Hiking & Bears & Bison, Oh my!

On our last day in Yellowstone and our last day together with Jay, Carl and Ashlan, we decided to get away from the maddening crowds. But first we had to navigate the ever present animal jams. We drove north to Mammoth Springs, but avoided the main attraction and instead headed for the trailhead, for our little five-mile hike to beaver ponds and back.

The trailhead was conveniently placed next to the bathrooms, so we watered our horses and then headed out on the trail. The hike began with a climb out of the parking lot into the heights above. We saw a deer, a prairie dog, some coots and a crazy sparrow who danced in front of us along the trail for a while. I think that it was leading us away from its nest. Halfway through the hike we arrived at the beaver ponds which were in fact just dammed rivers, but that is what beavers do. While we stayed together on the way out bound, we got strung out on the return leg. The combination of heat (87 degrees, but it was still a dry heat), flies and photography had us spaced out over a quarter mile when we descended upon Fort Yellowstone. We re-watered the horses at the visitors center and I hike the extra quarter mile back to the SUV. We had our picnic lunch next to the visitors center.

After lunch we jumped back into the vehicle and headed east towards the Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is suppose to be the best part of Yellowstone for seeing wildlife. True to its reputation, it was the primo part of the park to find wildlife. Where as, we saw dozens of buffalo on Friday in the Hayden Valley, in the Lamar Valley we saw hundreds. We also found our own personal bear. We didn’t happen upon a bear-icade, we created our own. Unfortunately, the Lamar Valley is as far from West Yellowstone as you can nearly get in the park. So we didn’t get to spend too much time in it before we had to start back. If we had only one more day …

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