Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park:
Fog: thick and white along the Yellowstone River. Socked in. When we left the 5er for our Volkswalk up Mt. Washburn at 7:00 a.m., the first animal we spotted was a coyote about a mile from our campground, followed in rapid succession by four elk and two white pelicans.
A few miles farther, a lone bull bison walked in the center of our lane. No one could pass by. The brave driver of a smaller import car in front of us passed the bison. At that point, the bison decided to walk the center line. We could not get by until he moved to the other side of the road. Flashers flashing, we waited. In a few minutes he moseyed into the other lane far enough over that we felt we could pass him safely. We left our flashers on to warn oncoming traffic of the hazard in the fog.
Upon climbing Dunraven Pass away from the Canyon area, the fog stayed low along the river and we were once again in the sun. We parked at the Dunraven Pass/Mt. Washburn parking lot, put on our sunblock, used the outhouse and started up the trail.
This 6.2 mile roundtrip walk is wonderful. The whole way up, the trail is an old stagecoach road so it is easy to walk two to four abreast. The grade is moderate, no really steep sections. We took our time. I took photos, enjoyed the wildflowers and Bob spotted a yellow-bellied marmot family sunning on an old log. The two little marmots were playing on the rocks and logs.
|View at beginning of trail.|
|Nice wide trail.|
|Greater sage grouse.|
|Bob on trail.|
|Marmot sunning, probably momma marmot.|
|One of two marmot pups.|
|Higher up we go!|
Up and up we went. The main highway looked smaller and smaller below us. Bob thought a car on the road was a motorcycle…until he looked at it with binoculars. Soon we were higher than the surrounding hills and mountains. (Mt. Washburn is the highest mountain inside Yellowstone National Park boundaries.)
At the top is a working fire lookout--in summer only. (No need in winter when snow is 30’ deep.) Inside the bottom level of the fire tower are displays showing all the mountains, lakes, canyons and rivers in the distance.
|Enjoying the view.|
|We made it and still have energy.|
Today was not crystal clear. Smoke from fires in Idaho cast a brownish pall over long-distance views. Even so, we could see about 25 miles. On a really clear day, the Grand Tetons are visible 75 miles away.
If you go up one level in the fire lookout, there is an outside area for picture taking and a couple of interpretive signs. We hung out downstairs on the benches to eat our trail mix and relax while looking out the windows. Before heading back down the trail, I made use of the restroom at the top.
No mountain goats or sheep in our wildlife count today. We asked one lady who had gone up earlier than us and she had seen some bighorn sheep, but they went down and she could no longer see them. The ranger said the same thing, no bighorn sheep or mountain goats up high.
Downhill was a piece of cake. No shortness of breath at all. Beautiful views greeted us at each turn of the trail. We could see the low-lying fog of morning had all burned off.
Many more people were coming up the trail than us early birds who were on the way down. We started the trail at 8:00 a.m. It took us 2-1/2 hours to reach the summit and we were down by 12:20 p.m. People were waiting for parking places. I told Bob it was such a good hike I wouldn’t mind doing it again while we’re here. Maybe we could start really early like 6:30 a.m. and see some bighorn sheep or mountain goats! I’m game.
On the way back to the 5er we stopped at Canyon area General Store for deli sandwiches, carrots, apples, bananas, and Grasshopper cookies. Good lunch. (Some is for more lunches in the next few days.)
Next we went to Mary’s Point on Lake Yellowstone for cell service so Bob could call in to work. I was able to use his smartphone to moderate my blog comments and check my email.
When we returned to the 5er, Bob decided to level it. Our heads were downhill when we slept and it felt like the back end was in a hole. I pulled in the slides so he could put down some leveling blocks under the tires on the right side. He said he didn’t need help so I sat inside writing my blog.
I went outside to see what that noise was. Uh-oh is right. He forgot to lock the 5th wheel into place. When he pulled the truck forward, the 5th wheel slammed into the bed of the pickup truck, denting the sides of his pickup bed and the tailgate. It could have been worse. He was able to elevate the supports and stabilize the 5er enough to put the pick up with 5th wheel back under the trailer. Looks like we’ll get a new tailgate when we return to San Antone.
The trailer is more level now than it was. It’s a big improvement.
Kitty play time. Bowie attacked the throw rugs and dove underneath them. That must not have been enough interaction because he went after Sunnie. The two of them are squaring off in the living room, having a great old time playing. I’m glad they’re such good buddies.
Sunnie “hunts” the least chipmunks that run around outside our 5er. He sits in the window, tail twitching, following every little movement they make. Last night, I thought he was going to go through the rear window to attack one. We call the windows of the 5er “kitty big-screen entertainment system.”
Today’s wildlife count: coyote, four elk, herds of bison, white pelicans, five or six yellow-bellied marmots, two greater sage grouse, sandhill crane, golden-mantle ground squirrels, and least chipmunks.
This evening Bob is going to run. When he gets back we’ll have tostadas for dinner. Last night, Bob cooked grilled tuna and cheese sandwiches. Very tasty.
We discussed our return trip to San Antonio. At this point, the plan is Cody, Wyoming to Thermopolis, Wyoming, northwest to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. Then we will head south to Scottsbluff, Nebraska and follow part of the Oregon Trail on US 26 to I-80 across Nebraska to US 81 south. We will meet our friends Jackye and Dan in Wichita Falls, Texas, then drop south back to San Antone. One of the sights we want to see is the railroad switching yard I read about in a blog. But I forgot whose blog and where the large railroad switching yard is. Any help?
Tomorrow we’re planning another hiking day. One of the rangers in the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center marked some of his favorite hikes for us on a day hike flyer. We want to do the Shoshone Lake (6 miles) and Riddle Lake (5 miles) hikes in the Grant Village/West Thumb area. At Riddle Lake there is a chance we may see Trumpeter Swans.
Life is good. We hope to see you down the road.
Travel Bug out.