Continued on the Scenic by-way. Discovered one house battery is cracked and leaking battery acid. On to Dillon on I15 to see if we could find a battery. We did. Performance Auto put it in for us and a couple of hours later, we were on our way again. Passed a ranch with a sign that said “Livestock protected by Akbash dogs”. Had never heard of them. Looked them up; big, white, not social dogs.
Lunched at a state park along the byway. Nice camp on grassy flat next to a meadow stream. Summer jumped off the bank down to the water. Don’t think she knew how far it was! Eastern Kingbird had a territory around the campground marker. So pretty in flight. He chased off a Western Wood-peewee from his post. Saw a small herd of Pronghorn in a pasture and flushed a Dusky Grouse hen from the sagebrush.
[We saw a few of these along the road. Has something to do with haying I think. Are there any farm boys out there who can enlighten me?]
Camping on the Continental Divide Trail at Morrison Lake. The road was not on the map, but we found it anyway. Perfect camp spot on the lake. Fished a little. Nothing. Another fisherman came for a couple of hours and fished from a fish-cat. He said it is hard to catch fish here. Cutthrout and rainbow. I found an elk skull in the water and part of the decaying limbs. Messy! Bill made a fire with wood we found at the camp.
[Sherri getting the journal caught up]
Decided to stay at Morrison Lake another day. Beautiful morning.
Earred Grebe in breeding plumage on the lake this morning. Spotted Sandpipers still flying around. Heard a SPSA [Spotted Sandpiper] commotion when Eddy was at the water getting a drink. It flew back and forth in front of him. Thought there might be some young around, so called Eddy up and we watched from camp. Finally saw 2 downy youngsters hopping around the rocks at lake’s edge picking up bugs. So cute! One had more color than the other and looked a little older.
The breeze died down for a while and the reflection of the surrounding hills was crystal clear and sharp.
Bill and Eddy hiked around to the other side of the lake. They saw the road/trail that is the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Two hikers walked up toward the divide across the lake.
I fished while Bill and Eddy were gone.
I could see 12-15” fish rising and swimming near me. After about an hour I hooked one…. But my fly came off. I’m trying to work on my knots. As soon as Bill returned I hook a second fish and this time I landed it.
I had a hard time getting it in my little net. Then the hook came out, but it just laid still below the surface and I was able to get the net on it. It was about 15-16 inches! A west slope cutthroat (we think – we are actually on the east slope of the CD by about a mile). Bill got photos. I was very excited!!
[And just how big was that fish Sherri? ]
Had a flock of Clark’s nutcrackers in the area making lots of noise. Goshawk flew over a bit by the ridge. We had a fire again in the evening. We definitely want to come back to this spot and spend a week or two.
[Morrison Lake was the high point of the trip. The whole 3+ weeks would have been worth it just for the couple of days here. We're coming back for sure.]
I heard a wolf call last night and then again this morning as I was waking up. Both were short calls. We packed up quickly and headed down the dirt track. Asked Bill to stop at the ridge so I could scope out two wetland swales about 1/2 mile away.
Thought I might see some wildlife. What we saw was a once in a lifetime wildlife viewing. There was an elk in the small bit of water that was clear of sedges and, possibly, a calf. She was surrounded by 6 or 7 wolves! The wolves were circling her and moving her back and forth. Every few minutes the there would be splashing as the elk spun and moved toward the wolves. We watched for about 10 or 15 minutes until the elk and some of the wolves were out of site behind a swell. A few of the wolves moved to the far end of the water. As we moved up the road we came a little closer, but could no longer see any of the animals. It was an amazing sighting!
[ I think this was the most amazing and wonderful wildlife sighting I've had in 40 years of working and playing in the woods. ]
We continued down the road and easily made it around the sharp switchback we had had some trouble with coming in. Once along the narrow creek canyon we saw 3 bull elk grazing half way up the hill. All three had full racks still in velvet.. They moved up the hill and Bill was able to get a shot of them standing silhouetted against the sky.
It took us an hour to make the 4 mile journey from camp to the main dirt road! We continued south on the scenic byway. Saw Pronghorn, deer, Dusky Grouse, Golden Eagle. We passed a deserted Jesus bus on the side of the road. Bill stopped to take photos. It was a classic old motor home with a life size Jesus on the cross and bible quotes all around.
[ Not so much 'on the cross' as bolted, face on, to a brick wall. Always good to see a little innovation in religious iconography. ]
[Aside from the paint job, it's a pretty cool old motorhome. ]
At times the road was so narrow we weren’t sure we were on the right road.
Eventually we reached Bannack Pass where it crossed the CD and you cross from Montana to Idaho. Magnificent views on both side.
When we finally reached the road to Dubois, we had travelled about 150 miles on dirt roads with just 2 small sections of pavement. The last stretch was about 60 miles of magnificent, open country. Went to Dubois for gas, then back on hwy 22 toward Mt. Home. Camped in a Sportsman Access on the Magic Reservoir. There are these access points all along the hwy – great places to stay. Flat spots, outhouses, no people.
Early start today. Hoped to make Jordan Valley for lunch at the Basque Inn and Restaurant. Delayed by traffic jam at Marsing, but made it by 2! Had a good lunch and then off to Whitehorse (Willow) Hot Spring. No one here but us. Good soaks. Good night. Nighthawks, spotted sandpipers, Horned larks, coyote chorus.
[ And that's all she wrote folks.... I already posted the 'Back to California Burning' segment.]