Yellowstone September 2021

wsp_scott

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After the Wind River trip (https://backcountrypost.com/threads/wind-river-range-sept-2021-part-2.10362/) I headed north to Yellowstone to meet @scatman (Hugh) and @TractorDoc (Dave) for a couple days backpacking in Yellowstone. I had never met either one, but after my SEKI trip (https://backcountrypost.com/threads/seki-2021.10193/) where I went 5 days without seeing anyone, I decided that maybe I did not need so much alone time. When I got back from that trip, I contacted Hugh and asked if he had any space on his Yellowstone trips. It ended up that he had a planned trip with space on the permit and it lined up with my schedule, so I sort of invited myself :)

Thanks Hugh and Dave for having me along, this was a great trip

You seen their version of this trip already

Here is my version only a little bit delayed. I wrote this from memory so it is likely that some of my details are different from Hugh and Dave's. Their version is almost certainly more accurate.

I say this everytime, but ... Warning: Way too many photos

**************
9/12 - After the Winds trips, I was heading to Yellowstone to meetup with some internet acquaintances for a backpacking trip. I did not have reservations in the park, so I aimed for Grassy Lake Rd and the first come sites just south of the park. Along the way I stopped at a couple pull-offs in Grand Teton. The views were much better as compared to earlier in the summer.
















And then on to Grassy Lake Rd. I was up there early in the hope that I could find an unoccupied site. I ended up at Site 4 before I found space for me. There were two tent pads and only one small trailer, so I set up for the night. After dinner, I walked along the road and then down to the Snake River


There was so much downed wood, that I decided to have a small fire before bed.


9/13 - 9/16 (3 nights)
Up early to meet Hugh and Dave at the Lonestar Trailhead. They rolled in right on time and we did introductions and headed down the trail.
The "trail" to Lonestar is an old road, so it is very easy walking. A good way to talk to new friends.

Firehole River



Meadow north of Lonestar Geyser


We got to Lonestar and discovered that it had just finished, talked to some people who worked in one of the hotels and were finishing up a short backpacking trip.


Then down to Site 8R5 on Shoshone Lake. After setting up camp, we wandered down to the shore of the lake and saw this canoe in the distance. It looked like a great day for a paddle. It turns out that the two men in the boat never made it to camp. One of the bodies was found a couple days later and the other was never found. Sad to think that we were probably the last people to see them.




We walked over to the Shoshone Geyser Basin. It was interesting to walk around a basin without all of the crowds of the Upper Basin and without the boardwalks.


The patterns that the mineral deposits make are fascinating.




I think this is Minute Man Geyser
























After a couple hours of wandering the basin, we headed back to camp for dinner and then the sunset over the lake.


It was a very nice sunset but nothing amazing ...


... and then the sky went crazy for about 5 - 10 minutes







Next morning, the sunrise was pretty on the still lake, but I would have liked a couple of clouds, not complaining though


The plan for today was an off-trail hike to the headwaters of Ouzel Creek. I did not have a good mental map of what was planned, but I was happy to follow along since Hugh has spent a ton of time in the park and knows it well. An easy couple of trail miles got us to the planned bushwacking part.

At one point, we headed off the planned route to see if we could find a view. We found a great view of Madison Lake and the surrounding meadow.


And then more bushwacking until we hit Ouzel Creek.


We followed the creek down as it got larger


After a mile or so we left the creek aiming towards the Phillips Fork


There was a waterfall that Dave wanted to check out on the way to our camp. After a lot of effort, we made it to the base of Hourglass Falls.


See the hourglass shape?


We considered following the Phillips Fork down to our campsite, but it looked like there was a good chance of getting cliffed out, so we began a long bushwack to get to camp.

We finally made it to Site 9D1 after 11 off-trail miles and about 5 miles on trail to start the day. We were all pretty tired so I was surprised when Hugh said he was going to take a night hike to Mr Bubbles. It ended up being a great idea, hot water on sore muscles felt great.

Right next to the campsite, someone had rocked in a small pool. I'm still a little mad at myself that I never took a soak. I guess I'll have to make another trip.




The next morning I took my camera back to Mr Bubbles. On the way, I passed Dave who had woken up earlier and gone for a dip.








This looks like a small version of Mammoth Hot Springs, the travertine terraces into the Ferris Fork were pretty, but hard to capture with a camera.






Mr Bubbles is at the intersection of the creek (cold water) and the outflow of some hot springs (hot water) as well as a hot spring from below. It is interesting to sit in because the water temperature is not uniform. The water will sometimes get really hot or very chilly as the currents shift the water flows. It is a great place to soak for a bit.








After about a half hour of photography, I headed back to camp.

Up close to some algae growing in the output of a hot spring.






Dave and I headed south along the Bechler River to find another waterfall while Hugh went off in search of an old trail that had been abandoned years ago. We planned on meeting up at camp later in the day.


Waterfall in the trees


And then back north with a stop for a soak at Mr Bubbles and then a little bushwacking for another waterfall.

Looks like a mouth


Tendoy Falls




One of us happened to look up in a random tree and saw this marker, no idea what it is for


More small details


And then on trail towards camp.

Along the way we passed Twister Falls. I considered and then quickly rejected the idea of a scramble to the base of the falls for a better view.




We got to camp about 5 minutes after Hugh did and got set up for the night. It was very windy so hard to linger in the exposed meadow for the sunset ...


... there weren't many clouds so the colors faded pretty quickly anyway.




Last day is a relatively short one back to the trailhead. We passed a couple groups hiking in and they gave us an idea of when Lonestar had last gone off. Since it goes off roughly every three hours, we had an idea of when the next show would be. I picked up the pace when it became obvious that I could make it without killing myself.

As I came around a bend, I could see it going off in the distance. It turned out that it had just started, so I had a chance for a lot of photos with the crowd of dayhikers.







And then back to the trailhead. Dave and Hugh had one of the Snow Cabins reserved and were kind enough to let me sleep on the floor. It was a tight fit, but we weren't in the cabin much.

9/17 - The next morning we drove over to the Hayden Valley for a long dayhike. Along the way a quick stop for photos of Yellowstone Lake.






And then to the Hayden Valley. We got out of the car and the sun was still below the mountains and it was cold, the temperature was about 20 degrees, but no wind so not miserable.

Yellowstone River










The goal today was to follow the old stage coach road that used to go through the middle of the Hayden Valley and over towards Old Faithful and the Upper Basin. The road was very easy to follow, kind of hard to believe that no one has driven on it for more than 100 years.






First large mammal sighting




Most of the day was easy hiking even though there wasn't an official trail. But after lunch, we went on a small bit of bushwacking to see if we could find the remains of an old Army Patrol Cabin (back when the Army ran the park in the late 1800s). With a little effort, we found it still obvious after 150 years.


We passed through the Glen Africa Basin along Alum Creek.


No big geysers, but quite a few hot springs








We then followed Alum Creek towards the Mary Mountain Trail






Lots of bison along the way






A spectacular day for a hike and nice to not be carrying a heavy pack




Circle of life


Geese and bison


Along the Mary Mountain Trail a bit and then south towards Sulfur Mountain


Up close it is obvious where the name came from, sulfur smells and lots of green mineral deposits






And back to the car after a long 21 mile day, thankfully it was mostly flat and a very light day pack so not miserable, but I was very aware of my feet by the end.

9/18 - The next day I said goodbye to Dave and Hugh and drove down to the Lewis Lake campground to get a site for the night. And then drove back to the Upper Basin to have fun with my camera. I saw Beehive Geyser going off as I drove towards the Old Faithful parking lot.

I headed up towards Riverside Geyser. I had seen the predicted time for Riverside and it was getting close to going off.




As I got close, I overheard a group of older tourists considering turning around since "it was a long walk back to the hotel". I interrupted them and told them about Riverside going to go off and it was a very short walk from where they were. I saw them about 15 minutes later as it was going off and they repeatedly thanked me for encouraging them to go a little further. As we were talking, I looked over and saw Fan and Mortar and Spiteful Geysers go off and then Grotto Geyser went off in the other direction. Everyone was happy at that point. I also got talking to a geyser guide standing on the bridge. His group had seen Beehive, Sawmill, Old Faithful, and then Riverside and other nearby geysers (lucky group).

Fan, Mortar and Spiteful Geysers




Zoomed in on Mortar


Riverside in the distance


I then wandered down to Daisy Geyser and over to the Black Sand Basin via Punchbowl Spring and Black Sand Pool




















Solitary bison next to the path


And then over to Grand Geyser. A storm was coming, there was lots of wind and a little bit of rain and then the sun came out again. It looked like there was a huge storm to the south and I hoped that my tent had survived.
.



I was done with the Upper Basin, so I decided to check out Grand Prismatic






And then over to Firehole Lake Drive. I was hoping to catch Great Fountain Geyser, but no luck

White Dome Geyser






White Dome is interesting to look at even when nothing is happening


Black Warrior Lake




And then over to Fountain Flat Road and the Firehole River


Looks like the sunset will be nice




I drove up to Firehole Canyon to check out the falls ...


... and then back to Fountain Flat Road and the Firehole River to catch the remains of the sunset








And then back to my campsite. At this point, it was pretty much full dark. As I got near the turnoff for Grant Village, I noticed a couple of cars coming from the other direction were stopped, so I slowed down. And then one of them repeatedly flashed his lights so I slowed down even more (maybe 5 mph) and then all of a sudden a moose was right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes but still clipped one of the legs. He just kept going like nothing happened, scared the crap out of me though.

Next morning, time to pack up and head back to CO. Only a couple stops for photos since it rained for a good chunk of the drive.






The next day back home to KY. I arrived in Lex and waited for my bag and waited and waited. Eventually, the conveyor belt stopped moving and I saw a lump still on the belt. I walked over and saw a large plastic bag with what looked like my duffel. When I opened the bag, I found this ...


... the fuzz is the down from my sleeping bag


Enough friction to ruin a bear can


Not a great way to end a trip, but better the end vs beginning of a trip.
 

Janice

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I love your report and stunning photos. Bummer about your luggage. But so much more terrible about the loss of the people in the canoe. Do you know what went wrong for them? It seems like the weather was fine. How strange and sad.

But on a happier note, how lucky those people were who got your info about the geysers getting ready to go off. What a magical place Yellowstone is. We have only scratched the surface, never backpacked. After reading your report (and Hugh's and Dave's and other people's here and elsewhere) I'm itching to try a trip there sometime. Thanks for the inspiration!
 

TractorDoc

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I'd say your memory is rather good Scott.

You capture the details and colors very well in your photographs. I'm glad you were able to get some geyser viewing time in after all the hiking -- those are some of the most enjoyable times in the park for me.

Hoping we can cross paths again. . . I cannot promise that I'll have mastered a lighter packing strategy like yours by then though. :)
 

scatman

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Beautiful pictures Scott! That first picture of the bison, on our day hike, is the best bison photo that I have ever seen. That one is a winner. Just looking at that image brings back the respect that we gave that bull. Wonderful shot.
 

wsp_scott

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I love your report and stunning photos. Bummer about your luggage. But so much more terrible about the loss of the people in the canoe. Do you know what went wrong for them? It seems like the weather was fine. How strange and sad.

But on a happier note, how lucky those people were who got your info about the geysers getting ready to go off. What a magical place Yellowstone is. We have only scratched the surface, never backpacked. After reading your report (and Hugh's and Dave's and other people's here and elsewhere) I'm itching to try a trip there sometime. Thanks for the inspiration!

It was nice weather that day, so I'm not sure anyone ever figured out what happened. If I remember correctly, a family member contacted the park when they weren't back on schedule. The park found the canoe and then one of the men, but not the other.

I did not want to come across like some Yellowstone expert, but I'm glad that I could help some people see some of the amazing parts of Yellowstone. You should definitely make a point of getting out there, it really is a crazy/cool place.

I'd say your memory is rather good Scott.

You capture the details and colors very well in your photographs. I'm glad you were able to get some geyser viewing time in after all the hiking -- those are some of the most enjoyable times in the park for me.

Hoping we can cross paths again. . . I cannot promise that I'll have mastered a lighter packing strategy like yours by then though. :)
There is a good chance we will have a chance next summer

Beautiful pictures Scott! That first picture of the bison, on our day hike, is the best bison photo that I have ever seen. That one is a winner. Just looking at that image brings back the respect that we gave that bull. Wonderful shot.

I think that I am going to print that bison photo and find a wall for it.
 

Miya

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Such spectacular photos, but oh my gosh, the close ups of the algae are breathtaking!

Hopefully everything got taken care of with the airline and the damage they caused to your gear. Did they send you money so you could replace them?
 

wsp_scott

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Such spectacular photos, but oh my gosh, the close ups of the algae are breathtaking!

Hopefully everything got taken care of with the airline and the damage they caused to your gear. Did they send you money so you could replace them?

I posted about it last year (https://backcountrypost.com/threads/recommend-me-a-sleeping-bag.9977/) if you want to read all about it. Quick version, Delta tried to screw me, but it ended up working out in the end after my wife posted something on Twitter. Very glad it happened at the end of the trip, it would have been really annoying to have to buy what ever was in stock at the local REI.
 
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