I headed out the door a bit more than a week ago to roadtrip to the Pacific, hitting up some great hiking and camping along the way. I made my way across lower Michigan, the top of Illinois and into Iowa in one drive. I didn’t really have much I wanted to see through here as I’ve driven most of that before. Things started getting prettier in Minnesota and through South Dakota.
My first real highlight was coming to the Badlands. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to stop in since I haven’t heard much about it, but I instantly fell in love. I grabbed some nice shots around sunset.
I camped in a front country campground down a long gravel road. There was a fairly thick fog in the morning that didn’t look like it was going to burn off any time soon. I decided I’d pack up and head out. On my drive back I came across the herd of bison that roamed around me that night.
I REALLY want to go back here. The perfect trip I think would be a 3-5 day off-trail snowshoe in Jan or Feb. If anyone is down for something like that, let me know.
After the Badlands, I stopped in at Mt. Rushmore. Honestly, that was a big disappointment. The one trail they did have was closed. The Black Hills around it were actually more scenic. I headed off to Yellowstone as my next destination. I wanted to find snow, and boy did I! Many of the park roads had just closed since they aren’t plowed in the winter. I did get to check out Mammoth Hot Springs.
I headed off into the backcountry after I got my permit. Again I camped near a herd of bison in a nice river valley. This was my first real winter camping in the backcountry. I learned a few things. Alcohol and isobutane stoves suck when it gets cold. It was around the mid-teens. The gas canister would get so cold that the fuel pressure would drop. I melted snow for water for the first time. I stayed warm enough with 2 sleeping pads, sleeping bag and down quilt. I need to figure out how to handle condensation though. Things get wet and then icy.
A view of the river valley:
My first winter overnight was a success. Now it was time for another! I headed north to Glacier National Park. The sunrise was amazing.
I got to St. Marys and was disappointed to learn that Going-to-the-Sun road was closed for the season. The snow is a curse and a blessing I guess. I kinda gave up hope and was just going to pass on by completely. I’m glad I stopped in the visitor center on the other side of the park though. They gave me the info on some decent hikes. There was no snow down low, but they warned me that I’d find it at elevation. Perfect.
I hiked up the Sherry trail and snowshoed the last mile and half. My pace really dropped with those things on, but there is no way I could have post-holed up that. I barely found the campsite. There was only about 2 inches of sign left above the snow. I camped on about 15 inches! Here’s where I made camp:
Following Glacier, I made a quick stop in Uniontown, WA to do some genealogy research before I made my way to the coast. When I got into Port Townsend I met with Sonya Baumstein of Spindrift Rowing. She spent a few hours with me discussing ocean rowing, boats, courses and life at sea. She had rowed the Atlantic and made an attempt at the Pacific. The typhoons made her abandon it this year, but I’ll pay attention to when she tries again. I’m debating on what I’d like to row first, but boats are quite expensive and not readily available. I’m considering rowing the Great Lakes, or paying for a seat on one of the races.
After meeting with Sonya, I went to see my newly engaged sister in Seattle! I haven’t gotten to see her since last Christmas, so I’ll be spending a few days here in Seattle. I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date when I head south!