Yellowstone (The Heart and Forest to Shoshone)
- CDT Miles: 1,951.6-1,976.8 (25.2)
- Trail Creek Trail: 1.5 miles
- Total Hiked: 1,101.6 miles
- Elevation Range: 7,460-8,200 feet
“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” – J.K. Rowling
We did not take out a twelve-foot mountain troll today, but hiking together on the CDT feels like we’re overcoming obstacles left and right and today was no exception.
I must have slept like a rock last night because I apparently missed a herd of elk going through the meadow last night, bugling and everything, and also some coyotes howling and yipping this morning. I was up and ready early though and went out to the meadow to see if I could spot any wildlife. Nada. But, nice remnants of a sunrise…
We got going around 6:10am and crusied on our trail back to the CDT. It started cold, but warmed up quickly.
As had been our tradition of late, we had to drown our socks and shoes and feetsies crossing a stream to get there. Just lovely getting the opportunity to do that right away during the cold morning. Knowing we had a big day ahead, we didn’t let this deter us and we continued onwards towards our goal.
A little after 8:00am, I stopped to delayer and bug spray up, but once going again soon popped out to a large lake (Heart Lake) with two smelly hikers taking their breakfast. I joined and it was an awesome site and an awesome moment. The water was still, their were all kinds of geese, ducks, and the most elegant and beautiful white pelican that soared towards us and then angled away circling before landing near a distant shore.
Near that same shore was our first Yellowstone geothermal feature of the trip, Rustic Geyser. One spot had continuous steam rising and another we noticed came twice during our stay just for a few seconds only. We even had some deer try to sneak up on us, but got spooked upon seeing how haggard I looked. Pretty neat experience!
Once going again, we walked right on the shore for a bit before turning back inland.
We talked to a father and son taking a break that were planning to climb the peak you’ve seen in the last couple pics, Sheridan Peak. They let us know we’d be seeing even more geothermal thingamabobs over the next few miles and sure enough, we did…
At one point, we stopped to fill up water and filter. Turns out, it was hot! Like 90-95 degrees I’d guess. Could’ve used it for the tea I’ve been carrying since New Mexico.
Speaking of New Mexico… we had a hiker come by at the creek who I’d met in New Mexico, Little Skittles. And, she was finishing today! She’d done half last year and this was her last day to connect it all together. We gave some congratulations and wished her well as a mosquito flew into her mouth. Other than that unpleasant experience, not a bad spot to finish a CDT expedition 🙂
The middle part of the day wasn’t all that dramatically spectacular. It wasn’t what I’d expected really. I was thinking I’d see big wide open meadows and boardwalks and people, but not so much. That’s what I remember as a kid when my family did a super duper road trip here, but must have been in a more populated part of the park. Today felt pretty dang remote even at the trailhead we crossed through, we talked to one person there. The midday hike was a lot of green tunnel forest. Still quite nice though and really nice trail for the most part.
Around 3:00pm, we made it to the eastern shore of Shoshone Lake. We’d been pushing it hard and were enjoying the nice lava stone beach, filtering water and such, when I had a thought… It’s hot, there’s a big giant lake in front of me, I’m going in. Didn’t even tell Snickers and Cheer, just off with the shirt, quick check that the pockets were empty, and started wading out. It was cold, but not super cold. Last minute, before my dive I remembered the glasses (almost pulled another Stevie Wonder move!) and held them up as I went under. Very refreshing! And after putting my glasses on the shore, I went back for another round, this time running and jumping in. The others even decided to go to, so it was a trio of barking dogs swim. Good fun and we were all rejuvenated for the end of the day. For a while at least.
My new to me super hiker thrift shirt shows stains a little more than my old classic blue. The shirt, the long hair, beard, worn look… I’m feel I’m really pulling of the thru-hiker look nowadays.
Next up was crossing the lake at the spot where it turns into a river. It was deep, but slow, and we had fun with the crossing having already just been swimming.
We went up and got some awesome views of the lake down below. Then, it was into the forest for about 8 miles til we popped out near our camp at the western shore of the lake (yeah, it’s a big one). More forest views…
About a mile before camp, we were trekking along, feeling real tired and ready for camp. I was up front crossing a creek when I hear something in the woods off to my left. It sounded like a bear noise to me. Not a roar, but something similar maybe. Short. And then a sort of sniff and the movement of what sounded like something big. This all happened in about a second and I had some instincts kick in. I said out load, “Hey Bear” and am happy to report my hands went straight to the bear spray strapped to my chest. Snickers could tell my “Hey Bear” wasn’t one of our usual ones that we do and after seeing me looking to the left, got out his spray too. Then Cheer followed suit. Safety’s off, we were ready. It sort of felt like we were in Ghostbusters… “Don’t cross the streams.”
Snickers hadn’t heard the noise because his bell is so loud, but Cheer did. I looked around where I thought I heard it and thought I saw a bear head. The plan we’d made ahead of time was for the lead person, me, to spray first if it charged close enough to us. That way we wouldn’t all use our spray at once. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that and we were able to just keep going down the trail while simultaneously checking it wasn’t coming at us and keeping our spray at the ready.
So yeah. That was pretty intense. Afterwards, I was doubting myself what I’d heard and what I thought seen. The only thing making me think it was indeed a bear was that this hasn’t happened once before and my instincts kicked in so suddenly. Who knows.
Well, we had a mile left and our once wonderfully nice trail deteriorated into sketchy steep down slope with loose gravel and cobbkes. The mosquitos were hell. Basically a rough go. But then we popped out to the lake and everything seemed brighter.
Got the full rain suit on and head net to protect and then made it the last bit to camp.
We were just off shore from Shoshone Lake and it was a beaut. We got set up and had our dinner out along the shore. The mosquitos were targeting me personally as opposed to Cheer who they normally prefer. We persevered though and even returned to the lake after hanging our food bags to watch some color show up in the sky. A few ominous clouds, but we were just happy to be in camp in beautiful Yellowstone National Park having hiked a freaking marathon today. Woohoo!
Timed photo fail after I fell down and simultaneously scratched my mosquito bitten hand…
Podcast of the Day
“How I Built This with Guy Raz – Planet: Will Marshall and Robbie Schingler”
“Serial – The Improvement Association: Chapter 1“