Yellowstone Camping Trip - August 18-20, 2020

swmalone

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Finally, something we planned that actually worked out. I made the reservation for the Grant campsite in January. We have had to change or cancel a lot of plans, just like everyone else. We decided that as long as we stuck to our plans for Yellowstone and took precautions that we would take the trip.

Day 1

We headed up through West Yellowstone on the 18th. As we entered the park we could tell it was going to be crowded. As we drove past boardwalks on the way to our campsite all of the overflow parking spots were filled with cars lining the roads. Throngs of people packed shoulder to shoulder walking boardwalks, with mask usage at less than 50%.

We checked in at the Grant Campsite and set up camp.
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After setting up camp we took the short drive to the Riddle Lake trailhead. On the way in we passed 3 groups of people and everyone pulled up a mask as we approached each other on the trail.

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We reached the lake and continued finding our way to the inlet where Solution Creek enters the lake. I was trying to fish but with the wind and the large amount of lily pads it was a bit difficult.

On the hike back my wife kept noticing these little frogs right along the waters edge.

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We saw no other groups on the way out, but started getting swarmed by mosquitoes, and quickly realized that the repellant was left in the truck.

We got back to our campsite and finished setting up camp while I grilled a couple of steaks. We played a game of cribbage and I finally defeated my wife. She was't very happy about that, I have never won before. We went to bed and were woken up at around 11:30 by people arriving in the campsite next to us.

Day 2

The neighbors being so loud when they arrived and for a couple of hours after made me not feel so bad about the noises I made being up cooking breakfast and preparing for the day at 6 a.m.

We drove to the Lewis Channel/Dogshead trailhead. There were a couple of cars in the parking area and while we were getting ready to head out a couple more pulled in but quickly left. The day started out a little drizzly but it was a light rain and a very pleasant temperature. We decided to do the look clockwise heading toward the Lewis Channel and returning via the Dogshead trail.

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It was a nice forested trail with lots of chipmunks and squirrels running around. While we were hiking I caught something out of the corner of my eye and we noticed a very curious weasel that was running over, under, and around a downed tree to keep and eye on us. We watched it for a little while and then decided to move on.
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There is a nice spot where the channel starting at Lewis Lake looks amazing. We were moving to take some photos and discovered a pair of skittish marmots on the rocks. We decided to just snap a couple of pictures and not disturb them.
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We started heading up toward Shoshone Lake. I pulled out the fly rod and decided to try my luck at various areas along the channel. We saw a few people kayaking and canoeing the channel and my wife and I both thought that it looked fun. It is something we will check into for another trip.

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I had no luck fishing. I had been told that the channel doesn't really have a population of resident trout and that the prime fishing in the area is in October when brown trout move into the channel. We ran into a couple of day hikers and a small group of backpackers, again if we were passing close on the trail everyone pulled up a mask.

We arrived at Shoshone Lake and ate lunch sitting on a log before heading back on the Dogshead trail.

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As we headed back on the Dogshead trail we started to feel the weight of the dayspacks a bit. With the wandering around fishing we had been out for quite a while. The Dogshead trail is back through forest, but the sun had come out and there were a lot of open spots so it was pretty warm. By the time we got back to the truck we were beat and with all of the wandering around fishing we had gone almost 13 miles.

We returned to camp and relaxed a bit and then had dinner. It started to rain and we headed into the tent. It was nice to have all of the space of the REI Basecamp 4. We played cribbage again and my wife made up for her previous night's loss by skunking me. This trip was the first since breaking my back last year that I had slept in a tent. We had some low cots with our sleeping pads on them and it was very comfortable. I slept great the second night due to the combination of the long hike and wearing ear plugs.
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Day 3


We slept in a little longer and woke up and started packing up while preparing breakfast. There was a lot of smoke in the air. We thought that it was from campfires, but as we drove through the park and started heading toward the Gibbon River it was still smoky and it seemed to be getting worse as the day progressed.

I wanted to try fishing a bit more so tried a few places along the Gibbon River. I am not a very talented fly fisherman and probably spend more time untangling knots than I do fishing, but I was still enjoying myself.

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Kim was hanging out reading or playing with the cameras, sometimes filming me fishing. It worked out well because she got video of me catching a rainbow.
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We ate lunch at the Gibbon picnic area overlooking the river and then headed out of the park towards home. The smoke in the air thickened as we drove through Idaho and arrived home in Utah. We discovered that smoke from fires in California was blowing in. We also discovered that a fire started by lightning in Yellowstone later caused the closure of the road between Old Faithful and the West Thumb due to smoke, so we had good timing in leaving via that route.


We had a great time and for the most part were able to avoid people by avoiding the boardwalks and limiting interactions wherever we went.
 

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Titans

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It looks like a nice relaxing trip, glad you got away on a break. The weasel photo is my favorite, it looks super curious. We have never seen one. I will show to our friend's kid, his favorite animal is a weasel. There's also some great shots of you finishing!
This trip with your wife looked a lot more relaxing as compared to traveling with the in-laws last year, hint, hint...., will that be your new vacation mode? :D
 

swmalone

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It looks like a nice relaxing trip, glad you got away on a break. The weasel photo is my favorite, it looks super curious. We have never seen one. I will show to our friend's kid, his favorite animal is a weasel. There's also some great shots of you finishing!
This trip with your wife looked a lot more relaxing as compared to traveling with the in-laws last year, hint, hint...., will that be your new vacation mode? :D

We purposefully did this trip with just the two of us so it could be a bit more mellow. With that being said we have Thanksgiving planned with the in-laws going to St. George. We may take separate vehicles so they can go golf if they want and we can go visit Zion.

This was our first time seeing a weasel in the wild. It kept checking us out so much often and only going a little ways away that we wondered if there might have been young weasels hiding nearby. From an animal standpoint it was an interesting trip to Yellowstone. The only big animals we saw were a few elk, first time not seeing bison, but we saw a lot of smaller critters.
 

Titans

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We purposefully did this trip with just the two of us so it could be a bit more mellow. With that being said we have Thanksgiving planned with the in-laws going to St. George. We may take separate vehicles so they can go golf if they want and we can go visit Zion.

This was our first time seeing a weasel in the wild. It kept checking us out so much often and only going a little ways away that we wondered if there might have been young weasels hiding nearby. From an animal standpoint it was an interesting trip to Yellowstone. The only big animals we saw were a few elk, first time not seeing bison, but we saw a lot of smaller critters.

2 cars with Thanksgiving will give you a lot of flexibility for sure!
You brought some good luck with that Yellowstone Weasel shot. Rick just uploaded our trail cam photos this afternoon and there was a Weasel roaming here just a few days ago. Hope he/she ate some voles.

I'm wondering if it's normal to see less big animals at this time of the year? @scatman claimed that @Outdoor_Fool might have used up the bear allotment. Maybe he used up the Bison allotment too? :)

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swmalone

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2 cars with Thanksgiving will give you a lot of flexibility for sure!
You brought some good luck with that Yellowstone Weasel shot. Rick just uploaded our trail cam photos this afternoon and there was a Weasel roaming here just a few days ago. Hope he/she ate some voles.

I'm wondering if it's normal to see less big animals at this time of the year? @scatman claimed that @Outdoor_Fool might have used up the bear allotment. Maybe he used up the Bison allotment too? :)

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I love playing with trail cams. Bought one a few years ago when I had eggs disappearing from our coop. To be honest I thought I was going to catch neighbor kids, but caught a skunk squeezing through a tiny hole in a fence.
 

Outdoor_Fool

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I'm wondering if it's normal to see less big animals at this time of the year? @scatman claimed that @Outdoor_Fool might have used up the bear allotment. Maybe he used up the Bison allotment too? :)

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@Titans Not much in the way of bison in the south half of the park. Usually this time of year, the central herd is in Hayden Valley but occasionally you can see some in the Firehole R valleys. Surprised you didn't see at least one on your way to Gibbon R.

Not sure if there is an allotment for the prey species, I'll have to check, or maybe @scatman knows.

Based on the amount of white on that weasel, I'd guess a short-tailed weasel. Either way, that's a great photo.
 

swmalone

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@Titans Not much in the way of bison in the south half of the park. Usually this time of year, the central herd is in Hayden Valley but occasionally you can see some in the Firehole R valleys. Surprised you didn't see at least one on your way to Gibbon R.

Not sure if there is an allotment for the prey species, I'll have to check, or maybe @scatman knows.

Based on the amount of white on that weasel, I'd guess a short-tailed weasel. Either way, that's a great photo.

We only went as far as the gibbon picnic area so didn’t go very far up the river. When we went last year around the same time we only saw bison around Tower and the Yellowstone River picnic area.
 

Titans

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I love playing with trail cams. Bought one a few years ago when I had eggs disappearing from our coop. To be honest I thought I was going to catch neighbor kids, but caught a skunk squeezing through a tiny hole in a fence.

Ah, a skunk....! Rick said he saw a skunk on trail cam too. Better to have eggs disappearing than chickens. Our trail cam is on an animal "highway" (between the forest and the development) on our property and 3 neighbors in a row have chicken coops close to this trail. Recently some animal got lucky, took 5 chickens one night, 4 chickens from another neighbor on another night and 1 1/4 from the third neighbor. Plenty more stories like that from prior years. We have some very smart raccoons, so they are suspect. We often see opossum, fox, coyote, deer, squirrels and bunnies, then once a Black Bear, once a Bobcat, once a Fisher. And now a Weasel! As you said, it's fun to see.

Thanks @Outdoor_Fool , appreciate your help!
 

scatman

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There was a large heard of Bison in the Lamar Valley, both coming and going on our backpacking trip. We got to watch two bulls facing off due to the rut, which was pretty cool to watch.

Hopefully, I didn't use up the allotment. :)
 

swmalone

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There was a large heard of Bison in the Lamar Valley, both coming and going on our backpacking trip. We got to watch two bulls facing off due to the rut, which was pretty cool to watch.

Hopefully, I didn't use up the allotment. :)

We were fine not seeing any bison this trip, and in fact thought it was pretty cool to see some of the smaller residents of the park.

On a side note both my wife and I are amazed by the number of people that have no idea what a marmot is, and claim to have never even heard the word. She was telling people she works with and almost no one knew what a marmot was.
 

Outdoor_Fool

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On a side note both my wife and I are amazed by the number of people that have no idea what a marmot is, and claim to have never even heard the word. She was telling people she works with and almost no one knew what a marmot was.

I guess not enough people have seen The Big Lebowsky, and yes, I know the "marmot" was a ferret.

What amazes me is how many people see a marmot and think it's a wolverine. Those whistling wolverines sure are cute.
 

Rockskipper

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There are marmots all over the grade-school grounds near where I'm at in New Castle, Colorado. They earn their name of whistle pigs - when they see the dogs, they have a sharp whistle that carries a long ways. It's not unusual to see a half-dozen at once there. The school is right at the edge of the wilds.
 

Outdoor_Fool

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There are marmots all over the grade-school grounds near where I'm at in New Castle, Colorado. They earn their name of whistle pigs - when they see the dogs, they have a sharp whistle that carries a long ways. It's not unusual to see a half-dozen at once there. The school is right at the edge of the wilds.

Wow, I hope their fleas aren't carrying the plague.
 

Miya

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Great share!

I also love the weasel shot! I would love to see one in the wild someday!
 

Yvonne

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Cool, you should have said hi. I was the entire month of August in Yellowstone. And yes, I never see much wildlife in August. That’s why I pick this month for my hikes. Mostly bison in Lamar or Hayden, a few elk and pronghorn. But that’s about it what I usually see


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swmalone

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Cool, you should have said hi. I was the entire month of August in Yellowstone. And yes, I never see much wildlife in August. That’s why I pick this month for my hikes. Mostly bison in Lamar or Hayden, a few elk and pronghorn. But that’s about it what I usually see


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If I had known you were there I would have said hi. I somehow convinced my wife to go again in mid-October, so if you are there then I can try to say hello. The October trip could be interesting. I think my Mother-In-Law is having withdrawals from not seeing my wife as much this year, so they said they wanted to go camping with us. I can't even remember the last time they stayed a tent.
 

swmalone

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Since the trips with my in-laws have been mentioned in this thread I thought I would provide an update. We did end up meeting my in-laws in Yellowstone in mid October, unfortunately no camping because Madison campground was closed early. We had received assurances from Kim's mom that they had been taking precautions to stay covid free, even avoiding the grandkids.

We stayed in a hotel in separate rooms, ate in our rooms with food we brought. Our hikes were on trails where we saw almost no one, and I also spent time fishing and that was fairly secluded as well. We had a really good time, but towards the end of our trip Kim's dad wasn't looking so hot. He was trying to suppress a cough, and was freezing all time time. We decided at that point to call it a trip, unfortunately it was too late. Kim encouraged them to go get tested for Covid when they got home and they both tested positive. Shortly after arriving home both Kim and I ended up sick. We both ended up with Covid. Kim had a fairly mild bought but I was flattened for about a week with my fever spiking at over 103. I also still have the remnants of a cough almost a month later.

We found out that Kim's dad had gone hunting with some random guy he knew from their gym. While he wears masks at the gym we found out he didn't wear a mask while driving to the hunt or while hunting.

While we thought we were being careful our one slip up was enough for us to get infected.
 
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