Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cache Lake

Today I did a 10.6 mile out and back to Cache Lake. Like the Terrace Mountain Loop, this hike began at the Glen Creek Trailhead, about 3 miles from the dorm. The weather was perfect for hiking when we started at 10 AM - warm and sunny with a cool breeze. The first 2 miles of the trail went through a green pasture surrounded by mountains. After a few miles, we entered a wooded area and began climbing gradually. As we continued hiking, we started encountering a lot of snowy sections of trail. 

After we got into the woods, it started raining and hailing on us very suddenly. Luckily, the storm passed in about 10 minutes. By the time we reached Cache Lake, the sun was back out and it was beautiful again! The lake was absolutely beautiful, with an awesome view of Electric Peak behind it. 

Electric Peak from Cache Lake

Laura, Chris, Erica, and me at Cache Lake

We sat at the lake and ate lunch before hiking the 5.3 miles back to the trailhead. All in all, it was a beautiful hike and a beautiful day!

Some of the people in the dorms had been talking about going out to dinner after the hike, but when the time came, no one wanted to go anymore. So only two of us went: me and Nick, a Minnesotan who shares my affinity for Glacier National Park. We headed over to the Town Cafe and then decided to explore one of the back mountain roads here in Gardiner. Nick is really into off trail mountain climbing and wanted to see how much elevation the driving up the road could eliminate on an upcoming off trail hike. I was just excited not to be sitting around the dorm watching TV! 

Gardiner below in the distance

We could even see the Mammoth Terraces!

We headed up the road, and after a short time we could see the town of Gardiner below, as well as Mammoth in the distance. As we continued uphill, we looked down on the beautiful green hills that surround the area. It was really beautiful!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Monument Geyser Basin

Yesterday afternoon, we noticed a very large and very adorable bunny nibbling on grass outside the dorm. I named him whiskers (or whiskie for short) and the name has stuck. 


Last night was an NPS employee's birthday, so he held a bonfire outside the dorm to celebrate. Everyone from the dorm was there, as well as some locals and NPS employees who live elsewhere in Mammoth. The bonfire was really fun. I met a lot of really nice people and enjoyed hanging out with my dormmates. 

Today I went hiking with a group of people from the dorm. We went to Monument Geyser Basin, just South of Madison. Unlike the other geyser basins I have been to so far, this one was off the boardwalk and completely on trail. The path began gradually, following alongside a calm river. 

After about half a mile, the trail began climbing steeply through burned forest. The weather had been threatening all afternoon, and just over a mile into the hike, it started to rain and hail. The hail definitely hurt, even through my rain jacket. Luckily, the rain and hail stopped just as we came to a scenic overlook of a large canyon. 

The trail starts to climb steeply

Me at the scenic overlook, just after the hail stopped

The geyser basin was just a few minutes away from the scenic overlook, and it was really pretty. There was one especially interesting formation in the basin, which is a tall, thin smoking geyser. 

Monument Geyser

A nice mountain view from the geyser basin

Our hiking group - Nick, Erica, Emily, Maeve, Andrew, Me, Chris

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Friday, May 29, 2009

My Daily Commute

First of all, let me wish my brother Casey a very happy birthday! Interestingly, as we were born only 11 months apart, this marks the beginning of the one month per year that Casey and I are the same age. I hope you have a great birthday, brother!

After two days of beautiful hiking, I am taking a rest day today so that my legs will be fresh tomorrow for another hiking adventure. I figured I would share photos of my commute from where I live in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY inside Yellowstone Park to Gardiner, MT, where I work, get my mail, and check my email. It is an amazing drive, and beats commuting in Gainesville any day! The distance between Mammoth and Gardiner is 5 miles. The drive winds down through a hilly green canyon along the Gardiner River. 

I start by going through the tiny town of Mammoth, where the park headquarters are located. I pass the Mammoth Terraces, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, the NPS visitor's center, Old Fort Yellowstone, and the post office. Mammoth is a really cute little town.

The Mammoth Terraces, as seen from downtown Mammoth

The historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel

The NPS Albright Visitor's Center in Mammoth

Mammoth Post Office

Elk grazing in Mammoth - a very common sight (there are usually buffalo grazing, too)

After passing Mammoth, the road winds downhill toward Gardiner. The drive is incredibly scenic, and these pictures don't do it justice!

Just outside Mammoth, heading towards Gardiner

Leaving WY for MT a mile or two outside Mammoth

About halfway to Gardiner, the road crossed the 45th parallel

Gardiner can be seen in the distance

Main Street in Gardiner

The rest of Main Street in Gardiner

The iconic Roosevelt Arch - for more information on the arch, click here

The view from Main Street in Gardiner

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bunsen Peak

Since my security check still hasn't cleared, I had another day off of work today. Me and one of my other not yet working coworkers, Chris, as well as another coworker's boyfriend, Manuel, decided to go on another hike. We chose Bunsen Peak, which starts across the street from the Terrace Mountain Loop we hiked yesterday. The hike was only 4.2 miles, and it was the perfect day for a hike - warm, sunny and barely a cloud in the sky.

Bunsen Peak rises above the trailhead

The trail gained elevation surprisingly fast and soon we had a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We entered a section of the mountain that had been burned by a forest fire, possibly the infamous fire of 1988. As we continued up, we had to hike up large snowfields that had not yet melted. 

The Golden Gate Bridge from the trail

Forest burned by fire

More burned forest - notice the butterfly on the plant in the foreground

We had a great view from this clearing

The trail covered in snow

From here, the trail started to switchback steeply. We continued up, crossing many more snowfields that covered the trail. 

One of many switchbacks

Another snowy section of trail

Soon the summit came into view - a round dome covered in red scree. We switchbacked out way up and finally arrived at the summit.

The summit from the bottom of the scree field

The trail climbs up the scree

At the summit, there was a lot of telecommunications equipment - a large telephone pole, several transmitters, and a shed. It definitely blocked some of the view, but what we could see was really beautiful. We had a great view of three snow covered peaks on one side, and Mammoth, Gardiner, and mountains on the other.

Telecommunications equipment at the summit

View from the summit

Another summit shot

 I could clearly see the employee dorms in which I live, and I snapped this picture of them. 

Another summit shot

Me at the summit

After resting for a while at the top of Bunsen Peak, we headed back down. The views were just as beautiful coming down as they were going up. 

The view on the way down

All in all, it was another great hike. We couldn't have asked for better weather, the views were amazing, and the hike was challenging. Since I couldn't work, this was definitely the next best thing.

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