Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why I'll Never Forget My Hike To Observation Peak

Last night, Colin flew in to the airport in Bozeman and I picked him up and brought him here to Yellowstone for a long weekend together. This morning, Colin came to the public tour of the HRC and got to see what kinds of things I am working on this summer. I was able to use comp time to leave work early at around lunchtime so we had some lunch and then packed our bags for a hike up Observation Peak.

It was a beautiful, sunny warm day. We took Dunraven Pass to the trailhead, but on the way, my gas pedal stopped responding and my car was lurching up the mountain pass. I found a place to pull over and as soon as I did, my car stalled out. I tried restarting it a few times and it would start up but kept stalling out. I called AAA and they called the park service station to come tow me out (AAA is not allowed into the park for whatever reason, so they dispatch to the park service station and then reimburse their customers for the tow/service). The tow truck arrived within an hour. When I told him the situation, he said it sounded a lot like vapor lock, or the conversion of gas to vapor in extreme driving situations. Apparently it happens a lot on steep roads like Dunraven Pass, especially on days like this one that are very hot. He asked me to try starting my car and it started right up. He followed me to the service station and the car ran fine. I was just thankful that it wasn’t broken down, especially on Colin’s visit!

We got to the trailhead at around 5:45 PM and started hiking at around six o’clock. The hike is an 11-mile out-and-back up to Observation Peak, where there is a quaint little backcountry cabin and beautiful three hundred and sixty degree views. The first 2.5 miles were flat and oftentimes muddy and brought us to a beautiful blue lake. At the lake, we took a sharp right and started climbing through burned forest up to our destination. We were hiking fast to beat the sunset. Towards the top, we trekked across large snowfields.

The beginning of the hike

A nice stream along the trail

The turn for Observation Peak, next to Cascade Lake

Starting to climb

Cascade Lake below

Burned forest

Finally we came to the summit, which offered amazing views of the valley below and the mountains in the distance on all sides. As I sat eating trail mix, Colin came over and began a wonderful speech about how much I mean to him and how we are made for each other. I didn’t realize he was proposing until he got down on one knee, pulled out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen, and asked me to marry him. I must admit I was quite surprised and my jaw dropped nearly to the ground. Of course I said yes and just couldn’t be any happier or more excited! After meeting Colin up in Glacier National Park last summer, I suppose it was only fitting that we get engaged here in another amazing western park!

The summit ahead

The observation tower/patrol cabin

Nice view

Cascade Lake from the summit

Still in shock at this point

As the sun was beginning to set, we booked it down the mountain and back to the trailhead, excitedly talking the entire time about our future together. After the car trouble earlier in the day, things definitely worked out the way they were supposed to!

The perfect end to the perfect hike!

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