Yellowstone 2020 backcountry hike questions

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Yvonne

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It's time to start my new Yellowstone summer trip.
As it looks now, I will be there for most of the summer to escape the unbearable desert heat.

Specimen Ridge Trail:
I plan on doing Specimen Ridge again but would love to do the whole thing instead of only going to Amethyst Mountain and then hike back. I'm solo, so I only have one car. I wonder if you can park a bike at one trailhead and then ride it back to your car.
It seems I would do Specimen end of July. So hopefully the river crossings will be doable. Since rivers naturally run higher later in the day, I would start at Lamar River TH and then do the Lamar Crossing early in the morning.
Any thoughts about that?

Druid Peak:
What would be the best pullout or parking to start hiking up Druid Peak? There is not a lot of information on that one online but maybe some have hiked it.

Pelican Creek Loop:

Any thoughts on doing the Pelican Creek/Pelican Valley loop with Raven Creek Cutoff to make it a loop?

Buffalo Plateau:
has anyone hiked up to Buffalo Plateau? I'm a huge fan of big expansive views and this one looks nice as well

Thunderer Cutoff trail:
is it worth just to go to the Patrol Cabin and back or should I try to secure a campsite and do the loop that comes out at the Lamar River trailhead?

The second and much longer loop I looked at is Astringent Creek trail to Fern Lake, crossing over to Pelican Creek Loop and hike out to the trailhead. They both look fun but I wonder if one is better than the other. Or I might be both as I have enough days to hike and like to have some longer 20+ miles days.

Other day hikes include:

Sepulcher Mountain again
Lava Creek trail
Seven Miles Hole
Mary Mountain trail, probably only to Mary lake because of the shuttle issues
Heart Lake
Shoshone Lake Geyser Basin
Shelp Lake via Specimen Creek
Daily Creek to Sky Rim and back via Black Butte
Bunsen Peak again
Bighorn Peak via Black Butte

For now, it looks like I have about six weeks to hike but it might end up into something longer.
I will stay up in the GYE and look for places to live.

Any input and help is appreciated








 

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Pringles

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I can’t give you the information you seek, but I might be able to do the shuttle for you for your Specimen Ridge hike. Let me know as you get close to your hike. I have a few hikes that I’m working on in July and August, but if I can help, I will. Pringles
 

Bob

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Been on loop up Slough Creek to Buffalo plateau back to Slough Creek .. can give you info
 

Yvonne

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I can’t give you the information you seek, but I might be able to do the shuttle for you for your Specimen Ridge hike. Let me know as you get close to your hike. I have a few hikes that I’m working on in July and August, but if I can help, I will. Pringles
I appreciate it, I might come back to you. If you need a shuttle or drop off while I'm in the park this summer, I definitely return the favor. And since I will move up to the area at one point this year, I will be open to help in the future as well.
 

Pringles

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I was hiking in the Bechler last summer, and in camp, I got cell phone reception. I got an e-mail from a hiking friend, that he was hoping I could do a shuttle for him. He was going to be doing the Thorofare. I ended up doing the first night with them. It was neat, being IN the Bechler, and suddenly part of a trip headed toward the Thorofare. :) Anyway, if I can help, I will.

Pringles
 

Jackson

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Are you referring to the Buffalo Plateau on the MT-WY border or the Buffalo Plateau that's just south of the park, way out in the Teton Wilderness?
 

Yvonne

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Are you referring to the Buffalo Plateau on the MT-WY border or the Buffalo Plateau that's just south of the park, way out in the Teton Wilderness?
I'm referring to the one in Yellowstone, at the MT/WY border. I didn't even know there is another one in the Tetons.
I do only explore Yellowstone, so all questions I'm referring to are to places inside Yellowstone NP.
And Buffalo Plateau looked really inviting last summer when I looked up to it from Garnet Hill Loop
 

Jackson

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I'm referring to the one in Yellowstone, at the MT/WY border. I didn't even know there is another one in the Tetons.
I do only explore Yellowstone, so all questions I'm referring to are to places inside Yellowstone NP.
And Buffalo Plateau looked really inviting last summer when I looked up to it from Garnet Hill Loop
Gotcha.

And as a note, the Teton Wilderness is actually not in the Teton range, and is much closer to and more similar to Yellowstone than it is to the Tetons, funnily enough!

If your explorations ever take you to that area or to the areas in Montana near Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake, let me know if you need any recommendations or info.
 

Yvonne

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Gotcha.

And as a note, the Teton Wilderness is actually not in the Teton range, and is much closer to and more similar to Yellowstone than it is to the Tetons, funnily enough!

If your explorations ever take you to that area or to the areas in Montana near Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake, let me know if you need any recommendations or info.
In the future, I definitely will explore a lot around Hebgen and Quake Lake. The entire area looks crazy awesome. I also looked into Lee Metcalf which I would really love to explore. But there is not even a map or anything available. At least not online. Maybe they have some information in the US Forest visitor center in West Yellowstone. But since I'll be moving up to the Greater Yellowstone area, I will extend my explorations pretty soon.

It will also include the Tetons, the mentioned Teton Wilderness plus a lot in the Beartooth and Absarokas. I wish I could move up right away instead of waiting for several months. Tom Miner Basin looks really amazing as well
So any help and information are highly appreciated. If you do not want to post it here in public, you can also shoot me a message.
 

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Jackson

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In the future, I definitely will explore a lot around Hebgen and Quake Lake. The entire area looks crazy awesome. I also looked into Lee Metcalf which I would really love to explore. But there is not even a map or anything available. At least not online. Maybe they have some information in the US Forest visitor center in West Yellowstone. But since I'll be moving up to the Greater Yellowstone area, I will extend my explorations pretty soon.

It will also include the Tetons, the mentioned Teton Wilderness plus a lot in the Beartooth and Absarokas. I wish I could move up right away instead of waiting for several months. Tom Miner Basin looks really amazing as well
So any help and information are highly appreciated. If you do not want to post it here in public, you can also shoot me a message.
I'll send a PM so I don't take your thread any more off-topic!
 

Absarokanaut

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I was fortunate to grow up leading horse packtrips into the Teton and Washakie Wildernesses. I have an obvious bias for the southern end of the Absaroka as it is my favorite place on earth. I have also backpacked these areas a fair amount. I have facebook galleries for individual day hikes in the Absaroka, Gros Ventre, and Tetons. They are open to the public and can give you my name via message if you like.

I love slough Creek but never made it up on that Northern Buffalo Plateau, trying to cross the creek in early October the mud/sand was bottomless. The crossing to Lake McBride was however fine on a couple of different hikes to Lake McBride, one of the Park's most spectacular bodies of water. With so much down on this end of the ecosystem I hardly ever get North of the South boundary Trail which I hiked 20 years ago. Cave Falls is probably the most awesome National Forest Campground I've ever stayed at. If you have Dunanda Falls in you that's the most exotic place I've been in this time zone. Bechler Falls is far shorter and the fishing there is extraordinary. Union Falls is a huge day and like Dunanda better as an overnight or two.

Heart Lake is of course cool and going up Sheridan to the lookout is seminal for some folks. As a dayhike I'm not keen on tHeart Lake though. I hope to hike Huckleberry Mt. again this summer but am probably quite a bit slower than you are. I highly reccomend this 12 mile day. Tremendous wildlife and some of the best terrestrial views of the Northern Tetons and southern Yellowstone from the historic Lookout. The lookout can be scoped from some of Heart Lake's shores.

THIS IS OPINION: In terms of choosing a place to settle I hate to bring it up but politics could have a lot to do with it. I have family with a Guest Ranch a few mile hike or ride from the Washakie "near" Dubois, WY. I lived there for some time and love that area and get back there often but I just tired of the politics I'll never be able to reason or graciously ignore when its thrust in my face more often than I'd like. I am actually quite moderate but lots of folks there ignorantly and sometimes angrily label me liberal. Believe it or not politics come up far less here in Jackson where we have far more in common with Colorado or California than anywhere else in Wyoming. We have plenty of conservatives but they are generally of a more informed sort in my experience and opinion. Another thing I'll suggest is that if you buy property any promises of coming infrastructure be in definitive CONTRACTUAL writing WITH PROMISED DATES so the sellers can't get out of providing them to you in a timely manner. Some places across these 22,000,000 acres people will sell property with deceitful promises because they ultimately want someone of their own faith and community to get it down the road when they might be able to afford it after an outsider gets played.

I encourage you to think about spending more time down here on the southern half of the ecosystem where outside the National Park Box with a few exceptions you're more likely to see an apex predator than another human. When it comes to the Tetons get a fill of the classic dayhikes and think about backacking one of the wildest areas of the 48, the range North of Mt. Moran. There are some incredible westside hikes but for dayhiking I'd concentrate from Open to Paintbrush Canyons.

Well have a great time wherever you saunter through this greatest mammalian habitat of the Temperate Zone. Keep your stick on the ice and may the trail rise to meet you. A teaser dayhike from the Absaroka's short stretch of the Continental Divide looking pasts this Buffalo Plateau region of the Teton Wilderness. Two 12kers, Younts and Thorofare, two of the arguably the remotest summits of the 48.


46513772_10157003005314917_4327863223614177280_o.jpg
 

Kmatjhwy

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Yvonne, now thru the years have been all over this Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in my hiking. Now when you include the whole entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in all the whole region in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, there are millions and millions of acres here. There is so many pristine and wild places outside of Yellowstone Park in the ecosystem that are just as gorgeous and wild. Here are some hints for some of the areas and hope this helps you out ...

Northern Yellowstone Park Area along the Yellowstone River - This is a really nice hike especially in the early part of the season in spring and early summer. This area is from Mammoth and Gardiner on one end extending to Tower and near Slough Creek on the other. It would only take several days to hike but one could extend this for far longer in just be in some areas and dayhiking from your campsite. Like you mentioned hiking the Buffalo Plateau ... this could become a nice dayhike from a camp along Hellroaring Creek below. Also going all day up Hellroaring Creek into the nearby Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness would also be a great dayhining from a camp along Lower Hellroaring Creek.

Slough Creek / Pebble Creek - One could spend days up Slough Creek in the meadows and along the creek. One could even expand this hike with going further up into the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness beyond or going over the ridge into Pebble Creek and coming out this way. Pebble Creek by the way is gorgeous.

The Upper Lamar - Now heading up a shortways up the Lamar to the first drainage makes a good hike. But this could easily be extended way up to the Upper Lamar Meadows. One could stay for days back in this wild area and have the time of their life. The Hoodoo Basin up in the Upper Lamar Region is fabulous and wild. There are connections here with the wild and fabulous North Absaroka Wilderness nearby. Have done some incredible great and wild hikes in here and one could easily get lost on purpose back in these wilds. How much in here is it actually one wild unit with Speciman Ridge Area, the Pelican Valley Area, the Upper Lamar, and the entire North Absarokas outside Yellowstone Park to the east.

Pelican Creek - Have hiked in here years ago before there were restrictions. Now one has to go way back into the Upper Pelican Creek for the first campsites. But a lengthy hike can be done here with linking from Pelican Valley to near Canyon up in the Upper and Astringent Creek Areas. Lots of lakes. I remember being back in here and seeing huge herds of Elk in the summer.

Heart Lake / Snake River - Absolutely a Great Area. A good hike here could extend from the South Entrance to the Heart lake and more. I have some favorite camping areas here along the Snake River in here. Heart Lake is gorgeous. And one could stay for days and weeks back in here. For longer hikes one could go from Heart Lake to the Thorofare and beyond on a good hike. One of my favorite Camping spots is a place I call Boundary Meadows which are about 8 miles from the South Entrance to Yellowstone Park. Nice place to camp and places to dayhike nearby. From these meadows one can easily hike up into Coulter and Wolverine Creeks nearby in the Teton Wild. south of the park.

The Thorofare / South Absarokas - Personally have been in this area hiking for years. One of the very best wild areas in my opinion in the US. This entire wild area is over 2,000,000 acres in one wild roadless unit. Incredibly wild where one could very easily get lost on purpose. Many areas in here are also trailless. Superbly scenic, wild, and wonderful.

Shoshone Geyser Basin / Bechler SW Yellowstone Area - Another good place for some extensive hiking in Yellowstone. But because of the rivers and the moisture this area can receive, this area is better to hike in the later part of the summer with into the the early fall period. Lots of area to hike and one could spend days back in here.

Flagg Ranch Ashton Idaho Road - This area is right to the south of Yellowstone Park and is along the Upper Snake River. But here beyond Flagg Ranch and along the road is a certain number of free camping spots where one can camp for like 14 or so days in one stretch. Then hike all kinds of places nearby. Have camped here on a large number of occasions and really scenic. Nearby is a good trail also going down to the head of Jackson Lake and to the Berry and such trails in Grand Teton Park. Great Spot.

Outside Of Yellowstone Park -

Teton Wilderness - Small good hikes here could be going up to the first big meadows up Paciifc Creek (maybe 5 miles) and camping for abit. here gravel Creek comes in and meets up with Pacific Creek and areas to hike in all directions. Or from Turpin Meadows - up the Buffalo Valley Road, one can hike like 6 miles up the trail to the gorgeous Soda Fork Meadows which have done many many a time and seen lots of grizzlies and Wolves here in these meadows. Or going back up the trail from Brooks Lake near Togwotee Pass.

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness - lots of incredible places not much of a hike in from the nearest traailhead.

Gallatin Range - A Great Hike is going from near Bozeman to the Yellowstone Park Boundary or also the other way, along the top of the Gallatin Range. Have done this and incredible views.

There is sooooo much country here that one could hike their entire lives in the whole area and not see it all. Just get out and enjoy. And if you are thinking of moving here - Good For You! Many a good town in the area but unless you have money, maybe stay away from Jackson. i have been in Jackson for years and have seen better days for it is now quite cosmopolitan with the traffic and everything. Also the housing rentals are insanely crazy with being so expensive. Cody is a good town still. Little Gardiner is Great! West Yellowstone would be Great also. Or maybe working for one of the lodges also. It is all up to you and whatever you desire. Hope this little bits helps you out. Wishing You the Best!
 
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Yvonne

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@Kmatjhwy thanks a bunch for all your amazing information.
I already have my eyes on several of the areas you mentioned. I'm not limited to Yellowstone alone only, but to the entire GYE. I just need to expand my range of exploration bit by bit.
And as you mentioned, The Bechler was always off-limited to me because my school schedule did not allow to go later than mid-August. A lot of this will change when I move up to the area and can do more quick weekend trips without having to drive for 8-10 hours.
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, The Gallatin and all the places surrounding the Lamar and Thorafare look more than inviting. I definitely wanna do the longer backpacks in the future but I'm not sure if I want to do it solo.

And I agree, there is so much country to hike and do outdoor stuff, it will keep me busy for a long time.

Just looking at the picture you posted I'm so totally hooked. This is exactly something I want to experience. And I need to look into some info about Younts and Thorofare peaks. I'm not sure yet how technical it would be to climb them. If they are doable without technical gear, I would definitely want to try it one day. Or at least get as close as possible without technical gear.

You definitely tossed in a lot of information I have to go through. And my bucket list is growing...
 

scoags

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Hi @Yvonne

Several folks on here have climbed Younts (not me personally), and when I walked by it last summer i ran into a guy who had just done it. It is non-technical, so far as I understand. There are a couple ways to get there and most of them quite long, but you seem to have the time. I'll tell you what we did:

We went up the S. Fork Shoshone over Marston Pass from Marston Cr., into the North Fork Yellowstone. Younts and Thorofare Mt. basically form a saddle between the S. and N. Fork Yellowstone. Absolutely astounding country. I dont know if you can climb Thorofare Mt. itself, it looked kinda rough from our view, but you can probably get up there. There is an outfitter trail between the N.F. Yellowstone and Thorofare Cr. We exited via Pass Cr. to Ishawooa Cr., but you could also exit via Deer Creek. You have a road walk back to the TH, but this would be an excellent use of a parked bicycle as you suggested. We did this in 7 nights; you might be able to do it a day shorter, but we pulled about a 30 mile day on the last day, which was unwise and unnecessary; i do not recommend that part haha. One could spend weeks back there. If this route interests you feel free to message me for more details.

As @Absarokanaut and @Kmatjhwy both said, this part of the Absarokas are absolutely top top notch.
 

Kmatjhwy

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Yvonne, Now you are welcome for the information and here is some more for you, as according to your last post.

Now as for Younts Peak. Yes I have climbed the peak. It is an easy walk up climb on the west side of the peak. People have in the past ridden their horses up to the top of the peak. The east and south sides of the peak are some huge massive cliffs, but the west side of the peak is a gentle sloping grassy slope. And from the west, Younts Peak looks like a giant pyramid. People have also climbed the peak by going up the steep southeast ridge of the peak also. The view from the top of the peak is absolutely gorgeous and worth the effort. To the north one can see Yellowstone Lake with the Lake Hotel and then when looking across Yellowstone Park, one sees the Beartooth Mountains beyond. In looking to the east, one looks across the Absarokas Mountains and sees the valley where the town of Cody is. And if it is a nice nice clear day, one just might see the Bighorn Mountains etched in the sky beyond. This is the way it was for myself when I first climbed the peak years ago. Now to the south one can see the Wind River Range. And to the west one sees Jackson Hole the Valley and the Tetons with some other peaks beyond. Then as one gazes all around you, one is impressed that in all directions is the immense wilderness that one is in that makes up this South Absaroka Wild Area, and with how pristine it is all still. But Younts Peak is a cutworm moth site so it is a big grizzly bear place in the summer. Once when i was here I saw 12 grizzlies here around the peak in just one day. Also I have seen many a bear and have had some close encounters with them here in the Younts Peak Area. Here one can feel and sense the deep wildness of the area. The whole are all around here at Younts Peak is just absolutely fabulous!

Now saw that you might not like doing a long hike solo and all by yourself. Now as for myself, I have had many many a long hike all by my lonesome and absolutely loved it! Most of my hiking thru the years have been all by myself. As for grizzlies and other creatures that one may meet in the wilds, I seemingly now trust them then most people for I have never never been stabbed in the back by a Grizzly. I have had many a close encounter to grizzlies and am still here in one piece. I have had many close encounters with much of the wildlife here that calls these wilds home, and it seems they now more about respect me then many people do. Much of the wildlife including the Grizzlies it seems, they give us our space and all they ask is that we respect them and give them their space. And as for the fear of meeting some strange human nut in the woods who will do you harm. I have never had this experience. It seems the people I meet in the wilds are some of the best people ever. In the Absaroka Wilds, after hiking all day and there was a horsepacking party camped nearby or some outfitter, how often would they invite me to their camp for supper. It is as it one meets the nicest people in the mountain wilds. And for for the feeling of being connected. I feel so much more alone when am in some city all by my lonesome self then whenever am in the deep wilds. After a short time in the deep wilds, I get such a deep deep sense of being sooooo connected to everything. How can one feel lonesome in the wilderness when there is such a profusion of life all around you. This life might not speak english but it is still life.

And one more thing to think about when it comes to this whole Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. One can walk from South Pass, Wyoming up thru the Northwestern Wyoming Wilds with all the way to Livingston, Montana and only cross 4 roads in all. The four roads would be the Union Pass Dirt and Gravel Road, the paved Togwotee Pass Road, the paved East Entrance to Yellowstone Park Road, and the paved Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone Park Road near Cooke City. Here on the way one would trek thru the wild and wonderful Wind River Range, then the wild South Absaroka Area, then the wild North Absaroka Area, then the mighty and nice Absaroka Beartooths before arriving in Livingston, Montana.

Also in you thinking of moving here to the area, a little more info for you as for the taxes in each state.

Wyoming has No State Income Tax but a Low State Sales Tax.
Montana has a State Income Tax but No State Sales Taxes.
Idaho Has both a State Income tax and a State Sales Tax.

Wishing You the Best in your future hiking here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
 
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Yvonne

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thanks for the additional information @Kmatjhwy
I hope this weekend I'll a bit more time to look into it.
I definitely love the idea of exploring Younts Peak at one point this summer.

Regarding the solo hikes: I guess it's a mental thing. I'm perfectly fine with all the long solo day hikes and hiked a lot solo in high grizzly areas. But I do need to do the leap of faith for solo backpacks in areas that are highly frequented by Grizzlies, lol
 

Pringles

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Yvonne, I backpack alone in Yellowstone. I did, and still do, worry about grizzlies. BUT, when I hike alone, I KNOW my camp is clean and my food has been hung. I don’t have to worry about that other person/persons, and whether they have a candy bar in their tent, or whatever. Partners aren’t always strengths. Sometimes their weaknesses are much worse than their strengths.

(I don’t know what the previous campers left, though, but that’s always a concern.)
 

Pringles

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I'm going to steal some of these plans. I moved here 5 years ago... . Still happily exploring. Pringles
 

Yvonne

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Yvonne, I backpack alone in Yellowstone. I did, and still do, worry about grizzlies. BUT, when I hike alone, I KNOW my camp is clean and my food has been hung. I don’t have to worry about that other person/persons, and whether they have a candy bar in their tent, or whatever. Partners aren’t always strengths. Sometimes their weaknesses are much worse than their strengths.

(I don’t know what the previous campers left, though, but that’s always a concern.)
I think I'll get out solo overnight at one point this year.
I'm usually more worried about jerks who do not take proper care of their campsites, but it looks that most Yellowstone sites are spread out far enough. It's more of a mental thing. I obviously do not have that problem on day hikes where you easily can run into a grizz as well.
 

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