After returning from fishing we headed across the big Meadow, there were thermals on the hillside that ran down
into a creek……making a good spot for a “bath”……Chantelle and I found a great little pool further up
with a very small waterfall into it……but a finger dip into the water and it was too hot to sit in. We all
wandered down lower from there looking for a little cooler spot that might be deep enough to sit in.
I have to say it felt GREAT…….probably 101-103 degrees and we all had a good soak, it would have
been awesome to have one of these in each campsite, but this was the only warm creek we had access to along
the way, the rest were ice cold.
Sandy and Eric enjoying their spot.
One of the back country rangers stopped by our camp late day, she was alone and in for a 9 day stretch as well……..she
ran through a camp check with Joan and checked all of our fishing licenses….she also said they had been having several grizzlies
around Heart Lake and a few hanging around campsites……..I have to say I admired her, I think walking around this remote
area by yourself with the bears and wolves everywhere would leave the hair on the back of my neck standing up all of the time.
Jim and Joan at dinner.
We had still been hearing the wolves off and on, and we had all been hoping for a glimpse of them…….finally after dinner it came….. a black
wolf appeared at the opposite end of the meadow watching the horses, it alternated between laying down and sitting up…but was
definitely sizing up the horses in the meadow.
He/She was big, it’s a long ways across the meadow.
The a few more arrived, a large Gray wold and a few smaller ones, total there were 5 or 6 that we saw……the horses started taking notice
when there were more than one. The wolves alternated between hanging at the end of the meadow watching the horses and loping back
up the bench at the end of the meadow……this was right were we had been just a few hours earlier taking our soak in the
creek. What a sight that would have been soaking in the creek and having a pack of wolves lope by.
They came and went all evening, amazing to get to watch them for so long, really a high light of the trip for all of us and something most
never get to witness. We all asked if Jim and Joan were concerned about the horses, they had one incident with wolves and one picketed
horse before where 3 wolves surrounded the horse and just sat…….Jim said he went out and chased them off……they did move all of the
horses in closer to camp that night. We sat under the kitchen tarp listening to Jim tell the story of Hugh Glass into the night,
the clouds were building and just before dark they let loose the rain, we all huddled together under the tarp watching
the lightening show and waiting for the torrential down pour to let up so we could make a break for our tents.
It was not far to the tents and there was finally small let up in the rain so we bolted to the tents, still ending up pretty
wet by the time we got there.
In the morning the big black wolf made another appearance before we packed up and headed on
to our next camp…….it was very chilly, we all wondered if the lightening had started any new fires in the park, there
were several already burning near West Yellowstone…….the horse were all goosey and ready to get going
Our ride to the next camp followed the Snake River, through an old burn from the fires of 1988.
Jonna and her horse Molly lead the way.
My pony Colter taking good care of me, and Sandy and her horse, George behind. I have to say I have an intense
fear of heights……and along this trail we came to one spot that was bad, really bad…..I saw it coming
and contemplated exiting stage left off my horse and walking on my own two feet….but it was coming up too fast
and getting steep quick, it turned into very steep rock face that dropped sharply off the right side WAY down to
the river, to make matters worse it was a knob ……so going into it you had no way of knowing what was on the
other side of the knob. I gave my trusty steed his head, cursed non-stop under my breath and hoped
for the best. I really thought riding a mountain goat at this point would be a better option looking
at the rock the horses had to climb up…..Colter did AWESOME, I decided after that I would share
with him everyday ANYTHING he wanted out of my lunch, and I held to that the rest of the trip.
Everyone made it up and over fine and luckily on the other side it was not as steep and I
was able to breath again……….I HATE being afraid of heights.
We stopped along the river for some lunch, I gave Colter a well deserved wade into a deeper pool to
cool off, I let him check out my lunch, he wanted my cookies , he ate them all.
We wandered from forest to meadows back to forest most of the afternoon, the ride today was about 18 miles…we did
hear a nice bugle from a bull Elk at one point when we were in the forest.
We made a rest stop here at this big rock …..from left to right….Jake, Chantelle, Jonna, Erica,
me, Sherrie, Sandy, George. This spot was fairly close to the Fox Creek Ranger Cabin.
Jim, Joan, and Domini caught up to us here with the pack string and rode on ahead to start setting up camp.
We finally arrived at our next spot, very near Two Oceans Plateau , along Plateau Creek.
We had a nice view of the meadow from camp.
All of the ponies enjoying the green grass after a long day.
Dinner tonight was amazing, super delicious………pasta, lots of butter, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and some salmon
in it…….it was mmmmm good 🙂 After dinner Jim told us the story of Chief Plenty Coups……I think my favorite of the trip.
I stayed up too late listening to Jim and was cold by the time I went to bed….the one bummer on the trip was we
were under a Stage 1 fire restriction, so we could not have a campfire. Not much sleep that night , I was chilly
most of the night off and on and would have crawled into Chantelle’s sleeping bag with her if there was room. In the
morning we had frost on the inside of the tent and on the ground outside……we are at 8300 feet, probably 29 degrees
that morning……..everyone was cold, our camp was in the trees and would take awhile before the sun started
hitting it…….when the sun did get to us we spent awhile soaking it up, while listening to Jim talk about
how the Northern and Southern Elk herds in the park had been affected by the wolves. Ok, so we must
have been soaking up the sun longer than I remembered because looking in my journal Jim also told us the
story of Lewis and Clark’s journey, as well as Jim Colter’s Run.
We had a layover day in this camp as well, and most of us had decided to hike up to Mariposa Lake to fish…..we packed
lunches, Chantelle and I headed up first…and then the others came up after us……so Chantelle and I missed Domini’s
expertise on many of the plants and their uses along the trail.
Mariposa Lake was beautiful.
Chantelle’s nice Yellowstone Cutthroat……Chantelle I love you, but you need some work on holding your
fish for the picture!!
Jonna and her nice Cutthroat. We all caught many nice cutthroats that afternoon.
I sat down to eat my lunch and write in my journal and I looked up and saw this nice bull Elk coming
down to the lake…..he did not see us at first and we had the wind in our favor….when he did see us he stood
and looked at us for a short time, clearly knowing something was not right and headed back up into the trees, I
made some pathetic attempts at cow calling to him (yep double checked, the journal does say PATHETIC), probably sounding more like a
cat than a cow elk, but he did come back out for a second look at us……..yep we were definitely NOT the cow
elk he was searching for and he left the second time for good. When we went to leave the lake we all
noticed a big plume of smoke off in the distance, seems the lightening did start a new fire……it was hard to tell
how far away it was from where we were.
Back to camp after fishing and time for some sort of bath attempt………there was a place called “the Grotto” in the creek close to camp
so we headed over that way for a dip. Let me say it was NOTHING like our last soak……..it was cold, take your breath away
cold…..so it was a quick dip for all of us. The sun was out and warm , we all did feel better for having made some attempt to
wash the dust away. Plateau Creek won the award for best dinners…….burritos that night, they were delicious. I headed to bed
early that night to avoid getting so chilled, heard a bull bugle just before falling asleep with my added layers of clothes on that night.
No frost the next morning and time to pack up and head down the trail again, we passed Mariposa Lake and then spent most of the
day following Lynx Creek and then finally dropping out of Lynx Creek into the Thorofare…..
Amazing views, a wide open valley with rugged peaks all around and the upper Yellowstone river winding down through the middle.
Chantelle at our crossing of the Yellowstone river.
Sherrie and Emmett. So on our crossing the trail had a marker on the side we entered the riverbed, but the other side was washed out and we
had trouble finding a trail market on the other side, so we crossed and decided to stop and eat lunch……Chantelle and I hiked
up the river to see if we could find the trail or a market…..about the place we stopped Chantelle thought she saw tracks crossing further
up the river…….we decided to wait for the pack string to catch up and then we would follow them.
Chantelle was right, we needed to look further up the river.
Into the Woods ………part 3 …….next week 🙂