Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 31- Mount Washburn Hike

Another one of our bison friends just walking along the road.  I don't know if I could ever get sick of seeing them act so nonchalantly.  
Waterfall near the Golden Gate Area between Madison and Mammoth.
Love the colors on this bird- it kept visiting the people in the campsite beside us.
Lunch from our campsite with beautiful views of the mountains behind us.
Saw this bull snake right before we headed out for our hike.
As we drove into Mammoth, we kept seeing all these signs that said "Danger- Do NOT approach the Elk".  We thought it was strange because we didn't see any elk.  After lunch, we headed out for our hike and they were EVERYWHERE.  They just walked across the road, laid down on the medians, grazed and just took their old sweet time.  There were many moms with babies.
We saw this great owl as well.
We drove on a dirt road called Blacktail Plateau Drive and saw this bull elk and one other(which as I previously mentioned I absolutely love)!
Then we turned the corner and saw all of these people (which usually means bear and bear patrol).  There was no immediate place for David to pull off, so I grabbed the camera and jumped out of the car while it was still slowly moving.  I got out just in time to see this little fellow.  David stopped the car in the middle of the road (which you are not allowed to do), but there was no where to move because people were pulling their cars on and off the road.  We only stayed for a couple of minutes before jumping back in the car and heading out for our hike.

As you can tell, it was COLD and EXTREMELY windy.  We had several layers and the two little ones and I had hats and ear protection.  David and Jimmy declined when we were packing up the stuff!  I offered but they didn't need it (or so they thought)!  I would guess the winds were 30-40 mph as we hiked up!  I couldn't let Logan near the edge!
The views on the way up were just beautiful.

David realized that he didn't lock the truck, so he and Jimmy ran back down to do that while the two littles and I trekked on (since they hike at a much slower pace)!
They also like to goof off a good bit on the way !
The hike still had a good bit of snow!

There is a warming hut at the top that we could see from the bottom of the trail when we started up.  It kept getting closer.
You can see the snow drifts that had been plowed were taller than me!

We finally made it to the top- it was ridiculously windy up here.
They had to take their hats off or lose them.
Some of our views from the summit.  You can see some of the trails going down.

At the top, the warming hut has three levels.  On the top level, there is one park ranger who stays there during the duration of the summer months (once the snow is clear enough for him to get up there) and monitors the fire tower.  He doesn't come down at all during the season and is usually down by the beginning of October.  You could see why it would be a fire tower because you can see for miles in so many directions.  There are three monitored fire towers in Yellowstone during the summer and one more if that area is at a high fire risk.  There are two ways to the top of the hike- one from Crittenden Road and one from Dunraven Pass.  Jimmy and I hiked down a different way and David took the two little ones down to get the truck and then they drove to get us at the other trail head.  I wanted to go down a different way because the guidebooks said the Dunraven Pass trail had a population of big horned sheep that lived there and I was in search of a male big horn sheep with curly horns.
I didn't see any males, but this colony of females were literally 10 feet from the trail.  I am glad that Jimmy and I came down this way.  The last time we saw big horn sheep, they were really far away.
At the end of every hike, I am constantly reminded of how awesome the boys are.  They didn't complain one time during the approximately 6 miles hike- they continue to amaze me.  I am so blessed!  Once Hunter and Logan go to bed, David and I will often go to a close town and have some time to explore.  Tonight, we walked up from the campground to Mammoth (less than half a mile) and when we got to the top of the trail, there were elk everywhere.  They tell you to stay 25 yards or more away from the animals, but there was no way that was possible (we were lucky to be 5 yards away).  We altered our trail but still couldn't get that far away from them.  I love this picture that David took on our way back to the campground.
It doesn't get dark until very late out here (9:30 or so), but we did catch a beautiful sunset!

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