We had planned our Yellowstone trip for over a year, we were on our 3rd night and our 3rd route revision due to high water and deep snow. The mosquitoes had been bad, but we were all still laughing. When we were planning the trip, we had called our kids and said, “Come, it will be fun”. This became our saying, when things were not going as planned, but that is what adventure is about, the unexpected…
We were camping close to the intersection of the Shoshone Lake trail and the Bechler Meadow trail. Before going to bed, we had walked down into the meadow and filtered water. We had a brief bug-free moment, so we stood on the hill over-looking the meadow and admired the peace and quiet.
We had gone to bed around 9:00pm. A strange bird was keeping some of us awake when we heard what sound like a basketball being dropped on a gym floor. It happened every 3-4 minutes. In the woods, at night, your mind begins to play with your sensibility. What was it, were you the only one hearing it, were you imagining it. Since we were sleeping 2 to a tent, you weren’t sure what anyone else was thinking. Suddenly we heard a crackle. Jodi asked Cindy was that her. Cindy said no it wasn’t. Jade then says it was his water bottle. Cindy then asks did anyone else hear that weird drumming noise. Wade pipes up that he was glad somebody else heard. We all give our speculations. Nikki says she thinks it is crickets. Finally the noise subsides and we can get to sleep. The next morning we asked Nikki if she really thought it was a cricket. She looks at us and says what are you talking about. Obviously Nikki was sleep talking. (At the end of our trip and after we picked up and our way home, we accessed the internet and found out the drumming noise was the mating call of the Ruffed Grouse. The male will only make that noise on moon-lit nights during mating season, so we actually had a really unique wilderness experience, but at the time it didn’t feel so wonderful).
On the morning of Day 4, we headed toward Shoshone Lake. We knew that we would have at least 2 water crossings so we wore our sandals. We had never hiked on this trail and had not researched it as we had intended to be on the Bechler Meadow trail, so this was going to be a day of discovery and adventure.
The hike towards Shoshone Lake followed the river and was very beautiful.
We had to cross a small marsh but there was a nice walkway. We were hoping to have that all day….hmmm….perhaps we were setting our expectations a bit high.
We continued towards the Shoshone Geyser Basin. What a unique area. You are literally walking right through the hot springs. If you tapped on the ground you could hear it was hollow. We didn’t stop long in any one spot.
We then encountered a large marsh. There were some makeshift walkways, but for the most part we waded.
We had a tricky river crossing. The water was too deep to walk through, but there was a log to balance on. We all made it safely but there were a few tense moments.
We then encountered another swamp. This one was about a mile long. Many of the logs crossing the small streams were deteriorated. Nikki slipped on one of the logs and was in water up to her waist. This was by far the muddiest and gooiest swampy meadow we had encountered.
As we walked, we had views of the lake and the lily pads were gorgeous.
Looking at our map and thinking the worst was over, we switched from our sandals to our boots, only to discover that the water got deeper.
Jade found a stream to cross that was only a few inches deep, except for the “channel”…
We reached the shore of Shoshone Lake and took a much-needed break for lunch. We filtered water, washed off the mud, and re-gained some energy.
From the map, we knew that next leg of our trip was going to be physically challenging. The trail left the lake and went straight up the mountain. There was definitely some huffing and puffing….this trail is part of the Continental Divide trail that goes from Canada to Mexico.
Two more small stream crossing….
And a few downed trees across the trail.
We made it to our fourth and final campsite, which sat on a hill above Moose Creek.
Our last pit toilet with a view…
Moose Creek is usually not flowing this high, but due to our unusually high snowpack, it was very swift. In the morning, we would need to cross it approximately 2 miles down stream. With the bugs still bad, we hastily ate dinner, discussed the water crossing strategy and then retreated to our tents. We played hangman, yelling letters from tent to tent.
We went to sleep early as we had 9.5 miles to hike the next day. Our ride was meeting us at 4 pm at the Dogshead trail just north of Lewis Lake near the South entrance of the park. We were up at 6am and had camp broke down by 6:55am. We were both excited and sad that our trip was coming to an end. The bear on Cindy’s hat was the only bear we would see the entire week. Jade did his last “conquer the world” pose of the trip.
Getting to Moose Creek was an adventure as the willows had over-grown the trail.
At the designated crossing, Moose Creek was flowing very fast. Jim dropped his pack, we tied a rope to him, and he waded across. He tied the rope to a tree. There was no tree on our side, so Jade tied the rope to himself and became the “anchor”. Everyone could then hang onto the rope and balance against the flow of the water. Jim had yelled back that the water was extremely cold. You could not imagine how cold until you got in it. The walk across was less than a minute, but you couldn’t feel your feet when you got out. Wade crossed back over to retrieve Jim’s pack, and on the way back, it was a steady, “BrrrrrrrrrrrrrBrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrBrrrrrrrrrrrr”.
We had another steady climb up a mountain.
Jade was bringing up the rear, when he heard what he thought was a growl from behind him. He reached for his bear spray, flipped around and came face to face with another hiker. He was walking the entire Continental Divide trail and had been hiking for over a month. We wished him well and were very glad that Jade had not sprayed him.
Since we were now on top of the mountain, we had beautiful views of Shoshone Lake.
We had a short but steep descent to the Shoshone Lake outlet, which we would need to cross. Jim once again was the volunteer to find the best path. The water was calm and only a bit chilly, but almost waist deep.
Jim came out and met Cindy in the middle of the channel, for a selfie and a kiss. You have to kiss in the middle of a river…right???
Jade did have to make a quick rescue of a lost bug spray can, as we didn’t want it floating down the river.
We ate lunch, got dried out, and were ready to make the final push to the trailhead.
This side of the lake was completely different from the upper end. It was extremely dry and the streams we thought we would cross, were completely dry. So the water we filtered at the lake would have to carry us to the trailhead.
Our grandson Wyatt, had sent a toy frog with his parents, so they wouldn’t “forget” him. We passed a pond, so his dad, Wade, walked out and got a picture of Wyatt’s frog on a lily pad.
It was very hot, but we knew we were almost there.
The final mile was on an old service road. We made it to the parking lot at 3:00pm.
We did pretty good, this was our trash for the 5 days.
Our ride, Barbara, arrived early and brought pop/soda for everyone to drink.
We loaded our gear and exited the park’s South entrance. We passed the Teton mountain range on our way to Jackson, where we made a quick trip to Dairy Queen for dinner.
Things we learned…
*That Mountain House meals are actually very good.
*That attitude is everything on an adventure like this.
*Laughter, good companions, and bug spray can make or break your trip.
*There will always be someone to lending you a hand when things get tough.
*Plan ahead, but be flexible to change.
*It’s funny how the little things mean alot…cold water, a hot bath, and a soft bed.
*Wade took the lead everyday, but he has long legs and was setting a very fast pace. We teased him that is was a “bug pace” as he seemed to be trying to out walk the mosquitos. Lesson, if you want to get somewhere fast, let Wade lead. (This is also why Wade and Jodi are not in very many pictures)
*Bring hats with mosquito netting.
*Bring a deck of cards for each tent as that would have helped pass the time while we sat in the tents at night.
*Zip-off pants are a must
*We brought way too much hard candy.
We are already planning to hike, next summer, through Bechler Meadow up to Mr. Bubbly to finish our original hike plan. Even though this trip didn’tgo exactly as planned, we feel we definitely BAMmed this adventure.
Look for Part 3 of our Yellowstone Adventure. It is a video of the entire trip.