Today is our last day of the vacation. It went by entirely too fast as usual.
Last night was the only night of the trip that stayed completely dry. We were able to pack up and leave camp without getting ourselves soaked in the process. The day was looking up already!
The hike out was uneventful and in trees all day with very little to see. As we passed close to campsite 0A1, we found some recent bear tracks in the mud. They looked less than 24 hours old. This was obviously a grizzly and, from the size, a rather large one. Not what you want a surprise encounter with on the trail, but it would have been great to see him from a distance.
A mile or two later we reached Lone Star Geyser and began to see people again. We found out from some of them that we missed the eruption by about 10 minutes and the next was 2-3 hours away. Not wanting to wait, we settled for this photo and moved on.
After leaving Lone Star Geyser, the trail becomes a road which is paved in spots. There were many hikers and bicyclists headed to the Geyser along the trail. We were clearly back in civilization now, which made me kind of sad. When we got to the trailhead, we found that we weren’t the only ones to notice the bear:
At the trailhead we were approached by two young men in an US National Guard van. They were recruiters for the Guard and had a few days off to visit Yellowstone. They were curious about our trip as we were the only people there with full packs. We talked for some time and they introduced themselves as Josh and Alex. It turns out that they were headed our way and were kind enough to offer us a ride to our car. I’d like to thank both of them for the ride and their service to our country. They struck me as fine examples of the kind of people serving in this country’s military.
After we got back to our car we drove to Fishing Bridge for lunch and a well deserved beer. After that we headed to Cody Wyoming for the night. We took a much needed shower and then had a steak dinner at the Wyoming Rib and Chop house, which was outstanding. I had the NY strip and Sara had the Bison Rib Eye. We called our family to let them know we were safe and went to bed. The next day we drove home, stopping in Lyons on the way to pick up our new Brittany puppy Hazel. She’s a sweet puppy and it will be nice to have one around again. It’s been awhile, our current dog is 13 years old.
Some final thoughts on this vacation:
Yellowstone National Park is an amazing place to hike. It’s very odd because the trails are extremely well maintained and there’s nobody on them. Living in the Front Range of Colorado, you become used to crowded trails and trailhead parking. You usually see people every couple of minutes while on the trail. In Yellowstone, you see almost nobody. Most hikes we saw less than three other groups per day. This is a stark contrast to the crowds you see in the front country sections of the park which more resemble the crowds at Disney. Most people never get more than a few hundred yards from their car during an entire Yellowstone vacation. This is too bad, because the best areas are in the backcountry.
Next time, we need to do more hiking in the Tetons. We planned to do more this trip but the weather didn’t cooperate early on and neither did our car. Next time we’ll look at doing the Teton Crest Trail as our backpacking portion. This is a 30 mile route that goes along the back side of the Teton range. It’s shorter than the 45 miles we did on this hike but with a lot of altitude gain.
Overall, we hiked 121 miles over 10.5 days of hiking. We saw many areas of the park that only a few see, but there’s still so much more. Yellowstone has over 1000 miles of trails and the Tetons have nearly 400. There’s still plenty to see in our favorite place.
I always feel sad when we leave the park but our next trip to Yellowstone is already planned. There is going to be a total eclipse of the sun in the Teton park on August 21st, 2017 at about 11:35 AM. Plan on joining us for this special event in a special place.