Sepulcher Mountain Hike, Yellowstone NP, September 2018

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
3,865
Today I decided to hike Sepulcher Mountain trail which is about 13 miles long with about 3,200 ft. of elevation gain. This would be a tough one for me but I really wanted to do it. Under normal circumstances, I would be fine but with my limited lung capacity, it would be a hard one to do. I was definitely ready, and I needed to find my limits.
The trailhead was the same as Beaver Ponds trail in Mammoth but split up after about a mile. As soon as I turned left on the Sepulcher Mountain trail, I started to gain elevation.

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the trail starts next to the terraces

I definitely took my time. The trail went through a forest of Lodgepole Pines; they were spared by the 1988 fires. I heard elk bugling in the distance, enjoyed the scenery.


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after the junction, the trail goes through a forested area


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On a small plateau surrounded by deadfall, I had an early lunch break.


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Soon after I left this spot the trail tremendously started to climb. Higher and higher I went, huffing and puffing and coughing. I guess with all that noise I did not have to worry about Grizzly bears at all, lol. The trail bordered the Gallatin Bear Management area and usually had a lot of Grizzly activity. Obvious signs were definitely visible in many spots. Scat, scratch marks, even the smell of bears was here. I reached a saddle between the climbs and enjoyed the relatively flat section.

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looking to the northeast from the trail with Mount Everts


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a flat section of the trail

This hike was a leg burner for sure and with the lack of sufficiently taking in oxygen, it was tough. I had to stop a lot of times because I couldn’t get air fast enough. I pushed harder, I just wanted to do it. I never give up and I definitely wouldn’t do it on this hike. The next forested section followed, full of scratch marks on several trees. I climbed higher and eventually the first views down towards Gardiner came into sight.

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Northern Range, Gardiner from above

It was pretty cool and definitely worth all the effort. Another short but steep climb followed and I reached the first bluffs made of volcanic tuff. To the west was Electric Peak, one of the most prominent peaks in Yellowstone. One day I would go to the top of it as well.

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Electric Peak

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I enjoyed the views at the summit of Sepulcher Mountain, excited that I made it to the top. Some dark clouds were lingering in the distance and I checked the weather forecast. The radar showed they were moving in the opposite direction and I relaxed a bit. I wouldn’t want to be up here during an electric storm.
The hike down followed the south flank of Sepulcher Mountain, a steep down climb with a lot of switchbacks and elevation loss. Most of the south flank was without any trees and sagebrush dominated the scenery.

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the South flank of Sepulcher Mountain with Bunsen Peak in the distance, Gardner's Hole and Swan Lake Flats

I was halfway down when I heard the first rumbles of thunder.
I checked the radar and a storm cell had popped up and was moving pretty fast into my direction.
This was not good. I started to hurry, almost running down. I definitely wanted to make it down to the tree line before the storm hit. The storm moved in faster and I tried to walk as fast as I could. Not easy when you can’t breathe pretty well.

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Eventually, I reached Glen Creek and Glen Creek trail. I still had a few miles to go. But finally, I was at timberline again. The storm hit with full force and a gust front created strong winds with lightning.
I walked through the forested area and all of a sudden I heard all these booms!!! I froze in my movements, puzzled what it was. Had lightning hit a tree and it just exploded? Another boom, this time closer. And then another one, this time the earth trembled. That was scary!!!

I finally figured out what it was. It were some snags crushing down to the ground. The strong winds took a good toll on all the dead trees!! I definitely did not want to stay here, that was scarier than an electric storm. I picked up my pace and pushed forward, as fast as I could. It rained and hailed but I still had a few miles to go. No more pictures, I just kept moving on. I went across Snow Pass, it rained but the storm moved on.
What an adventure!! I reached Upper Terrace of Mammoth, saw some elk and had some moody scenes.

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Liberty Cap - finally back at the trailhead

Almost back at the trailhead, the rain lifted and the sun came out again. I really loved the hike and the views on top of Sepulcher Mountain, but definitely do not need to have the stormy experience again. I definitely want to do the hike again, it was just amazing with all the elevation gain and scenery.
 

Absarokanaut

Member
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Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
652
Thanks a bunch for sharing this. I hiked this and Electric over two different weekends in the 80s. Electric is a posterior kicker. I doubt I'll ever get up Electric again but with hoped for weight loss I might follow your steps some time over the next few years.
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
3,865
Thanks a bunch for sharing this. I hiked this and Electric over two different weekends in the 80s. Electric is a posterior kicker. I doubt I'll ever get up Electric again but with hoped for weight loss I might follow your steps some time over the next few years.

I started my weight loss journey in December and hope that I'll be able to more of these ass-kicker hikes in the future.
I definitely want to do Electric Peak in the near future, it's one of the bucket list items I have and wanna cross off my list.
Sepulcher is great leg burner as well and I'm excited to go again this summer
 
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