Lake Village/Fishing Bridge, Yellowstone N.P.:
6:00 a.m. we awakened to lightning, thunder and rain and wondered how it would affect our day. Went back to sleep. No need to awaken early if it’s raining. Woke up again at 9:00 a.m. to sunlight streaming in the skylights.
Objectives today: Hike Elephant Back Mountain (4 miles roundtrip, elevation gain 800’), Pelican Creek Nature Trail (one mile roundtrip) and Storm Point Nature Trail (2.3 miles roundtrip), and use more of our 24-hour purchase of online time.
Our first stop of the day was out by Mary’s Bay to try for phone connectivity. On the way there, it was bison traffic jam time again. A whole herd was crossing back and forth across the road, in between cars, facing cars head-on and generally very active. Bob and I felt sorry for the motorcyclists who had bison walking next to them, in front of them, around them. We’re very happy none of the bison decided to attack the motorcycles.
|Taken through car windshield.|
Elephant Back Mountain loop hike: We left the truck at 11:00 a.m., walked through forests and hiked uphill. The forest hiking was cool and comfortable on the feet. This trail was a popular one and we saw a few families, chipmunks, and one mule deer.
As we proceeded up the mountain, the trail turned to switchbacks for the steeper portions. I stopped to eat a protein bar and darned if the family with the little girl (about 7 years old) didn’t walk right past us. Her parents said she’s a mountain goat.
When we reached the top there were rough-hewn benches on which to sit and admire the view of Lake Yellowstone and the mountain ranges in the distance.
|View of Lake Yellowstone from the top.|
We spent a few minutes there and then proceeded to follow the rest of the loop back down the mountain.
|Trail through lodgepole pines.|
It’s always so much easier going down than up, but care must be taken not to sustain an injury. It’s especially critical when there are steep drop-offs on the trail. We made it back to the car unharmed at 1:00 p.m.
As a rest break in between hikes, we returned to Lake Lodge to use more of our 24-hour internet purchase and spent about two hours online.
Our next walk was one-mile Pelican Creek Nature Trail, a fairly level, easy trail. Easy, that is, until we got to the bog. A few branches or small pieces of log had been placed in the worst of the mud and we proceeded carefully across those. For the rest of the boggy part, we walked on the tall grasses which, when crushed underfoot, kept our boots from sinking in. A pleasant hike, but a little non-descript.
|Looking up at Elephant Back Mountain--our previous hike today.|
The best hike of the day was saved for last: Storm Point Loop Trail (2.3 miles roundtrip). Neither of us expected to enjoy this trail so much. The trail starts at Indian Pond, three miles east of Fishing Bridge Village.
When we got to the fork in the trail, we headed left first. The first half-mile or so passes Indian Pond and meanders through a sagebrush flat, then enters the cool forest. Most of the rest of the hike stayed in the forest until we were close to Storm Point.
When we exited the trees, we had a Lake Yellowstone view, open, hilly sage area with bison wallows in the sandy parts. (Thankfully, no bison were present.)
Some parts of this trail did not look like Yellowstone. One section looked like the northern Sierra Nevada; another section looked like a wind-swept Scottish coast, and one section had small sand dunes.
Stone Point is a rocky outcrop in Lake Yellowstone with a stunning view of the lake and surrounding mountains. We sat there for a long time admiring the view.
On the return loop, we could see a low, small, rocky outcrop and took the side spur trail to investigate. On the way we saw a marmot on the rocks below the trail. When we reached the rocky outcrop into the lake, a yellow-bellied marmot was sunning on a rock. He stayed there the whole time we were there. From the looks of the scat piles everywhere, we think this marmot was part of a big colony.
|Marmot on the rocks.|
Returning to the main loop trail, a bald eagle was swooping overhead. The eagle landed in a big fir tree and I was able to zoom in and capture some photos. See below.
We then re-entered the lodgepole pine forest and headed back to the truck. Truly a beautiful, relaxing hike. We highly recommend it.
|Indian Pond--where hike starts and ends.|
After our day of hikes and internet, we returned to the 5er for leftover Cherried Chicken for dinner. The temperature was a pleasant 69 degrees, so we opened a number of windows, an overhead vent, and the front door to cool the 5er down naturally. It smelled so good and cooled down nicely. Soon we will have to close the windows so as not to have to turn on the heat immediately. Temperatures drop fast here.
Bob is reading the book my mom gave us called “Yellowstone: A Century of the Wilderness Idea” from 1972. In the early days of Yellowstone, not much was known about the interaction of different species and their effect on the environment. At one time in the early 1900s, white pelicans were thought to be decimating the cutthroat trout populations in the lake. The park service set about destroying pelican eggs and killing baby pelicans. Come to find out, fish hatcheries were collecting millions of eggs from spawning beds in the tributaries to raise more cutthroat trout to stock lakes that had no fish. The killing of pelicans and destruction of eggs stopped.
Tomorrow’s plan is to head out really early (like 5:00 a.m.), go to Lamar Valley to look for wildlife as the sun comes up. We then plan to do a hike to Trout Lake (1.3 miles long) in Lamar Valley. We figure we’ll finish that while it’s still pretty early so we will take a driving trip to Beartooth Pass and Red Lodge, Montana.
We are enjoying life so much and hope you are too. Happy summer!
Travel Bug out.