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High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

September 21, 2006

Yellowstone Day 7: Beautiful Beartooth Mountains (just outside Yellowstone)

Filed under: Yellowstone Trip 2006 — Mike U @ 8:42 pm

Today was another play it by the seat of the pants deal because of the weather.  When I woke up at around 8:00am or so, it was overcast with light rain, which was pretty much in the forecast.  After Jay left for work, I decided to actually drive east to the Beartooth Mountains again just to, if nothing else, experience a little more snow.  On my drive to Tower then east through the Lamar Valley, the skies were lightening up a bit, although still an overcast for the most part.  When the first of the Beartooths were coming into view, they were fairly spectacular in bright overcast sky.  The snow level from last night’s precipitation was about 8,000 feet or so.  It’s amazing to see the sharp demarcation in the snow line in the trees.  It’s quite abrupt — as abrupt as a single or two rows of trees in some spots!  On approach to Cooke City, there were hints of blue sky in spots with the overcast becoming more of a strato-cumulus cloud cover.  Stronger sunlight was coming through the semi-opaque cloud cover, which was really bringing the Beartooth landscape to life.  The snowcovered peaks were just amazing.  All along the Beartooth Highway from Cooke City to about the 9,500 foot level, I did plenty of photography.  The Beartooth mountains are a very jagged series of peaks, similar to the Tetons in a way.  Above 8,500 feet on the Beartooth Highway, the landscape was completely snowcovered and a bright white.  It was gorgeous.  It’s just amazing that at this very time I was witnessing and photographing this, tornadoes were probably ongoing a few hours from home in Kansas!  To be quite honest, I’m not really dissapointed I missed a tornado event in Kansas today — this Yellowstone trip has just been a complete success for me so far, and I am having a blast.  On my way back to Mammoth through the Lamar Valley, I photographed my first bull moose, who was out with a lady of his. So that’s now a bull elk, bull moose, a black bear, and grizzly bear for the main large wildlife photographed in Yellowstone.  Can’t complain about that!  After a late lunch, I came back to the dorm and Jay came back… and then the heavy showers started up again.  We had a nice heavy thundershower with groupel at about 42 degrees.  To kill the rest of the day, we drove back out to Lamar Valley for wildlife opportunities, along with doing the whole weather-weenie thing of watching the rain-snow line which was hovering around 7,000 feet at the beginning of the drive then lowered to around 6,500 by the time we got back.  Tomorrow looks like another mostly overcast day with a few showers.  Jay and I had planned on hiking Washburn Friday, but that looks like a no-go for sure now with a bunch of snow on the mountain.  We may wake up to an inch or so at Mammoth tomorrow morning.  Jay’s dorm is at 6,500 feet, the town itself is 6,300 or so. 

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