Yellowstone Bikepacking/Backpacking Trip - Sept 2012

HomerJ

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
1,199
This year for our Yellowstone trip we decided to switch things up a bit and do a bikepacking/backpacking trip! There's an old paved road that you can no longer drive that leads to Lone Star Geyser that you can bike. We decided to ride (2.7 miles) in with out packs to the end of this road and then hike the last 1/2 mile to our campsite. Each day we would ride out and go to different areas of the park, this way we didn't have to pay the $20/night to sleep next to 400+ people in the campgrounds! It worked out very nice! We kept our food in coolers in the truck and would take in that nights dinner and the next mornings breakfast with us on our way back to camp each evening!!

Wednesday:
We drove up to Jackson and had lunch and then headed up to the park. I learned that the South Entrance has a backcountry permit office so we picked up our backcountry permits then and didn't have to rush up to Grant's Village to get our permit before they closed.

We stopped at Lewis Falls and took a few photos. I had always wanted to stop and photograph the falls, but we always seemed to much in a hurry to get somewhere to stop. The sun was at a bad angle so it's not the greatest shot.

Lewis Falls
Lewis Falls 1.jpg


After Lewis Falls we drove over to the Lone Star Trailhead and loaded up. Unfortunately no one got a photo of one of us on our bikes with our packs. It was a little wobbly and scarey at first trying to bike with a loaded pack on, but we soon got the hang of it! We flew down the mostly flat road and where at Lone Star Geyser in no time! We locked up our bikes and headed in to our camp.

Lone Star Geyser - It seemed to be erupting every time we went by it! (It erupts about every 3 hours)
DSC_4667.jpg


Crossing the Firehole River
DSC_4546.jpg


After setting up our tents we found we had forgotten a few food items so my two friends hiked/biked back to the truck and grab the stuff we left. I stayed at camp and hung our food, filtered/filled our water pouch, sawed/gathered firewood (I packed in my Gerber bow saw) and then I started a fire to get a coal base going for our tinfoil dinners for that night! They soon got back and we started cooking our dinners! Nothing like tinfoil dinners in the backcountry! :twothumbs:

That evening there wasn't much of a sunset. This was the best photo I took of it.
DSC_4553.jpg



Thursday:
The next morning we got up, ate breakfast. We then hiked over to Shoshone Geyser Basin. We had been there in the past and always like it so we went back. It's a pretty easy hike (not much elevation gain/loss), but a little long at 12 miles round trip.

Boardwalk through a swampy area
DSC_4559.jpg



Shoshone Creek
DSC_4562.jpg



Shoshone Creek
DSC_4564.jpg



Shoshone Creek
DSC_4568.jpg



Shoshone Creek
DSC_4570.jpg



Shoshone Creek
DSC_4575.jpg


Once at Shoshone Geyser Basin we checked out the geysers for a bit and then stopped for a small lunch. After that we went down to the "swimming hole" and took a dip. The water level of the creek was much lower than past times we'd been there and the water temperature fluctuated a lot more depending on how much water was coming into the creek from the geyser. It was like being in the shower with someone turning on the hot water, then cold water.

Shoshone Geyser Basin
DSC_4579.jpg


Shoshone Geyser Basin
DSC_4580.jpg


Shoshone Geyser Basin
DSC_4582.jpg


Shoshone Geyser Basin
DSC_4588.jpg


This geyser runs into the creek and people have lined the creek with rocks to make a nice little sitting pool!
DSC_4594.jpg


Minute Man Geyser - We FINALLY got to see this geyser erupt!!! We had waited and waited for it in past trips and never got to see it erupt. It just happened to be erupting as we walked by heading back to camp!
DSC_4598.jpg



About 1 mile from camp, I was in the lead and came around a up rooted tree to see a Bison rolling in the dirt, about 10 ahead, just off to the side of the trail!!! :eek: I jumped back and we quickly back peddled and went around him! He was a younger bull, but he sure did startle us good!

Bison that scared the :poop: outta us!
DSC_4612.jpg


Later that day, back at camp. My buddy was cooking dinner and had a big bison walk within about 15 feet of him, at which point my friend got up slowly and walked back to a safe distance and waited until the bison moved on. The bison stuck around out camp for the rest of the evening. I got a few shots of him in the sunset!

Bison - sunset
DSC_4616.jpg


Sunset reflection in geyser
DSC_4621.jpg



Friday:
Since you are only allowed to stay 3 consecutive nights in a backcountry campsite and we were camping 4 nights we would have to move. We decided to split it up evenly between two campsites (2 at one, 2 at the other). Friday morning we had to get up, eat, tear down camp, move, and setup camp. It was a bit of a pain and took a lot of time.

After moving camp, we hiked/biked out to the truck and headed over to Lamar Valley, which was a long drive from the southwest side to the northwest side of the park. By the time we made it to Canyon it was already 1pm so we stopped for a bite and then continued on. We drove up the Lamar valley and it was packed with fishermen along the river by the road. We had planned to hike up the Lamar river and fish, but with it being late afternoon by the time we got there, we decided go to to Mammoth and take a dip in the boiling river hot springs on the Garner River. We should have planned the Lamar Valley another day. After the hot springs we drove down to Old Faithful and ate dinner at the Snow Lodge restaurant (we had planned one dinner out). It was very good, but a little pricey. By the time dinner was over it was already dark and Erik and I had left our headlamps back at camp. Luckily Rob had his. It was a little scary riding down the trail in the dark with only one headlamp, but we made it back to camp (I remembered mine the next day!).

On the way back from Lamar Valley we stopped at Gibbon Falls! I had left my tripod at camp and had the rest it on the rock railing to take this shot.
Gibbon Falls enhanced.jpg



Saturday:
After breakfast and checking out a few things we drove over to Canyon to hike the seven mile hole trail (which is only 5+ miles). The first 1.25 miles the trail follows the rim of the canyon and offers great views down into "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone".

Trailhead
DSC_4634.jpg


Views down into the "Grand Canyon" of the Yellowstone!
DSC_4664.jpg


The trail then cuts back into the trees and it is uneventful for another 2 or so miles. We had been on high alert for bears as the Canyon area is a common place for sightings (the first half of the trail is the same trail that goes to Mt Washburn from Canyon). Along this thickly wooded stretch we met an older couple from Alaska who said there was a bear on the trail at the switchbacks ahead. So we started asking them questions about where and what type of bear, etc. They said it was a "small brown bear", which is basically a grizzly, or that "it was a very large black bear", but they thought it was a brown bear. So we headed on and soon got to the switchbacks where we slowed down and took our time, making lots of noise, not wanting to have a run in with a grizz! It was a little unnerving as the forest was so thick with trees, bushes, logs, and under growth. We made noise (lots of noise) and moved quite slow. After a couple of switchbacks I spotted where the hikers had gone off trail to bypass the bear and I hollered to Rob to hold up. Just then he spotted the bear about 30 yards ahead. It was a black bear! And a small one at that! It probably was only 2.5 feet tall, maybe 3, standing on all fours! I was really surprised that someone from Alaska wouldn't know their bears! LOL! We hollered at it and it wouldn't even acknowledge we were there... It was more interested in finding food in the rotten logs it was tearing apart. After taking some pictures (can't hardly tell what it is in my photos) we hiked down around it and then re-joined the trail. I made a rock cairn to mark the bears location for on the way back and we headed on down to the river.

Billy the bear!
DSC_4636.jpg


Here's some really shaky video of the bear. My parents said that the camera moved more than the bear... I think they're right.

The trail just kept dropping (it drops 1400' in about 1.5 miles). It does go past some cool geothermal places.
DSC_4640.jpg


Small creek dropping into the Yellowstone River
DSC_4648.jpg


First view of the river since leaving the rim. The smoke from all the fires was bad this day.
DSC_4652.jpg


Eventually we made it down to one of the backcountry camps along the river (camp 2). We both decided we didn't want to ever backpack seven mile hole as it would hell both getting down and back up the steep trail! After passing the camp we came to a very pretty opal colored stream that ran into the Yellowstone. I felt the water and it was semi-warm, but left a slimy film on my hand.

Cool opal colored creek that was semi warm!
DSC_4658.jpg



We then went down to the river and decided to quickly down some food, filter up some water and head out so we wouldn't be hiking out in the dark! We had no idea how long it was going to take us to climb back up the 1400' we had descended and wasn't to keen on being caught out in that thick forest in the dark with the bears!! We ended up making pretty good time back up. On the way back we didn't find the bear around anymore. We stopped and checked out the logs he had been tearing apart for food and then continued on. Later that evening I kicked myself for not taking a picture of the logs.

Sunday:
We packed up and headed home. It was really smoky this day and also overcast, which was too bad as the leaves along Jackson Lake were the prettiest I'd ever seen them.... We didn't even stop to take any photos.

Featured image for home page:
slide.jpg
 

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

Nick

Spiral out.
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,824
Sweet trip! Gives whole new meaning to me now after spending all day today in Yellowstone. :)

So did you have to book specific backcountry campsites? Or was it an at-large area? Do they even have those in Yellowstone? I need to get away from the touristy crap tomorrow. I was getting pretty sick of the boardwalk experience today.
 

Aldaron

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
1,485
Generally you have to reserve specific sites in Yellowstone. It is theoretically possible to get an at-large permit, but my understanding is that they are not easy to come by. I think to get an at-large permit you need to be taking a cross-country trip that is nowhere near any designated campsites, and you have to prove to the Ranger that you won't get yourself killed or lost.
 

HomerJ

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
1,199
Yes, what Aldaron said. It's best to reserve the campsites (cost $25). In the fall/spring its not too bad, but in the summer its almost a must!
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
601
Great report! In all the years I've gone to Yellowstone I've never checked out 7 Mile Hole. I'm super jealous that I didn't go this year 1st time in the last 19 years that I haven't been there. I really want to check out and backpack the Thoroughfare area super isolated.
 

HomerJ

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
1,199
Great report! In all the years I've gone to Yellowstone I've never checked out 7 Mile Hole. I'm super jealous that I didn't go this year 1st time in the last 19 years that I haven't been there. I really want to check out and backpack the Thoroughfare area super isolated.
Dang, 19 years! That's a ton! Run up there this weekend or the next so you can keep the string going!!! :twothumbs:

I'd love to do the thoroughfare too! A buddy of mine mentioned doing it this summer but things never panned out.
 

Aldaron

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
1,485
The Thorofare is on my short (ever increasing) list of long trips I want to take, also. But I feel like I want to do it with a bigger group than just my wife and me. It's awfully close to the Absarokas, so I would expect a lot of grizzlies down in that area.
 

HomerJ

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
1,199
The Thorofare is on my short (ever increasing) list of long trips I want to take, also. But I feel like I want to do it with a bigger group than just my wife and me. It's awfully close to the Absarokas, so I would expect a lot of grizzlies down in that area.
Yes, a group of 4 or more would be ideal!
 

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

Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
601
Dang, 19 years! That's a ton! Run up there this weekend or the next so you can keep the string going!!! :twothumbs:

I'd love to do the thoroughfare too! A buddy of mine mentioned doing it this summer but things never panned out.
Wade, I wish I could just run up even for a day, but work and money won't allow it this month. Unfortunately I had to back out on that Shoshone canoe trip in July or I would have racked another year. :( 4 is a good starting number for group size in that area. Lots of Grizzlies south of Yellowstone Lake in the Heart Lake/Riddle Lake area then to the east and southern borders.
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
601
I'm not sure what 7 Mile Hole is but I really, really want to hit up the Beartooth/Absoraka area. :)
Nick, 7 Mile Hole is trail north of Yellowstone Falls that takes you into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Here's a read on it 7 Mile Hole.
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,426
Offsite permits aren't that hard to get. We usually have one or two per trip when we go. Depends on the ranger in that District. Use plays a big part, where other campsites are. Bechler area is extremely hard to get one (we were denied here). The NE corner and around Canyon aren't so bad. Have to send in your backpacking experience, especially in bear country....a newbie won't get one. You have to apply in April, walkin will be tougher. We got one years ago for Fairyland and I was grilled for 30min, the assist ranger finally said that guess we can't deny it..... lol
 

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