(This post is a bit long but I hope you enjoy it)
Clarksfork Camping Chronicles
The chronicles of the Doyle family camping trip on the Clarksfork river, near Cody Wyoming.
Saturday, August 13
I get up early to have time to go to the bank. I’m back home by 10 but we don’t actually leave until closer to noon. I ended up sleeping from the south of Denver until Cheyenne. After a quick meal (and the discovery that my dad as well as my brother has a fear of drive-thru’s) I took over driving. Of course, this is when the rain started. I drove to Sweetwater Station (mostly just a rest stop and a little station of some sort). By now, the rain had stopped. I always end up driving in rain in Wyoming. Dad took over driving and we pulled into Riverton around 7 pm. Carin, who was driving out from California, didn’t arrive until midnight. She was held up in CA by a burning bus that closed the road. Only in California.
Sunday, August 14
I was awoken from slumber by two small voices saying “what are those bumps down there”. I assumed in my early morning grogginess they were referring to Carin and I. We had slept on the living room floor. The voices belonged to the grandchildren of my dad’s best friend, Emmett and Ella. Sometime after this, once we were all up, dressed, and fed, we took off for the long drive to camp. From Riverton to Cody then up the Chief Joseph Highway. We had to stop at Walmart and buy fishing licenses.
We get to camp around 5 or so and set everything up. By everything I mean three tents, three cots (Nathan sleeps on the ground, the rest of us use cots, smart people we are), four sleeping pads and bags, potty shelter, assorted tables, hooks for lanterns and fishing poles. Anxious to get fishing, Nathan, dad and I grab poles and go out to the river.
The fish were biting and I caught about four (but could only keep one, the others were too big and had to go back). Nathan and I had some fish with dinner. Because we fished so long we ended up cooking fish and chili (not together) in the dark.
Monday, August 15
The night was cold and I woke up several times in the dark wondering why my nose hurt so much (it was pretty frozen). I made it through the night only by placing a Hot Hands warmer over my nose. Once the sun was up, I woke up to ground squirrels playing outside my tent. After breakfast, I’m out on the river fishing. The water was clearer than I ever remember it being before and the fishing is great. More bits, more catches, but most of the fish are too big to keep (anything over 8 inches goes back). By the time I come back to camp, everyone else is up and ready to hit the river. I duck back into my tent and go back to sleep around noon. I sleep for three hours, when everyone else comes back. We whip up dinner of sausage and potatoes and enjoy the wonderful weather.
Tuesday, August 16
Not so cold overnight so I sleep well. We all begin to stir around 9 in the morning (except Carin, who I think got up at 5 every day, I don’t know what’s wrong with that child). I catch one keeper and clean it (Nathan insisted I learn how to clean my own fish). After an hour or so of fishing, I’m ready for my hammock. I lounge, reading a book, for a few hours then head to my tent for another nap. I love naps. When the others return in the afternoon, Dad and Nathan had lots of fish for dinner and Carin whipped out the PBJ (she won’t eat fish, I’m sure she’s from Mars or something). We cooked fish over the fire and had a great meal. S’mores for dessert finished the day. We make plans to hike to the canyon tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 17
We all get up around 9 (except Carin, but we’ve already talked about her) and eat. We drive down to the start of the canyon. Hiking in requires you to shimmy across rock ledges that drop off straight into the river. There are several places that I announce to the rest of my family “You have GOT to be kidding me, I don’t want to die.” But I make it. We spend several hours in the canyon fishing and hanging out. When it’s time to go back, Nathan goes first and decided to push a large rock (you know, the size of a small child) into the river BEFORE the rest of us cross the tightest point. Again, I express my opinion about not wanting to die and how can I cross on wet rocks that slide down into the river. Nathan, always the helpful one, stands there and laughs at me. It takes a while but I finally slink through the tight spot and scamper up the hill to safety. Dad decided to fish the river back to camp and the rest of us drive. We have strict instructions to pull out steaks for dinner and get a good fire going. Carin and I do this.
Then we wait.
And wonder where our father has gone.
Nathan goes to find him and by the time they get back, it’s 7:30 or so. Dark clouds are rolling in and we are losing our light.
By the time the steaks are ready we have erected a lean-to with a tarp to shield us from the rain. We eat in the darkness, huddling under the tarp, trying to warm up and dry out. The steaks were wonderful, despite the deteriorating weather.
Thursday, August 18
After a rainy night we wake up to more rain, a muddy river and dark clouds all around. We breakfast under the tarp and discuss options. Fishing is out, as fish cannot see the lures through the mud, but Nathan wants to try. Dad sends Carin and I up the hill to see what we can see. We see dark clouds surrounding the entire basin. Upon returning to camp we decide to pack up a day early and head back to Riverton with a stop in Thermopolis to sit in the hot springs. Nathan is disappointed but he didn’t catch any fish so he decided, wisely, to go with us. We pack up camp, drive out, stop in Cody to buy a bathing suit for me, then drive down to Thermop. Carin, dad and I hang out in the pools for about an hour while Nathan wanders around the state park. After the pool kicks us out at closing time, we drive back to Riverton.
Friday, August 19
We sleep in. This time there are no small children to wake us up and we all got beds of sorts. All the tents are set up in the yard to dry out (since it is a beautiful day in Riverton). I go shopping with Esther (wife of dad’s best friend) because Carin and Nathan went to town without me. I find some beautiful bowls, Christmas cards and candle holders all on clearance. We stop at Dairy Queen to get ice cream and they actually have ice cream (last time we tried this two years ago they were out of ice cream, bizarre but true).
Saturday, August 20
We say goodbye to the lovely state of Wyoming and drive home. As the peak comes into view we notice that it has snowed in our absence. I go to church in a tank top and freeze (because I didn’t have time to change, had to go straight there).
And that concludes our camping adventures. I still haven’t seen a bear (despite reports that the grizzlies in Yellowstone are all over the place) but I did catch a lot of great fish. I got some rest but apparently not enough (I’m already tired again!). And I think we all had a great time. Can’t wait for the next trip.