Day 4: Snow
Because I wear ear plugs when I sleep I often don't know what is going on around me. In grizzle country I worry about this. I worry that the first I'll know of a bear in camp is being dragged out of my tend by my foot. But I do sleep better and after not seeing signs of bears for a couple days I'm beginning to relax. So it is that I wake in the middle of the night to discover it has been snowing for hours. The mega mid does OK with this, but it is not exactly cozy. We periodically have to knock the snow off the walls but this causes condensation to rain down inside.
I worry about how difficult the hiking may get. I imagine struggling through knee deep snow. It turns out to be not so bad. We head for Marian lake, which is serviced by trail, in case the cross country travel is too difficult. Then we loop over to Otter, Jordan, and Farley where we stop for lunch with hot tea. The weather is not too bad but the clouds remain thick and threaten to rain at any time. Camp high another night or hike toward the trail head? As we finish lunch the rain starts again and stays all afternoon. We hoof it out on the trail.
I see a line of prints crossing ours. Hmm, someone in bear feet. Further down we see more bear prints on the trail, heading the opposite way we are going, which is good.
We stop briefly at Copeland lake but don't much like it and continue. Andrew finds a nice rock bench with views to camp on.
Day 5: To the Car
This day turns into a longer slog than we expected. But, by mid afternoon we are at the car.
Soon after that we have warm lates and cookies from a cafe. We enter Yellowstone and drive through the beautiful Lamont valley. We snag one of the last camp sites, have a decent dinner in the restaurant, then retire to the hotel lobby for an evening of reading in modern shelter.
Day 6: Mammoth
We take a ranger tour of the hot springs then hike the board walks. The scope of geothermal activity here is huge. We look at the large active spring. Beyond that is a huge inactive spring. Then we are told that the whole ridge above us was deposited by thermal activity.
The other amazing thing about yellowstone is the mega-fauna on the front lawn. Buffalo right in front of the court house. The elk are mating and we saw several males trying to bother the women. Their bugle is an erie sound. I was woken several times by elk grazing just out side my little mega-mid.
On the way out of town I we stop at the hot springs. This is a huge flow of hot water from under ground. The spring itself would be too hot to enter. Where it flows into the Gardner Pools have been created to control the mixing. This is not a complete success. I frequently go from too hot to too cold. But, because of the huge water flow and the generally upright character of NPS patrol, these natural hot springs feel clean and non-creapy.
It is a long drive.
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