Current Status: 18.9 miles hiked, only 81.1 miles to go.
1) Old Faithful Boardwalk (aka Upper Geyser Basin) – 2.8 miles
Old Faithful Geyser is only one of many geysers in the upper geyser basin within Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful is not the biggest nor the tallest of geysers but it is the most reliable, hence the name. It’s also the most popular. Well over a thousand people watch each daytime eruption during mid-summer. The Yellowstone Art and Photography Center, where I volunteer, has a front row seat. Myself and the other staff members often hold a contest to see who can best predict the next eruption. We make our predictions before the Park Service makes theirs and the winner in our group is usually off by only a minute or two.
Even though the upper geyser basin hike is more of a walk, it still counts towards my 100 mile goal. I took the route that I recommend to visitors: cross the Firehole River northeast of Old Faithful, follow the boardwalk up to Morning Glory Pool, then take the paved bike path back. The hike took me about 1-1/2 hours since I stopped along the way to admire the many thermal features.
2) Lone Star Geyser – 4.6 miles (44.418315, -110.806024)
There are 3 trails leading to Lone Star Geyser and I took the easiest which is an old road/bike path that parallels the Firehole River. This trailhead is just east of Kepler Cascades which is about 3 miles from the Old Faithful Area.
Most of the trail passes through pine forests and a few meadows. Along the way I saw a man fly fishing as well as a black bear crossing the trail ahead of me. Unfortunately the bear disappeared into the woods before I could get a photograph (and yes, I had my bear spray).
The trail is relatively flat so I made good time. After about 45 minutes, I arrived at a clearing containing Lone Star Geyser along with a few other thermal features, mostly fumaroles or steam vents. While I saw no one on the trail, I met up with about a dozen other hikers all waiting for Lone Star to erupt. A log book is maintained at the geyser location and a previous hiker noted it had erupted around 10:30 meaning is was due to erupt again around 1:30. It was 12:30 when I arrived so I decided to wait. During the next hour, a brief thunderstorm rolled through dropping pea-sized hail and about 15 minutes of hard rain.
Once Lone Star went off, I was the first to head back. I thought I was making good time but I heard someone gaining on me. I tried to pick up the pace, but to no avail so I decided to stop and let the person pass. It turned out to be an elderly lady (70-75). She apologized and explained to me she had an app on her phone that prompted her to exceed 3 mph. Maybe by the end of this summer, I’ll be in as good as shape as she.
3) Mystic Falls via Biscuit Basin Overlook – 3.4 miles (44.486765, -110.86617)
Hiking to the top of Biscuit Basin Overlook was by far the most difficult hike in my quest to hike 100 miles. The elevation change is only 600 feet but the trail seems to go straight up via multiple switchbacks on a narrow rocky path.
The hike starts on a boardwalk that goes by numerous colorful thermal features in Biscuit Basin. At the western end of the boardwalk, a dirt trail leads to Mystic Falls upstream on the Little Firehole river. Not far from the boardwalk, the trail splits into a loop. Most visitors take a left, head directly to the falls and then return by the same route. This is the easy route. I took a right which took me up the mountain to the overlook. After resting at the top and trying not to share my snack with an aggressive ground squirrel, I continued in a counterclockwise direction which brought me back down another set of switchbacks along Mystic Falls.
Along the route I saw a pika, Dusty Grouse, and Western Tanager.
Yellowstone National Park had heavy snows this past winter and much of it is still melting. This has created an abundance of mosquitos especially on the lower sections of the Mystic Falls trail. We’re entering the dry (aka fire) season so hopefully they’ll soon die off.by