountain pass, the full extent of the late snowpack was evident, with snow walls still towering on both sides of Route 14a.

No comments:

Post a Comment