4 More Hikes Totaling 20.8 Miles!

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Current Status: 79.8 miles hiked, 20.2 miles to go.

Observation Point, Old Faithful – 2.1 miles

Cindy and I hiked this one together. It’s an easy loop trail that starts just off the boardwalk in the upper geyser basin and climbs 160 feet providing a bird’s eye view of Old Faithful and the surrounding area. The trail is less steep when hiked in a counterclockwise direction. About half way up is Solitary Geyser. It appears as a placid thermal pool then suddenly erupts about every 5-7 minutes startling nearby observers much like a Jack-in-the-box. It’s fun to watch the kids jump and scream when it goes off.

View of Old Faithful erupting from Observation Point - When I'm working in the Art and Photography I see Old Faithful erupt 5-6 times a day. It's nice to see to Old Faithful erupt from a different perspective.

View of Old Faithful erupting from Observation Point – When I’m working in the Art and Photography Center, I see Old Faithful erupt 5-6 times a day. It’s nice to see to Old Faithful erupt from a different perspective.

After we watched Old Faithful go off, Cindy and I hiked back down the trail. Along the way we saw a marmot posing and a family of otters making their way up stream on the Firehole River.

This yellow-bellied marmot posed for the tourists making their way down the trail from Observation Point.

This yellow-bellied marmot posed for the tourists making their way down the trail from Observation Point.

Riddle Lake – 4.4 Miles (44.361795, -110.55203)

Because of grizzly activity, Riddle Lake was closed to hikers until a few weeks ago.

Because of grizzly activity, Riddle Lake was closed to hikers until a few weeks ago.

There wasn’t much to see on this easy out-and-back hike to Riddle Lake. The lake itself is pretty and very “moosey” but I saw no moose. In an effort to get in shape, I completed this hike in about 1 hour 20 minutes (3.4 mph).

The trail to Riddle Lake passed through mostly pine forests with little to see on the way.

The trail to Riddle Lake passes through mostly pine forests with little to see on the way.

Riddle Lake is isolated from roads and looks very "moosey" but without any moose.

Riddle Lake is isolated from roads and looks very “moosey” but without any moose.

Specimen Ridge – 6.4 miles (44.892422, -110.361249)

This is a great hike!  The Specimen Ridge trail runs the entire south side of Lamar Valley, home to the highest concentration of large mammals in the lower 48. I didn’t hike the entire length but a 6.4 mile out-and-back stretch on the western end. The hike starts in a picnic pullout by the Yellowstone River and climbs steeply to a ridge overlooking the river.

After a 1/4 mile steep climb from the picnic area, the trail opens up to great views of the Yellowstone River below.

After a 1/4 mile steep climb from the picnic area, the trail opens up to great views of the Yellowstone River below.

Along the way I saw bison, bighorn sheep, a marmot, a herd of pronghorn but thankfully no bears. I have seen grizzlies atop Specimen Ridge while looking for wolves from the road that runs through Lamar Valley.

A dozen or so bighorn sheep blocked the trail as I headed up to Specimen Ridge. I had to clap my hands to make them move out of my way.

A dozen or so bighorn sheep blocked the trail as I headed up to Specimen Ridge. I had to clap my hands to make them move out of my way.

 

I've never seen a marmot from the road but I tend to see them on just about every hike. And in most cases, they seem to pose for the camera.

I’ve never seen a marmot from the road but I tend to see them on just about every hike. And in most cases, they seem to pose for the camera.

Near the top of Specimen Ridge, I came upon a herd of pronghorn. The ran ahead of me for the remainder of my hike.

Near the top of Specimen Ridge, I came upon a herd of pronghorn. They ran ahead of me for the remainder of my hike.

View of the Yellowstone River on my return.

View of the Yellowstone River on my return.

Mallard Lake – 7.9 miles (44.473869, -110.775576)

Over half way there!

Over half way there!

Cindy dropped me at the trailhead at its the northern end of this hike on her way to West Yellowstone and picked me up at Old Faithful about 4 hours later. This is my longest and least favorite hike so far. The first  4.4 miles passes through mostly scrub pine with lots of ups and downs making for an exhausting hike. There is a cool overlook of Mallard Lake near the end of this leg but not worth the effort. The second leg (3.5 m) was much better and passes through mature pine forests for most of the way at a slight decline. I met other hikers coming from Old Faithful on this leg. Along the way I saw a western bluebird, osprey and a ground squirrel but no other wildlife. No bears but plenty of bear signs.

This golden-mantled ground squirrel was one of the few critters I saw. Unlike this ground squirrel, chipmunks have a stripe that extends along their head.

This golden-mantled ground squirrel was one of the few critters I saw. This is not a chipmunk. Unlike this ground squirrel, chipmunks have a stripe that extends along their head.

While I didn’t see any bears, I did see bear foot prints and split logs along the trail. If you were a bear, would you walk here…

No self-respecting bear would walk through these downed trees.

No self-respecting bear would walk through these downed trees.

…or here:

If I were a bear, I'd much rather take this route.

If I were a bear, I’d much rather take this route (bear tracks along the trail confirmed this).

This log didn't split itself.  A bear looking for grubs is to blame.

This log didn’t split itself. A bear looking for grubs is to blame.

I saw many bear-split logs along this hike.

I saw many logs split by bears along this hike.

The second leg of the trail was much more scenic. It passed through mature pine forests and was mostly downhill.

The second leg of the trail was much more scenic. It passes through mature pine forests and was mostly downhill.

 

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