Yellowstone may be the most deserving national park I have visited. As Kevin put it, most of the other parks are just grander versions of what we see all the time while hiking. Yellowstone though has features I haven’t seen on any scale. We have walked past boiling pools in rock basins, watched gysers erupt and soaked in hot springs. It truly is a special place.
Camping in Yellowstone requires a permit which specifies which spot on which night you will stay. Most visitors request their sites months in advance but for a thru hiker, that’s akin to predicting a woman’s actual due date when she first realizes she is pregnant. A general ballpark is the best you can do. That means we are stuck with the sites that aren’t taken and that can mean a less than ideal itinerary. We had to choose between going through the middle of the park all in one day or taking it slow. We opted for the slow pace so that we can take in as many sights as possible.
We left Old Faithful Village after all you can eat breakfast. We hiked a whopping 3 miles and than sat for an hour and a half to watch Lone Star Gyser erupt. It’s even better than Old Faithful as you can get a lot closer and it has almost no people around. We ended up eating lunch there then hiking on.
A couple hours later we made it to Shoshone Lake and took a nap on the beach. As we made our way back to the trail, we rounded a corner to find a mother black bear and her cub. While we were shocked and pulling out bear spray, she didn’t seem to mind although she did stand on her hind legs for a better look. We ended up just having to wait a few minutes for them to meander on before continuing.
The next day we decided to keep our leisurely pace by hitching into another Yellowstone stop at Grant Village. I couldn’t believe it when our ride was from Springfield, MO. After lunch and some snacks, we headed back to the trail and finished off our day with a swim and nap at Heart Lake. That night like the previous had frost in the valleys. It seems wierd for it to be that cold in August.
We realized that two big milage days would get us to town, so we poured on the speed and got back to our regular pace. After leaving the Park, we still had 50 miles of wilderness with great scenery including the Tetons. Getting into town a day early has earned us a day off tomorrow. Tuesday we’ll be starting one of the favorite sections of the trail: the Wind River Range.