Current Status: 59.0 miles hiked, 41.0 miles to go.
Pelican Valley – 4.4 Miles (44.567327, -110.273337)
Pelican Valley is on the road to the east entrance of Yellowstone, home to many grizzly bears. Snow and Raspberry (a grizzly sow and her cub) hang out along this road to avoid the male grizzlies living to the north (i.e. where this hike leads). I’ve never seen a sign recommending parties of 4 or limitations on hiking hours so this makes me somewhat nervous.
The biggest fear I have when hiking is surprising an unsuspecting grizzly. The first mile of this hike passes through dense woods limiting my vision. I call out “Hey Bear!” every 25 steps to announce my presence. I breath a sigh of relief once I exit the woods and enter into open meadows. After another 1/2 mile, I see a brown furry hump just over a rise off in the distance. The trail seems to lead in its direction. I know it’s either a grizzly or bison but even with binoculars I can’t tell which. As I get closer, I yell out “Hey Bear!” but the furry hump doesn’t move. This is probably a good thing. If it is a bear, it probably would rise up to look at me. As I hike closer, the trail leads down into a draw and the hump disappears. I won’t see it again until I hike up the other side and then I’ll be very close.
I get even more nervous now that the furry hump is no longer visible. I consider turning back but I need the miles for the 100 mile hiking challenge. I continue yelling out “Hey Bear!” as I get nearer. As I hike up the hill, the brown hump is once again visible but this time I see horns. It’s a bison but it’s a big bull bison and it’s rutting season. He’s literally on the trail so I have to detour through the sage to go around him.
Storm Point – 2.0 Miles
After my close encounter with the grizzly-bison, I talked Cindy into coming with me on my next hike. Storm Point loop is a short popular hike leading out to the shores of Yellowstone Lake.
Fairy Falls – 7.7 Miles (44.525099, -110.869839)
There’s a short 2 mile out-and-back trail to Fairy Falls but since I need the miles, I added some other trails to make this hike longer.
The short trail to Fairy Falls is very popular with hikers. Most hikers head out to the newly opened platform that overlooks Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the most popular features of the park.
I saw no hikers on my route to Fairy Falls but once I arrived I saw dozens that had taken the shorter route.
Natural Bridge – 2.8 Miles
Cindy accompanied me on this short hike up to Natural Bridge. The trailhead starts out at a campground so it’s very popular with families.
DeLacy Creek – 6.0 Miles (44.408283, -110.69483)
DeLacy Creek trail is an out-and-back trail leading to Shoshone Lake, the largest lake inaccessible by road in the lower 48. It’s relatively flat and passes by multiple active beaver dams along the way.
I saw no hikers on my way to Shoshone Lake.
West Thumb Overlook – 1.8 Miles (44.412103, -110.586555)
The West Thumb overlook trail is close to Grant Village where we’re living for the summer. This short trail is a loop through some woods, up a big hill then back down through some woods to the trail head. I hiked both this trail and the Duck Lake trail on the same day.
Duck Lake – 1.0 Miles (44.421705, -110.577178)
I pass by Duck Lake on my way to and from work. I saw no wildlife on this short in-and-out hike but did see fresh bear scat on the way in.
Wapiti Lake – 6.5 Miles (44.723861, -110.451736)
At 6.5 miles, the hike out Wapiti Lake trail is one of my longest to date. The hike starts in the northern section of Hayden Valley which is where I spend a lot of time wolf watching a few miles to the south. It’s home to the Wapiti wolf pack and I’ve seen 4 adult and 5 pups each time I come here. I’ve also seen grizzly bears here on numerous occasions but fortunately none on this trip.
I hiked out to Ribbon Lake and returned via Clear Lake near the south rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I saw few hikers on my way but ran into swarms of mosquitos causing me to complete this 6.5 mile trip in about 2 hours!by