I arrived in Bozeman yesterday and it has been raining for 36 hours straight! The scenery is lovely still, with lots of golden aspen and some pretty reddish shrubs for contrast.
Today my tasks in Bozeman have taken a bit longer than I had planned so it's not until 6PM that I begin my journey to the Park. I know I'll be arriving in the dark, but perhaps early enough to catch dinner with any Loons that are still in Gardiner.
The weather is not promising at the moment and there are rumors of snow. I wonder if I can get to the Tetons as all, and if I do, whether I will find those iconic mountains visible. I'll wait till tomorrow to decide whether to go or not. If it's just a few flurries, no problem. My original plan was to drive to Madison tonight, but I amend that to just getting as far as Mammoth tonight. I'll head south at the crack of dawn, through Blacktail, over Dunraven and down through Hayden Valley and on to GTNP.
I am driving a Blue Subaru Outback which I've named Blue Sue. North of US 90 I see a cow elk in a field, and then a huge number of mule deer beyond the elk. I wonder if she is lost? I skip Bozeman Pass and take Trail Creek road. Even in the rain it is just as pretty as I remembered it, but due to clouds, I can't see the looming peaks. It's beautiful back here, with snaking lines of yellow cottonwood and yellow-orange aspen, defining each drainage.
As I make my way down a straight stretch I see a large deer heading towards the road. Then it turns and heads back the way it came. It leaps a fence with such effortlessness that I say "is that a white-tail?" and no sooner do I say that when the animal's huge white flag of a tail flares out in absolute confirmation.
I see mule deer as well, but they seem tiny in comparison. Their ears give them away. I also see various birds and hear their songs. The cloudy weather makes me lose the light earlier than usual and without the visual aide of the mountains I end up making a wrong turn. I go back and do it right, then check to see if my phone has service. It does! I call Ballpark Frank and confirm that I'm on the right road. He says I am just a mile or two from Emigrant. It's nice to talk to a Loon friend when you're driving in the dark!!!
Once on the highway again the rain gets stronger and the wind begins to gust in small explosions. I slow down to 40 mph. There is no one on the highway for my slowness to annoy, but it takes much longer than usual to arrive in Wonderland.
But I DO get here! I pass through the arch in pitch-black rainy darkness and no attendant at the gate. But I am home and Allison is here and it makes me happy, no matter what. The rain diminishes and I lower my window. I hear the river singing. And there is an elk, lowering its head to graze just as I pass.
As I climb the windy turns of the canyon the rain becomes a gentle mist and I see I will have no trouble finding a space at the Mammoth campground. At 9PM I turn off Blue Sue's engine, climb into the back, blow up my thermarest and snuggle into my down bag.
Goodnight Allison, Goodnight Yellowstone. More adventures await me tomorrow.
Today I saw: birdies, cows, mule deer, 1 white-tailed deer, 2 elk, horses, and the spirit of Allison