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A Route Change


6/27/12, Lake Hebgen, MT - This was a day of ups and downs, but overall a good day.  Tonight, I’m on US-287, two miles west of the junction with US-191.

After breaking camp this morning, I started down US-20 to the City of West Yellowstone.  For the first mile the road wasn’t too bad, then it turned into one of the worst designed roads I’ve seen since I traveled some Kentucky two lane.  There was virtually no shoulder and what there was was covered with a rumble strip.  The side of the ‘rumble strip fell away into a steep 4 foot ditch.  Even with a 70 mph speed limit, I had no option but to travel down the middle of the traffic lane. But not to worry, about every 2 miles an entrance road provided a place to pull of the highway. With a flat, straight right of way to work with, I just had to wonder why some civil engineer had thought up this one?

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A nice view out the side window on the way to West Yellowstone.

West Yellowstone turned out to be a disappointment.  I thought of it as a poorly laid out and poorly constructed community that catered to a lot of tourists.  And despite the fact that it’s fairly large and has a lot of horses in the area, there was no place to buy grain. After gathering a few things, the lads and I got the heck out of Dodge! 

The road north out of town was a vast improvement from the road leading into town from Targhee Pass. A mile north of town I stopped at a large pullout to have lunch, where I met a lot of really nice people.  First, a man that really knows the area and roads convinced me not to take US-191, down the Gallatin River. Instead I opted for US-287.  It’s a little longer but a better road and not full of the signs like the one below.

I had a glass of wine and a long talk with a nice lady who grew up not far from my old home town of Deerfield, NH. She is a horse shoer who still shoes a couple of draft horses - small world.

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I saw literally  hundreds of the signs like the one shown above. Evidently, everywhere that is not a fee generating campground can only be used by the tax paying public for 50% of the day.  Since the District Ranger for the Gallatin National Forest has taken it upon himself to limit access to lands placed in the public trust to half the day, I feel his budget should be reduced by 50% to accommodate that.  If the Secretary of Agriculture doesn’t agree, maybe congress should reduce his budget by 10%.

Route 287 appears to be a vast improvement from 191. The traffic is much less and most of the No Camping signs have disappear (so far).

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Bill was having his issues with signs too. I thought I heard him mutter, “Roads are for horses, not for ugly cow looking things”. Then, I thought I heard him humming the song, “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign ...”

Tonight, I found a great camping place, overlooking Lake Hebgen, on the bank of Grayling Creek.  There’s plenty of good grass and we’ve got water, thanks to my little portable pump. The creek bank was far too steep for horses, but I managed to get my pump and hose down there.  The camp is about 30 feet in elevation above the creek, but the pump was just barely strong enough to lift the water that height. When I moved the end of the hose 4 feet higher to fill a water jug in the trailer it couldn’t pump water that high - funny how things work out.

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Good grass, cold water and a great view - life don’t get much better.

I had several nice people stop and visit the camp. Greg and LIsa stopped to wish me well and left me with some nice gifts, including a cold beer, which I immediately tried out - thank you.

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Greg and Lisa, who live here at Lake Hebgen.

Another great visitor I had was a lady from England that was here in the States to participate in a wild horse roundup.  What a great way to spend a vacation!

Tonight, as I watched the sun set over Lake Hebgen and the spine of mountains that form the Continental Divide, I reflect back on the day. It’s not the tough roads, tourist town or National Forest bureaucrats that I remember most, it’s the great people I met on the way.

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The view from camp at dusk.