So just over a year ago my friend, Sandy, thought we should do a girls pack trip……she had done a trip into the Thorofare in
Yellowstone park several years ago and wanted to go again…..also a trip my Dad had done many years ago so I was
definitely in. My niece, Chantelle, would be graduating from high school, I thought it would be a great trip to have
her in on before she went off to start college and life in the real world. Joan with Hoofbeat Recreation was the outfitter
we used to pack us in. So why head to the Thorofare?? It’s the most remote location in the lower 48 states and very historic,
as it was the main corridor for fur trappers and explorers when traveling in that area.
Joan and Domini getting lunches ready for the day and the mules getting loaded and ready to head down the trail
Coulter was the pony I would be riding on the trip………..he looked less than enthused.
Chantelle and her pony “Jake” topping over the “Furnace” area and in view of Heart Lake.
Heading over the the ridge we could see Heart Lake off in the distance and many thermal features down the ridge. Beautiful hot pools, some
vents with steam coming out of them , and some that sounded like the old fashion coffee pots percolating.
This area is called “The Furnace” are was so named, according to Jim back in the day by a traveler through the area who thought all of the thermal
features with the steam rising from them reminded him of the factories back East.
We had some haze in the air from the forest fires burning in the Park.
Mt. Sheridan was on one side and Heart Lake on the other, simply amazing.
Mt. Sheridan……..elevation 10,298, you can see most of the right side of the mountain has an old burn from a fire in the past.
We stopped at the Heart Lake Ranger Station for lunch, this cabin is still used by the Park Rangers working in the back country.
While we were eating Jim, Joan, and Domini with the pack train caught up to us and headed on to set up camp.
After our 14 mile ride in our fist camp was at Basin Creek.
We still had a great view of Mt. Sheridan from our camp.
We unsaddled and unpacked……..2 to a tent.
All of Joan and Jim’s stock were turned out in the meadow to graze, they picket 3 of the lead horses and then have bells on most of the others………
usually the group will not leave without the lead horses……and if they do leave having bells on makes them “easier” to find. At night
all of the bells jingling off in the distance sounded like it was Christmas. Sandy’s horse, George, had a bell that 100% sounded
like the bell from The Polar Express. What was interesting was as the trip went on we all
figured out the “different” jingling sounds…….there was the “we are all eating grass and happy” jingling and then there was also
the “oh shit somethings out there and we are on alert” jingling……..which was often followed by silence as they all had their
This is Chico, one of Joan’s pack horses, who I loved and could not stop taking pictures of him.
Dinner was steaks, salad, and bread……..thanks Joan and Domini.
Jim was telling us during dinner that this camp was one of their favorites because often after they had been in camp
for a while the wolves would come into the area to check them out and they would sometimes see one and hear them howl…….
and literally within the hour we started hearing howling from the pack off in the distance, it made the hair on my neck
stand up and was unreal. Chantelle and I wandered out to the middle of the meadow later with the binoculars to see if we could
get a glimpse of them, no luck, but they continued to howl into the night. When I woke up the next morning I listened again
to see if the wolves where still around……….they answered …….one long, soulful howl followed by a different higher pitched
howl…….there is no way to try to explain how amazing it is to hear, something you just have to experience for yourself.
Very chilly morning and I was reluctant to get out of my down bag……breakfast was waiting……eggs, sausage, and bread.
We had a layover day at this camp, so Chantelle, Sandy, Jonna, Sherri, and I were going to do a short hike over to
the Snake River to fish.
Sandy and Jonna getting their fly rods ready.
It was a joint effort to get this really nice Yellowstone Cutthroat in that Sandy caught.
That’s a hog.
We all ate lunch on the river, soaked up the sun, and enjoyed the views ……then headed back to camp.
Next………visitors in camp…..to be continued next week. 🙂