YNP\GTNP 2014 – 8\14 2014 – Bechler River Day Three

Today was to be another big mileage day as well because we decided to exit the backcountry a day early to get home and get our new puppy before starting work on Monday. Plus, I think Sara had enough of bugs as she got chewed up pretty good. The plan for today was to get to our normal campsite, and then day hike to Shoshone Lake. Tomorrow we’ll exit at Lone Star Geyser and hitch a ride back to our car at Delacy Creek. This way we still complete the planned mileage while leaving a day early. 

Once again we awoke to rain the AM and had to pack up camp wet to begin our third day of the trip. It started raining at about 4 AM and continued till about 6:30. As we ate our breakfast of Nutragtrain bars and hiker mocha (instant coffee and hot chocolate mix) there were blue skies approaching which lifted our spirits considerably. We left camp at about 7:30 and hit the trail. The waterfalls along the route just kept coming. 

Ragged Falls:


Twister Falls:


As we continued past twister falls the terrain became more alpine with low grasses and lodgepole pines. This was a welcome change to the thick brush as we were able to stay mostly dry all day. We stopped near campsite 9D4 for a break and some fresh water and found a very nice meadow and spring area to rest and refill. 

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We also found these flowers growing out of a giant pile of obsidian sand and thought they were quite striking. 


Sara on the trail:


We reached our campsite at 8G1 and found that the previous occupants had left us some art. When we later hiked to Shoshone Lake, we found another of the same drawing on the beach. 


After pitching our tent and hanging our food for the night, we went for a day hike to Shoshone Lake to explore the geyser basin. This is as impressive a geyser basin as any of the minor ones lining the road in the park. In fact, I’d say it’s bigger than most with the exception of the Norris and Old Faithful basins. Here’s a few photos of this beautiful place:

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After exploring the geyser basin we headed over to the lake shore. Shoshone lake is the largest backcountry lake in the lower 48. The only ways to get to get there are to hike, on horseback or to paddle up the Lewis Lake channel. There was a family camped opposite of us on the shoreline. 

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After a nice visit to the lake we went back to camp, had dinner and went straight to bed before dark. It had been a long day, about 14 miles total, more than half of that with full packs. 


YNP\GTNP 2014 – 8\13 2014 – Bechler River Day Two

Last night was rather eventful. The weather was great when we went to bed so we decided to leave the rain fly off the tent and sleep under just the screen. This worked great till about 1 AM when a thunderstorm rolled in. I was able to get the fly on before the rain hit but I did smash my middle finger between a tent stake and a rock while guying out the tent. Tore a big flap of skin right off of my fingertip under the nail. Ouch! It rained for about three hours solid so we knew the day was going to be wet and boy was it!

As we started hiking the brush became thicker and taller the more we continued. You could see the trail by your feet, but the brush was chest high in most places and had grown across the trail. The plants were wet with all the rain from the previous night so as you walked through them, you ended up wearing all that water. Within five minutes on the trail we were wet from the waist down as if we had jumped in a swimming pool with all our clothes on. Fortunately it was a warm day and this helped keep us cool. Some pics of the thick brush, some already showing fall colors. That’s the trail under that second pic. 

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After about 1.5 miles we came to Collonade Falls. It’s a set of two waterfalls, each about 80 feet high. 


Next was Iris Falls a short distance later. 


Then we came to our first ford of the day. This was perhaps the scariest part of the trip as this water was deep and fast from the previous nights rains. It was the only portion of the trip where I honestly felt my safety was at risk. We managed to reach the other side though as adrenaline gave us an extra push. We stopped to wring out our socks and had a quick nip of whiskey from my flask to calm our nerves before heading on. 


After about another mile we forded the river for the last time. This one was easy, no more than knee deep and easy current. The river was also not as wide at this point as we were nearing it’s beginning. 

After that we were heading out of the Canyon and into a thermal area along the river. This area was very nice. We stopped for a rest and to dry our feet before continuing on to camp. 

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Our campsite was our favorite along this route. It had several thermal features in the camp including a very pretty hot spring right across from our tent. 

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After setting up camp we decided to take a side trail to a thermal area best known for it’s main feature, Mr. Bubbles. Mr. Bubbles is a section of the river that has formed a small pool. One side is fed by the river, the other by a hot spring. There is also a column of Bubbles rising from the middle of the pool although they are not hot. This makes a very good natural jacuzzi so of course we took a dip.  It’s a strange sensation because one side of the pool is cold and the other is hot. You have to find just the right spot to be comfortable and, since it’s a river, that spot moves around some. 


Some other nice thermal features in the area, and a friend we met while there. 

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This was the best day of the entire trip and one of the greatest days of hiking I’ve ever had. Waterfalls, near death river fords, wildlife, hot springs and beautiful views all spent with my wonderful wife. Days like this are why I love hiking and camping. 

YNP\GTNP 2014 – 8\11 and 8\12 2014 – Cave Falls Campground and Bechler River Day One

8\11 was a down day for the most part. We spent the morning breaking camp and packing our backpacks for the next four days and four nights. We had to get packed, eat or throw away all our perishable food and clean out the cooler before going to meet our shuttle driver for transport to Cave Falls campground near the Bechler entrance. We were scheduled to meet our driver at 1:00 PM so we had plenty of time. 

Once packed we drove to the DeLacy Creek trailhead where we would leave our car. Jerry showed up a bit early which was great as it was a long drive, about three hours. He dropped us off at the campground and left us there for the night. It was now official, we were stranded 45 miles from our car and no way back except to walk. The trip was on. We set up camp at a nice spot next to the Falls River and went to bed early. 


In the morning we packed up all our gear and food. It made quite the pile as we sorted it on the picnic table. 


We left camp and had to hike 1.5 miles down the road to where the trail began. Less than 200 yards into the hike, we spotted this fellow:


They call this section of the park Cascade  Corner because of all the waterfalls. It’s a well deserved name as we were to find out over the next few days. The first was Cave Falls. It’s named that because there used to be a Cave behind the falls. Unfortunately is collapsed several years ago so you can no longer enter it. 


Next we came to Bechler Falls just a couple miles later.


After hiking through the forest for a few more miles we came to Bechler Meadows, a huge wide open area. The dragonflies in this area were spectacular. There were literally thousands of them everywhere, all colors of the rainbow. Since they eat mosquitoes they were quite a welcome site and the meadows were largely free from them. This was a very nice break because the Bechler area is known for mosquitoes and this year was no exception. There were times when we were being chased by swarms of them through the forest and any time you stopped you were able to swat 10-15 of them in a matter of a minute or less. This was the worst mosquitoes I’ve ever experienced. Fortunately this day was the worst of the trip and they got better the higher we went upriver. 

The meadow was a beautiful place however, and we even got to cross a suspension bridge that had me humming the Indian Jones theme as we crossed. 

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Nearing the end of the day we came to the first of three fords of the Bechler River on this trip. The other two would come tomorrow. This was about waist deep at the far end but was rather easy as the bend in the river caused the current to push us towards shore. After hiking through that hot meadow for the last couple of hours, the cool river felt great. A little note on our strategy for footwear is in order here. Many folks take an extra pair of shoes or sandals to use for river crossing but we didn’t want the extra weight in our packs. Instead, we choose to do the hike in runnning shoes which dry fast. When we reached the rivers, we took off our socks and removed the insoles. The shoes dried quickly that way and within a half hour of the crossing we had dry feet again. Here’s a picture of the ford. It was quite wide, but shallow until the very end and a gentle current. 


After the ford, the trail follwed the Bechler River to camp. We took a few shots along the way. 

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We finally readhed camp in late afternoon. Today’s hike was a tough one, nearly 12 miles from the previous camp and carrying our heaviest loads of the trip, nearly 40 lbs. each. Were were very tired and went to bed early to both get some rest and some respite from the bugs. 

Some toadstools and flowers around camp:

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