Saturday, June 7, 2008

Snow in June

We are at the Hatchet USFS campground
in the Bridger-Teton National Forest (map), just east of Grand Teton National Park. We can see the Tetons from here, at least when the weather is clear. We also had some spectacular views after we came over the ~9,500' pass across the continental divide, where it was snowing fairly heavily.

Our plan yesterday had been to drive all the way to Jackson Lake, in the park. We had previously determined that all the Forest Service campgrounds east of here, in the Shoshone National Forest, were still closed, but we neglected to check on the Bridger-Teton forest. When we came upon this spot at speed, it looked open and attractive -- fortunately, it was easy to turn around at the Hatchet Resort just a quarter mile further down the road. As we did so, we noted they had a restaurant.

This is a rare find -- primitive Forest Service camping within walking distance of a restaurant, and we decided to stop for the night. We had figured to want hookups yesterday afternoon, but it was much warmer here than we expected, and we decided to go without. Besides which, the camping fee here is $10, as opposed to the $52 we were expecting to pay at the full-hookup campground in the park, and we just could not see using that much fuel overnight.

We knew it would be cold in the morning, so yesterday afternoon we tore into the Webasto, after calls to Infinity Coach and Sure Marine in Washington, to see if we could figure out why it keeps quitting. The thermostatic switch checked out as normal, and, of course, everything ran fine during testing, so we did not really get any closer to a diagnosis. It was in the 50's and sunny when we were doing the work, and we really had to crank the thermostats up in the coach to get the heaters to run long enough for the test. Coming in from outside, with our jackets on, was like stepping in to a sauna.

With everything working normally, we buttoned the whole system back up, hoping that just having re-seated the thermostat and tightened the wires might have cured the problem. No such luck, of course -- as soon as we really needed it this morning, it started acting up again. Louise had to power-cycle the system a dozen times to get enough heat this morning for us to get out of bed.

Sure Marine had speculated that the problem was either the thermostatic switch on the boiler, which we verified yesterday is functioning normally, or maybe some cracked solder joints on the electronic control box attached to the unit. Removing the control box and getting into it is something of a challenge -- the burner will need to come off the boiler, and then we'll need to knife out the silicone seal around the control and pry the box open. I'm hoping, once we do that, that there will be some obvious cracked solder joints in clear evidence.

We walked over to the tiny Hatchet Resort last night for dinner, which was tasty, despite mixed reviews on the 'net, although Louise's chicken was a bit overcooked and dry. It was good enough, though, that we decided to walk back there this morning for breakfast. In addition to the overnight guests, they seem to get a fair amount of walk-in traffic from the road.

This is bear country. Each site here has one of these bear boxes:

And we found this "bear pole" contraption between here and the resort:

Some 20' tall, the idea is that you put your food in a bag tied to a rope, then throw the end of the rope over the crossbar, and use that to haul the food up out of the bears' reach. The bears can climb the trees, but not the metal poles, nor have they figured out (we assume) how to untie the rope.

It's snowing here right now, and the forecast is for today to be colder than yesterday, but tomorrow things will start to warm back up. With the Webasto still being finicky, we'll likely go back to Plan-A today, and continue on to the full-hookup campground at Colter Bay for tonight.

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