High Road

We were having a bit of trouble in our Wyoming cabin, because, contrary to its listing, it did not have a kitchen.

While Alan argued with the on-hold music, I looked for some hiking options.

I ran across a passage claiming America’s most scenic road was in our vicinity.

We decided to bag our second night in Wyoming and to head to our cabin in Montana. And after a bit of discussion we agreed to route the drive along the scenic road, even though it would add two hours to the trip.

As it would turn out, it was more like four.

The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, which leads to the targeted passage, was breathtaking. We made several stops, including Dead Indian Pass, where historical placards tell of Chief Joseph leading his Nez Perce tribe as they fled the murdering cavalry.

We finally reached the Beartooth All American Road, which lived up to its billing, with snowy mountaintops, Alpine lakes and Meadows, and sheer cliffs.

At over 10,900 feet where it crosses through Beartooth Gap, it is the highest non-park road in the continental U.S.

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Blue Lake, Blue Knee

Blue Lake

We went on a challenging hike at Brainard Lake, just outside of Ward, Colorado.

Alan negotiating a tricky stream crossing.

We took the Mitchell Lake trailhead. The hike to Mitchell Lake was pretty easy. The backstretch of the trail goes to Blue Lake, and the route is steep and rocky.

Marmot looking for a handout.

Blue Lake is a beautiful setting, a just reward for a challenging hike.

On the way back, I tripped over a root and crashed knee-first into a rock. I thought I was going to be wolf fodder, but surprisingly I was able to walk out.

If Blue Lake we’re in Kansas it would be the first wonder.

Eighth Wonder

Traveling through Western Kansas with a few minutes to waste, the Internets suggested there’s more to the state than flat and wheat.

There are some unlikely sedimentary rock formations, among them Castle Rock, one of the Eight Natural Wonders of Kansas.

Although the drive was only about a dozen miles, the road was not paved. But we were able to go 55 mph through cow and oil country.

Castle Rock itself wasn’t overly impressive, but there is an interesting weathered sandstone cliff formation overlooking the castle that was worth the visit.

There was a colony of cliff swallows flitting about, flying on and out of meetings holes in the sides of the cliffs. And Alan caught a glimpse of a sage thrasher.