Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Big Hole Tour

Yesterday was Gale's birthday--yes, that is all you need to know--so she thought it would be nice to "do the Big Hole loop." Dillon to Wisdom to Divide to Dillon is I think our favorite drive, if not it's right up there. Anyway we timed our arrival in Wisdom (about 60 miles from Dillon) so we could eat lunch at the Big Hole Crossing Restaurant (Gale of course wanted to browse the gallery as well but alas found it closed). Lunch was delicious by the way--we each got the Reuben special and a cup of chicken noodle soup.

It had snowed a skiff overnight, barely enough to make the road wet but the lingering clouds killed any chance to gawk the awesome snow-covered peaks surround the upper Big Hole most of the year. Dull, damp and dreary actually most of the day with just occasional peaks of blue sky and even less sun. But the worst thing was the scary lack of snow--the side roads would have been bare mud if it weren't for the overnight skiff. Below Fish Trap all the way to Dillon the hills, at least the south facing slopes were nearly snow free.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the lack of wildlife--I think we saw a single bald eagle, a handful of geese and ducks and that was it. Although judging the tracks around Squaw Creek a sizeable elk herd is overwintering there--no doubt because of the lack of snow.

Another surprise was finding the river mostly open already below Jerry Creek--low and clear you might scrape bottom some but still floatable--not too many years you can say that in early March.

We let the dogs out below Melrose (Browne's Gulch) and kicking up dust for cripes sake,hiked a two track back into the hills--lots of prickly pear not much critter sign--a few antelope tracks and jack rabbit turds was about it. For such an empty spot, miles and miles of nothing running up into the east Pioneers (except for the highest peaks mostly bare ass as well)sure ain't much out there.

All and all a nifty way to wile away a birthday--I think Gale would agree despite the Crossing Gallery closed--and since it's snowing this morning pretty good in Dillon maybe just maybe the Big Hole high country is getting dumped on at last...now there's a really nifty thought.

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