Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Day 121: Thermal Features and Shoshone Lake

August 19: The rain had finally stopped during the night, and I stayed high and dry under the cover of a tree. By morning, however, the rain had resumed and I left camp in the rain once again. Today's forecast predicted on and off rain all day long, which didn't sound good but--to be fair--it's still an improvement over "light rain all day."

In the morning, the sprinkle wasn't so hard that I bothered to take out my umbrella, but I did have to ford Surprise Creek seconds after leaving camp so my feet started the day thoroughly wet.

Surprise Creek wasn't much of a surprise since I had to ford it to reach my campsite last night. (My campsite was located a short way off trail.)

Several miles later, I arrived along the shores of Heart Lake where I got my first views of the thermal features that Yellowstone is most well-known for. Lots of steam shooting up into the sky, bubbling hot springs and small geysers.

Passing by a ranger station, I met a volunteer ranger and his friend who reported seeing wolves there just this morning. Ugh! I wanna see wolves! From a safe distance, of course....

With all the rain, the trails were quite muddy and the ranger suggested that I should keep my eyes open for wolf tracks on the trail. There would likely be some. Will do!

I continued onward and before long did spot what normally I would have thought were dog prints on the trail. But I doubted these were dog prints. I was pretty sure that dogs weren't allowed on these trails and even if they were, I hadn't seen anyone hiking on the trails which meant they couldn't have been hiking with dogs. They must be wolf tracks! I'm following wolves!

Wolf prints! But to be perfectly honest, they kind of looked like regular old dog prints to me.

I also spotted some bear prints. The wildlife was all around me, but I never did spot any wolves or bears. 

Throughout the course of the day, I did pass three other hikers. One was out for the weekend, the second one I assume was a southbound thru-hiker but we didn't stop to chat in the rain so I'm not 100% certain that that's the case, and the third one was, in fact, a confirmed south-bounder named Comet who I spotted taking a break along Shoshone Lake and we chatted for a few minutes.

I didn't know it at the time, but that was the last definite south-bounder I'd meet on the trail. I'd kind of miss them. I didn't really know them--hiking in opposite directions, we never had a chance to bond like I could with fellow north-bounders--but it was nice meeting up with people occasionally to chat for a few minutes at time and get information about the trail ahead. 

By around noon, the rain became heavy enough that I finally pulled out my umbrella. Unlike yesterday, I had to complete a full day of hiking--over 22 miles to reach my next campsite. It was terribly wet weather for hiking, but there wasn't much I could do about it. At least the rain would periodically stop for brief periods.

Late in the day, I had to ford across the outflow from Shoshone Lake, and I remembered this ford from one of my first backpacking trips ever. Back when I was just a boy, my dad took my sister and I for a one-night, two-day trek from the Old Faithful area through the Shoshone Geyser Basin and past this lake. I also remembered being horribly hungry because dad didn't bring enough food to eat, and I also remembered throwing up just before crossing this creek.

That backpacking trip 35 years ago was the only time I had ever been on this particular trail, but it was memorable. I was definitely feeling a lot better this time around! No nausea, and definitely plenty of food. I may have a bit more experience under my belt this time around, though.

Shoshone Lake

The rain started picking up again, though, so I didn't reminisce long and pushed onward. Ever onward!

I finally reached Moose Creek Meadow Camp at around 5:00 in the afternoon where I set up camp, and this time, I set up camp in an actual site meant for sleeping rather than the eating area. I set up my tarp as well since there were no large trees providing a dry spot to camp this time around.

Then I changed into dry clothes, cooked some dinner and read my Kindle before settling into bed for the night. Today's hike wasn't particularly eventful, but I was really looking forward to tomorrow because tomorrow, I'd be hitting the Old Faithful area. Tomorrow, there was going to be some pretty awesome thermal features to see, and I couldn't wait!


Heart Lake

The first evidence of the thermal features that Yellowstone is so known for!



Witch Creek is 90-odd degrees F and a great temperature for swimming in. (One of the few places where it's legal to swim in the heated water.) I didn't stop to swim, though. Too many miles to do today!



Looking back at Heart Lake

A sign of autumn's approach? Gotta get this trail done before winter hits!

I'm pretty sure a bear did this! But where are they hiding?!

The one good thing about all the rain--my feet have never been so clean during a thru-hike!


Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

The thermal areas in Yellowstone's backcountry are some of the neatest areas I've ever hiked thru. It is so much more enjoyable to visit these areas than the tourist-jammed areas around Old Faithful with the whole idiot-resistant boardwalks and signage warning the idiots not to do this or that or they will die.

Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

I have to admit that it took me way too long to figure out why it looked like you had Hulk feet in that last photo.

GG said...

One problem with wet feet for more than a few days is the danger of losing your hard-won calluses.
Oh, and no new blisters?
Good for you!