Northern Yellowstone NP - January 2023


"The mountains don't care."
Feb 15, 2020
Made it up to Yellowstone for another (semi) annual winter trip. This one didn't go quite as planned - the forecast was not great, so I knew I'd need to be flexible. A lot more snow this year than last year at the same time. Friday - and to a lesser extent Saturday - saw the area get even more snow and temperatures dropped to well below 0° F.

I had hoped to do Sepulcher Mountain in the winter, but did not feel comfortable with the forecast since that would be a pretty full day. My "backup" was Mount Everts since it's relatively short, but with all the fresh snowfall... breaking trail by myself did not seem like fun. So instead I tackled a few tame - but still very beautiful - x-country ski trails on the north side of the park. Visibility into the distance was fairly poor due to the wind/snow.

Since this yearly trip constitutes the majority of my minimal x-country skiing each year, I always do a couple warm up loops above the Mammoth Terraces to refresh myself a bit. Had a great time, but visibility was near 0 and did have to double-back a couple times due to some lazy bison hanging out near the thermal features.

Barronette Ski Trail - Out-and-Back (~8 miles)
Since my first day had the best weather outlook, I decided to drive out through Lamar Valley and hit the Barronette Ski Trail first. Not much wildlife visible in the valley this year - I got a little spoiled last year.

I started on the southern end of the trail - uphill on the way out, downhill on the way back.
And I thought snowshoes on the ski track were bad...
This guy had torn up the track pretty good for about a quarter mile - weaving back and forth across the trail. I didn't mind though.
Previous visitors had left a pretty nice track. (Didn't see a soul while I was out there though.) Would all be covered overnight when the storm came through.

Lots of cool icefalls coming off the flanks of Barronette.
Fair warning: quite a few steep-ish ditches to traverse. Not sure anyone looks graceful on these, but I definitely do not.
Back to the ice-covered roads.

Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail - Out-and-Back to "the Cut" (~10 miles)
This one was fun - very cold day and a fair bit of fresh snow. I would be breaking trail on this one - fortunately this trail follows the summer road, so fairly easy to stay on route. Did see a couple headed out when I was headed back that thanked me for putting down some tracks - though thanks to wind and ongoing snow, they were pretty faint even as I followed my own back to the truck.

Some of my only blue skies of the weekend - stuck with me for a bit, but back to cloudy and windy well before I hit the halfway mark.
Looking back.
Looking ahead.
Small group of bison heading up through the trees.
Zoomed in a bit.
Last semblance of clear skies fading away.
I really liked the wide open spaces on this trail.
A couple more bison to keep me company.
I guess heavy equipment needs a winter break, too.
Back to the trailhead.

And of course on my way home, Sepulcher Mountain had to clear the skies and remind me it was still there for next winter. Though the skies were clear, it was a fairly frigid -25° F on my way out.
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I think I can feel the cold just looking at your shots. :cold:

I love the shot of the herd of bison heading up the hill in the trees. And what are those dump truck bed looking things (three of them)?
Too cold for me! Baronette Peak, and the trail through the trees looks really beautiful.
Nice! Although I really enjoy fast and light xc skiing in groomed tracks, my favorite adventures on skinny skis are often ones that look like yours.
Nice!! I've done all the trails before, and they never disappoint.
Sadly it was never really cold during my three winter trips and I only had negative 12 degrees once as the coldest.
I always wanted to experience real cold temperatures but it never happened.
It looks like there is a lot more snow this season
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