A NEW Adventure on the Horizon

Here it is, summertime 2014 and I am finalizing my plans for my great escape from the Phoenix, AZ heat in August.

My destination this year is Yellowstone National Park.

Parts of this vacation will incorporate Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Idaho and possibly a slice of Colorado.

Yellowstone National Park is located in the very Northwest corner of Wyoming, but includes portions into Montana as well, thus it is referred to as the Greater Yellowstone area. 

thumbs YELAW1659 Beginning of erruption

My friend Mark Howard, who lives in the Phoenix area, grew up in West Yellowstone, MT. and has given me some tips on places I should try to visit while up there. As it is, I will have little of the month to actually explore all the possibilities. But Mark’s suggestions have helped me map out a good portion of my route over the weeks I will be away.

This year’s adventure will begin in Bozeman, Montana, so I plan to take 2 or 3 days to drive those 1000 miles or so to get there. The first segment of this trip will be with The Wildland Trekking Co., an outfitter that leads groups on outdoor excursions around the Western states. They will provide all the equipment, including backpacks, food, sleeping bags, tents. I’ll bring my own necessities of course. The night before departure, participants on this hike will meet and be instructed on how to pack our backpacks. The food and equipment will be distributed amongst those in the group. 

On August 3, we will be transported to the lower southwest corner of Yellowstone Park and begin our hike a bit south of Old Faithful geyser. The trail is the Bechler River Traverse, where we are likely to encounter numerous forms of wildlife, such as wolves, black bears, moose, buffalo, coyotes, and (most scary to me) Grizzly Bears. The likelihood of my actually being chased down, mauled, nibbled upon or actually devoured are pretty slim - I think. I’ve already reviewed the Wildland Trekkng Company’s online video about how to handle bear encounters, we will get further instructions at our orientation, a can of bear spray and being in a group should lessen any chances of having to “bear” the results of attacks. If nothing else, I will remember to be faster than the slowest runner in the group…

Also along the way on this backpack trip, we will cross the river a couple of times, see and enjoy several waterfalls, and even enjoy a nice soak in some hot springs along the way. I think, at most, we hike 7 miles in any one day, which is very manageable for me. On Aug. 8 we are driven back to Bozeman, where I will stay one more night. Then I have four days from Aug 9-12 to explore inside Yellowstone National Park. The park has upper and lower loop roads which will allow me to see the varied landscape and sites along the way. My plan is to camp at a couple of places, go for short day hikes in those areas before ending in West Yellowstone, MT on Aug. 12. 

thumbs YNP0203 Horseback tour

On Aug. 13 I will meet up with the Yellowstone Mountain Guides, and begin a 5 day horse pack trip into the remote Northwest area of the park. Again, all the equipment is provided, plus the pack horses or mules will carry the loads. I suspect the food will be better on this part of the trip since the pack animals can carry more and heavier equipment. 

At the end of the horse pack trip on Aug. 17, I will head down through the park to Jackson, WY and the Grand Teton Mountains and on to some places Mark has suggested as I make my way back to Arizona, including Flaming Gorge & Dinosaur National Monument. Then I will stop for a couple of days in Moab, UT to explore in Arches National Park, the nearby Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point park, Natural Bridges Monument, Valley of the Gods, Muley Point (a spectacular overlook of the San Juan River and a deep gooseneck canyon below). This last stop will be on the edge of Monument Valley bordering both Utah and Arizona. Though I’ve been to many of these places before, I will stop again and do more exploring. 

If other interesting places or things arouse my curiosity along the way, I may just take a side trip and see where the road leads me. 

About these summer adventures that I have been taking…while I always have a great time being out in nature experiencing the awesome beauty that surrounds us, meeting new people along the way, sharing times together, the hikes, the photography and the solitude, I’d really like to have friends come along and share the experiences. With that said, I would like to propose that those who are up for the challenge of adventures into the backcountry, let me know. Perhaps next year I can help plan a trip to include some adventurous souls who are up for a challenging outdoor expedition.

(Photos used from internet sites).

kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments