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Pausing in Pocatello
The 2011 Yellowstone adventure has officially launched. My Subaru was stuffed to the gills. I’ve got an additional car-top carrier crammed with every possible future survival essential that MY TRAVEL AGENT could manage to cram in plus a bicycle on a rack attached to the rear hatch. I did need to jettison a couple of cast-iron skillets, a crock-pot, and some frozen chicken ravioli at the last minute, however. The whole arrangement handles like a small tank but I could still see out the back window. I managed to squeeze in a down parka liner where the skillets etc had been stowed. Forecast is for 90 degrees in the desert; I expect to start work Monday in many feet of new wet Yellowstone snow. As of Friday, the east entrance road across Sylvan Pass is closed due to avalanches.
I headed north Thursday morning from my southwest Utah desert home, honking and waving to MY TRAVEL AGENT as I pulled away on properly inflated tires. Since his car horn is out of order he returned the fare-thee-well with a personalized chirpy “Beep Beep!”
I realized that if I stopped to look at all the geology I passed on I-15, I’d never make it to the Idaho border. So I pressed on northward, blowing past ash fall tuffs near Beaver, basalts beyond Fillmore, and three glacial cirques on stately Mt. Nebo above Mona. The Wasatch Range loomed immense in its snow-capped immensity, U-shaped valleys a vivid reminder of alpine glaciers that plastered these mountains from about 25,000 to 10,000 years ago. The receding shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville had incised a nice bathtub ring of horizontal lines on the surrounding foothills, remnant beaches visible low on the mountainsides where housing developments now afford an expansive view of the Salt Lake valley. Triangular faceted spurs along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains testify to the action of normal faulting, where the earth’s crust has been down-dropped to the west along ancient crustal weaknesses. In most of Utah, I-15 delineates the boundary between the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau physiographic provinces but somewhere north near Idaho the boundary gets sketchy. Maps of Great Basin show that it squiggles slightly into western Wyoming.
Four hundred ninety miles and eight hours later, I checked into lodging in Pocatello Idaho. Perusing my new copy of “Roadside Geology of Wyoming” I learned that the Teton Fault in Grand Tetons National Park is the easternmost normal fault separating the Great Basin from the Rocky Mountains.
My Friday route found me heading east from Idaho Falls across the Snake River and then Teton Pass to Jackson WY and north through Grand Tetons National Park, weaving my way on back roads another 225 miles until I finally reached my destination for the summer.