Monday, February 22, 2010

trip north: part 2

After lunch on Tuesday, we jumped on a snowcoach and took the bumping, three hour ride to Mammoth. We got in around 5:30, but we didn't stop there. We warmed up our car that had been sitting for about a month and headed north 50-some odd miles to Livingston, MT.

All this to make it to the 2nd Street Bistro for our first real meal in weeks. The restaurant, which serves a fantastic array of upscale comfort food, did not disappoint. Our starter of fresh shrimp drowned in a warm-greek dressing with kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes and creamy feta was amazing. For our entrees, Wendie went with the meatloaf pizza that she had read so much about, while I couldn't resist the same dish I had the last time we went to 2nd St., the penne-bechamel macaroni and cheese that comes with a half a roasted chicken on top. Both were excellent and left us happy and fueled for big day in the Northern Range on Wednesday.

We woke early to make it out to the Lamar Valley to see if we could spot some animals (see previous blog), and then stopped at the Bannock Trail

and strapped on our skis for a little pre-lunch jaunt.

An ancient path, the Bannock Trail is thought to be the remnants of a thoroughfare used for hundreds of years by Native Americans as their main artery to the hunting grounds in the area of what is now Yellowstone. For that reason, the trail actually exits the park and heads out to Cooke City, MT.

After munching on a couple of pieces of cold meatloaf pizza, we started out fording a small brook that runs parallel to the larger Soda Butte Creek

then passed through a couple open meadows.

As it always seems to do in the Northeastern part of the Park, it was snowing quite a bit as we entered a heavily wooded-area and climbed up a gradual hill that overlooked what I think is Warm Springs

About a mile and half into the ski, we left the park (and Wyoming) and headed toward Silver Gate, MT. Having already seen our moose in Silver Gate, we didn't go all the way into town. On our way back, we re-entered the Park,

and cruised back downhill to our car.

From there we cruised through the Lamar and past all the coyotes to the Yellowstone River picnic area where we decided to make lunch.

My culinary skills attracted the attention of a wily raven that sat on a tree limb about two feet over my head, waiting for me to leave something for him to steal. Luckily, having heard all the stories of these birds pilfering lunches from unsuspecting snowmobilers, I successfully defended our vittles.

While we were waiting for the noodles-in-a-bag to "cook", we hiked up to the river overlook. Thanks to our lack of snow the uphill climb wasn't too bad and before we knew it we were overlooking the huge canyon that the Yellowstone's water has been gauging for thousands of years.

We each took our turn peering over the edge

before retreating down the hill to eat.

Due to the lack of snow our plans to ski some other trails had to be scrapped. So after some more wildlife watching we headed into Gardiner for some real food at the K-Bar. We (or at least I was) were excited to get to watch some Winter Olympics while eating our hamburgers (actually a bison burger for me -- lookin' at 'em all day made me hungry).

Disappointed we were when we looked up at the TV and realized our Olympic experience was going to consist of an hour of watching curling (there is a reason it almost rhymes with boring). Still, by the time we left, we were, just like everyone else in the bar room, sucked in, offering suggestions to the TV and complaining about the Americans' lack of skill.

From there we headed back to Mammoth. And though we had another gut-jarring three hour ride back to Old Faithful at 8am the next morning, we at least had memories of good food to get us through our final three weeks of EDR grub.

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