Yellowstone's Thorofare and the Teton Wilderness 08/09/2023 - 08/18/2023 Part Nine / Day Nine + Ten!

TractorDoc

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Day Nine. August 17, 2023.

I did not have a least favorite day on this trip, but if I had to pick the least best day it would be day nine. At day nine all my adjustments to Hugh's plan, all the unexplored territory, and all the must see areas had been completed, explored, or seen. It reminded me of taking a long road trip and the feeling experienced when it came time to make the drive back home. The return drive passed thru some interesting and often beautiful areas, but they were overshadowed by the places I had already been. The drive was still "vacation" but felt a little bit like work too.

A second least best part to day nine was our loss of @Bob . While Scott, Hugh, and I planned on camping one more night before reaching the trailhead at Brooks Lake, Bob intended to hike the full distance out today and make his way back home. I was at least comforted by the fact that this was his plan from the beginning and my antics/picture taking did not influence him to bail early. :)

Finally, there was the situation with @scatman . All was not well when it came to the delicate balance of the Scatster's internal plumbing. Was it the result of a defective Steri-Pen? Could it be Bob's Sock Water Revenge? A contaminated Circus Peanut? (Unlikely). Whatever the case Hugh was not feeling like his normal, jovial self and it is difficult (for me) to have a good time when a member of the group is not having a good time. I did my best to keep the glass half full around Hugh, but it really did not matter how full it was. Even the smallest sip from my glass of optimism would go right thru him. :oops:

Today's first picture is of @Bob leaving us. We thought there might be a chance of catching him somewhere on the trail but he must have skipped the usual trailside naps. This was the last we saw of him.

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Looking back down the drainage to the South Buffalo Fork. We hiked in from there yesterday.

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The same view as Hugh conquers the hill between last night's campsite and the drainage to Cub Creek.

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Plenty of beauty on day nine, including this flower lined waterway trickling in the same general direction we were walking.

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The views down Cub Creek surpassed those on day one during our hike down the Thorofare. Somehow I took more pictures on day one.

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Hugh is one tough cookie. He kept his normal pace even though he was not feeling well.

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Day nine wildflowers. Scarlet Paintbrush is one of may favorites. This could be the least best paintbrush picture I took. :)

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If you have read previous installments of this trip report you may recall that I have a lengthy stride and on occasion find myself ahead of my companions on the trail. Such was the case during a portion of our hike down Cub Creek. I would walk a distance ahead, then stop to catch my breath (usually in a shady spot) until I could see Scott or Hugh on the trail behind me. I was able to walk at my own pace, take frequent rest stops out of the sun, and even allowed a chance animal encounter or two. This had been a good system. . . up to today.

My quick pace had consequences about halfway into today's hike though. I walked ahead and after about 10 minutes from my last Scott sighting I stopped under a shady pine to wait for the others. A short time later Scott emerged from the trees and we decided to wait for Hugh to catch up. We waited. Five minutes turned to ten (or longer) and we started to become concerned for @scatman 's well being. We drew straws and I dropped my pack in order to walk back down the trail to find Hugh (did I win or did I lose? :D ). I walked a couple hundred yards and every so often would yell "Hugh!" in as loud a voice as I could muster. Finally, after bellowing out enough noise to scare wildlife for miles around, I heard a frustrated "WHAT!" in reply. At least that is what I think he said. The good news was that Hugh was alive. The bad news was he did not sound happy. Via shout back and forth Hugh asked if I was on the high trail or low trail. I yelled back that I was on the high trail (I did not know there was a low trail, but he sounded like he was lower than my position). All I heard back was a curse word. . . then silence.

After some worrisome minutes, I met Hugh in person on the "high" trail. In a perfect storm of coincidence Hugh had encountered what must have been a fork in the trail -- leading to a high and a low trail near Cub Creek. Earlier in the day we (as a group) looked at the trails shown on the cell phone map and there was a South turning spur trail along Cub Creek we considered taking as a shortcut. This spur was much farther ahead of us, but Hugh thought we passed it and that Scott and I must have taken the shortcut. He says he saw a boot print on the lower trail. Perhaps it was Bob's?

I have hiked with Hugh for several years now. While we have not yet developed uninhibited mental telepathy, I hope Hugh knows I would never encounter a fork in the trail and continue on without him knowing the direction. I blame my lack of noticing the fork (I should have waited there) for the confusion. That and Bob's boot print. On the bright side the gang was back together and we could continue towards our destination. It goes without saying that I did not wander too far from Hugh and Scott in unknown territory for the rest of the trip.

I think this picture was taken near the location of those tense moments on Cub Creek. This would be the high trail. :)

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A little later in the day. The main trail starts to climb the ridge to the North of the creek.

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Looking down on Cub Creek.

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Another view upstream. Note that both Scott and Hugh are visible. :)

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We never did take the shortcut/spur trail. No obvious path was visible where it was supposed to be and the line on the cell phone map led us to a drop down a very steep portion of the hill. The last thing I wanted to do was lead Hugh down a potential dead end/treacherous path when he was not feeling well, so we stuck with what we knew and followed the main, official trail.

Taking the long way to our campsite.

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The ridge above Cub Creek provided a nice view of where we wanted to be. We could see several CDT hiker tents setup in the green, grassy area at the center of the picture.

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The last picture of Scott and Hugh I have for day nine as we made our way down to Cub Creek. I knew my normal campsite photo session would be the last thing Hugh would want to participate in, so the camera stayed packed away.

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I did take this picture of day nine's dinner. Day nine may have been our least best campsite.

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This brings day nine to a close. We covered a good chunk of ground that would set us up for an easy walk to the trailhead on day ten. Bob was in our thoughts and we hoped he made it to his truck at a reasonable hour. Hugh was obviously exhausted and for good reason. I knew he was tough but today he was on another level of resilience. I'm not sure how I would perform if I was his situation. . . but I hope to never find out. We encountered some of the first people we had seen in days. Most were nice and chatted for a few minutes, some were like walking zombies that barely acknowledged our presence. I already missed having the trail and wilderness to ourselves and knew I would have to acclimate back to the world of people soon. Not just yet though. I intended to sleep well and enjoy my last night in the Teton Wilderness, even if it was the least best one.

Track for Day Nine:

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Day Ten: August 18, 2023.

The best part of day ten was that @scatman was starting to feel better. The worst part of day ten was that we'd be finishing our grand Yellowstone/Teton Wilderness trip. All good things have an ending, right? I suppose that is so another good thing can have a beginning.

It had rained a good amount over the night, some of the first precipitation we had encountered since day one. I'd like to think it was the Teton Wilderness shedding tears of sadness over our departure. I hope it was not tears of happiness. :)

A foggy morning view up Cub Creek.

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A similar view a little later in the morning.

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Before packing everything up, I took this picture of all the food I had left after ten days. Half a bag of Circus Peanuts, three quarters a bag of almonds, and a pouch of freeze dried ice cream. I could have made it for at least two more nights!

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Group picture before leaving camp. The gang is back together and feeling good. Not sure why I chose to wear sunglasses on this one. At least @scatman is smiling. :scatman:

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The walk to the Brooks Lake Trailhead follows a portion of the Continental Divide Trail. Hugh say's we are CDTers now.

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The rain had left its mark on the trail and several nice mudholes lined the path forward.

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We climbed thru dense forest, crossed the Continental Divide, and emerged from the Teton Wilderness to a nice view of Upper Brooks Lake.

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The valley leading to Brooks Lake held the first man made buildings we had seen since the Thorofare Patrol Cabin.

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The Subaru is that-a-way!

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Hugh making his crossing of Brooks Lake Creek.

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One last look back at the Teton Wilderness. I do hope I get to return one day.

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Squint just right and you might be able to make out a guy in a kilt sitting on that porch. That is what I see anyway.

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The final descent to Brooks Lake. Nice to see Hugh back in the middle of the pack again. :thumbsup:

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Brooks Lake. Looks lovely, doesn't it?

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Our chariot awaits!

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Hugh is ready to drive us back to Yellowstone. . . if only he can remember where he put the keys.

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One last group shot (minus Bob of course) at the finish line.

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Hugh and the Subaru drove us thru some scenic territory on the way to the Tetons and Signal Mountain Lodge. This was my first time passing thru this part of Wyoming and I was happy to be a passenger to take in the views. Getting out of the car at Signal Mountain was more difficult than expected; apparently sitting in a Subaru was not a position that one experiences in the wilderness. I managed to get the kinks out and made it to the table at the restaurant. An order for the "Mountain of Nachos" was promptly placed in addition to my request for a side of garlic fries.

Allow me to treat you to my favorite picture from day 10. :)

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I wonder what the poor guy in the background is looking at on his phone.

We cleaned our plates and continued on to retrieve our rental car then stay in an Old Faithful cabin for the night. Hugh went to bed early while Scott and I caught the sunset on the Upper Geyser Basin boardwalk. Our return to civilization was official.

The GPS Track for Day 10 (the hiking part anyway) and them some final thoughts to follow.

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In summary, this was an amazing trip. Although I hope it is not, it could be a once in a lifetime adventure that I will be forever grateful to have experienced. I was pleased that I had trained/planned in a way that allowed me to cross the finish line with confidence. I consumed nearly all my food (the Circus Peanuts did not make it to Brooks Lake) and put almost everything I had packed to use. At no point did I feel like I was missing, forgetting, or wanting something I did not bring with me. The only items I carried but did not need/use were two camera batteries, my pack cover, and my rain jacket. I was happy to carry the rain jacket/pack cover and not need them though. My feet are back to normal but I do not think my knees are quite there yet. Perhaps a couple more months of being in sloth-mode will help with that.

I could not have asked for better trail companions. Hugh, Scott, and Bob are some of the most pleasant, knowledgeable, and entertaining people a person could spend time in the backcountry with. I'd jump at the chance to plan another trip with any of them if the opportunity presented itself. Hidden Creek, Turner Fork, the trail at the bottom of Mojo Pass, the base of Bob's Waterfall. . . there are some boxes we left unchecked this time around. Hugh says he is hanging up the hiking boots for any future long trips; maybe we can convince him to participate in an extended medium length trip instead. :)

Thank You Hugh, Scott, and Bob for inviting me along and allowing me to experience something exceptional. I always say the best part of travel is retrospect. These trip reports support that idea but not completely because nothing will surpass being where we were in the moment. Seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting (if you count Bob's sock water) Yellowstone's Thorofare and the Teton Wilderness was amazing. Hugh likes to sum up his trips with a single word to describe the entire experience. Such a word has been linked to some of our adventures in the past, but I cannot think of a more fitting title to bestow on those ten days in August. They were, without question, truly Epic.

Thanks for reading. The End!
 
Scat did drop that Circus Peanut on the ground...... maybe landed in some animal scat....???

I did go the low trail....it was fine..... in my book.
 
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Good job, now next year we will do the .............................................. ? I promise the daily mileges will be shorter, but maybe not flatter.
 
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Very nice! I have a photo of that view down from the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork hanging in my office. It's also the banner picture on my profile, but you can't tell because it's cut off.

Is the "south turning spur trail" you mentioned the one that crosses Cub Creek about 3/4 of the way down? When I was there, we crossed it at the spot marked around 43.81559, -109.99370 on the trail shown in the USFS map. The trail was not in great shape and was hard to follow after a while. We eventually lost it completely and ended up bushwhacking the last half mile or so to get to the main trail back to Brooks Lake. Ended up in some marshy mess a few times.
 
What a Great Trip Report and photos! Have loved this whole series. It has been really fabulous and you have done a superb job in telling the hike. Good for you! As for Cub Creek, have been on both the high and low trails and love Cub Creek. It is actually quite a nice drainage. Love this whole Absaroka - South Absaroka Wildland Area. Do think next summer it will be time to go back into this country with just taking my time and seeing it all again. There is still so much good wild country in here, to really see and experience it all would take lifetimes do think. Thanks Thanks Thanks Again for the Fabulous Report. It brought back many good memories. Wishing you the best.
 
Thanks for sharing these. I have Thorough-ly enjoyed the reports and banter and the different POVs of the same trip. The pictures are also great.
It is nice as it cools and gets dark to be reminded of late summer in the high country.

It also makes me want to get into Yellowstone. I will need to.
 
Very nice! I have a photo of that view down from the headwaters of the South Buffalo Fork hanging in my office. It's also the banner picture on my profile, but you can't tell because it's cut off.

Is the "south turning spur trail" you mentioned the one that crosses Cub Creek about 3/4 of the way down? When I was there, we crossed it at the spot marked around 43.81559, -109.99370 on the trail shown in the USFS map. The trail was not in great shape and was hard to follow after a while. We eventually lost it completely and ended up bushwhacking the last half mile or so to get to the main trail back to Brooks Lake. Ended up in some marshy mess a few times.

That is the point where we looked at the "trail" heading down to the creek and said this looks terrible, let's go ahead and stay high on the obvious trail. Not sure we made the right decision, but bushwacking would not have been good.
 
That is the point where we looked at the "trail" heading down to the creek and said this looks terrible, let's go ahead and stay high on the obvious trail. Not sure we made the right decision, but bushwacking would not have been good.
Yep i had that as the trail out. Even on GE you cant follow it all the way thru and its timber. After getting there and looking on the ground, even tho shorter it looked like a bad brushy option. Way faaster walking on the open slope trail
 
That is the point where we looked at the "trail" heading down to the creek and said this looks terrible, let's go ahead and stay high on the obvious trail. Not sure we made the right decision, but bushwacking would not have been good.
It's probably a wash haha. The bushwhack probably lost us most of the time we were trying to save by taking the shorter route.

I don't remember it being too bad down to the creek, but maybe it's gotten worse since I was there a bit over 6 years ago, or I just don't remember that stretch of trail very well haha. I seem to remember it being somewhat of a "choose your own adventure." The climb up the opposite bank was pretty steep and loose though. Here's a shot from when I had already crossed and gone up the bank.

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Edit: thinking about it a bit more, I remember wondering at a few points when we needed to start heading toward the creek, so we may have gone a slightly different route. Honestly don't know. You guys have the much fresher recollection so I trust it looked pretty bad.
 
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Scat did drop that Circus Peanut on the ground...... maybe landed in some animal scat....???
A reasonable hypothesis.
Good job, now next year we will do the .............................................. ? I promise the daily mileges will be shorter, but maybe not flatter.
If I can make my schedule work Bob I'm in! I've seen some of your trip reports. . . Bob miles may be shorter, but they are definitely steeper. :)

What a Great Trip Report and photos! Have loved this whole series. It has been really fabulous and you have done a superb job in telling the hike.
Thank You @Kmatjhwy . I've enjoyed your feedback the entire way.
Do think next summer it will be time to go back into this country with just taking my time and seeing it all again.
You never know. . . we might cross paths!

Thanks for sharing these. I have Thorough-ly enjoyed the reports and banter and the different POVs of the same trip. The pictures are also great.
It is nice as it cools and gets dark to be reminded of late summer in the high country.

It also makes me want to get into Yellowstone. I will need to.
Thanks @Ugly . I have not been slow to post on purpose, but it is nice to reflect on more pleasant/warm times as the weather has cooled off. Yellowstone = you do need to get in there. :)
 
Is the "south turning spur trail" you mentioned the one that crosses Cub Creek about 3/4 of the way down?
I think so. At least that is what it looks like on the cell phone map.

The trail was not in great shape and was hard to follow after a while. We eventually lost it completely and ended up bushwhacking the last half mile or so to get to the main trail back to Brooks Lake. Ended up in some marshy mess a few times.
That is the point where we looked at the "trail" heading down to the creek and said this looks terrible, let's go ahead and stay high on the obvious trail.
Yep i had that as the trail out. Even on GE you cant follow it all the way thru and its timber. After getting there and looking on the ground, even tho shorter it looked like a bad brushy option. Way faaster walking on the open slope trail
maybe it's gotten worse since I was there a bit over 6 years ago
And I can confirm that even on the ground you can't follow it all the way through haha.

After reading all this I'm glad we stuck to the main trail. I know Hugh would have made it thru the bushwhack but I'm sure his body did not need the extra stress.
OR maybe a little cross country travel would have been just what the Scatman needed to recalibrate his GI tract. I guess we will never know. . . :)
 
tractordoc. Throw out the dates you can venture west and we will see,.....
 
It saddens me so to have this series of reports come to an end. :cry: You've done an excellent job with all of them @TractorDoc. I think maybe you need to make up a day 11, 12, 13 and 14 so this can continue. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Day nine was a tough one for me. I was done by the time we reached camp, actually when we hit Cub Creek. I remember sitting down to eat dinner, and just shaking. I did feel a little better after eating dinner, and even better the next morning after getting a good night's sleep. Still not sure what caused it though. Circus Peanuts are impervious to picking up bacteria, even after being on the ground for days, weeks or months. :D It was odd not having @Bob with us on this day.

The infamous cutoff trail almost did me in too. I guess it turned out not the be the cutoff, but in my delirious state of mind how was I to know? :) I actually started off on the high trail, but after yelling out "Yo!" time and time again, I figured you guys must have taken the low road, so I turned around and went back to the junction and went left this time. I saw what must have been Bob's boot print on the trail and thought this is the way they went. When I gave out one last "Yo!", you answered from above, so I turned around again and headed back to the junction and turned back onto the high trail. I think I did about 11 miles total on day nine. Can you see why I am retiring now? :scatman:

View from Bob's cutoff trail, that ran next to Cub Creek. Who new it eventually married up with the high trail? :)
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The views back up Cub Creek were nice I thought. I didn't really equate one day's scenery to the next, I'm kind of weird that way. I thought it was all beautiful from day one to day ten. Maybe I was just glad to get to see it all again.

On day ten, getting up that first hill was a slow go. Once I got to the top I knew that I'd make it to trails end. Maybe on all fours, but I'd make it. :)

I can't believe you didn't include a shot of the mule train on the last day. Obviously report worthy, no? :D

I'm glad the Subaru got you guys back to Old Faithful, because the alternator went out on it the day after I got back from Jellystone.

I could really go for another plate of those mountain high nachos. Burger Boy is hungry! :hungry:

I want to thank you Dave, @wsp_scott, and @Bob for making this trip happen. I couldn't think of three better people to spend time in the backcountry with. I'm as stubborn as a mule, and not so easy to get along with, so I know the sacrifices you guys had to make. Again, much appreciated.

I'll shut my trap now, but before I go, I wanted to share this shot of @TractorDoc, which was my favorite of him that I took on this trip.
You look like you are in your element and scanning your domain.

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Great report!
 
Yep that was the low trail... Cakewalk, should have stayed on it.. met with the high trail
 
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Thank you so much for your trip reports - as well as those posted by your compatriots. This is one of my favorite places on the planet and it's been a joy to follow along w/ your day-by-day impressions.

On the other hand, I'm already antsy to get back out there and this is definitely not helping. ;)
 
I did feel a little better after eating dinner, and even better the next morning after getting a good night's sleep. Still not sure what caused it though.

You looked a lot better after dinner, especially compared to a couple hours earlier, almost human. By morning you seemed back to normal.

Glad you survived, I can only imagine the conversation Dave and I would have had.

Me: I say we leave the body, the bears need something to eat.
Dave: I think we should try to carry him out, you know "leave no trace and all"
Me: He looks really heavy, Sheila doesn't need to see this.
Dave: LNT!?!

It would have taken us hours to figure it all out :)

sorry to hear about the alternator, but you mentioned that you were thinking about a new car, maybe that was a sign :)
 
I actually started off on the high trail, but after yelling out "Yo!" time and time again, I figured you guys must have taken the low road, so I turned around and went back to the junction and went left this time.
I do remember Scott saying he thought he heard people's voices at one point. We stopped, listened, and heard nothing. I probably told him he was hearing things.

Can you see why I am retiring now? :scatman:
Not at all.

View from Bob's cutoff trail, that ran next to Cub Creek. Who new it eventually married up with the high trail? :)
When we were shouting back and forth I tried to tell you that I had a good view of Cub Creek from the "high trail" and that you should just keep following the low trail. You must have turned your ears off by then though.

On day ten, getting up that first hill was a slow go.
We were definitely slowed by all the mud holes.

I can't believe you didn't include a shot of the mule train on the last day. Obviously report worthy, no? :D
Very worthy. I remembered someone nearly killed a mule by taking its picture the last time we saw some so I was not taking any chances.

I'm glad the Subaru got you guys back to Old Faithful, because the alternator went out on it the day after I got back from Jellystone.
I'm glad it got you back to Salt Lake!

I want to thank you Dave, @wsp_scott, and @Bob for making this trip happen. I couldn't think of three better people to spend time in the backcountry with. I'm as stubborn as a mule, and not so easy to get along with, so I know the sacrifices you guys had to make. Again, much appreciated.
We all have our traits/quirks that make us who we are. I enjoy the challenge of making the stubborn, not easy to get along with types smile and laugh. I don't recall having to make any sacrifices. . . unless you count the extra pairs of socks and bottle of whiskey I left behind in the rental car's trunk. :)

Thank you so much for your trip reports - as well as those posted by your compatriots. This is one of my favorite places on the planet and it's been a joy to follow along w/ your day-by-day impressions.
The trip reports are a souvenir of sorts for me. I can take a lot of pictures, store them on the picture card, then toss them in a drawer when I get home and forget some of the details of what happened. By going thru the images and posting the report(s) the memories stay fresh and I have a visual reference to relive the experience. I'm happy to post them -- thank you for taking the time to read them! I share your love for this area of the world and do look forward to making my next trip back.

Glad you survived, I can only imagine the conversation Dave and I would have had.

Me: I say we leave the body, the bears need something to eat.
Dave: I think we should try to carry him out, you know "leave no trace and all"
Me: He looks really heavy, Sheila doesn't need to see this.
Dave: LNT!?!
Hmmm. I don't know that our conversation would have been that long. I could have easily been convinced to "leave the body." :D

I'd reason that there is probably nowhere else @scatman would rather be left. . . unless it was somewhere on the Howard Eaton Trail. And you are right, he would be really heavy. :lol:
 
I saw what must have been Bob's boot print on the trail and thought this is the way they went. When I gave out one last "Yo!", you answered from above, so I turned around again and headed back to the junction and turned back onto the high trail. I think I did about 11 miles total on day nine. Can you see why I am retiring now? :scatman:

Should know I find what's usually easier .. like the nice trail in my canyon. You are not old enough to retire... 11 miles.. phfft. I went the entire 151/2 m remember. Besides you still have hidden pass to do.
 
Very worthy. I remembered someone nearly killed a mule by taking its picture the last time we saw some so I was not taking any chances.
That was a HORSE - they're flighty things.

I would have gladly carried the body out, except knowing Scatster, he would've somehow managed to take me out with him.

As for him retiring, I bet by next spring he's rarin' to go. If not, we'll get him on a pack trip.
 
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scatman Rescue Creek - Yellowstone National Park Meet Up (Members Only) 19
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Georgia Yankee Where to see/hear wolves Yellowstone NP backcountry in September? Trip Planning 16
TractorDoc Yellowstone's Wrangler Lake, Bog Creek, Joseph's Coat Springs, Broad Creek, Wapiti Lake, Hot Springs Basin, and Pelican Valley. Part One of Two. Backpacking 61

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