Roosevelt and Lamar Valley

by - July 24, 2018

The day between our two nights in Canyon Village, our only plan set in stone was an Old West Dinner Cookout in Roosevelt, so we decided we would all meet up around 10 am and spend the time before dinner exploring the sights from Canyons to Lamar Valley and a little north of Roosevelt. 

We started our day by heading to the general store for Tillamook yogurt (the huckleberry yogurt was really great) and a few other food items. The boys and I loved the general stores and looking through all the souveneir pins, and Wookie set his sights on a Yellowstone pocket watch. I personally love the Ranger Doug poster series, which features 1930s designs, and I may eventually get some postcards or larger prints to frame. 

The road going up to the peak of Mt. Washburn was closed, so we just pulled over for a quick photo of the lodgepole pines. There was snow on the ground and blustering wind, so we didn't hang around long.

We then pulled off for a view of Tower Falls and spotted a yellow-bellied marmot enjoying the view as well. 

The drive through Lamar Valley brought us views of bison and their calves as well as pronghorn. These hairy guys don't care to cross the street with any measure of efficiency. 

At some point we pulled over for sandwiches and then went as far as Pebble Creek Campground before turning back to go on a hike before dinner. Lunch on the go was typically a flurry of plastic knives, slices of bread balanced on knees and open jars of peanut butter, jelly and off-brand Nutella and followed up with chasing around the person who was holding the bag of chips. 

Petrified Tree and Lost Lake were at the same stop. It was a tree stump behind a fence with a placard. In my best Matthew McConaughey voice... "Alright, alright, alright ..." Lost Lake wasn't on our list, but I'm glad we hiked it. I loved the wind blowing over the grass, the little creek and all the ground squirrels who were spying on us from their mounds. 

Check out the bear scaratches on this tree! All over Yellowstone, there were bear markings. It was a constant reminder that we were never alone.  

Joe and the boys took an alternative route back to the car, which gave me the chance to sneak up on wildlife. I spotted two marmots together on a fallen tree. However as we waited by the car (without the keys) I was getting a little nervous the boys had run into a herd of bison, but they finally popped over the top of the hill and rejoined us

Joe really wanted to hike to the suspension bridge on Hellroaring trail, and it would have been absolutely awesome. There was just enough time to make the hike before dinner, and mom decided to stay in the car while the rest of us hustled to the bridge and back, but just before the trail was set to descend down the ridge, the trail turned and I heard rusting in the bushes beside us. My ears perked up, and I hoped it was just a squirrel, but then there was a very low grunting-growling noise that I knew had to be a bear. I was second in the hiking line, and I froze in my tracks. In my most stern voice, I quietly said, "Stop. Turn around and walk." Dee Dee heard it too, and Scoops said he saw the back leg of a bear. We turned around and walked back to the car, and that hike was over. Another group of hikers was coming down the trail, and on our word, they turned around and went back too. Driving back towards Roosevelt, for dinner, we came across another mama bear and three cubs just up the hillside next to the road. 

We also then pulled off where a large group of people were starting up at a tall tree where a grizzly cub was slumped motionless over a branch. We were later told that it was absolutely crazy that people were out of their cars as the mother bear was surely close by.  The cashier at the Roosevelt General Store told me that mama bears mainly chase cubs up a tree when a male bear is nearby, but also when there are wolves or humans that they feel are a threat. The cub will stay up the tree until the mama calls it back down. We were all nervous that the cub was dead up there. It was so still and so high up there, but after dinner we drove back by and it was no longer there.

Dad treated us all to a chuck wagon dinner ride in Roosevelt. This is one of those things you have to book months in advance because it is so popular. We were all wedged onto wagons pulled by two draft horses. Our horses were named Rock and Roll. As I feared, I've started forgetting little details such as the name of the guy driving the wagon. I won't quickly forget his attire though, which featured various furs and hides. I'm guessing he was really into the part, and really, if you are working at Yellowstone for the summer, you should absolutely dive in fully. 

While we were in line for dinner, a mama moose and calf came trotting into the valley towards the dinner guests, and several of the cowboys corralled them back up the hill. One of the "cowboys" who was the main host (he delivered the very lengthy rules, and stories, and corny jokes back at Roosevelt while they were hitching up the teams) was also the musical entertainment for dinner, and he sang "Happy Birthday" to Wookie one night early. We tried to sing along, but the vocals and the chords weren't matching up, and it was unlike any version of "Happy Birthday" I'd ever heard. Bless his heart. The grandparents really enjoyed singing along to the old county western songs they knew. 

Before we left to head back to the ranch, we ended with a sing-along. Dad took this picture of us. Guys, look at me there in my sunglasses, straight face and erect posture and try not to laugh. This epitomizes how I feel about group sing-alongs. 

This is the face I make at concerts, while at church, when I'm walking into a party, when I'm opening presents, when someone is telling jokes on a stage, when I haven't seen you in awhile and I'm trying to decide if I should give you a hug or just smile.

On the wagon ride back to the Roosevelt Lodge, we spotted a mama coyote returning to her den with dinner. I didn't spot the babies, but I did see the den. 

After dinner, we returned for one last pass through Lamar Valley hoping to spot some wolves. We didn't have any luck with that, but we still enjoyed the views.

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