Mary Mountain Trail - Yellowstone - 8/11/19

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scatman

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Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,211
A day after coming off a two week canoe trip around Yellowstone Lake with my daughter, I met up with my wife, along with @Artemus and his wife Becky for a go at the Mary Mountain Trail in Yellowstone National Park. The Mary Mountain Trail crosses the north end of Hayden Valley and the Central Plateau in Yellowstone and is considered by many to be the premier day hike in Yellowstone at 20.2 miles in length. It is also known for its excellent Grizzly Bear habitat, Bison herds, wolf packs and more.

This would be my third time hiking Mary Mountain over the years and my sixth visit to Mary Lake which is situated at just about the halfway point up on the plateau. On this hike though, we would head off-trail a short distance to check out Violet Hot Springs to bring our total mileage to 21.1 miles for the day.

We began our hike around 7:50 am, starting at the Mary Mountain Trailhead on the east end of the route, just west of the Yellowstone River were we got to observe a Blue Heron on its banks. It was a crisp 39 degrees at the trailhead, but once we started hiking things warmed up nicely. Highlights of the hike included Bison of course, but also a Grizzly Bear back in the western reaches of Hayden, Violet Hot Springs, and lots of waterfowl, including Canadian Geese and Sandhill Cranes. While we didn't manage to run into any wolves, their tracks kept us company all along the trail from east to west.

We stopped at the Mary Mountain Patrol Cabin at Mary Lake for lunch before heading down to Nez Perce Creek and out in Lower Geyser Basin.

Here are some shots of our hike.

80609

Overview map of our route

80610

The Mary Mountain Trailhead in Hayden Valley

80611

Obligatory group shot (minus one) before we get started.

80612

Heading out through Hayden Valley. How did I get so far behind the group? Cold knees perhaps? :)

80613

Canadian Geese unsure of our intent.

80614

Looking back southeast towards thermal activity and Sulphur Mountain

80615

Making our way through the eastern potion of Hayden Valley

80616

The wide expanse to the west of us along the north end of Hayden Valley

80617

The only post trail marker left standing. The Park Service used to have more along the route, but the
Bison have a fondness for rubbing up against them and knocking them over. Over time the ones knocked
down were not replaced.


80618

We'll this might be problematic - Bull Bison on the trail.

80619

Showoff! A little Scatman whispering sets him straight and allows us to pass.:)

80620

Alum Creek

80621

View to the south in Hayden Valley

80622

A small fall on Alum Creek

80623

Art and Becky begin our off-trail portion of the hike to Violet Hot Springs

80624

Violet Creek. This creek flows from the hot springs to Alum Creek.

80625

Art - Telling us the temperature of Violet Creek after sticking his pinkie finger in. Hot!

80626

Thermal area of Violet Hot Springs

80627

Hot springs

80628

Hot spring

80629

Heading towards the main hot springs

80630

The main springs at Violet Hot Springs

80631

Leaving Violet Hot Springs and heading back to the Mary Mountain Trail

80632

Making our way through the hilly portion of the valley on the west end.

80633

Art, making his way through the Goldenrod

80634

Back on the trail. :thumbsup:

80635

Grizzly grazing on the hillside - 75 to 100 yards away

80636

We got to enjoy watching him for a couple of minutes before he caught wind of us and moved on across
the hilltop.


80637

Sheila, making her way up the last hill before the Buffalo Highway

80638

Looking back to the east at the expanse of Hayden Valley

80639

This guy almost got @Artemus

80640

A look in the direction of the Trout Creek route through the southern reaches of Hayden Valley. In my
opinion the better route through Hayden Valley. Ssh, don't tell anybody.


80641

Art decides that he is in for the long haul.

80642

This trail marker marks the beginning of the Buffalo Highway

80643

Wolf track

80644

The Buffalo Highway

80645

Finally reached Mary Lake (approximate halfway point)

80646

The Mary Mountain Patrol Cabin

80647

Our first lunchtime visitor at the patrol cabin

80648

Mary Lake

80649

Our second visitor at the cabin

80650

The pit toilet at the patrol cabin. Not a finer pit toilet was ever constructed - a double seater at that.:eek:

80651

Group shot at the cabin

80652

They need to rename this the "Old Man Highway". :) Heading down the hill on the west side of Mary
Lake. By the way, what happened to the old man emojicon? @Nick?


80653

Art and Becky, making their way down the old stagecoach road towards Nez Perce Creek. There is a story
about this stretch of the stagecoach road if anyone is interested in hearing it.


80655

One of our lunchtime friends causing us some issues.

80656

A little Scatman talk seems to calm his nerves so that we can pass. :)

80657

Breaking out into the meadows along Nez Perce Creek

80658

Can you make out the white sign on the tree at the edge of the meadow? It states that at this location
members of the Cowan party were taken by the Nez Perce Tribe on their way through Yellowstone heading
towards Montana and hopefully reaching Canada.


80659

Looking back east at Sheila and Katie with Mary Mountain in the distance.

80660

Logs across Cowan Creek. I think the creek was named after a famous BCP member @Ben for his hiking
prowess. :)


80661

Art, heading off through the willows.

80662

Crossing Magpie Creek

80663

Ditto

80664

Nez Perce Creek

80665

Old footbridge across Nez Perce Creek

80666

Old Man and the Bridge. :) I think I read that book many moons ago.

80667

The last Bison encountered on our hike.

80668

Nez Perce Creek towards the end of our hike

80669

A thermal pool (Morning Mist Springs) in Culex Basin.

80670

We made it! What a ragtag bunch at trail's end.

80671

Celebrating a great day at the Bear Pit at Old Faithful

80672

A teaser for the canoeing trip report. :scatman:

The End.
 

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Nick

Spiral out.
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Joined
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Messages
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BY the way, what happened to the old man emojicon? @Nick?
Must've got old and died? ;) But really, we upgraded the emoji set and there was no old man, and other one didn't work very well on the dark background so I didn't copy it over.
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,245
A day after coming off a two week canoe trip around Yellowstone Lake with my daughter, I met up with my wife, along with @Artemus and his wife Becky for a go at the Mary Mountain Trail in Yellowstone National Park. The Mary Mountain Trail crosses the north end of Hayden Valley and the Central Plateau in Yellowstone and is considered by many to be the premier day hike in Yellowstone at 20.2 miles in length. It is also known for its excellent Grizzly Bear habitat, Bison herds, wolf packs and more.

This would be my third time hiking Mary Mountain over the years and my sixth visit to Mary Lake which is situated at just about the halfway point up on the plateau. On this hike though, we would head off-trail a short distance to check out Violet Hot Springs to bring our total mileage to 21.1 miles for the day.

We began our hike around 7:50 am, starting at the Mary Mountain Trailhead on the east end of the route, just west of the Yellowstone River were we got to observe a Blue Heron on its banks. It was a crisp 39 degrees at the trailhead, but once we started hiking things warmed up nicely. Highlights of the hike included Bison of course, but also a Grizzly Bear back in the western reaches of Hayden, Violet Hot Springs, and lots of waterfowl, including Canadian Geese and Sandhill Cranes. While we didn't manage to run into any wolves, their tracks kept us company all along the trail from east to west.

We stopped at the Mary Mountain Patrol Cabin at Mary Lake for lunch before heading down to Nez Perce Creek and out in Lower Geyser Basin.

Here are some shots of our hike.

View attachment 80609
Overview map of our route

View attachment 80610
The Mary Mountain Trailhead in Hayden Valley

View attachment 80611
Obligatory group shot (minus one) before we get started.

View attachment 80612
Heading out through Hayden Valley. How did I get so far behind the group? Cold knees perhaps? :)

View attachment 80613
Canadian Geese unsure of our intent.

View attachment 80614
Looking back southeast towards thermal activity and Sulphur Mountain

View attachment 80615
Making our way through the eastern potion of Hayden Valley

View attachment 80616
The wide expanse to the west of us along the north end of Hayden Valley

View attachment 80617
The only post trail marker left standing. The Park Service used to have more along the route, but the
Bison have a fondness for rubbing up against them and knocking them over. Over time the ones knocked
down were not replaced.


View attachment 80618
We'll this might be problematic - Bull Bison on the trail.

View attachment 80619
Showoff! A little Scatman whispering sets him straight and allows us to pass.:)

View attachment 80620
Alum Creek

View attachment 80621
View to the south in Hayden Valley

View attachment 80622
A small fall on Alum Creek

View attachment 80623
Art and Becky begin our off-trail portion of the hike to Violet Hot Springs

View attachment 80624
Violet Creek. This creek flows from the hot springs to Alum Creek.

View attachment 80625
Art - Telling us the temperature of Violet Creek after sticking his pinkie finger in. Hot!

View attachment 80626
Thermal area of Violet Hot Springs

View attachment 80627
Hot springs

View attachment 80628
Hot spring

View attachment 80629
Heading towards the main hot springs

View attachment 80630
The main springs at Violet Hot Springs

View attachment 80631
Leaving Violet Hot Springs and heading back to the Mary Mountain Trail

View attachment 80632
Making our way through the hilly portion of the valley on the west end.

View attachment 80633
Art, making his way through the Goldenrod

View attachment 80634
Back on the trail. :thumbsup:

View attachment 80635
Grizzly grazing on the hillside - 75 to 100 yards away

View attachment 80636
We got to enjoy watching him for a couple of minutes before he caught wind of us and moved on across
the hilltop.


View attachment 80637
Sheila, making her way up the last hill before the Buffalo Highway

View attachment 80638
Looking back to the east at the expanse of Hayden Valley

View attachment 80639
This guy almost got @Artemus

View attachment 80640
A look in the direction of the Trout Creek route through the southern reaches of Hayden Valley. In my
opinion the better route through Hayden Valley. Ssh, don't tell anybody.


View attachment 80641
Art decides that he is in for the long haul.

View attachment 80642
This trail marker marks the beginning of the Buffalo Highway

View attachment 80643
Wolf track

View attachment 80644
The Buffalo Highway

View attachment 80645
Finally reached Mary Lake (approximate halfway point)

View attachment 80646
The Mary Mountain Patrol Cabin

View attachment 80647
Our first lunchtime visitor at the patrol cabin

View attachment 80648
Mary Lake

View attachment 80649
Our second visitor at the cabin

View attachment 80650
The pit toilet at the patrol cabin. Not a finer pit toilet was ever constructed - a double seater at that.:eek:

View attachment 80651
Group shot at the cabin

View attachment 80652
They need to rename this the "Old Man Highway". :) Heading down the hill on the west side of Mary
Lake. By the way, what happened to the old man emojicon? @Nick?


View attachment 80653
Art and Becky, making their way down the old stagecoach road towards Nez Perce Creek. There is a story
about this stretch of the stagecoach road if anyone is interested in hearing it.


View attachment 80655
One of our lunchtime friends causing us some issues.

View attachment 80656
A little Scatman talk seems to calm his nerves so that we can pass. :)

View attachment 80657
Breaking out into the meadows along Nez Perce Creek

View attachment 80658
Can you make out the white sign on the tree at the edge of the meadow? It states that at this location
members of the Cowan party were taken by the Nez Perce Tribe on their way through Yellowstone heading
towards Montana and hopefully reaching Canada.


View attachment 80659
Looking back east at Sheila and Katie with Mary Mountain in the distance.

View attachment 80660
Logs across Cowan Creek. I think the creek was named after a famous BCP member @Ben for his hiking
prowess. :)


View attachment 80661
Art, heading off through the willows.

View attachment 80662
Crossing Magpie Creek

View attachment 80663
Ditto

View attachment 80664
Nez Perce Creek

View attachment 80665
Old footbridge across Nez Perce Creek

View attachment 80666
Old Man and the Bridge. :) I think I read that book many moons ago.

View attachment 80667
The last Bison encountered on our hike.

View attachment 80668
Nez Perce Creek towards the end of our hike

View attachment 80669
A thermal pool (Morning Mist Springs) in Culex Basin.

View attachment 80670
We made it! What a ragtag bunch at trail's end.

View attachment 80671
Celebrating a great day at the Bear Pit at Old Faithful

View attachment 80672
A teaser for the canoeing trip report. :scatman:

The End.
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,245
Looks like if you flipped the canoe it would float the car...
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,627
Awesome awesome awesome. Looks like a wonderful day. I love those wide open expanses. And very interesting seeing the Cowan Party marker. I recall reading about that in a book I have about Native Americans in the Yellowstone area.

There is a story about this stretch of the stagecoach road if anyone is interested in hearing it.
Interested!
 

Titans

Member
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Joined
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Messages
554
Nice! What do you mean the bison almost got @Artemus ? And yes, pls share the Stagecoach road story!
Clearly your surgery must have gone well, if you can handle 21 miles so soon after :). No issues?
 

scatman

Member
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Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,211
Awesome awesome awesome. Looks like a wonderful day. I love those wide open expanses. And very interesting seeing the Cowan Party marker. I recall reading about that in a book I have about Native Americans in the Yellowstone area.


Interested!
The old stagecoach road that heads east up to Mary Lake from the meadows along Nez Perce Creek was to steep for the stagecoach to make it, so they had the passengers get out and walk the grade. On one trip, a Congressman was on board and when he was walking up the hill, he had a heart attack and died. This didn't please Congress, and they drastically cut funding for the Park because of it.
 

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scatman

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Nice! What do you mean the bison almost got @Artemus ? And yes, pls share the Stagecoach road story!
Clearly your surgery must have gone well, if you can handle 21 miles so soon after :). No issues?
Art was busy contemplating if he could continue on or turn back and didn't notice this bull, who was lying down, get up just behind him. This occurred just after we had given another bull plenty of leeway as we made our way to the west end of the valley.

As for the surgery, I had some discomfort on a couple of the long paddle days on the canoe trip, especially having to dig in on the portions when the lake was choppy. Pulling the canoe out of the water was uncomfortable a couple of times. I also had issues on our last day hike to Langford Cairn on day twelve. It was off-trail and steep and it kind of aggravated my left side. My right side seems to be doing very well. As for the Mary Mountain Hike, I took a couple of Ibuprofen at the trail head and then a couple more at Mary Lake and that seemed to do the trick for the hike. The next day and the remainder of this week my left side still has some discomfort, but I don't believe it is from the original hernia pain, but instead where they attached the mesh to my hipbone on the left side of my lower abdomen. I'm contemplating seeing if I can run up and down a basketball court tomorrow morning. That should be the real test.
 

scatman

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Joined
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Messages
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holy hell, the bison's muscles have muscles
They are amazing animals. We ran into a herd less than half a mile from our trailhead as we drove to the trailhead, and there were many lone bulls throughout the valley. We also saw a herd on western end of the valley, but they were far away enough that we didn't have to alter our route to go around them.

80677
 

wsp_scott

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Messages
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That looks like an awesome day, can't wait for the canoe report :)
 

ramblinman

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Messages
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Thanks for sharing. Also looking forward to the canoe trip report.

Can you share your patented scatman buffalo whisper? I ask because I had an encounter with two buffalo along the Sentinel Meadows trail back in late May. I never got closer than 40 yards, but anytime I would approach they would take off down the trail (never off to the side). I was worried that they would eventually tire of running away and would decide to stand their ground, so I started hiking off trail to give them space but they still kept marauding along the trail. Eventually they stopped and I left them behind me, which was a relief because they were starting to make me anxious. At no point were they aggressive, but the experience made me realize that I didn't really know what to do in that situation.
 

scatman

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Thanks for sharing. Also looking forward to the canoe trip report.

Can you share your patented scatman buffalo whisper? I ask because I had an encounter with two buffalo along the Sentinel Meadows trail back in late May. I never got closer than 40 yards, but anytime I would approach they would take off down the trail (never off to the side). I was worried that they would eventually tire of running away and would decide to stand their ground, so I started hiking off trail to give them space but they still kept marauding along the trail. Eventually they stopped and I left them behind me, which was a relief because they were starting to make me anxious. At no point were they aggressive, but the experience made me realize that I didn't really know what to do in that situation.
Yes, it's simple. I just whispered, "Are you going to let us pass big fellow." :) It sounds like you did everything right in your encounter with the two Bison along the trail in Sentinel Meadows. I believe the Park Service regulations is a distance of 25 yards.

I've had numerous encounters with Bison over the years in Yellowstone and have learned that if I leave them alone, they leave me alone. Recognizing when one might be agitated is helpful too. If you see one lift its tail and you are in the vicinity, it is letting you know that it takes exception to your presence and it is best to give it plenty of room. I've had to make my way through herds occasionally over the years too. Once, on my first Mary Mountain hike, there was a large herd at the west end of Hayden Valley I had to negotiate. A second herd was encountered when I did my hike along the Old Fountain Trail that crosses the Madison Plateau. I've found that cows and calves tend to get out of your way as you pass. Bulls, are another story, particularly if they are in the rut. My son and I had a lone bull get after us on the Wapiti Lake Trail as we were returning to the trailhead at Canyon a few years ago. At the same trailhead on another trip, my family was getting ready to head into the backcountry for a couple nights at Ribbon Lake when two bulls suddenly appeared, getting after one another. One of the bulls disengaged from the other and essentially came after us, leading us to maneuver around the vehicles in the lot by the trailhead. It is all just part of hiking/backpacking in Yellowstone, and one of the reasons it is my favorite place to spend my free time.
 

scatman

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I think it might be a little unstable, definitely get a second canoe up there and you’d be good.
I've got a second canoe, but it is about two feet longer than the burgundy one in the picture. Do you think the extra length would be problematic? :lol:
 

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