July 8-9th, 2010 – Yellowstone Adventures – Part 2

July 8th – Yellowstone Hiking – Day 2

So I was awoken last night to the sounds of wolves howling.  Just in case you forgot you were in a National Park, that sure brought it home.  Before setting out for our hikes for the day, we made some pancakes on the griddle plates we bought to go with the grill.  The kids just loved being in the cabin, and having “home cooked” meals.

Today, we were going to tackle Mt. Washburn.  It’s a 6 mile round trip hike with 1400 feet elevation gain.  I really wanted to do this hike, but then I talked myself out of it being pregnant.  Scott was sure we could do it, if we just went slow.  So, we decided to go for it.  Nothing like dying on my birthday I thought to myself.  They say, if you can only do one hike in Yellowstone, this is the hike to do.

Bison Jam

We started driving to the trail head when traffic just stopped.  We thought it was construction, but after zooming in with the camera, we found that we were victims of a bison jam.  Two bison decided that they would block traffic on each side of the road.  Cars had to carefully try to maneuver around these huge beasts.  It took quite some time, before it was finally our turn.  I’d just like to say, that I don’t prefer to be that close to wild bison again, where they are just staring at you with their huge eyes, and you don’t know if they are just going to walk on by, or if they will gore your car.  Thankfully, they both just walked by our car, so we could pass.  We finally arrived at Dunraven Pass, where the parking is limited, but was lucky enough to find a spot.  (You can continue on to Chittenden Road Parking area, and take a trail that leads you to the same summit.)

Bison Jam

We loaded up our backpacks with water and munchies, and we set out on the trail.  The book we bought says for this hike, “the hiking isn’t steep, but it is steady, and not difficult if taken at a slow pace.”  Well, I’d like to beg to differ.  The first part of the hike really tested my desire to do this hike, as I found it pretty steep, and found myself huffing and puffing.  Now it could be, because I am 5 months pregnant, and lugging a bit more weight than I’m used to.  It did eventually level out for a bit, so I could catch my breath.

Mt. Washburn Trail

It was a steady up, that’s for sure, and lots of switchbacks to get to the lookout tower.  It was an amazing hike, though, with gorgeous views the whole way up.  Some of the hikers before us found some bighorn sheep on one of the ridges, but by the time we had gotten there, they had moved on, and couldn’t spot them.

Us at the top of Mt. Washburn

At the top, we enjoyed the view for awhile, had some snacks, checked out the lookout tower which is really a fire tower, and then headed back down.  Shortly after going down, a coyote came down the hillside right in front of us, and became our trail guide down the mountain.  He paid no mind to people as they were coming up, and just continued down the trail for quite some time before finally branching off the trail.

Our coyote trail guide

Once reaching the bottom, we headed over to another trail that we missed out doing 2 years ago, Uncle Tom’s Trail.  It’s a 1 mile hike downhill to the base of the Lower Falls.  The trail descends using switchbacks to get to the 328 metal stairs leading into the canyon.  Going down was definitely easy…coming back up was not.  Thankfully there are metal benches along the way for those much-needed rests.  The view of the falls was gorgeous at the bottom, and I was thankful we had done the 6 mile hike first.

Lower Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail

On our way back to the cabin, we decided to stop by the Mud Volcano area.  The Mud Volcano Area  is very acidic.  Iron sulfide is responsible for the dark-gray, blacker brown-colored water, while hydrogen sulfide produces the “rotten egg” smell common to the area.  The kids really liked the Dragon’s Mouth Spring as it produced this noise that sounded like a dragon breathing fire.  We learned that as the hot water rises to the surface, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and water vapor gases expand, creating a pressure explosion in the cavern. The resulting activity is sloshing, belching, and steaming.

Dragon's Mouth Spring

The Fishing Bridge was on our way back to the cabin, so Scott and Brittany stopped to check it out.  Cole and I chose to stay in the car, as my feet were just dying from the blister I had received the day before, and all the hiking we had done today.  Historically, it was a favorite spot for fisherman to come and get a great catch. It was a major spawning location for cutthroat trout. The bridge was rebuilt in 1937 with a little different alignment than the first log bridge. Currently the bridge is closed to fishing but is used as a place to observe the fish swimming below.

Fishing Bridge

Once back at our cabin, we grilled up some hot dogs, and then went to the General Store for some really good ice cream cones.  We ended the evening with a board game of Monopoly back at the cabin.

July 9th – Heading Home

We were supposed to be heading to Spokane today, but with the car trouble we have had on the trip, we decided not to go the extra 7 hours north to visit Scott’s friend, and possibly get stuck up there.  We took the southern exit out of the park, so we could go through Jackson, WY again.  When we visited Yellowstone, 2 years ago, we stayed in Jackson, and really loved it there.  We were able to find a restaurant we loved, Teton Steakhouse, a local favorite, and had lunch there.  We stopped in Ogden to visit the Babies R Us store, and bought a few baby items, small things we could fit, in the already full trunk.  We made it home about midnight, all of us dead tired, but thankful the car made it, and happy to be sleeping in our own beds.

To see more pictures from our Yellowstone adventures, there are 2 albums.
July 7th Album and July 8th Album.  Enjoy!

From the top of Mt. Washburn

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