Friday, May 27, 2016

May 15-18 Camping in the Yaak

We thought we'd do another test run on the van so we took a couple of days off to go camping in the Yaak.
The "Yaak" is the area kind of along the Yaak River in the far, northwestern corner of Montana.  It is pretty "wild" country in that it has few inhabitants.  The vast majority of the area is National Forest. 

Here we stopped at Yaak Falls.  There are many places that are just as pretty or even better but this one is along the highway so it gets lots of visitors.  It begins right behind Susan and Scott.

This is the lower portion.  You can see where the rock strata is at about a 45 degree angle.  That's a large, flat rock the water descends over.

This is the view of it from downstream.  If you'll look up at the top of the rocks you'll see and old bridge abutment.  I couldn't find any locals who remembered there ever being a bridge there.  On the other side is a much larger one but it is made of field stone and has obviously been there a long time.

Of course meals always seem to taste better when you are camping.  Our first night out Susan served up pulled barbecued pork sandwiches with home-made pork-n-beans.  The cottage cheese was store bought.

We spent our first night at a rest area just outside of Troy.  Scott and I had a war of the dragon against his helicopter.  Of course his helicopter won multiple times (he always makes sure he has the most powerful toy when you play with him!).

Breakfast, day two ... pancakes!  

Just before breakfast we saw a medical helicopter set down and whisk two people off to the hospital.  We never did find out what happened.

Firewood!  One thing about camping in the National Forest around here is that firewood is normally abundant and easy to access.  The forest service lets you cut up anything that's dead for recreational fires.  (You need a permit for cutting firewood in larger quantities.)

This is one of the small lakes we spent a night at.  Scott is on the boat ramp with a girl his age whose family was also camping there.

We spent a little time fishing but didn't catch anything.

Susan took up a position a little more uphill.  Scott liked his spot because he could climb on the rocks whenever he got bored fishing.

We take our portable solar panels with us whenever we go camping.  This is a RAV 15.  We have three of them to keep our tablets and phones charged.

Dinner, chili dogs, cottage cheese and Doritos!

The same lake in the morning when the water is calm.

A small part of the Yaak River.

At the Caribou campsite.

We did a little exploring down an old logging road.  Odie in typical dog fashion was everywhere.  It was mostly uneventful except when a deer came crashing by almost at arm's length away.  Usually when I see them running that hard it's because a mountain lion is after them.   Odie, of course wanted to chase the deer but I called her back and made her stay with us.  We were careful to watch our back trail on the rest of our hike.

Scott needed constant reminders to stay close.  He's kind of like the dog and wants to race ahead from one new thing to the next!

There's a large open area below this ridge.  It looks like it was a staging area for a logging operation where they piled logs to be loaded onto trucks later.

We did a little mushroom gathering as well.  It was a good opportunity to introduce Scott to the fact that some are edible and some are not.  He caught on very quickly.

He gave up his boots so we'd have a way to carry his fruits of foraging.  Note to self:  bring along something to carry our finds in next time we go out.

We were hot and tired when we got back to camp and the fudge bars were really good!

There were both butterflies and moths in abundance and for some reason they seemed to like using Odie for a resting spot.

Snuggle time!  The best time of the day!

Susan tried a little gold panning.

She didn't find any gold, but ...

She found some really pretty rocks.  Scott was ecstatic!  He loved sorting through and admiring all the pretty rocks.

Whether you are young or old ...

... it's always important to take a rest break during the day!  You never want to over do things when you are "taking it easy." 

Snack time.

Susan and Scott playing together.

This is the stream that ran next to our camp.  The water is crystal clear and ice cold!

Someone left a large chunk of firewood in the fire pit. It was too green to burn as it was so I split it into smaller pieces.  I also had some firewood I'd cut from a nearby tree that was already dead and seasoned.

Between the two we ended up with a nice evening fire.

Of course if you leave a couple of boys unattended too long they come up with all kinds of things to do.

We began using our left over tinder (newspaper) to make planes, then boats and finally Scott decided he wanted a hat.  So that's what we did with it.

We got a laugh out of this sign.  We never did see the burn.

We stopped for lunch at another Forest Service Camp Ground.  This one was really nice but they charged you $7.00 a night.  We just used the day use area for free. 

It was along the river so we tried a little fishing. (No fish caught.)

Another view of the Yaak River.  

We had to take a photo of the tee-pee and satellite dish.  The guy had a "trading post" so we stopped to look around.  I ended up buying a hat there.  He had some cool, mountain man things for sale.  He's a retired teacher from Idaho who also goes to mountain man rendezvous.  We may see him at one in the future. The previous five photos are out of order and should have been before our camp at Caribou Camp Ground.

Now we are on our way home.  This is one of the higher mountains on our route.

We took a different road back home.  We'd never used this route before and I was concerned a little about snow in the higher places.  We hit some with this spot being the worst.  At this point we were committed because I'd already come through a couple of places where we wouldn't be able to make it back up if we reversed our route.  So we forged on ahead.  In the worst spot our left tires were within about six inches of going off the road into a ditch but we made it through okay.  We did have enough food on hand for a few days if we needed to camp while the road dried up.

Lake Koocanusa.  It's like a long snake stretching across our boarder and into Canada.  In case you are wondering, the name is a combination of Kootenai River, Canada and the USA.

We were home again an hour after this photo was taken.  

More to come in future posts.

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