Ice Lake, Yellowstone National Park - September 14, 2018

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
This report covers a four day backpacking trip into Ice Lake in Yellowstone National Park, starting on September 14th and running through the 17th. This trip was with three of my old backpacking buddies who are getting a bit long in the tooth and don't get out much anymore. One in particular will be going in for more back surgery in two weeks, so it was nice getting him out into the backcountry one more time, albeit a short (distance) one.

Ice Lake is located on the edge of the Solfatara Plateau and is just a short distance from the trailhead. The best campsite on the lake is 4D2, which is located on the east side of the lake, and the one which I reserved for three nights for our group. Along with hiking into the lake, we planned on doing a day hike the second day to Little Gibbon Falls, a bushwhack to some meadows along the Gibbon River, and on day three, a hike up to Wolf Lake and some exploration of the meadows to the north of the lake.

Temperatures were pleasant with high's in the low to upper sixties and the lows being in the low thirties down to twenty three degrees on our last night. Each night, we were fortunate enough to have bugling elk help us drift off to sleep and in the mornings have Canadian Geese honking to wake us up.

Here are some shots of the trip.


Day 1 - Hike into the lake

Ice_Lake-09_14_18.jpg

Our route into campsite 4D2 on Ice Lake

Ice_01.jpg

The Geriatric Squad (GS) - sometimes confused with the more popular Suicide Squad.

Ice_02.jpg

Both ways point to Ice Lake, so how could we go wrong.

Ice_03.jpg

Check out this mess! He brought enough food in to feed seven people.

Ice_04.jpg

Campsite 4D2

Ice_05.jpg

A look at the food area at 4D2

Ice_06.jpg

The Geriatric Sqaud (GS) :moses: likes to cut wood.

Ice_07.jpg

Sunset on Ice Lake


Day 2 - A day hike to Little Gibbon Falls and two of us off-trailed up the Gibbon River to check out two separate meadows.

Ice_Lake-09_15_18.jpg

Map showing our route to Little Gibbon Falls (purple line) and the off-trail route up the Gibbon (blue line).

Ice_08.jpg

I was a bit chilly in the mornings. I sort of look like a WW1 german soldier.

Ice_09.jpg

Ice Lake viewed from campsite 4D2 in the morning

Ice_11.jpg

The Ice Lake Marriott

Ice_12.jpg

I'm starting to get hangry!

Ice_13.jpg

Too late, somebody better feed me some breakfast and quick! How do you like my grizzly impersonation
@Rockskipper? I'm lucky one of my backpacking counterparts didn't spray me with bear spray.


Ice_14.jpg

Crossing the Gibbon River on our way to Little Gibbon Falls

Ice_15.jpg

The GS (Geriatric Squad) :moses: likes sign posts

Ice_16.jpg

Beginning our descent down to the falls

Ice_17.jpg

It only took one finger

Ice_18.jpg

Little Gibbon Falls

Ice_19.jpg

The GS :moses: likes sitting by rivers

Ice_20.jpg

Good view of my better half. I'm checking out a tree that fell over the cliff and is completely upside down.

Ice_21.jpg

Little Gibbon Falls from above

Ice_22.jpg

Beginning the bushwhack up the Gibbon River

Ice_22b.jpg

The first meadow - the golden grass was beautiful and the wind blowing across it made for waves in the
tall grass. I could have stayed here all day.


Ice_22c.jpg

The Gibbon cutting through the meadow

Ice_23.jpg

The going is getting a little rougher

Ice_24.jpg

The beginning of the second meadow

Ice_25.jpg

Gorgeous place to eat lunch. Love it!

Ice_26.jpg

Check these out, 45 year old boots - special issue for the GS. :moses: :)

Ice_27.jpg

A Blue Heron takes flight on our way back down the River

Ice_26b.jpg

Ha! Watch out for that hole! Usually it is Scatman that falls down, but this time Circles had the pleasure.
My guess is it was those 45 year old boots of his.


Ice_28.jpg

I'll take a pint of Plain please.

Ice_29.jpg

Our friend back at camp.

Ice_30.jpg

Fall colors along the lake


Day 3 - A day hike to Wolf Lake, along with about a half mile of temporary insanity on the way back.

Ice_Lake-09_16_18.jpg

Map of our day hike to Wolf Lake (red route), along with our off-trail hike into the meadows north of Wolf Lake (aqua route), and our little insane bushwhack on our way back to camp (blue route).

Ice_30b.jpg

View on the way to Wolf Lake

Ice_31.jpg

First sight of Wolf Lake

Ice_32.jpg

Wolf Lake and Observation Peak in the distance on the right

Ice_33.jpg

The mighty Gibbon River, leaving Wolf Lake

Ice_35.jpg

Heading off to investigate the meadows north of the lake

Ice_34.jpg

These ducks' backsides have nothing on me. See previous image at Little Gibbon Falls for a comparison
if you can stand it.


Ice_36.jpg

Walking the meadows

Ice_37.jpg

An old beaver lodge on the lake

Ice_38.jpg

View to the north, just north of Wolf Lake

Ice_40.jpg

A view up the second segment of the finger meadow. We stopped here for lunch.

Ice_39.jpg

My Scatman senses tell me this is a bear day bed.

Ice_41.jpg

More fall colors at ground level

Ice_42.jpg

What? Sleeping on the job! We may have to kick this one out of the Squad. :mad: He was supposed to be
on bear watch.


Ice_43.jpg

Well, I guess this is what a power nap will do for you. The GS :moses: like to teeter-totter.

Ice_44.jpg

Ride 'em cowboy!
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Don't let 'em play guitars and drive
them old trucks. Let em be doctors and lawyers and such.


Ice_45.jpg

Another gorgeous meadow as we make our way back to camp.

Ice_46.jpg

Well, this is where the .4 miles of insanity begins. These little cascading
falls aroused our curiosity. Did they begin on the ridge as a spring or a
creek flowing off of the ridge? Inquiring minds just had to know.


Ice_47.jpg

Crossing the Gibbon to get a closer look at the cascades

Ice_48.jpg

Is the pole big enough for ya Circles? Nice aspen on the ridge above

Ice_49.jpg

At the source - a spring (so we thought). Looking back down on the Gibbon River. Watercress anyone?
It appeared to be a spring but after looking at the 7.5 minute map when I got home it looks like it might
come from a couple small ponds on top of the ridge. Needless to say, I drank a whole liter from where it
emerged on the side of the hill. Tasty!


Ice_50.jpg

Instead of heading back down the hill to the trail, these bozos decided to bushwhack back to the trail
through this and thus the .4 miles of temporary insanity.
:scatman:

Ice_51.jpg

This doesn't seem so bad. Uh-huh

Ice_52.jpg

Argh!

Ice_53.jpg

Double Aargh! Hey @Artemus, this looks like your kind of territory. ;)

Ice_53b.jpg

When do we get out of this Shite? I'll have a pint of Plain please. :twothumbs:

Ice_54.jpg

Finally back on the trail and we run into one of these. Anybody care to take a guess at what made it?
There is a story behind this if anyone is interested.


Ice_55.jpg

Fall colors along the river

Ice_56.jpg

The GS :moses: like to fly kites. It was actually so windy that we could not have a fire this night.

That just about wraps it up for Ice Lake. We hiked out the next day and headed for Ponds for some pizza and a beer. But on our way ..........


Ice_58.jpg

We saw a bull moose standing in the middle of the Henry's Fork of the Snake on our way home.

The end.
 
Last edited:

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Rockskipper

No ETA
.
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2,436
The bear bed actually looks like a really really big Bigfoot stepped there, and yes, please tell the story on the other print. (Would it have anything to do with artistic license w/o the license?)

And I think I saw Circles and that pole at the last Highland Games I went to.

As for the grizz impression, sorry, but bears don't typically have footprints on their heads (unless they've been fighting in mud), so that one's a no go. I don't think you were fooling anyone, except maybe those "Canadian" geese. :)

Another great Scatster TR, and I think you guys deserve your own episode on the Red Green Show.
 
Last edited:

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,381
Great trip, Scat! Thanks for sharing.

And no, I would not like that "new growth". That is certainly your cup of tea and I am sure you lured them into traversing it - no matter what you say.

Is that a new kilt?
 

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
256
20180916_072222.jpg
Ice Lake sunrise, from the other end of the lake on Sunday morning, at 4D3. Usually when I walk in and ask for campsites, I get one of my first two requests. This time I was down to about my 12th choice.

I wish we could have met, Scatman. And I'd love to hear the story of that footprint, if it isn't too scary.
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
The bear bed actually looks like a really really big Bigfoot stepped there, and yes, please tell the story on the other print. (Would it have anything to do with artistic license w/o the license?)

And I think I saw Circles and that pole at the last Highland Games I went to.

As for the grizz impression, sorry, but bears don't typically have footprints on their heads (unless they've been fighting in mud), so that one's a no go. I don't think you were fooling anyone, except maybe those "Canadian" geese. :)

Another great Scatster TR, and I think you guys deserve your own episode on the Red Green Show.

It looks like I'm going to have to work on the grizz impression so that it can have the @Rockskipper stamp of approval (very coveted around these parts I understand). Any pointers would be appreciated.

Check these out.

40.jpg

A grizzly had been investigating my oatmeal

41.jpg

Even more worrisome, a grizzly was checking out my tent! :p

As for Circles, he doesn't deserve to compete at the Highland Games though his entertainment value is extremely high. Here is a another shot of him crossing the river. Unfortunately not the best lighting.

43.jpg


I kind of wanted to step out and push him in. :devil: There is a story behind the name "Circles" if you want to know more.

And now for the story of the bare footprint on the trail. Well first, let me tell you another story form the day before.
It was a breezy, cool afternoon as I hiked back up the trail from Little Gibbon Falls. I am first in line which makes me the "Point Man." As point man, I am responsible for warning others in my group of impending danger that might lurk ahead. I peer into the downfall and new growth for the great bear, ready to deploy my bear spray at an instant. When suddenly ................................... That's about as creative as I can be. :)

And now for the real story!

So, we are almost at the trail junction sign for Little Gibbon Falls, Ice Lake and Wolf Lake, when two ladies that I would guess are in their late forties or early fifties come down the trail from Ice Lake. They inform us that they are looking for the trail that goes around Ice Lake. Unfortunately for them, there is no trail that loops Ice Lake which I inform them of. They seem to be a bit confused by my explanation so we ask them if they started at the Ice Lake Trailhead. They responded, "yes." So we ask them if they saw our green van parked at the trailhead. They said that there were no other vehicles at the trailhead pullout. What? We then asked if they knew where they were. They responded that they did and as long as they were headed east they were okay. Well, at this point they were heading southwest towards Little Gibbon Falls. I pulled out my Trails Illustrated map and showed them where they were and how to get back to there vehicle, either by turning around and heading back they way they had hiked in or by continuing along the trail they were on and exiting on the road and then walking a half mile west back to their vehicle. They thanked us and continued on towards the falls. I thought to myself, how could they not see the van at the trailhead? It was parked right by the trail. One could have to pass the van to get to the trail. And once past Ice Lake, wouldn't one realize that there was no loop around the lake and turn around and head back the way you had come? I was baffled.

So the next day, almost at the same location on our way back from Wolf Lake, we stopped to rest at the trail junction sign when a lady comes hiking up
44.jpg

Ice Lake all by herself. We say hello and she points along the trail to Wolf Lake and asks if this is the way to Ice Lake. One look at the sign and you would have to say "No." We asked her where she was going and she said to Ice Lake. Once again we asked, "did you park at the Ice Lake Trailhead?" "Yes", she replied. I then informed her that she had hiked along Ice Lake in order to reach the point where she found herself now. Dann (names have been changed to protect the innocent), real name Danny, asked if she was carrying bear spray. She said, "No, I am not." she then informed us that she, her husband and child had encountered a grizzly in Grand Teton National Park and it had stood up on its hind legs and looked at them so she was not afraid of bears. I then explained as I had done the day before to the two women that she could continue on past Little Gibbon Falls and out to the road and back to the Ice Lake Trailhead or turn around and hike back. Since she was close to the halfway point it din't make any difference from a distance standpoint. At this point, she told us that she didn't want to walk along the road. she then informed us that her husband was behind her, and that they were taking turns carrying their daughter and since it was his turn, he was a tad slower than she was. This is when she turned and ran as fast as she could back down the trail. We all looked at one another wondering what was going on. As I recall, you are not supposed to run in grizzly bear country. So we started back down towards camp when we caught up to her and her family sitting alongside the trail. I notice right off that her husband is barefoot but I'm thinking to myself that he has just taken his shoes off while resting. We repeat to him what we told his wife, and he explains to us that they can't walk along the road due to a Dutch study that found that walking along roadways with vehicles causes brain damage so that potential route was out of the question. So Danny, oops, I mean Dann started talking to our group but using different names. I was Steve, Circles was Pickle and Mark was Larry. Dann, showing that he had brain damage by calling us by different names. The little girl was pretty cute though as she warned me not to surprise any buffalo. We left them to their fate and I noticed the bare feet along the trail. At first, since we were only a short distance from crossing the river, that he had removed his shoes while crossing and did not put them back on, but it turned out that he had hiked all the way in barefoot. More power to him I guess. Now I don't doubt that walking along roadways may be bad for your health due to vehicle exhaust, but I did find it funny that one would be willing to hike in grizzly country without spray and essentially alone, run in grizzly country along a backcountry trail, and hike barefoot along the way. I think I would prefer to walk along the road for a half mile at least as far as risk factors are concerned.
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
Great trip report. I almost hiked out to Ice Lake around the same time but then decided to do a different hike.
I guess I'll add it to my list for next September
Where did you end up hiking? I saw your shot of the Yellowstone River. A beautiful picture by the way.
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
Great trip, Scat! Thanks for sharing.

And no, I would not like that "new growth". That is certainly your cup of tea and I am sure you lured them into traversing it - no matter what you say.

Is that a new kilt?
Nope, not my idea at all. I even cautioned them against it, but they would have none of it. No, it's not a new kilt. It's the same one I wore for my family trip to Plateau Lake in July.

42.jpg

They worked me @Artemus, they worked me hard. :D
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
Ice Lake sunrise, from the other end of the lake on Sunday morning, at 4D3. Usually when I walk in and ask for campsites, I get one of my first two requests. This time I was down to about my 12th choice.

I wish we could have met, Scatman. And I'd love to hear the story of that footprint, if it isn't too scary.
@Pringles, Sorry we missed each other. I would have hiked all the way through the dead fall down the south shoreline just to say "Hi", if I had known you were there. How is 4D3 as a campsite? I didn't particularly like 4D1 as we passed it by on our way in, due to there being no privacy since it is located right on the trail.

See the story above in my response to Rockskipper.
 
Last edited:

Rockskipper

No ETA
.
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2,436
After reading your stories about the interactions with the various hikers, I think you were close to the Yellowstone Triangle - where people get lost instead of planes. How else could one explain such strangeness? :eek:

Unless you just made it all up, eh? :rolleyes:

But I actually believe you and would gladly give my stamp of approval (worth about the square root of zero) for about anything if you'd send me that cool grizz hat. And please tell more about Circles. Are you sure he isn't into tossing the caber?
 

Ben

Member
.
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
1,850
Reading your reports is always a pleasure, thank you. Keep it up.
 

kwc

Member
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Messages
376
I forgot to mention that I thought the color coordination of @scatman 's kilt kit was spot on. Nice job ... always good to be stylin' when hiking the backcountry!! :twothumbs:
 

Pringles

Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
256
My campsite was a very short hike in. The bear pole and kitchen area are quite pleasant, and overlook the lake. There’s a trail that goes right down to the water, and I could tell some folks had set up their tent about 4 feet from the water. I thought about it. It was a bit too close to the bear pole, and I figured that with cool night time temperatures, it’d be uncomfortably cold. So, I set up on a tent pad that was a little spur off the trail to the privy. It was far enough down the trail that you couldn’t see the lake at all, which is sad, but ok. It WAS far enough from the bear pole. After I set up my tent, I found another spot that hadn’t been used for camping (yet), but would have been ok. The fire ring was brand new, and about 3 feet tall. After I had settled in, I went and sat by the lake. I was surprised when two sets of people came down the side trail to my campsite, through my campsite (note how I’m taking ownership), and then came down to the lake to look, take pictures, and generally make themselves at home. Maybe I’m a little too possessive, but it seemed rude to enter someone els’s campsite. They were nice people, probably just curious.

You mentioned elk being nearby. At 3 am a young elk “went off” maybe a quarter of a mile away. I can tell you, I woke from a dead sleep and my reflexes are *fine*. I haven’t sat up that fast in years. He continued to bugle once in a while for the rest of the night. I also saw a beaver, and the usual squirrels, but no other wildlife.

It was a nice campsite. I’d stay there again, but I had gotten the one you were at earlier in the season, and found it nicer. Nothing to quibble about, though. Maybe I can get one of them again this weekend.

And had I known you were there, I could have easily walked down the lake to say hello.
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
My campsite was a very short hike in. The bear pole and kitchen area are quite pleasant, and overlook the lake. There’s a trail that goes right down to the water, and I could tell some folks had set up their tent about 4 feet from the water. I thought about it. It was a bit too close to the bear pole, and I figured that with cool night time temperatures, it’d be uncomfortably cold. So, I set up on a tent pad that was a little spur off the trail to the privy. It was far enough down the trail that you couldn’t see the lake at all, which is sad, but ok. It WAS far enough from the bear pole. After I set up my tent, I found another spot that hadn’t been used for camping (yet), but would have been ok. The fire ring was brand new, and about 3 feet tall. After I had settled in, I went and sat by the lake. I was surprised when two sets of people came down the side trail to my campsite, through my campsite (note how I’m taking ownership), and then came down to the lake to look, take pictures, and generally make themselves at home. Maybe I’m a little too possessive, but it seemed rude to enter someone els’s campsite. They were nice people, probably just curious.

You mentioned elk being nearby. At 3 am a young elk “went off” maybe a quarter of a mile away. I can tell you, I woke from a dead sleep and my reflexes are *fine*. I haven’t sat up that fast in years. He continued to bugle once in a while for the rest of the night. I also saw a beaver, and the usual squirrels, but no other wildlife.

It was a nice campsite. I’d stay there again, but I had gotten the one you were at earlier in the season, and found it nicer. Nothing to quibble about, though. Maybe I can get one of them again this weekend.

And had I known you were there, I could have easily walked down the lake to say hello.

It sounds like a relatively good campsite for your 12th choice. :) Thanks for the in depth description. My family did the hike from Norris to Canyon a few years ago and we stayed at 4D2 on that trip also. While there, a German couple and there two kids stopped in. They were really nice and I enjoyed chatting with them but I understand your feelings towards unexpected guests. I think since Ice Lake is close to the road, it probably gets quite a few people day hiking in to see the sights.

That is cool that you got to see a beaver. While I have seen many lodges in the backcountry, I have never actually seen a beaver. I still haven't been able to check it off my animal checklist. :(
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
Reading your reports is always a pleasure, thank you. Keep it up.
Thanks Ben. You do know that you have an open invitation to join me on my outings don't you? I'm heading to the Teton Wilderness over the Columbus Day weekend. Hint, hint. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ben

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
I forgot to mention that I thought the color coordination of @scatman 's kilt kit was spot on. Nice job ... always good to be stylin' when hiking the backcountry!! :twothumbs:
I believe I read in Backpacking Essentials that color coordination is a very important skill to have while loping around in the backcountry. :) Most backpackers tend to ignore this important fact at their own peril. :uhhuh:
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,408
After reading your stories about the interactions with the various hikers, I think you were close to the Yellowstone Triangle - where people get lost instead of planes. How else could one explain such strangeness? :eek:

Unless you just made it all up, eh? :rolleyes:

But I actually believe you and would gladly give my stamp of approval (worth about the square root of zero) for about anything if you'd send me that cool grizz hat. And please tell more about Circles. Are you sure he isn't into tossing the caber?

Like I have said in the past, I am not creative enough to make this stuff up. I guess that means that I survived the Yellowstone Triangle. Does one get a medal for that?

What color hat do you want - Major Red, Muddy River Brown or Orange Cedar? Sorry, no black ones left. :(

I'll get you the Circles story later today when I have more time on my hands.
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top