And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.....
The drive out the northeast entrance was by far, in our humble opinion, the most colorful, mountainous and beautiful. The geological phenomena in the park are of course spectacular and beautiful in their own right, but to be honest, most of the immediate surrounding areas are either pretty bland or 'just' your typical forest, meadows and trees :-). In contrast, heading northeast out of WY, into MT and then back into WY, we feasted our eyes on high jagged cliffs, thick dense forests, a picturesque creek, fly fishermen/women, and hoards of buffalo hanging out in the valley meadows.
Funny thing was that as we began our drive out Analyzer observed that we had seen more buffalo at the Tetons than we did in Yellowstone! Literally 5 minutes later we began to see buffalo. And more and more and more buffalo. The entire valley was covered with them! So, buffalo yes, but no bear! We were really hoping to see some, one? But, alas, the only glimps of a bear we got was at the Tetons.
Just as a side note here, you can really tell what we're seeing and learning is sinking in to the kid's heads when you hear things like "Look at how that lava flowed!" (Inventor commenting on the rock formations we were driving by) and " I'm heating up the magma to make my gyser explode" (Whirlwind building his own gyser with sticks and dirt the other day). It also shows up in their creative play on a daily basis. Funny how sometimes days later the information they've absorbed finally comes out and demonstrates how well they really did 'get it'. Seems it takes that long for information to incubate sometimes. Which is just fine. Sometimes I need to ruminate on things before I can completely comprehend them too.
Anyway, back to the itinerary....
From one gorgeous route to another.....we were heading into the Shoshone National Forest. An absolutely gorgeous drive on the Nez Perce Historic Trail and Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. As wonderful as the scenery is, the story behind the name of the trail is anything but. A significant and heart wrenching history lesson awaited us....
The name Nez Perce, or traditionally Nimiipuu, actually represents may different and culturally diverse tribes who lived peacefully together. They lived in the northwest and migrated to the Great Plains during the hunting season. The Nez Perce hold a special place in Analyzer's heart as she spent a wonderful time last year delving into their lives in her homeschool history class led by the magnificent Christine, another homeschool Mom (We miss you!). Kaya (thank you Chris!), one of her American Girl dolls, was the 'main character' of that part of the class.
Way down below, we were up at 8000 feet, is where the Nez Perce managed to outwit and eventually outrun the US cavelry. The history is as follows: In 1877, after a large battle and eventual massacar, the Nez Perce realized that the US government and cavelry had no intention of leaving any future survivors. Their only hope was to try and head north, quickly, and meet up with other friendly tribes, some all the way up in Canada.
After 60 days of running from the military, the exhausted and heartbroken party of almost 700 (plus 2000 of their horses!) began climbing up from the valley to this point. They had figured that if they could get over these mountains before winter they just might make it.
While up here, the Indians had apparently no choice but to leave behind a wounded warrior. That warrior was later found by calvary scouts and killed. Hence the name of the peak, Dead Indian Pass.....
Knowing that the army was only a day or two behind them, Chief Joseph, among others, devised an escape plan. In an open space a couple miles southeast of here, they ran their horses around in all directions in order to leave confusing tracks. Then, backtracking north, they headed down some serious canyons and ridges until they put a safe distance between themselves and the cavalry.
The army was indeed confused and the Nez Perce had accomplished what very few tribes had, a remarkable escape and survival (of a fraction of the people unfortunately)! This was shocking and practically unheard of of course.
Upon exiting the national forest we were met with these postings. Again, commemorating the great escape, but this time memorializing one of it's leaders, Chief Joseph.
This trail will also now live in our hearts.....
Pulling a 180 here, and under the heading, again, of: Some people have absolutely no shame or respect, take a look at this:
Yes, that's a bullet hole right through the warrior's heart!
Really?? Could you get any cruder than that??
It really saddened me to finish our path along the trail with such a sour taste in our mouths, but I guess reality is reality. Disgusting or not.