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. 

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Next was Iris Falls a short distance later. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.