The Long Hike
In the morning, we headed out to Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs.
In order to get there we had to drive through the middle of Montana’s
Gallatin Mountain Range. Back when I bicycled that stretch of highway,
I was reduced to tears by the majesty of the place. This time,
however, the hot summer sun had melted the snowcaps. Water run offs
were scarce, and from the dry lakebeds to the brown meadows, the heat
had taken its toll on the scenery.
At Mammoth Hot Springs our plan was to get up early, and look for a
good backcountry trail to hike. I figured the northeast corner of
Yellowstone would produce a lot of animal sightings. I had been
everywhere in Yellowstone except the northeast corner. I planned a
hike there once, but the snow clogged highway kept me away.
There was no snow now, so Carin and I decided to hike in that
area. We headed up Slough Creek. According to my map reading skills,
the hike was not going to be too rough. I was wrong. The 11.2
kilometers went mostly up a canyon valley and did not follow the
creek-bed. In addition to the hot tempers that hiking in full packs
under hot sun produced, when we arrived at trails end, Carin had no
less than five large blisters on her feet. Sweaty, dirty, and in pain,
we were not awe-inspired. We didn’t camp in the designated camp area,
either. Instead, we camped in front of a boarded up Ranger’s cabin.
That made a bad situation a little better. It was strategically
located, so we had a panoramic view of the valley, and access to a
cold mountain stream. Our motivation for camping there was not totally
self-centered, however. Carin could not walk any further, and after I
checked her feet, it’s a wonder she made it 11.2 kilometers.