Scatman's Grizzly Lake hike, 2022

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
334
A few months ago, Scatman organized a hike in Yellowstone, to Grizzly Lake. I put my name in the hat, and the next thing I knew, the hike was upon us. I had been to Grizzly Lake a couple of years ago, but at the other campsite (neither is especially close to Grizzly Lake, in case you were wondering). I was kind of excited to see the other campsite, as it was ranked a little more highly by one of the books that actually gives stars to campsites. I don’t always agree with the stars they give, though, so even though the site was rated well, I still had to make my own judgement.

The Mt. Holmes Trailhead is probably 3 1/2 hours from my house, so I didn’t leave especially early, and I got stuck in The. Slowest. Line. Ever. at the entry station. 15-20 cars got into the park from the other lane, while I (sixth in line) waited. When the woman had finally decided I had a valid pass, and it was really me, she asked if I wanted maps. I had everything I could do to keep from blasting her for the time I had had to wait. Patience, Grasshopper, patience. (I have a shortage of patience. I ran out sometime in the 80’s.) Finally in the park, I was fourth behind a bus. The bus went 20-25 mph, in a 45 mph zone. It was going well. Then, the stupid bus slowed even more. Then it stopped!

Oh, wait, is that a bear crossing the road?

It is!!!!!!!

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Well now. If the stupid ranger hadn’t taken so long, and the bus hadn’t driven so slowly, I might not have seen the bear! I was still frustrated, but it was better. Seeing a bear is a great reminder of why I hang my food right away at camp. Onward!

It took about two hours, once in the park, to get to the trailhead. But once I parked, and put my pack on, and started walking, the frustration fell away. Finally, I could go my own speed. I had three miles to go, on a trail about which I knew nothing, and I had until sunset to get to camp. Whew.

The trail starts in a meadow. I had always thought that the trail just went along the edge of the rise of the hills, and then ducked into the first valley, and headed up that way to Grizzly Lake. Silly me. I hadn’t looked closely at the map. The trail passes the first two or three valleys, and then cuts up (west-ish). And the trail doesn’t just wander the meadow, it goes up the sides of the hills, probably to avoid the marshiness of spring. Whatever. Step. Step. Step. Step.

I’m not particularly fond of the browns of fall, but I loved the texture. It looked soft, and in a breeze, it rumples beautifully.

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The trail changed angles, and climbed a bit, opening up, and angling some toward our destination. This trail didn’t get us to our site via the crow’s route. But it did take us through a couple of beautiful valleys, with interesting things to look at.

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But first, there was a stream crossing. I think there were five in all, though only two were really of consequence. This is the far side, looking back. It was mostly ankle, or just above, deep, but I got a couple steps in that were shin deep. So for a ways, my hiking took on a new sound effect, squish, squish, squish, squish. And I do remember, it was rather cold.

Sometimes when you slosh across a creek it’s “refreshing.” When it’s cold, it tells you more about the ambient temperature and something deep within your brain about the weather. It was more cold than refreshing. But, it was September in the mountains. That happens.

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The trail headed up the valley, and I followed it.

I enjoy a new-to-me trail. I look at the little line that is the trail, and try to project where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. How does it get around that downed log? I see it go into that little group of trees, and I see it way up there, but I don’t see how it gets out of the trees and up to that next level—how does it do that? Thoughts like that, and looking at what’s blooming, or the plants that are withered and shriveled, give me things to think about as I slowly move up the trail.

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The trail rose a little, up the side of the hill, and I got a nice view of the creek I had just crossed. I kept watching for elk or bears, or anything, but other than views, there was nothing that caught my eye.

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After a bit, I turned and looked back. The trail had gently gone up the side of the valley. I had started up this valley back at that last grassy area, and before that, had hiked on the backside of the right side ridge—down low. I’d come a ways. Maybe not a long ways, but I could no longer hear any traffic, or see the sparkle of a vehicle in the trees.

Most visitors to Yellowstone never experience this.

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Whoo hoo! This is the intersection of the Grizzly Lake Trail, and the Mount Holmes Trail. Left to Grizzly Lake! Well, we weren’t going to be camped by Grizzly Lake. We were camping at a wide spot in the creek below the lake. You’ll see pictures.

First, I had to get the last half mile, or so, to the campsite.

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Oh goody. Another creek. My socks had just about dried… never mind. This creek didn’t seem as cold. Maybe it just wasn’t as deep. I was across it in a couple of minutes and on my way. Until, I spotted the bison. He was about 20 yards to the side of the trail, and just staring at me. It’s what bison do. Remember that game you played as a kid, where you just stared at somebody. The contest was to see who would break away first. Bison always win. And, with people, you have an inkling of what they are thinking, of what lurks in their soul. Bison—nah. They have the best ever poker face. It’s always your move.

I talked to him. I told him he was a handsome bison. I suggested that he might be more comfortable off the trail even a little further, that he would be bothered by pesky people like myself, even less, if he went “that way” just a few yards.

He stared.

I side stepped into the grass, climbing over downed logs, and back toward the trail at what I figured was a (hopefully) safe distance. I guess I won. I dunno. He was still staring at me the last I looked. I didn’t stop for a photo.

People tell me they won’t hike in Yellowstone because of bears. Honestly, bison are the scary creatures. They weigh a ton. A real ton. 2000 pounds. Some weigh more. (Yes, some weigh less.) Who knows if bear spray might, maybe, do anything to convince them to change course? I guess that leaves me with my hiking poles to defend myself. Yeah… that’ll work.

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In a few minutes, I was at the campsite. The kitchen area was in a nice group of trees, by a wide spot in the creek. It was really beautiful. There’ll be pictures later.

I hung my food. I got the rope up on the second try! I walked the few feet to the water, and filled my gravity feed filter bag, then hung it on a tree to do it’s work.

I had brought my backpacking hammock. I’d gotten the whole set from Hammock Gear last Thanksgiving, but hadn't used it. I was kind of excited to see how it would work. I had put it up in my neighborhood park a few times. I think the neighbors think I’m nuts. Hopefully, they think I’m harmless, too, but I dunno. You’re supposed to have trees 12-15 feet apart, and 5-8” in diameter, at a minimum, to hang. I had a little piece of cord cut to 15’, and a safety pin, to help measure. The trees had to be alive, as well. No snags.

I went looking. I had read that this area had been burned heavily in the fires of ‘88. There were lots of young trees, but not so many older ones. So I started by looking for two trees that were probably thick enough, and hopefully close enough. Then, I’d stick the safety pin into one of them, and walk toward the second one, seeing if the cord made it to the other tree. There weren’t a lot of living trees that were that thick, to start with. Then, the distance between them was always just thiiiiiiiiiis much too far. There were a few instances where one tree was fine, but another was just too small. Because the area had been burned, there were lots of downed logs, too. One thing people who hang say, is that you don’t want to hang higher than you want to fall, and you don’t want to hang over something you aren’t willing to fall on.

It wasn’t going well.

I crossed the trail and looked at a smattering of trees. There, on the edge, was a beautiful tree for hanging. There were a couple of other trees that might work. Must explore. One would have been a great second tree, except it was dead. Ok. The next might have worked, but there was a downed log right under where the hammock would be (ouch). That tree was too far. That tree was too little. Sigh.

I finally decided I would try the tree that was too small. It was only a little too small. I hoped.

It was also a wee bit too far, but only a wee bit. If it’s too far, you’re supposed to still be able to use it, but you have to put your straps higher up on the tree. I could barely reach it, and if it was a little too small at the appropriate height to put the straps, it was only narrower higher, but never mind. I got the hammock strung up, and sat, to test it, and it seemed ok. (I came to that conclusion based on my vast experience hammock hanging. As in, hope. I had hope. I hoped it would all work out. Hope.)

I haven’t mentioned it, but it was quite windy. Next, I had to put up the tarp. As I started that process, the wind caught the hammock and it looked like the fullest sail of the biggest clipper ship you ever saw. It held though.

I got the tarp ends attached, and started to deploy the tarp. It too blew in the wind. I was getting nervous. I grabbed one of the tarp ends on the windy side, and staked it down. The stakes that came with the kit were like MSR Groundhog stakes (I think that’s what they’re called), and that part of the tarp now stopped flapping in the wind. I trapped the other windy side corner and staked it down. Again, the stake held. I was getting more relieved. There was a center tie out on that side of the tarp, and I staked it down, too. Again, everything held. I did the other side of the tent, and was pleased that it looked like everything was going to be ok. When the wind would stop, I would fuss with stakes and angles, but when the wind blew, I stood there and wondered whether the tarp was going to shred and I was going to have to hike out. With the edges down, I tied the pull outs on the side of the tarp to little trees. The pull out cord is bungee cord, and it does a nice job of holding the sides out, but not over stressing things in the wind. I was a little concerned (a lot) that when the wind blew, it flattened the tarp out almost right next to the hammock. A few tweaks and I made that a little better.

Next, I put my sheet of Tyvek under the tarp, where I’d put my feet when I got into and out of the hammock. While I hadn’t put the hammock up over downed logs, I had put it up over little bushes. They were sort of like tiny willows, though they weren’t willows. The Tyvek didn’t come close to the ground, and it didn’t lay flat in any way imaginable. I still tried to drape it over the bush because I was worried that the bush might scratch the underquilt, and possibly rip the nylon and send my down to Mammoth at about 25 mph (with gusts to 40 mph), and keep me from a warm night’s sleep.

I laid out some of my stuff, but decided I didn’t want to put my quilts out until the hammock had been up long enough for me to trust it wasn’t going to blow away or shred or… .

I tested the hammock a little further. I hung my wet boots off the end of the hammock, and switched to Crocs. Then I got in the hammock. It seemed solid enough—for something that bounced a bit every time I moved. I could angle, and flatten out. While I worried about the tarp coming free from the stakes, as I watched, they didn’t. And the tarp did a very nice job of blocking the wind.

I decided to head back toward the camp kitchen. I had just left my set up, when I saw a small group of men approaching on the trail. None of them was Scatman, so I thought that maybe they were a group headed to the next site, a bit up the trail. It turned out they were part of the group. Introductions were made, and they hunted around for places to set up their tents.

Eventually, others, including Scatman, came, and everyone ended up at the camp kitchen.

I don’t remember it raining, or even drizzling, but it must have, for at one point, someone pointed out that there was a rainbow.

I grabbed my phone and took this pathetic shot of the rainbow through the trees.


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Then, I followed some of the others to the creek side, and got a little better shot.

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This is the view from the fire pit at the camp kitchen. I think there were ten of us in total, but honestly, I was never sure exactly how many of us there were. If most people were at the kitchen area, there was always one, or more, who seemed to be missing.

I have lots of pictures of this view. Morning. Evening. Noon. Storm. Sun.

I always thought it was beautiful.

Doesn’t that grass look soft? I’d like to pet it. Except when I walked through it, it was scratchy and sharp.

Never mind, it was pretty.
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There were lots of Jetboils on this trip. Old models, new models, titanium models. Danny was making something.

Group hikes can cost you a thousand dollars. Why? Well, you see a this or a that or another thing, and *poof*, you need that. Everybody looks at what people are using, and how they are using it, to get ideas. Jetboils, dyneema tents, tarps, camp chairs, water filters (lots of Steripens on this trip), brands and types of dried food… .

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On the second day, Scatman led a hike around Grizzly Lake. Three of us (me, Danny and John) just hiked up toward Grizzly Lake. I simply wanted to finish the trail from the Grizzly Lake Trailhead, down to the Mount Holmes Trailhead. I only went as far as the next campsite up. They went a bit further. There was some confusion. I had said I was going to walk back, up the hill. The trail went up a little hill, and then back down to the campsite. They interpreted it as my going up the hill (bushwhacking). So when they came back from seeing the lake, they looked for me, and sat and waited. Eventually, they came back to camp and they were surprised I was already there. Oops. Note to self. Must be more clear next time.

Views from the trail going up to the other Grizzly Lake campsite.

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It was a cool tree. I don’t know how to rotate it. Turn your head or scroll on by…

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The trails in Yellowstone usually are marked with orange metal signs. Sometimes they are faded. Sometimes they are on trees that appear to have fallen over a decade or more ago. But, there are signs. Here, there and everywhere. Sometimes they even help keep you on the trail!

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This is the view from just outside my hammock. Not bad.

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Ah, the hammock. Well, that’s the tarp. The hammock is underneath.

The tree to the left is really a bit too small, but there were slim pickens in the campsite, for appropriate hanging trees. You can see the little bushes. When I left, you could see where I had walked, but mostly it was grass that got smooshed, not the bushes. They were bouncy little things.

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This is a slightly different angle. You can see how the pull outs really give you some extra space. With the right trees, you could have a palace under that tarp.

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Looking downstream from the camp kitchen.

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I rarely have a fire when I camp. It’s too much responsibility. Responsibility? Yeah, if you don’t put it out—dead out—you might burn up the world’s first national park.

But this group collected firewood and had a fire every evening, and at breakfast. It was cheery and warm. These are Danny and John, bringing wood for the fire. I’m grateful for the work they did to collect wood, as well as the work everyone did to collect firewood. I gathered some, but it was a group thing. The fires made the hike much nicer.

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The far hillside showed the remnants of a fire, presumably the fire of ‘88. There are downed logs all over, and some new growth.

At the camp kitchen, I was always looking. I hoped to see an elk or a bear, but I never saw any animals. We did have an eagle that went through every day, and a pair of sandhill cranes that flew by.

I had decided to leave a day early. I had been comfortable, in fact very comfortable, in my hammock. It had gotten to 37* under my tarp, and I was comfy and warm. But the little voice in my head was telling me I wanted to go home. I really enjoyed the group, but I find being with others pretty intense. (I have librarian syndrome. I made that up, it’s not in the DSM, but most people who have met librarians know exactly what I’m talking about.). It was cold, and there was supposed to be a cold front coming in. The discussion indicated it might be even colder the next morning. The voice in my head said to go. So, I said my good-byes as the dayhike group was leaving to go climb Mount Holmes. I talked to those who stayed back for a few hours, then I went to pack up my hammock. I gave a tour of the hammock set up, and honestly, everybody seemed to love the tarp. It did work well. Instead of folding it, it has a snakeskin… a sheath you just slide from one end to the other, once you’ve unstaked it. Then you unclip it, and stow it in your pack. It’d be super quick to open up for lunch, if it was raining, and then stow it again.

It took me quite a while to pack up. I have lots of habits from years of backpacking in a tent. But those habits don’t work as well with a hammock, I need NEW habits. Why? Because you want things with you at night, like a headlamp and your bear spray and you need a place to put your keys, etc.. In a tent, I have habits like putting the bear spray by my right hand, and my keys go in my upturned hat. Anything you put IN a hammock, ends up under your butt. I have a ridge line organizer, and a few other organizer things, but it’s different. Soooo, it took me a while to sort everything out, and pack it away. Taking down the hammock, though, was pretty quick.

This is a view of the camp kitchen area, from where my hammock had been.

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Looking back at where my hammock had hung.

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The trail led to the flanks of the nob, which led to a big grassy ridge.

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I crossed the stream. It was a cross between refreshing and cold. There was no bison, but Kevin was there, filtering water. He’d gone on a dayhike, and was headed back to camp.

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The flower season was winding down. Here, the brown flower heads are still “blooming.” They don’t seem to have petals. I’m not sure what they are. There are also some purple asters, which are late bloomers. During the hike I also saw the very end of lupines, and some paintbrush, along with some very chipper yellow/gold flowers. There were strawberry plants that still had green leaves, and some with the burgundy/mauve leaves that indicate fall is headed our way.

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Looking back up, toward camp.

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The trailhead is waaaay at the bottom of the valley, and then maybe 3/4 mile to the right.

I had heard a noise, which I thought was traffic, but it didn’t sound quite right. It turned out that it was a helicopter. I saw it flying low, in front of the tree covered ridge. It was below the ridge. I wondered what was going on. Later, there was a helicopter that came from the same direction, but high in the sky. A few minutes later, another helicopter went the same way, but a bit further to the west. I don’t know if they were looking for someone, or what, but something was up.

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Looking back up the valley. You can kind of see the mountains beyond the turnoff for camp. Somewhere up there, Scatman and three or four others, were headed for Mount Holmes. I hope they made it! Me, I was just enjoying my wander through the valley.

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I have no idea what kind of flower these are. I came into a nice sized patch of them.

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I came to the biggest creek crossing, and eyed a couple of problems. First I had to get across the creek. Then I needed to convince these two to move away from the trail, or pick my way over downed logs until I could get to the trail.

As I walked down to the creek, I loudly (to be heard, not to sound mad at them) suggested that they head toward the big meadow, down-creek. The grass would be better, and there would be less people pestering them. Yes, they wanted to move down stream.

They stared at me. One had a hunk of greenery hanging off one horn.

I crossed the creek, and climbed up the bank, but upstream from the trail. I tried talking to them again. One went back to grazing, the other just watched me. I climbed over this log and that, and down another ravine and back up, and finally got to a point where I could rejoin the trail what I hoped was a safe distance from the bison. The one continued to watch me. I am apparently interesting. I continued along the trail.

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I see you!

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I still had a half mile or more to go. The trail went up the hill a little ways, and bobbed up and down, until finally dropping into the meadow and leading to the trailhead.

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More sandhill cranes. Mom and dad to the right, and the colt to the left. The colt looks like a blob of brown. I’m sure the parents think s/he’s the cutest thing ever.

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Looking back up the valley. The Grand Loop Road is in the trees to the right. The trail, up the hill slightly, on the left.


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The final view before the trailhead.

Thanks for the great trip, Scatman! It was nice meeting so many members, and I very much appreciated the friendship and camaraderie shown around the campfire. While different people had different views and goals about hiking, it was all pretty wonderful. But then, we were hiking in Yellowstone. What would you expect?

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Last edited:

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
334
Hmmm. This will sound stupid, but it’s the first trip I think I’ve ever taken the Crocs, and didn’t give that a thought. I took the Crocs because I was going to use them with the hammock. I planned on hanging my boots so they weren’t on the ground, for a porcupine to find. I’m used to sloshing through creeks and rivers with my boots. They dry quickly enough, though with a creek at the beginning and end, they didn’t get much of an opportunity to dry. And, changing footwear would have taken more time than I’m usually willing to give. But the big thing is I didn’t even think about it.

Now that I’ve had the Crocs along and used them around camp, I found my feet were not in love with them. I’ll be looking for something else, maybe some light sandals?
 

Jackson

I ❤️ GYE
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
2,931
I’ll be looking for something else, maybe some light sandals?
My wife just got some Salomon water shoes that are really nice and light. Definitely more supportive than Crocs. Really secure for fording creeks and rivers. I'll see if I can find a link to them for you.

I once did a little side excursion from Mr. Bubbles in Crocs and it killed my feet. I still use em to cross water, but that's it. I'm in my trail runners for everything else.

Edit: Link. The other color has all sizes in stock. They weigh around what a pair of Crocs weighs.
 

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
334
Thank you, Jackson, but I have Salomons. I use them for rafting and canoeing. Maybe you’re thinking of a different model, but the ones I have a pretty heavy. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with just splashing through and drying as I hike. I guess I kind of just felt I had to write something. I just read the edit… I’ll take a look see. Thanks.
 

Jackson

I ❤️ GYE
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
2,931
Thank you, Jackson, but I have Salomons. I use them for rafting and canoeing. Maybe you’re thinking of a different model, but the ones I have a pretty heavy. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with just splashing through and drying as I hike. I guess I kind of just felt I had to write something. I just read the edit… I’ll take a look see. Thanks.
Oh you have the Salomon Crossamphibians I linked? Heavy isn't how I'd describe them, but to each their own!
 

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
334
I looked at your link. I have TechAmphibians, so it’s a different animal—well, shoe. I’ll look at the Crossamphibians the next time I hit an REI. Thanks!
 

kwc

Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Messages
735
1662941189493.jpeg

The group at the fire … good times were had by all!

This was my first backpacking trip in Yellowstone and it was a great introduction to the park’s backcountry. It was a bit of a different experience for me as I’m used to backpacking in the Adirondacks and Green Mountains. I realized that 8 Miles or so was my limit at the elevation and that’s without any bushwhacking so I made the decision to bail on a subsequent backpacking trip that involved bushwhacking and longer distances (sorry, @TractorDoc and @scatman ).
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
3,345
lol ......... Scat only planned 8 miles? What happened.
 

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
334
I definitely made a good decision for me, to hike out when I did. I haven't camped at 21* in 30 years. Happily, I was at home with the furnace on. I hope you all had a great final night.
 

kwc

Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Messages
735
Things you find in the area …

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this was on a tree along the trail to Grizzly Lake …

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I saw these old wires and conductors in an open meadow along the trail to Mt. Holmes. Perhaps they were the telephone wires to the fire lookout on Mt. Holmes?
 

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
334
I’m sorry to hear that Trout Whisperer. You came so far. I hope you feel better, and I hope you found something interesting to do since you couldn’t go on that hike.
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2014
Messages
324
In southern Colo currently.. interestingly enough, goin thru Lander( site of th great fuel pump debacle) i noticed my lower right leg was swollen bout 25 percent larger than th left.. never had happened before…didnt go down overnite.. wife insisted i go to have it cked iut.. no blood clots, just swelling. So , compression sock and no hours at a time driving.. scheduled stops and walks!
Ah, ta be a tad bit younger again!
 
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