Yellowstone with a new knee

Pringles

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I got a brand new knee on December 12th, and had done all the PT (physical therapy), etc., and was anxious to see how it was going to work out. I had asked before, I think here, about what people with new knees had to change, or what they had to work on, and I think someone said use a lighter pack, and that was about it. What I was worried about was getting down on the ground, and getting back up off the ground. But I was also concerned that there might be something that would be different, that I wasn’t expecting, and would regret not asking about at PT. PT didn’t seem too excited about me going backpacking. They wanted me to be able to empty wastebaskets, I guess. As the season approached, I dreamed of those first few trips. Yellowstone has two handicapped sites, and I figured I would be eligible, for a little while. I decided June was my window, and on one of my first trips into the park, I went to a backcountry station, and made reservations for four trips. This little, weird report, is a mix of those trips.

Trip number one, was to Ice Lake. I’d been to this site before, and really liked it. It’s only a short distance in. It has a bear box, and is at the shore of the lake. This is the very start of the trail.
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Over the winter, if I can’t GO outside and play, I apparently buy. (You’d think I would know this, but the behavior really just hit me this winter. Maybe it was the knee, but I don’t think so.). This is a Haven Tent. It features a “flat lie.” The trees in Yellowstone are not at all helpful when trying to hang a hammock. They are either just-a-little-too-far-apart, or worse. The Haven Tent page talks about whoopie slings, so I used them to get the extra distance I needed. I didn’t particularly like that, but it’s supposed to work. I set up everything, and then went back to sit by the lake. Oh, the boisterous colored tarp, I love that. I’m not gonna win any awards for stealth camping. :)

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The site has a little point of land that sticks out into the lake. I like to sit there and watch ducks and whatever else shows up. This was just to the right. There was still snow on the ground. I might have been a little anxious to get out.

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When I bought the Haven Tent, it came with a matching blue tarp. I liked the bold one, and so now had the blue one left over. For crummy weather, I could put up that tarp! Over the winter, I had read some stuff about making your own whoopie slings and dog bones and ridge lines. Soooooo, I took up a new craft! I got some Lash It, and started splicing little things. It was fun. (The whoopie slings I showed above were NOT by me, and were of real Amsteel.) I now have all kinds of spliced “things.” I attached a whoopie sling on both ends of the tarp, and hooked it around trees, and sat under the tarp during some rain. It all worked splendidly. In fact, I was sitting there, drinking coffee, when a pine martin trotted up on a log, about a dozen feet away. I tried to put the lid on my coffee, and get out my phone to take a picture. It looked at me, moved forward, and then decided I might be a problem, and headed back the way it had come. I sort of regret trying to put the lid on the coffee, but then, I would have regretted spilling coffee all over everything, too. Having a martin come by was an excellent way to start the backpacking season.

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It had already rained, and it was supposed to rain again. Hmmm. I didn’t like that idea much. I decided to be a wimp, and pack up all my toys and head home. I also decided it was a successful trip for my knee. It was strong. I was a wimp. But a dry wimp.

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Trip 2 was to Goose Lake. That’s by Grand Prismatic. This hike is around 2 miles in. There are a few patches of trees that you go through, but mostly it’s in the open and there are huge meadow views. There are a couple of little lakes that you pass.

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The trail is the old Freight Road. It is for hikers and bikers. I wandered at the speed of Beth (slow), and occasionally heard, “Ring, ring, “Passing on your left!”” There were plenty of folks riding bicycles, and some riding e-bikes, and some hikers. It wasn’t super crowded, but you weren’t likely to get lonely, either. Everybody was friendly. People who are out of their car, and moving about at their own speed seem so much happier than the typical Yellowstone visitor that is simply trying to herd their family from one big attraction to another.

At one point, a bit ahead, I saw Mom, Dad and a little boy (3-4?). The dad had a kind of large rock, and slammed it into the ground. I kind of wondered if they hadn’t spotted a snake that was now a blob, but as I got there, the little boy was slamming rocks into everything and anything. Dad was just participating in the little kid’s activity. (No snakes were involved.) The little guy had found an activity he could do, and do it he did! He also pulled out a wad of bison fur, and showed it to me. He had found it and his eyes lit up as he told me about it. “Some of the buffalo don’t have any fur.”

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The campsite was right beside the lake. There were trees, which considering the trail, was a touch odd. They were tall, and it created nice shade. There were also all kinds of downed logs. I’d been to this site before, and remembered a food pole, which was absent this time. I looked around for it, and finally found the chains that held up the pole on two downed trees. I think the trees are vulnerable to the wind. It sure made me look carefully for widow makers when I set up my tent.

Yup, I took my tent this time. I was pretty nervous about getting up and down, but I had done it before, and my knee didn’t fall apart. This was going to be a real test. By mid-afternoon, after a nice little nap, I knew that my knee was going to be fine. And, I hadn’t taken a single Ibuprofen on this trip, or the last. That hadn’t happened in years. Sell that Ibuprofen stock!

The was the sunset view from inside my tent.

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The view across the lake featured steam rising from the thermal features at Grand Prismatic. Sometimes there wasn’t much, and sometimes there was a lot. With my binoculars, I could see people on the observation platform. Without the binoculars, I would have never found it, but once I did, I could occasionally see some color without the binoculars.

I sat by the lake and drank my morning coffee, and watched people go by on foot, or on bikes, and watched ducks and birds, and occasionally, bison. The trail could be seen above the grass, on the right side of the picture.

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I had a meal companion. He would look interestedly at me, but I told him, had had to find his own food. He seemed agreeable to that.

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This was on my way back to the trailhead. I think it’s Midway Geyser Basin, but I forget. It’s one that I actually walked earlier this year. I like to walk the geyser basins early and late in the seasons, when it’s less crowded. I hadn’t been to this one for a number of years.

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Sometimes it’s hard to tell where you’re going in Yellowstone. The bison rub off their winter fur (the stuff the little boy collected) on trees, stumps and in this case, a sign. Oops. It fell down. Well, it broke off and then fell down.

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I’m not sure if this one’s out of order, or just from my second trip to this site. Mornings were incredibly peaceful, but then, I guess they usually are. No wind, no people, just some ducks and sandhill cranes.

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This was one the way in to the same campsite. The first time I went in, the bison were right beside the parking lot and people were all over. It was a mess. On this trip in, the bison were in two big herds, a nice distance from the road.

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My tent. I have had this tent for a loooooong time. I like it. I think it weighs about three pounds, with all the flap doodles. I’ve been in a lot of wind with it, and it’s fine. I’ve been in a lot of rain with it, and been fine. I get other tents, and now hammocks, and yet, here is my tent.

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The trail wasn’t totally straight. You did have to know how to turn, if only a little.

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Both times I was a Goose Lake, the Phlox were blooming. There were at least two kinds, and they both smelled heavenly.

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You can kind of make out a split between the hikers… one guy is further back…? Two or three adult bison and a calf had just run between the two groups. They were way too close, but the really bad thing, to me, was that they thought it was funny, and amazing. That they had been so close to buffalo! I was busy watching the trees on both sides of the trail for more bison.

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A man I just passed told me to watch the bull that was now behind me, and off the trail. I had been watching him for a few minutes. He seemed a safe distance off the trail, but he was riled up. He was watching the guy I had just spoken to. I was glad to get past all of the bison.

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Zoomed in, this was the bull bison that one hiker had warned me about.

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As I left the trailhead, and was headed on my way, there was a bison jam. During the jam, I got a picture of these people, seeing bison up close.

Geeze.

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One my final handicapped hike, these flowers were starting. I never remember what they are. I don’t really like yellow, and so promptly forget what the yellow flowers are.

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One more trip to Ice Lake!

I had brought my Haven Tent again, and got it al set up, and got in to take a nap, and, well, I hated it. I had put it up at a little park near my house, but the wind always whipped it around, and I’d never actually done more than gotten in it. I didn’t want to spend the night in it.

Hmmm.

I knew I had a tent in the car. You know, in case you need a tent. It’s good to have one.

It wasn’t very far… .

So I went and got it, brought it back, and set it up. Then, I took the mattress from the Haven (that’s part of what makes it lay flat, is a super thick, mattress) and put it in the tent. I hadn’t wanted to take down the Haven until I had a place to put the mattress, to protect it. Then, I took down the Haven Tent, and took it out to the car. Ah, that was nice exercise.

Then I went and sat by the lake for quite a while.
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In the morning, there was a bit of fog on the lake. I had a nearby site two weekends before retiring, and on that occasion, I sat and drank coffee and drank coffee, and dreamed of what retirement was going to be like, and finally left around 10 am. This time, I thought about doing that, but decided I needed to go look for bears. So without eating, or ANY COFFEE, I packed and hiked out.

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I drove to the gas station, and got a LOT of coffee, and went looking for bears. During the day, I saw 9. It wasn’t a great bear day, but it wasn’t a bad bear day, either. I ate with a friend I had worked with the year before, and got stuck for over an hour at a traffic jam caused by an accident.

I am now figuring out what hikes I want to do next… a little further, a couple of climbs, less people. Summer is here.

Mom and two cubs.

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Everyone I know with replacement knees say they work better than the originals ;) . Glad it did for you as well!
 
Did you get the motorized one? They let you hike faster, farther, better.........
 
Great report - enjoyed the read and photos. A fine start to your hiking. Tourists and bison... despite well posted warnings, they just don't get it. :rolleyes:
 
Wow…how’s th knee doin currently? What about th ole hammock do you like better than th lay flat? I’m still thinkin bout gettin a hammock system…loved th pics! Keep on keepin on!
 
My first thought seeing the tourists and the bison jam

It is hard to run with your hands in your pockets. I tell this to the kids when coaching soccer, someone should tell that guy :)

nice set of campsites and the photos make it look like the weather was great for most of the time

thanks for sharing
 
Glad it worked out for you!! Great little trips with nice campsites. It brings back a lot of good memories of Yellowstone.

And well, it is Touron Tossing season again; people are just so plain stupid. Vacation brain, lol. When they go on vacation, their brain is mush, and they do all the stupid things. Same here in our park, I can only shake my head in disbelief.
 
Thank you for the nice comments. The new knee is working well, and we are becoming friends. I am now thinking about places I want to hike before my three already reserved hikes happen. I want to longer hikes, and possibly, maybe, a hill.

Trout Whisperer, the Hammock Gear hammock that I was using at Grizzly Lake is very comfortable, and pretty lightweight, at least compared to the new set up. But the new set up was advertised as being able to set up on the ground just about as easily as it would be to set it up hanging. I’m not particularly good at fiddling with things, and while this sounded great, there’s still a good deal of fiddle involved. I guess one of the things I really like about that gray tent I used, is that it is free standing. Stake it down, attach the clips, throw over the fly, and it’s pretty much done. Since it’s free standing, if I want to move it, I just undo the stakes and carry it to where I want it to go. The Haven requires two trees, of about 5-8 inch diameter, or more. They should be about 12-15 feet apart (I think). That sounds easy, but in Yellowstone, I’m not sure it would have been available anywhere at the Goose Lake site, and I found one pair of trees in the “camping” area at Ice Lake. They were too far apart, so I had to extend the tree straps by using whoopie slings. I did ok with that, but because it was a long span, I had to push the straps higher on the trees than I could really reach, and fuss with the tautness of the Whoopies. I got it set up, and then added the mattress. The mattress is long, and 30” wide, and 4’ thick. It’s a monster, BUT, putting it in the hammock gives the hammock the rigidity that makes it so a person can lay flat. I got it in, and then got in. I wiggled, and fussed, and played and more, but I just wasn’t having it. I have sent a couple of questions to the vendor, and we’ll see if they have any suggestions. I guess I started this paragraph by saying that the marketing shows it can be used on the ground as well. I’m thinking that would require more fussing, and by this time, I just wanted to go sit by the lake. So I went back and forth, and put up a Cabela’s tent that I had gotten used for $25. I think that thing probably could withstand a bomb. I used that super mattress, and it was really comfortable. I (barely) remember back when I used a Z-rest or a Thermarest Ultralite (3/4 length, 1 inch). The first time I used a 2” inflatable, it was eye opening. Maybe it was eye shutting, ‘cause it sure improved my sleep. Anyway, those are my hammock comments.

I believe two people have been gored by tourists, so far this year. One was a bit drunk and kicked a bison. Yes, KICKED a bison. The other was a lady who was walking in woods, and turned a corner and found a bison right there. I guess I should say I don’t feel comfortable when I go to a large city, so it’s probably appropriate that “they” don’t feel comfortable when they go to a big park with wild animals.
 
Cool, it seems th hybrid hammock will be a great deal if ya can get th kinks fanagled out. Th pad does indeed look very comfy. Glad to hear th bionic knee is doing well.
With th house build starting, dont know if th extended daddy daughter Yellerstone trip will happen this year… hope we’ll get at least10 days! Are you gonna go on th scatman trip in September? If so, I’ll see ya then.
 
Glad to read that the new knee is a success. Where are you heading next in the Park?
 
Thanks for the great trip report... and knee report. A week ago I finished my third and final round of hyaluronic acid injections in both knees. This is my last option. My orthopod said to expect 4-6 weeks after the final round to know if its going to help. (fingers crossed) If this doesn't work I'm facing replacement of both knees. I'm very interested in how your replacement turned out. Would you mind sharing more? What was different? What was the same? What was better?
 
Scatman, I don’t know where my next trip in the park will be. I have a bunch of things to take care of in town this week, so I’m not thinking beyond that. Well, that’s not true, exactly. I’ve been thinking about Mallard Lake, or Delacy Creek, or the mouth of Shoshone Lake, or Grebe Lake or Cascade Lake. That sounds like tooooo many options, but it is a reasonable number when you aren’t sure what might be open.

I’ve been thinking about the hammock. I am guessing that the problem I had was that the trees were so far apart that when I added the whoopie slings, I couldn’t really get the straps up high enough in the trees to let the hammock drop at a good angle (30* is optimal). I had to tighten the whoopies a bunch so the hammock didn’t hit ground. I think that made the hang exceptionally tight, and that made things not work. It seemed bouncy, and the zippers were stressed, and when your zippers are stressed, YOU are stressed. It was amazing how much more comfortable, mentally, I felt, just using the tent. I’ll have to fuss more. But it is very apparent that the hammock is going to take more fiddling before I feel even remotely comfortable with it, and even then, it may not be for me.

Trout Whisperer, I am planning on going on the Grebe Lake hike. I’m looking forward to it.

Perry, I did the injections a long time ago. I had a surgeon who thought they were helpful. I didn’t, but oh well. When I moved, and knew it was time to do something, the new surgeon asked if I’d done a bunch of things, and the injections were one. I think I had surgery about 3-4 weeks later. I do hope the hyaluronic acid works for you! Then you’d be done and moving along. Yay! But, as to the surgery, I’m glad it’s in the rear view mirror. Before surgery, I had a session at physical therapy, and they gave me a handful of exercises to do. None were hard, and I did them as they had directed. After the surgery, I was told that they can tell the folks who do those exercises, because the progress after the surgery is much quicker. I had very little pain after the surgery, and after some initial stronger pain killers (not oxy or whatever else is a big time pain killer), I moved over to ibuprofen and Tylenol, and had no real pain to speak of. I was usually ahead of where they wanted me to be in physical therapy, I’m assuming, because I had done the early exercises, and did the exercises they wanted me to do. I got a very strong sense that a lot of people expect the surgery to solve the problem, but surgery works in cahoots WITH strengthening muscles. That said, my balance isn’t what it had been. I supposed I should focus on it, but I haven’t. I was part of a facebook group for folks with knee replacements, and there were lots of people who got both knees replaced… mostly in succession, but some at the same time. I guess it makes sense, but some folks found one knee was “easy,” and the other knee was, well, not. Based on my experience with the one knee, if needed, I’d have the other one done. The thing I worried about, for backpacking, was whether I’d be able to get up and down to get into and out of my tent. I had stressed backpacking at physical therapy, and one of the ladies looked at me exasperated, and said, “We can’t teach you to backpack!” I looked back, just as exasperated, and asked if teaching me how to get down to the bottom cabinets in my kitchen, to get a pot out, and get back up, was something they would teach? Well, probably. The next time she didn’t work with me, and another person had me get down and up. It is something that many people with new knees don’t do. It is a strange feeling, getting on that knee. Some say it brings tears to their eyes. You are right on that scar with a chunk of titanium, and it’s just a weird sensation. But, after a couple of times getting on my knee on a pad, and then a pillow, and then carpeting, I’m not really afraid to get on my knee. That said, in the times I’ve been out, I haven’t knelt on the knee. I do something like a weird downward dog, and then sit down. Getting up also involves wiggling around a little, but it works. I had knee pads pulled out, with the belief that I would wear one of my new knee while backpacking. I guess I should put them away. As to what was better… for years and years and years, when I hiked, my knee had a dull but constant pain. I would take ibuprofen before I started hiking, and then, at a minimum, before I went to sleep. That ache was fairly constant when out on a trip. Now, I don’t take the ibuprofen. It took two or three months of walking and moving before other things stoped hurting, even a little. I even talked to my doctor about maybe needing some kind of work on my hip, but I said I wanted to give it some time, to see if maybe I just hadn’t regained my true gait. Now, at 6 months, it’s fine. I’m slower than I was, and I don’t have as good of a sense of balance, but I’m hoping that like the little aches and pains that I had had, with more time and use, they will improve. If not, it’s ok to go slow. :) While I wondered if other things would crop up, that the knee somehow hindered, I haven’t found them yet. Though, I’m thinking about the balance needed to look up while tossing the bear bag rope. I assume that’ll be no problem, but I’ll find out in the next few weeks. If you have more questions, let me know.
 
Perry, I did the injections a long time ago. I had a surgeon who thought they were helpful. I didn’t, but oh well. When I moved, and knew it was time to do something, the new surgeon asked if I’d done a bunch of things, and the injections were one. I think I had surgery about 3-4 weeks later. I do hope the hyaluronic acid works for you! Then you’d be done and moving along. Yay! But, as to the surgery, I’m glad it’s in the rear view mirror. Before surgery, I had a session at physical therapy, and they gave me a handful of exercises to do. None were hard, and I did them as they had directed. After the surgery, I was told that they can tell the folks who do those exercises, because the progress after the surgery is much quicker. I had very little pain after the surgery, and after some initial stronger pain killers (not oxy or whatever else is a big time pain killer), I moved over to ibuprofen and Tylenol, and had no real pain to speak of. I was usually ahead of where they wanted me to be in physical therapy, I’m assuming, because I had done the early exercises, and did the exercises they wanted me to do. I got a very strong sense that a lot of people expect the surgery to solve the problem, but surgery works in cahoots WITH strengthening muscles. That said, my balance isn’t what it had been. I supposed I should focus on it, but I haven’t. I was part of a facebook group for folks with knee replacements, and there were lots of people who got both knees replaced… mostly in succession, but some at the same time. I guess it makes sense, but some folks found one knee was “easy,” and the other knee was, well, not. Based on my experience with the one knee, if needed, I’d have the other one done. The thing I worried about, for backpacking, was whether I’d be able to get up and down to get into and out of my tent. I had stressed backpacking at physical therapy, and one of the ladies looked at me exasperated, and said, “We can’t teach you to backpack!” I looked back, just as exasperated, and asked if teaching me how to get down to the bottom cabinets in my kitchen, to get a pot out, and get back up, was something they would teach? Well, probably. The next time she didn’t work with me, and another person had me get down and up. It is something that many people with new knees don’t do. It is a strange feeling, getting on that knee. Some say it brings tears to their eyes. You are right on that scar with a chunk of titanium, and it’s just a weird sensation. But, after a couple of times getting on my knee on a pad, and then a pillow, and then carpeting, I’m not really afraid to get on my knee. That said, in the times I’ve been out, I haven’t knelt on the knee. I do something like a weird downward dog, and then sit down. Getting up also involves wiggling around a little, but it works. I had knee pads pulled out, with the belief that I would wear one of my new knee while backpacking. I guess I should put them away. As to what was better… for years and years and years, when I hiked, my knee had a dull but constant pain. I would take ibuprofen before I started hiking, and then, at a minimum, before I went to sleep. That ache was fairly constant when out on a trip. Now, I don’t take the ibuprofen. It took two or three months of walking and moving before other things stoped hurting, even a little. I even talked to my doctor about maybe needing some kind of work on my hip, but I said I wanted to give it some time, to see if maybe I just hadn’t regained my true gait. Now, at 6 months, it’s fine. I’m slower than I was, and I don’t have as good of a sense of balance, but I’m hoping that like the little aches and pains that I had had, with more time and use, they will improve. If not, it’s ok to go slow. :) While I wondered if other things would crop up, that the knee somehow hindered, I haven’t found them yet. Though, I’m thinking about the balance needed to look up while tossing the bear bag rope. I assume that’ll be no problem, but I’ll find out in the next few weeks. If you have more questions, let me know.
Thank you so much for that! Most folks I have talked to said they wish they had done the replacement sooner. I'm going to give the HA injections a chance to work but I'm skeptical. Makes it hard to plan anything backpacking let alone just hiking. I still hike regularly but pay the price afterwards and for a day or two. Like you I have a constant ache these days which makes it increasingly difficult to sleep is wearing me down mentally. The recovery from hiking is getting way too much. Fingers crossed.
 
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