Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Alternate Summer Trail Adventure - Part 2 - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Into the woods

Along a portion of the Continental Divide Trail

Yellowstone National Park  adventures abound. On a rainy day at the Mammoth Hot Springs Visitor Center, my husband asks if I wanted to check out the backcountry camping office. I was surprised as I figured we would not be doing any further hikes after the Sangre de Cristo trip. But the park ranger offered us something we could not refuse – a hike along part of the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) to a geyser basin that can only be reached in the backcountry. And I said, “Yes!”

So off we went to experience another part of Yellowstone in the backcountry, minus the crowds we had to contend with. In fact, no hikers were around whatsoever. And yes, this is a mere week after a mama grizzly mauled a park visitor while on a backcountry trail (the first time in over 20 years). So we are equipped with bear spray and loud voices, some bad singing, etc to alert any wild animals of our presence. We hiked past Lone Star Geyser to see the geyser hiccupping with some steam for a small show, which was interesting. We continued hiking out to the CDT and headed up and over the Continental Divide. And in no time met snow along the way and lots of water from the melting and mud. Even though the snow was in spots, I was still glad we had not done the JMT earlier that month. For there to be snow in Yellowstone in late July, that’s a big snow year.

Skipper stands behind a huge snow drift on the CDT

Another horrendous issue was the mosquitoes. Man-eating, flying meanies they were, and it took every ounce of DEET and bug netting and anything else to keep them at bay. They were ravenous -biting knuckles, the back of earlobes, my upper lip, anything (sure, put DEET on a lip, yuck!)

But we did arrive at the Shoshone geyser basin to see our own assortment of thermal activity and geysers going off, one of which we affectionately called “Bliss Geyser.” 

With storm clouds building, we headed to our designated campsite for the night, all the while trying to outwit the hungry hordes of whining and buzzing blood-sucking beasts. The meal was quick as I dove into my tent just before the rain hit. 

But the next day we were out early before revelry sounded the mosquito horde, and we calmly ate our breakfast and packed up the site without any mosquito trouble. We hiked quickly back down the CDT, making good time to Lone Star Geyser, and what to our wandering eye did appear but a FULL geyser eruption! And even a rainbow to boot.

Blissful in front of Lone Star Geyser
 Yellowstone at its finest all the way around.

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