Yellowstone's Heart Lake -- September 14-17 2020

TractorDoc

Member
.
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
158
After hiking out and back to Yellowstone's Shoshone Geyser Basin last year I decided to try and make the jump from day hikes to once again spending some overnight time in the backcountry. I was striking out on finding someone to go with me locally so I decided to take a chance at PMing a BCP member with my thoughts/intentions. The guy here that seems to post a Yellowstone trip report about every other week is of course @scatman -- his TRs always have a good bit of humor in them too and I'm someone that likes to laugh. Familiar with Yellowstone Backcountry? Check. Suspect good sense of humor? Check. With those credentials how could I not message him? :)

I did just that in late 2019 -- a cold call PM introducing myself and throwing out a trip proposal for September of 2020. Not only did he reply but Hugh also expressed some interest in making such a trip happen. Over the next couple months I would send him a PM now and again to get the latest on gear, hear more about his experiences, and just get to know each other in general.

Before long the family back home learned that I would be spending several nights in the woods with a guy I met on the internet named "Scatman." When I say it that way I suppose I can understand some of their concern. . . :lol: Somehow my brother found a guy (Josh) that he works with that wanted to take on such a trip as well. My brother's friend approached me about coming along and Hugh was good with it so now three of us would be heading off in the woods. As September approached life threw challenges at us that threatened to cancel our plans, but somehow we made it and hopefully I can lay out some of what happened here. Once this report gets posted @scatman can post his version of things to tell you what really happened!

Hugh and I decided that our destination would be Heart Lake. We met on Sunday the 13th at the Old Faithful area. I had booked a Old Faithful Lodge Cabin and made sure Hugh had a chance to take a shower/get a nights rest on a bed before our trip -- he had just finished several nights in the backcountry at Cache Creek. We had a designated meeting place and time but I happened to run into him an hour ahead of schedule. . . he was easy to recognize and looks just like he does in his pictures.:)

Monday morning we packed up and headed out to the Heart Lake Trailhead. . . this is where the picture part of the story begins.

I made everyone stop at the trailhead for a picture. Hugh is the one in the kilt and I'm wearing pants. ;)

5J5A5238A.JPG


Trailhead Sign. Our day's destination would be Campsite 8H6 about 8 miles in.

5J5A5239.JPG


The trail out mostly runs thru forest growing back from the '88 fires with several old growth sections mixed in.

5J5A5243A.JPG


About 1/5 to 1/4 mile in I realized I had forgotten to lock the rental car so I went back to correct my mistake while Hugh and Josh moved on. Once I returned to the trail I noticed this vintage Budweiser can along side the trail. I set it up on a log to pickup on the way out but someone else must have grabbed it for me (it was gone on the way back).

5J5A5241.JPG


Hugh and Josh were making good time as I did not catch them until the five mile mark or so -- that is when you start to come out of the woods and the view becomes more interesting. First view of Factory Hill in the distance:

5J5A5246.JPG


Before descending down to Heart Lake the view opens up to the valley below. Smoke from the wildfires was definitely present.

5J5A5252.JPG


I'll admit that I'm a bit of an over packer and was starting to feel the weight of my extra luxury items at this point. Maybe I should have just packed Gatorade powder instead of the actual bottles of liquid. . . :thinking:

Luckily most of the next 2.5 miles were mostly downhill. Crossing Witch Creek:

5J5A5260.JPG


Interesting Thermal Features along the trail:

5J5A5263.JPG


Trail marker once we passed the Ranger Cabin (no one home) at the Lake Shore.

5J5A5271.JPG


Another 1/2 mile later and we arrived at our new home.

5J5A5272.JPG


Am I wrong to be excited that our site has a pit toilet? :thumbsup:

5J5A5635.JPG


Settling in. I selfishly chose the tent site with a view of the water. I had slept on the floor the night prior after all (another story for another time). This site was perfect except for the very minor downhill grade that found me sliding towards the lake on occasion at night. Gravity be darned I was going to stick with this view and enjoy it!

5J5A5273A.JPG


An evening walk before turning in rustled up a lone deer.

5J5A5335.JPG


After supper Hugh wandered off looking for bear but came back with elk/deer sightings instead.

I'll admit that I woke up numerous times during this first night. . . but it was not because I was gliding across my tent floor. It was the Elk. Just as the sun would set the bugling would begin and it carried thru the entire night. Bugles were coming from all directions and it felt like an elk choir had gathered right outside our campsite. Good reasons to lay awake at night. :)

Sunrise the next morning confirmed I had chosen my tent site wisely.

5J5A5316A.JPG


I tend to be an early riser and watched the colors grow on the lakeshore. A small flock of ducks would hang around our site during our stay and seemed to enjoy getting their picture taken.

5J5A5332A.JPG


Monday's goal was to hike to the top of Mount Sheridan with a little off trail section to visit the Geyser Basin on the way down.

5J5A5239 - Sheridan.jpg


Josh was nursing some foot trouble today after the hike in so it would just be Hugh and I heading towards the top. I made sure to pack the essentials -- Jerky, Yogurt Cranberries, Reese's Pieces, and a taste or two of Buffalo Trace Whisky. There are also a couple of Circus Peanuts in the Reese's bag -- when I offered some to Hugh they seemed to bring him great joy. In fact I've heard that since he has been home he has gone shopping for them but has come up empty. I will let him elaborate more on the peanuts in his report.

5J5A5345.JPG


Trail Marker. Only 3.9 miles? No Problem! :cool:

5J5A5346.JPG


We begin the ascent. Hugh was a machine climbing up the switchbacks. Sadly I probably scared away any chance of him seeing a bear or other wildlife as I sounded like a freight train moving air in and out of my lungs. Hugh did stop for the occasional sunscreen application break and was always kind enough to wait for me to catch up.

5J5A5347A.JPG


The lookout is just barely visible at the top.

5J5A5353.JPG


Looking back towards the lake and trail below.

5J5A5355.JPG


Colorful drainage channel.

5J5A5357.JPG


Almost all of Heart Lake is visible.

5J5A5359.JPG


Patches of snow at the top -- probably left over from last Monday's storm.

5J5A5360.JPG


Ever wonder how Scatman captures all those great pictures for his trip reports? Wonder no more as here he is in action.

5J5A5362.JPG


At least the smoke was light enough to get a good view of the lake.

5J5A5364A.JPG


Every now and again I'd look up to see Hugh taking my picture. I told him to at least give some warning so I could suck in my gut! :D

5J5A5365.JPG


Around 9000ish feet the switchbacks really steepened as we entered a forested area. I would stop and rest a bit more often so as not to hear the heartbeat in my ears so loudly.

This little sign next to the trail (lower left) did not appear to have anything written on it. . . I wonder what information it once provided?

5J5A5367.JPG


Looking back towards Factory Hill -- I believe that is West Thumb / Yellowstone Lake off in the distance.

5J5A5368.JPG


Taking a sunscreen application break.

GP__0081A.JPG


Making an impression.

5J5A5374.JPG


A spooky forest of deceased White Bark Pines stands just below the summit.

5J5A5376.JPG


Hugh says the Tetons are out there somewhere. If I tilt my head and squint my eyes I think I could see them. Darn Smoke. :confused:

5J5A5378.JPG


Final Push to the Top. Somewhere around here I think I told Hugh about my fear of heights.

5J5A5384.JPG


We made it! This was a great place to have lunch. Don't worry, the lookout is not tilted -- the log I found to sit my camera on is!

5J5A5391A.JPG


An image that will be etched in my mind for some time.

5J5A5401.JPG


Heart Lake as viewed from the top of Mount Sheridan.

5J5A5393A.JPG


A goal of our descent was to eventually leave the trail and approach this portion of the Heart Lake Geyser Basin from the back. Columbia Pool is the blue water feature in the basin.

5J5A5398A.JPG


View on the way down.

GP__0096.JPG


Hiking down was much easier on my lungs that going up. I also had a bit of and advantage as my knees are still fairly sturdy. This is the point where we left the trail and headed for the geyser basin down by the lake battling deadfall, boggy areas, and scratchy grasses to get there.

5J5A5411.JPG


When we emerged from the trees the geyser basin lay below. Rustic Geyser is the small greyish blue pool at the far left -- just to the left of the group of trees.

5J5A5416A.JPG


Hot spring at the base of the hill.

5J5A5442A.JPG


We were able to catch several eruptions from Rustic Geyser. It lasted about a minute with an interval of about 20 minutes.

5J5A5421A.JPG


5J5A5611A.JPG


5J5A5615B.JPG


Colombia Pool holds some grim contents. . .

5J5A5631A.JPG


The bones of hikers that got too close. . . . ok, they are probably animal bones. :p

5J5A5632.JPG


After geyser gazing we headed back to camp.

I washed up and made another Mountain House Meal for supper -- I believe this evening's selection was Chicken Teriyaki. Normally I sort of wing it when I cook and had been feeling the effects of incompletely rehydrated food from the days before. I made sure to get things right this evening and had a much more comfortable nights sleep. The elk were bugling again this evening but seemed to be more sparse than the night before. The elk would not keep me awake on this night but another critter would. . . sometime in the early morning hours a Coyote let out a number of howls for what seemed like a good minute. The awakening part was the fact that it seemed to be right outside my tent -- I was hoping that Josh or Hugh had not snuck one of those peanuts in my area so as to try and steal my tent site should I move. :roflmao: The others heard the Coyote as well. . . Hugh agreed that he must have been feet away from me.

Wednesday's goal was to hike around Heart Lake. Hugh knew of a super secret Scat-trail that cut across the south side of the lake. I drew that portion on the map below. . . but I do not believe my rendition is accurate. ;) I'll leave Hugh to divulge his secrets in his report should he want to. Josh's feet were feeling better so it was nice that all three of us would be heading out together.

5J5A5239 - Around Heart Lake.jpg


Before heading out I was up early as usual. This morning a heavy fog had set in over the lake and our campsite.

5J5A5447.JPG


5J5A5461.JPG


I started my breakfast while Josh and Hugh were out wandering around in the fog. Today's offering -- Biscuits and Gravy.

5J5A5463.JPG


I woke up like this. . .

Anyone need any extra paracord?

5J5A5466.JPG


Hugh and Josh contemplating the big questions in life. . . like where did the lake go?

5J5A5469.JPG


After breakfast the fog started to burn off and we began our hike heading South along the base of Mount Sheridan.

5J5A5470.JPG


5J5A5476.JPG


One thing I learned about Hugh is that he loves a good drainage. His Scatty-Senses always started tingling when we would pass by one and he would always ask: "Where does this drainage go?" to which I would usually reply "Up." or "To the South." :) I will admit the little waterfall in the upper reaches of this one caught my curiosity and I was wanting to go up there and check it out myself!

5J5A5478.JPG


Hugh also kept mentioning he smelled a pungent odor along the trail and proceeded to sniff nearby plants to determine the source. I'm just glad he thought it was the plants and not me!

5J5A5479.JPG


Heart Lake was very still this morning and provided for some nice reflections.

5J5A5481A.JPG


Continuing to head South.

5J5A5485.JPG


Mule Deer stopped to pose for a photograph.

5J5A5493.JPG


This was the beginning of the super secret Scat-Trail. I was slightly skeptical but had full confidence Hugh knew where he was going.

5J5A5501.JPG


What do you know? There appears to be a trail out here after all!

5J5A5508.JPG


The scat-trail delivers. Unfortunately this scat would be all that we would see of a bear today.

5J5A5511.JPG


Loon watching us from the lake.

5J5A5513.JPG


The stony beach would occasionally be our path.

5J5A5517.JPG


But we spent a good amount of time amongst the trees.

5J5A5523.JPG


Approaching the narrowest area of the lake -- lunch was planned for the little peninsula in the distance.

5J5A5530.JPG


Looking back at reflections of Mount Sheridan in Heart Lake.

5J5A5535A.JPG


5J5A5521A.JPG


5J5A5528A.JPG


Just before stopping for lunch I found this Banquet Beer Can on the Southern Shore. Before crunching it down to pack it out I couldn't help but notice it appeared to have a critter chomp on the side of the can.

5J5A5534.JPG


Small blue flower on the lakeshore.

5J5A5546.JPG


Lunch on the South Shore of Heart Lake. Don't we just look like a bunch of happy campers?

GP__0112A.JPG


Its officially a good hike when the Scatman starts bleeding!

5J5A5550.JPG


Soon Hugh's trail ran out and we found ourselves looking at the Heart River. No where to go but across!

5J5A5552A.JPG


Josh and I sent Hugh across first to find any big holes on the river bottom.

5J5A5553.JPG


Self portrait of sorts.

5J5A5556.JPG


Josh following closely behind.

5J5A5558.JPG


Once on the other side we needed to find a way to get back to the Trail Creek Trail and head north. While Hugh consulted the map I climbed the river bank. . . found it!

5J5A5561.JPG


Trail Marker telling us we were on the right track.

5J5A5568.JPG


The Trail Creek Trail along the Eastern coast of Heart Lake is mostly new growth forest growing up around a lot of deadfall. A LOT of deadfall. I feel sorry for the crew that had to come in here and cut the path back through.

5J5A5569.JPG


After several miles of walking, one snack break, and passing several hikers later we made it to the Northern part of the trail and crossed Beaver Creek.

5J5A5578.JPG


Eventually the trail turned to lakeshore the rest of the way back to camp.

5J5A5583.JPG


After supper the elk seemed to return in greater numbers this evening but were still not as close as they were on the first night. I actually slept in till 7AM or so with no new animal sounds (other than a Loon) to wake me up.

Our original plan for the hike out was to make a side trip off trail to visit Aster Lake. There were various factors involved but I will take the responsibility of crushing Hugh's dream to visit the lake. . . I was not sure that trying to maneuver off trail and over all that deadfall was a good idea with my full pack on. I was already wobbly on occasion and could just see myself falling over and looking like an upside down turtle trying to get up. Put a day pack on me and I'm good to go -- should you want to try a revisit in the future Hugh I'm willing and (hopefully) ready.

Instead we took the boring, regular trail back out to the trailhead.

One last picture near the Ranger Cabin before heading out.

5J5A5662A.JPG


Along the trail we noticed these paw prints. We thought we may have heard the howls/cries of wolves. . .

5J5A5672.JPG


Desperate for a wildlife sighting along the trail. . .

5J5A5686.JPG


This was the point where we would have emerged from the woods after visiting Aster Lake (according to High's GPS). I can see the disappointment on the Scatman's face. I drew a line across the trail with my foot so we knew where to start from next time. :)

5J5A5690.JPG


One last shot from the trail.

5J5A5694.JPG


Our last group shot as we returned to the trail head.

5J5A5696A.JPG


Before we parted ways at the trail head (Hugh headed home, Josh and I had a couple more days in the park) Hugh presented me with an honorary water bottle to commemorate our trip. I will have to provide a picture of it in a later post. . . right now I have it on display with all my other collectables. He somehow found a bottle with my favorite colors and has a map on the outside with our hikes hi-lighted. Its almost too nice to use! It sure outshines the new pairs of Wool Socks I presented to Josh and Hugh earlier on as a trail-warming gift!

All in all I hope Hugh and Josh had a good time because I know I did. Several purchases that I made for this trip that I do not regret are a pair of crocs to use as camp shoes (and for water crossings) and my roll up Crazy Creek Camp Chair that kept my bum off the ground when relaxing. I could have left my solar panel in the car. . . but that was only because I forgot the cable to connect it to my phone/camera/etc.

Thank you @scatman for replying to my initial PM and taking a chance on spending a couple days with two flat-landers from out East. I hope we did not slow you down too much and I'm glad we were able to offer you a variety of culinary delights to tempt your palate beyond the basics of "average" camp food. I do hope our paths can cross again some day!
 

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

Titans

Member
.
Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
990
Super TR, thanks for including lots of photos. Unofficial “Scat Trails” are the best, beautiful reflections of the mountain in the lake, it looks so peaceful. Congrats on the river crossing, was that your first? Its always challenging for us flat landers to hike with BCP’ers well acclimatized to those altitudes, but it sounds like you felt ok (apart from the puffy breathing)!

@scatman , what’s in that small flask next to your daypack on top of Mount Sheridan?;)
 

TractorDoc

Member
.
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
158
Nice report and photos! I often just skim through TRs that aren't in areas I'm likely to ever visit, but your photos caught my eye and I slowed down enough to read and enjoy this one a lot.
Thanks for taking the time to give my TR a look -- believe it or not this is the abbreviated version!

Super TR, thanks for including lots of photos. Unofficial “Scat Trails” are the best, beautiful reflections of the mountain in the lake, it looks so peaceful. Congrats on the river crossing, was that your first? Its always challenging for us flat landers to hike with BCP’ers well acclimatized to those altitudes, but it sounds like you felt ok (apart from the puffy breathing)!

@scatman , what’s in that small flask next to your daypack on top of Mount Sheridan?;)
I appreciate your excellent feedback! Scat-trails are great -- just make sure to watch your step! I've had my feet in Yellowstone Waters before; in fact crossing Sour Creek a couple years back was in much deeper water than the Heart River was. I also did ok with the elevation. One of my subtle super powers has always been tolerating elevation gain easily. My "staying-in-shape" powers appear to be diminishing with age though. :)

The flask contents is/was Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey. What else would one drink in Yellowstone. . . except Huckleberry Vodka!

So this leads me to a question ... will @scatman be leading future Yellowstone trips for us eastern “flatlanders”? Sounds like a potential BCP gathering!
I'd second the idea -- I'm all for meeting up with fellow BCPers! We may have had one or two others join us this year if not for the virus stuff.

Love it. Looks like you guys had a great trip. Loved the way you wrote it up too; I laughed out loud at multiple points.
Mission Accomplished. My goal was to get at least one person to laugh. I'm rather proud of my map of the trail around Heart Lake. ;)
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
316
Great trip report. This is one of the spots I have been eyeing for my first backcountry trip in Yellowstone. It was nice to see pictures of some of the options for day hikes in the area.
 

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

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,461
Wow! Once again, a fabulous report @TractorDoc. Hope you don't mind me piggybacking on your report. Now let me tell you all the real story as I fill in the cracks that were left out of the original. ;)

While traveling south from my backpacking trip to Cache Creek in Yellowstone, I was abducted by two Buckeyes believe it or not, and was forced to make my way into the Heart Lake region of Yellowstone, a place I had already been twice before. Fao dho' I tell you, for the one Irish speaker who may be reading this.

After arriving at the trailhead, there was a bit of a tussle to see who would be point man (bear bait). With my superior wrestling skills, Dave lost and took the front of the line, but then conveniently (maybe tactfully) a little ways along the trail, forgot to lock his rental car so he had to return to the trailhead, which put this fine lad in the lead for potential bear encounters.

0a.jpg

Hmmm................

After five miles, not being allowed to eat breakfast (don't believe the pop-tart stories), I was famished and needed nourishment. It was here that Dave caught up to us to resume his point man duties, while I began foraging for grasshoppers, beetles and the like.

01.jpg

Dave - looking out over the Heart Lake Basin

Maybe fifteen minutes in and a couple of hoppers down the hatch, we proceeded to drop down to Heart Lake with Dave in the lead. And wouldn't you know it, on our way down Dave spots a sow and a cub in the distance as they run into the trees. I knew he'd be a good point man!

02.jpg

Factory Hill

Now Dave is very interested in thermal areas, so as we pass various thermal features, he is busy taking a lot of photos of them. Of course, this puts me back in the lead as we approach the Heart Lake Patrol Cabin, when guess what happens next?

This is what happens -
03.jpg

A native West Virginian who now lives in South Carolina - I almost went into full Grizzly Bear mode and mauled him due to the bear
bells on the end of his stick.


I start hearing this jingle-jingle sound. "What the hell is that", I say to myself. Have Josh or Dave broken out the bear bells? :eek: Have they lost their minds! :) I have to tell you right now that I hate bear bells! First off, they are useless, and second, I hike in silence so that I can see wildlife, not avoid it. Jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle. Is it getting to you yet? I thought so. Me too. Well, this guy was a nice enough guy, and I really enjoyed his southern drawl and charm, so I let him off the hook this time.

After a short stop at the cabin, we made our way along the lakeshore to our campsite. By the way, why aren't there rangers manning the cabins anymore? A travesty I tell you. I miss conversing with them. I miss seeing their horses and mules. We need to fund our Parks!

04.jpg

Both Josh and Dave have really nice cameras that they carried in. Kind of embarrassed to show my shots now.

Once we got the campsite all nice and comfy, we had our dinner. This became a crucial point of the trip.

While I'm eating my Backpacker's Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken, Dave asks, "Hugh, would you like a circus peanut?' A circus peanut?

05.jpg

Circus Peanuts! And a clown on the packaging too!

Now I haven't had a circus peanut since I was nine or ten years old. I didn't even know that they still made them. But when I heard Dave say circus peanut, my whole body instantaneously was filled with joy. Dave and Josh might even tell you that I cracked a smile, but don't believe them. :scatman: I was taken back to my joyous childhood spent in western North Carolina.

Now what are circus peanuts made of anyway. They are like the kissing cousin to cotton candy. You're not sure what they are made of, but somehow you are drawn in to have some. The spongy texture and the banana (I think) like flavor had me hooked. :thumbsup: From this point on, this trip was about the circus peanut!

06.jpg

Some fall colors from my nightly hike to see if I could see some bears on the slopes of Mount Sheridan

07.jpg

Ditto


Well on day two, we set off for the fire lookout on the top of Mount Sheridan.

08.jpg

The shrubs were beautiful along the trail

On our way up the first draw, we saw a coyote making his way through the downfall.

09.jpg

A lot of long switchbacks on the way to the top. Dave, with Heart Lake below.

10.jpg

Factory Hill, that we passed on our way into Heart Lake

Most of the White Bark Pines up top have been killed due to beetles. :(

11.jpg

Dave, making his way through and old stand on White Bark Pine just below the summit.

13.jpg

Dave in action

12.jpg

Smoky view, with Flat Mountain, Flat Mountain Arm, Delusion Lake and Yellowstone Lake visible in the distance.

14.jpg

Well what do we have here? That's right, a circus peanut at the fire lookout.

15.jpg

The privy with a view

At this point, I somehow unscrewed my lens hood a bit, so the rest of my shots will show a some of the cover in them unless I am zoomed in. Oops! :(
Or maybe it was the circus peanut?

16.jpg

There are still a few healthy White Bark Pines that escaped the beetles.

17.jpg

Dave, on our way back down. Notice the excellent job he is doing of not cutting the switchback.

18.jpg

This is Dave in his element - at Rustic Geyser

Day 3 was a hike around Heart Lake using the now infamous Scat Trail along the southern end of the lake.

19.jpg

Anyone know what these bugs are called that jitter around on Heart Lake?

20.jpg
21.jpg

A foggy morning on day 3

And now some more on that map of our southern route that @TractorDoc provided.

Southern_Trail_Heart_Lake_Dave_09_16_20.jpg

Clearly this route is accurate within National Map Accuracy Standards. I believe I actually jogged this route in order to lose my abductors, but
somehow they were able to find me. Notice the freakish stamina it took to almost reach elevation 7926. I then dropped back down to the
lake for water. Also, check out the thorough exploration of the drainage to the west of the outlet that the route enabled. Just beautiful!


22.jpg

Josh, near the beginning of the Scat Trail

23.jpg

Mount Sheridan and Factory Hill reflected in the lake

24.jpg

Remains of an owl pellet. I don't see any evidence that it ate a circus peanut.

25.jpg

Fording of the Heart River

26.jpg

Ah yes! Another circus peanut to get me the last 4 miles. My pinky finger is a lot like a Bison's tail - if it's straight up then that means
I am aggravated and best to keep a healthy distance. Josh is apparently ignoring the 25 yard rule of thumb. @Rockskipper, your
thoughts on this?


Our last day was noneventful, though somehow we managed to miss Aster Lake.

27.jpg

Sunrise on a smoky Heart Lake

28.jpg

Saying goodbye to Rustic Geyser and Columbia Pool

29.jpg

Point Man! You know, I did pretty good coming down into the Heart Lake Basin, but going back up was another story. :( Are
we there yet?


30.jpg

I promise you that Aster lake is through here. I just love when leaves on the shrubs turn red.

31.jpg

The Hole!

32.jpg

The best damn Oreo malt in the world! Be sure and order it with the dark malt. Moos in Jackson

33.jpg

And remember, do not feed the bears! :D

34.jpg

Hey, I wonder where these go? "Up," says @TractorDoc? :D

Well, that about raps up all the loose ends to this far fetched tale. Let's see, we had a couple of Buckeyes, a kidnapping, some bear bait, a crazy man from West Virginia, a mountain, a geyser, fog, a lens hood incident, an impressive trail on the south end, of course a lake, and last but not least a daily ration of circus peanuts. You just can't make this stuff up.

And now it is time for Dave's rebuttal. If I've taken liberties with anything please let the folks at BCP know. They deserve better than little old Scatman lies.

Thanks for the invite Dave. I had a great time. The nights were especially special with the elk right on top of us the first night and the coyotes taking their place on night two. And it is always special to hear wolves. Sorry to slow you two young bucks down. Youth! Pffft!!!! :)

Let's do it again in the future and maybe we can get some of these other scallywags to join us.

The End


PS - Since returning to Salt Lake, I have been to three separate stores and none of them carry circus peanuts. :cry: Though I have noticed that you can get a 20lbs. box of them on Amazon.

Circus+Peanuts.jpg
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
2,060
Wow! Once again, a fabulous report @TractorDoc. Hope you don't mind me piggybacking on your report. Now let me tell you all the real story as I fill in the cracks that were left out of the original. ;)

While traveling south from my backpacking trip to Cache Creek in Yellowstone, I was abducted by two Buckeyes believe it or not, and was forced to make my way into the Heart Lake region of Yellowstone, a place I had already been twice before. Fao dho' I tell you, for the one Irish speaker who may be reading this.

After arriving at the trailhead, there was a bit of a tussle to see who would be point man (bear bait). With my superior wrestling skills, Dave lost and took the front of the line, but then conveniently (maybe tactfully) a little ways along the trail, forgot to lock his rental car so he had to return to the trailhead, which put this fine lad in the lead for potential bear encounters.

View attachment 92428
Hmmm................

After five miles, not being allowed to eat breakfast (don't believe the pop-tart stories), I was famished and needed nourishment. It was here that Dave caught up to us to resume his point man duties, while I began foraging for grasshoppers, beetles and the like.

View attachment 92429
Dave - looking out over the Heart Lake Basin

Maybe fifteen minutes in and a couple of hoppers down the hatch, we proceeded to drop down to Heart Lake with Dave in the lead. And wouldn't you know it, on our way down Dave spots a sow and a cub in the distance as they run into the trees. I knew he'd be a good point man!

View attachment 92430
Factory Hill

Now Dave is very interested in thermal areas, so as we pass various thermal features, he is busy taking a lot of photos of them. Of course, this puts me back in the lead as we approach the Heart Lake Patrol Cabin, when guess what happens next?

This is what happens -
View attachment 92431
A native West Virginian who now lives in South Carolina - I almost went into full Grizzly Bear mode and mauled him due to the bear
bells on the end of his stick.


I start hearing this jingle-jingle sound. "What the hell is that", I say to myself. Have Josh or Dave broken out the bear bells? :eek: Have they lost their minds! :) I have to tell you right now that I hate bear bells! First off, they are useless, and second, I hike in silence so that I can see wildlife, not avoid it. Jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle. Is it getting to you yet? I thought so. Me too. Well, this guy was a nice enough guy, and I really enjoyed his southern drawl and charm, so I let him off the hook this time.

After a short stop at the cabin, we made our way along the lakeshore to our campsite. By the way, why aren't there rangers manning the cabins anymore? A travesty I tell you. I miss conversing with them. I miss seeing their horses and mules. We need to fund our Parks!

View attachment 92433
Both Josh and Dave have really nice cameras that they carried in. Kind of embarrassed to show my shots now.

Once we got the campsite all nice and comfy, we had our dinner. This became a crucial point of the trip.

While I'm eating my Backpacker's Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken, Dave asks, "Hugh, would you like a circus peanut?' A circus peanut?

View attachment 92434
Circus Peanuts! And a clown on the packaging too!

Now I haven't had a circus peanut since I was nine or ten years old. I didn't even know that they still made them. But when I heard Dave say circus peanut, my whole body instantaneously was filled with joy. Dave and Josh might even tell you that I cracked a smile, but don't believe them. :scatman: I was taken back to my joyous childhood spent in western North Carolina.

Now what are circus peanuts made of anyway. They are like the kissing cousin to cotton candy. You're not sure what they are made of, but somehow you are drawn in to have some. The spongy texture and the banana (I think) like flavor had me hooked. :thumbsup: From this point on, this trip was about the circus peanut!

View attachment 92435
Some fall colors from my nightly hike to see if I could see some bears on the slopes of Mount Sheridan

View attachment 92436
Ditto


Well on day two, we set off for the fire lookout on the top of Mount Sheridan.

View attachment 92437
The shrubs were beautiful along the trail

On our way up the first draw, we saw a coyote making his way through the downfall.

View attachment 92438
A lot of long switchbacks on the way to the top. Dave, with Heart Lake below.

View attachment 92439
Factory Hill, that we passed on our way into Heart Lake

Most of the White Bark Pines up top have been killed due to beetles. :(

View attachment 92440
Dave, making his way through and old stand on White Bark Pine just below the summit.

View attachment 92441
Dave in action

View attachment 92442
Smoky view, with Flat Mountain, Flat Mountain Arm, Delusion Lake and Yellowstone Lake visible in the distance.

View attachment 92443
Well what do we have here? That's right, a circus peanut at the fire lookout.

View attachment 92448
The privy with a view

At this point, I somehow unscrewed my lens hood a bit, so the rest of my shots will show a some of the cover in them unless I am zoomed in. Oops! :(
Or maybe it was the circus peanut?

View attachment 92449
There are still a few healthy White Bark Pines that escaped the beetles.

View attachment 92450
Dave, on our way back down. Notice the excellent job he is doing of not cutting the switchback.

View attachment 92451
This is Dave in his element - at Rustic Geyser

Day 3 was a hike around Heart Lake using the now infamous Scat Trail along the southern end of the lake.

View attachment 92455
Anyone know what these bugs are called that jitter around on Heart Lake?

View attachment 92456View attachment 92457
A foggy morning on day 3

And now some more on that map of our southern route that @TractorDoc provided.

View attachment 92465
Clearly this route is accurate within National Map Accuracy Standards. I believe I actually jogged this route in order to lose my abductors, but
somehow they were able to find me. Notice the freakish stamina it took to almost reach elevation 7926. I then dropped back down to the
lake for water. Also, check out the thorough exploration of the drainage to the west of the outlet that the route enabled. Just beautiful!


View attachment 92458
Josh, near the beginning of the Scat Trail

View attachment 92460
Mount Sheridan and Factory Hill reflected in the lake

View attachment 92466
Remains of an owl pellet. I don't see any evidence that it ate a circus peanut.

View attachment 92467
Fording of the Heart River

View attachment 92468
Ah yes! Another circus peanut to get me the last 4 miles. My pinky finger is a lot like a Bison's tail - if it's straight up then that means
I am aggravated and best to keep a healthy distance. Josh is apparently ignoring the 25 yard rule of thumb. @Rockskipper, your
thoughts on this?


Our last day was noneventful, though somehow we managed to miss Aster Lake.

View attachment 92469
Sunrise on a smoky Heart Lake

View attachment 92470
Saying goodbye to Rustic Geyser and Columbia Pool

View attachment 92471
Point Man! You know, I did pretty good coming down into the Heart Lake Basin, but going back up was another story. :( Are
we there yet?


View attachment 92472
I promise you that Aster lake is through here. I just love when leaves on the shrubs turn red.

View attachment 92473
The Hole!

View attachment 92474
The best damn Oreo malt in the world! Be sure and order it with the dark malt. Moos in Jackson

View attachment 92475
And remember, do not feed the bears! :D

View attachment 92476
Hey, I wonder where these go? "Up," says @TractorDoc? :D

Well, that about raps up all the loose ends to this far fetched tale. Let's see, we had a couple of Buckeyes, a kidnapping, some bear bait, a crazy man from West Virginia, a mountain, a geyser, fog, a lens hood incident, an impressive trail on the south end, of course a lake, and last but not least a daily ration of circus peanuts. You just can't make this stuff up.

And now it is time for Dave's rebuttal. If I've taken liberties with anything please let the folks at BCP know. They deserve better than little old Scatman lies.

Thanks for the invite Dave. I had a great time. The nights were especially special with the elk right on top of us the first night and the coyotes taking their place on night two. And it is always special to hear wolves. Sorry to slow you two young bucks down. Youth! Pffft!!!! :)

Let's do it again in the future and maybe we can get some of these other scallywags to join us.

The End

PS - Since returning to Salt Lake, I have been to three separate stores and none of them carry circus peanuts. :cry: Though I have noticed that you can get a 20lbs. box of them on Amazon.

View attachment 92477
That was a brilliant second perspective. Another knee slapper. I know without a doubt that I dislike circus peanuts, but now I want to have one after reading this. Also that smoky sunrise shot is surreal.

Also, wonderful to see that you got your malt at Moos. I've had several malts at different places since we went there last October, but nothing compares.
 

Rockskipper

No ETA
.
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
2,511
The circus peanut is made of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, pectin, soy protein, food coloring, artificial banana flavor, and ground circus elephant toenails (that's what my inside source at Brach's says, thus the unreplicable flavor and why it's called a circus peanut).
 
Last edited:

TractorDoc

Member
.
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
158
I've been looking forward to your version of events Hugh -- its always rewarding (or eye opening) to learn how the same story is told from a different perspective. I suppose it was a good thing that I unpacked my bear bells to save weight when I returned to/locked the rental car! :lol:

I had packed and offered Hugh a variety of snack foods to try and win over his good graces (and also hope they would clear the grasshopper legs from his teeth) -- he seemed indifferent to the Reese's Pieces, freeze dried strawberries, and StroopWafels. . . but I could tell I hit a homerun with the Circus Peanuts when Hugh declared he wanted to take one to the top of Mount Sheridan. Those peanuts would always be in Grandma's cabinet when I would go to visit her and I always looked forward to them. . . as long as they were the orange ones. The multi-color packs with white and yellow flavors just don't compare. I have never ordered anything from Amazon but a 20lb. box could be tempting. . .

Hugh your pictures are fantastic! I'm sorry I kept calling every red plant "fireweed" and that I ever expressed even the slightest doubt about your scat-trail -- you may just have to contact National Geographic to have them update their topo maps.

I'd love to make Aster Lake up to you in the future Hugh. . . and I'd be all in for a BCP member Yellowstone get together sometime in the future. I'm thinking I'd like to put Dunanda Falls or Joseph's Coat/Hot Springs Basin area on a future location wish list. Then there is also/always the Belcher region with Mr. Bubbles and the Pitchstone Plateau. . .

This trip would not have been the same or had the half the appeal without you Hugh and it was a privilege and an honor to have met. :thumbsup:

I have yet to go thru all my pictures from this year's trip, but here are a few from the times when the Scatman was absent.

5J5A4960A.JPG


5J5A5774A.JPG
5J5A5227.JPG


5J5A4893A.JPG


5J5A4983A.JPG
 

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
1,461
The circus peanut is made of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, pectin, soy protein, food coloring, artificial banana flavor, and ground circus elephant toenails (that's what my inside source at Brach's says, thus the unreplicable flavor and why it's called a circus peanut).
So which ingredient got me to the top of Mount Sheridan? I'm guessing the elephant toenails.
 

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

Top