2011 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   SNOW IN THE HIGH COUNTRY, p. 2

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15

 
 

BURIED, BY GOSH

We're continuing west on US 14A from the viewpoint at 9,314 feet that I showed on the previous page  . . .

The road descends just a bit after the viewpoint, offering great views toward Bald, Medicine, and other peaks in the 10,000-11,000 foot range:

 

 

The calendar may say June 15 but the ground is still covered with several feet of snow here:

The forest service roads in this area are above 9,000 feet. WYDOT plowed each of them back just far enough so folks have places to turn around -- or play in the snow like we did!

We pulled into the little cleared area at FSR 14, also known as Devil's Canyon Road, which is shown above. This dirt 2WD road goes north and crosses the Bighorn course about a mile from the Porcupine Aid Station. Some folks like to crew their runners from here, and the road is used to access at least one of the pack-in aid stations -- when it's navigable, that is.

The only ways you can navigate it this week are with snowshoes or a snowmobile. The next photo shows some tracks where the road goes:

We climbed up the steep bank of snow to get that picture and the next ones. Jim took this picture of Cody and me for perspective:

The snow is about 10 feet thick here. It's not that deep everywhere; that's just where they piled it up when they cleared the road entrance. I'd guess the depth is 3-4 feet over most of this area.

The next picture shows a horse corral a little bit to the north and you can see posts sticking up above the snow:

I took these photos of Jim and Cody while we were playing in the snow here:


Cody de-coded


Jim finds another really short sign . . .

We climbed up that steep bank OK but it was easier to butt-slide back down to the truck. Too bad it was only about ten feet down! We love sliding down long stretches of snow when we have the opportunity.

We've never seen so much snow in this area in late May to mid-June. I gave up any thoughts of visiting Medicine Wheel, located on FSR 12 just a little further west of here and even higher up.


An old photo from Medicine Wheel (June, 2006); I'm sure it's buried under snow now.

We didn't even drive another mile west to FSR 13, which goes back to the Porcupine Ranger Station. It's about the same elevation as FSR 14 and probably looks the same. The Bighorn 50-milers usually start their race several miles back that road; it's the turn-around point in the normal out-and-back 100-mile course.

Ain't nobody gonna run up here this weekend, though. I know that will be a disappointment to many. The upside is probably less mud on the super-snow reroute than the runners usually encounter between here and Foot Bridge.

THE DRIVE BACK DOWN TO THE VALLEY

We turned around and took US 14A back to Burgess Junction.


Approaching today's high point viewing area from the west on US 14A

On the way we pulled over at the parking lot at the high point to better see the great views of the snow-covered peaks along the Continental Divide. You can barely see them running horizontally in the center of the next picture:


The view toward the large valley between the Bighorn Range and the Continental Divide
(Yellowstone NP and the Tetons are in the distance)

The temperature at the viewpoint was only 39 F. at 11:15 AM.

Brr! No wonder the snow isn't melting very fast. Karen told us the Bighorns haven't received much spring snow like they do some years; this is winter snow that was so thick and so solidified that it is taking a long time to melt. Spring is about three weeks "behind" this year.


Heading east on US 14A after the viewpoint

After Burgess Jct. we took US 14 to our campsite in Dayton. We marveled at the awesome scenery and the stark differences we saw in the 4,000 to 9,000+ foot elevation range through which we drove today. Summer in the valley, winter up top.

And we wondered what the heck all that snow means for the Bighorn races . . .

Near the Fallen City rock formation we stopped at one of the viewpoints to take a gander down into the huge valley to the east of the Bighorn Range:

You can see the Tongue River and Dayton in the background. Look how green it is down there!

A man parked near us was preparing to hang glide into the valley:

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We wound down another 3,000 feet on US 14 through these foothills:

We had great weather in the valley this afternoon -- mid-70s and sunny.

We took the opportunity to ride our bikes through town and out the Tongue River Road, where bright orange poppies and fragrant lilacs are in bloom. They contrast beautifully with the lush green grass and rangeland.

It was interesting to look at the mountains where we'd just been -- from the valley perspective:

The river is higher than it was when we arrived in Dayton on Monday, but not quite as high today as it was last night. It seems to peak in late afternoon or overnight.

A heavy rain storm is predicted between here and Billings, MT tonight. The wind is strong in the campground but so far no rain has fallen and no large branches have smacked our camper. Two more inches of rain are predicted in Dayton tomorrow night, with snow in the Bighorns.

This area doesn't need any more of either right now.

Next entry: behind the scenes at the Bighorn Mountains Wild & Scenic Trail Runs

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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