It has been strange posting these pictures over these past few blog posts.
They were all taken during one wonderful drive out to the Shoshone National Forest which eventually blends seamlessly with Yellowstone National Park.
Today it was sunny and 62 degrees.
On the day these pictures were all taken it was about 0.
During the entire trip (which took us from Cody to Wapiti in the North Fork to within about 10 miles of the East Gate through the forest, and which lasted for about four hours in total) LC and I passed no more than five or six vehicles on the highway in total.
We ran into one large herd of female big horn sheep with their young, and only one buffalo who surprisingly came down from the mountains and has been happily residing alone in the forest for at least the past couple of months.
No other animals at all on this day.
No deer. No elk. No bears. No moose. Nothing more.
What we found after leaving our bison of the previous blog entry was simply quiet and postcard beautiful scenes of winter................
No far from the East Gate is a pull off where we have..........pulled off........many times.
Turning left off the highway we followed a long gravel driveway down to the banks of the Shoshone River.
Only on this day the gravel was buried beneath snow.
It snowed in Cody during this same weekend, but it is now almost entirely gone.
We have not been out to the forest since this trip but know that it will be still be full of snow and will stay that way until next spring. Maybe even early into next summer depending on the snow levels during these coming months.
As we always do, we drove down to the edge of the river, turned the truck around, climbed out and stood in the company of only the mountains.....................
My girl loves to play in the snow.................
We were mostly protected from the wind but it was still very cold.
After wandering close to the river for a short while, LC and James climbed back into the warmth of the truck while I slowly wandered along the shore of the Shoshone.
The only noise I could hear was the sound of the freezing cold river. There were no bird or animal noises, no planes, no wind. Just the river.
I wandered in the snow that was deep enough to cover the tops of my shoes, and as I looked down at my feet I wondered briefly whether my used-to-be waterproof shoes were still waterproof shoes.
My feet were quickly forgotten as I continued to look beyond the river and then look deeply out into the mountains.
It really was beautiful. Serenely and ruggedly beautiful...............
I walked up to the top end of the driveway and turned back when I heard the noise.
LC had driven up the hill to meet me...............
Looking down at the river................
These pictures all seem as though they were taken in black and white...................
As we slowly made our way back towards Cody we stopped one last time.
There are many many side roads on the 50 mile trip between Cody and the East Gate, and LC and I have explored very few of them.
On the spur of the moment and on the way home, LC unexpectedly pulled off the highway onto one of the side roads we had talked about often in the context of "I wonder what's down there............."
The snow covered driveway was long (perhaps 1/2 mile) and dead-ended in a canyon close to the river.
As we slowly drove through the untouched-by-anyone-but-us snow we realized that this must be a popular trail head to begin a horse back ride, and (at this time of year) to begin a packing-hunt trip up into the mountains.
There were a couple of trail heads at the end of the driveway, a long bar between two trees that LC and I guessed was for dressing out an animal, a two handfuls of open-air stalls to corral and feed horses.................
Still in the forest................
Transitioning into the Northfork area.................
One final picture before heading home for real, of the Smith Mansion in Wapiti:
I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy...............Og Mandino