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SNAP*Shot: Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls is a 40-foot waterfall in a steep, narrow box canyon behind the historic Roosevelt Lodge, a log structure built in 1920 to commemorate a visit by Theodore Roosevelt. The narrow canyon is home to Douglas and Subapline firs and moss-covered hillsides offering a pleasantly cool walk.

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This short walk meanders along the creek that blissfully cascades over and around granite boulders on its way down from the falls.

lost creek falls

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Lost Lake–5 miles out, 2 miles back

Heading into the wilderness takes a combination of love, mindfulness, caution, and knowing and respecting your physical limits. Montana and Yellowstone are places of glorious big sky, mountains, and many trails with awesome elevation gains. So I stand on the edge of wilderness, knowing beautiful Lost Lake lies ahead, with  a willing heart, mind, and feet but lungs that make me reevaluate the wisdom of every trek.

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Continue walking . . .

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Where’s the Beach?

I visit California twice a year to spend cherished time with family and friends, but some of the richest experiences evolve from visiting and walking the Pacific coast. I love the mountains, but the ocean has a call all its own, and I’m hearing that call. Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay, Capitola, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur–sweeping landscapes with waves crashing against boulders and cliffs that are respites to many sea birds. Growing up on the East Coast we went “down the shore” to beautiful sandy beaches, but on the West Coast we have to hunt for sandy beaches which may already be claimed by seals or sea lions. Today we are going to Big Sur, known for its stunning views along Highway 1. Welcome to Andrew Molera State Park in the Santa Lucia Mountains. Come on–my best friend and I look forward to you joining us on our walk to the coast.

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Onward to the ocean . . .

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Rain and Shine

It’s a beautiful day just north of Seeley Lake in northwest Montana, but the clouds are getting thicker as we drive to the Morrell Falls trailhead. Picture perfect cumulus clouds with patches of blue give us hope of sun rather than rain on our hike today. Then again, the saying in Montana is if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. Heeding the warnings and the fact it is still spring in the Rockies, let’s grab the bear spray, our packs, and go!

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Continue walking . . .

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SNAP*Shot: Harlequin Ducks

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Turbulent, icy cold waters is where you will find these small, brightly colored waterfowl called Harlequins ducks. The largest ducks are about 16″ from the tip of their tail to tip of their bill. In winter they choose the roughest northern coastal waters, but in summer they grace the wild, swirling LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River to mate. The females will remain here raising the young through the summer, returning north in early autumn. These diving ducks feed on crustaceans, small fish, insects, and other assorted life they find as they swim underwater and even walk on the bottom searching the rocks for food. Studies have shown many adult Harlequins have had broken bones, probably a result of living in such rough surroundings. Welcome back Harlequins!

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Into The Woods . . .

I saw the sign so many times–Harlequin Lake–but I could never see the trailhead. Was it further up or down the road? Did so few people walk the trail that the surrounds swallowed it up? Well, why don’t I just park across from the sign and take a good look. I see it . . . uhhhhh . . .

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Continue the walk

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SNAP*Shot: Gibbon River

The Gibbon River begins its life in Grebe Lake found in the center of Yellowstone National Park. About 20 miles from it’s origin we find Gibbon Falls. This river sneaks in on the eastern side of the Continental Divide making it one of the few rivers in the park flowing from north to south. Crashing down 84 feet right along the Loop Road, we can take a short walk to see the wilderness framing the falls. Flowing another 4.7 miles south, the river joins the Firehole River forming the Madison, a major tributary of the Missouri River. The gift of water flowing from the mountain tops of Montana and Wyoming.

Gibbon Falls

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Between Dry and Wet

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Six miles north of the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, Montana, runs Reese Creek which marks the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. This area is barely explored, and most people who come to Yellowstone don’t realize this dirt road, called Old Yellowstone Trail, is part of Park. Let’s walk toward Electric Peak among the sagebrush and along the creek. April is barely springtime in Yellowstone, but let’s see what we can see in the spaces between arid and water.

Continue walking . . .

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Time Out On The Way

You know, sometimes an amazing thing happens along the road before you ever make it to the trailhead. Although I’m excited and expectant for the great walk I’ve planned for this first week of December, slowing down and looking around applies to the car trip too. The planned walk has to wait, this is too good to miss! See them?

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Continue exploring . . .

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Sugar Sand and Sunshine

Snow birds. Different possibilities present themselves. If you watch birds and anticipate winter visitors or migrating beauty, Snow Geese, Trumpeter Swans or Bohemian Waxwings may come to mind. If you live in the north, you may dream of heading far south during the coldest of days. However, if you live south, you experience invasions of pale northerners for periods from two to six months. Perspective really is everything.

Then there’s me. With family in Florida’s panhandle, a chance to visit loved ones at a time of year when warm, sunny days offer respite from the brown, drab view outside my window, especially this year when snow is scarce. It is time for a short trip that warms the heart and soul, offering green landscapes and very different walks.

Sugar Sand

Continue walking …

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Plain Brown Wrapper

Winter in Montana. Many things come to mind: snow; sledding; skiing; snowshoeing; cold to frigid temperatures; large animals donning their thick, beautiful winter coats; bright sunshine reflecting off the sparkling white landscape. So far 2015 is living up to only one of those expectations. The poor animals in their beautiful, heavy winter coats thinking of heading to higher elevations to cool down.

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Here in the valleys we are wondering what happened to our snow, although I think Massachusetts got it by mistake, and are looking at a landscape far from white or sparkling. What isn’t brown is gray and the sun is filtered through stratus or cirrus clouds. Our cold temps have mellowed into mid-40s during the day and mid-20s at night. It feels more like the spring of April than the winter of February. However, even dull and drab takes on life when we walk along a river, and  the Missouri Headwater State Park is the point of joining (confluence) for three rivers to become the mighty Missouri River.

Continue walking …

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Early, Steamy, Surreal

That travel alarm is really annoying with it’s inescapable bbbzzzzzzzz. Remind me again why it is blaring at 4:30am? Right, I’m staying at the Old Faithful Inn in order to greet dawn’s twilight near the Firehole Lake thermals. Watching as the sun rises issuing a challenge to the  23° temperature. Remember your hat and gloves.

It is the beginning of October with a 6:15am twilight, that first hint of promising warm sunshine. Happily it is October rather than June when twilight is 4:55am. A little perspective gets me moving. We want to be ready, camera in hand, to see the morning mist, the thermal steam, and their interaction as the sky grows light and the sun rises.

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Continue our twilight walk