We left the small town of Ione WA, and made our way to yet another small town (hamlet?) of Enaville, Idaho. This was originally meant just as a convenient stop-over while driving, but then we discovered the nearby Mission State Park that included the oldest building in Idaho, so we decided to stay two nights instead of one. After a nice morning walk along a section of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, we headed over to have a look at the old Mission.
Established by a Jesuit Priest, Pierre-Jean DeSmet, in the 1850’s, it continued in active use until 1877 when the Mission moved to the town of DeSmet. The building continued to stand though, and was later restored in 1970 and is now a National Historic Landmark. I didn’t get a picture of the ceiling, but the wood is stained with Huckleberry Juice, making it a faint purple. Father DeSmet seemed to be a rare individual, a Priest that worked to respect the Native traditions instead of just squashing them.
We continued the drive the following day to Missoula MT, a much bigger town than we had been in for awhile. We had another long morning hike (uphill the whole way, complained my wife), this time in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area (but we didn’t see any Rattlers, unfortunately). We toured the downtown area, ate too much (as usual), but I was happy to find out that there is a distillery in Missoula that brews a great bottle of Aquavit. Maybe I should rename this blog to “Touring the US by Distillery.” Oh, and we officially hit the 6-month mark on our trailer life while in Missoula.
After departing Missoula, we had a one-night stay in Ennis MT, then entered Yellowstone National Park via the West Entrance, which was not affected by the spring floods that caused so much damage to the northern sections of the park roads. We traversed the park on a Sunday, which was very beneficial to avoiding active construction areas while towing the trailer, and settled in to our campground just outside of the South Entrance to Yellowstone. We also crossed the Continental Divide three times while driving through the park, so Ruby’s transmission got a good workout. Our campground is situated just between Yellowstone and Grand Teton, so we can hit both parks with a single stop.
I was a little worried that I had grown jaded during our long trek up through Canada and in to Alaska, and would not appreciate Yellowstone the way many people do. And while the terrain is no comparison, the unique geothermal geography was still enjoyable to experience.
On the first day hiking in Yellowstone, I made a true rookie mistake, and I’m the guy who has been through a couple different survival training schools. I completely forgot to account for the elevation we were at while hiking, and so didn’t bring enough water with us. It took me a little while to realize why I felt so fatigued following a relatively short 5 mile hike out to Lone Star Geyser. But then we continued on to Old Faithful, sat in the sun for 45 minutes waiting for it to erupt (it was late, probably due to budget cuts), then walked another 2+ miles in the sun to visit the other geysers in the area (there are over 300 geysers in the park and the number changes every year). I ended up drinking water all evening to try and get myself back up to normal hydration levels. Such a doofus I am at times (no comments from the sisters permitted).
It’s hard to say if the burbling mud spas, geysers, or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was my favorite, so I won’t choose. The two days we spent in the park were very enjoyable, and we had some great hikes.
I’ve added some of the more interesting photos/videos we took below. Unfortunately, my video of Old Faithful was entirely out of focus (it was a magnificent spew, trust me!) Here is a great source of Audio, Video, and Photography of the park to augment those that we took.
We also hit Grand Teton National Park, but this post is getting long so I decided to make a separate one.