Day 3, Yellowstone: Bechler River Traverse

Day 3, Tuesday, August 5, 2014                                                                                                            (Correction: Donna, not Debbie, was the early riser in our group. Sorry ladies for that faux pas).


Debbie, smiling, despite the rainy conditions, with Sophia and “G” (Geert) standing by, about to cross another stream.


A wet start on day 3. After another hearty breakfast, we set off in the drizzle. 

Now, considering that I live in Phoenix where rain is in short supply and that I actually LIKE to see it rain there, my patience with THIS wet weather was getting old - real fast. Our packs, despite having rain covers, were wet, my hat was soaked, my pants legs were soaked, my water resistant jacket, questionably adequate. (Shoes were dry inside and with the liberal application of water repellant before leaving Phoenix, they seemed to be wet only on the outside).


My legs were just as wobbly as the night before, but, I could stand up and walk at least. I did make it across the log bridge, with a mostly empty backpack, to pack up my tent and stuff my dry belongings inside too - without too much exposure to the rain. With my pack stuffed, I went back to the log and just could not get my legs and my head to coordinate crossing over. The others were all on the other side, out of site, so I stood there, on the precipice, and tried to force myself to make that first step. 

It wasn’t gonna happen.

About that time I noticed that someone had left their backpack on this side of the shore, which got me to thinking, maybe we are resuming our hike from THIS side of the river. IF so, then I could avoid carrying the heavy load over and back again. Dumping my pack I crossed to the other side, legs a bit shaky, but without the pack, it was nearly a piece of cake. I was tremendously relieved to find that we were, indeed, resuming the hike from the other side. Alleluia!

This day we were to ford the river two times. That meant we would remove our hiking boots and cross wearing our water shoes, sandals or even some in their boots. We also crossed smaller streams that were not deep or over logs in other cases.


The first of the two river crossings on Day 3. Swift current but not terribly deep.

The first river crossing was not particularly deep, but the current was flowing quickly and footing on the rocky riverbed was tricky, having to carefully feel one’s way, stepping over larger rocks, sliding over others, crouching to provide more stability and control, using the poles to steady and support us, and side stepping, slowly, to the other shore. As Chris got us under way from the first side, Nate stood by on the other, or either or both assisted us and encouraged us as we inched across.

As we hiked this day, my thighs were a bother, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and bore on despite the discomfort. It seemed I was continually giving myself pep talks to overcome the weakness in my legs and strain of carrying my heavy, wet pack with soggy clothes and boots. Each rest stop was a welcome relief. Dropping the pack, eating a snack and sitting for a bit was enough to provide a boost of energy for the next leg of the day’s trek. However, stopping also meant a lack of exertion which then had me shivering in the cold. Taking advice from Donna, I opened my pack and put on a warm fleece vest under my rain jacket and that helped ward off the chill. I continued hiking thereafter, in the rain, with the vest which helped retain my body heat.


Today was DAY 3, L-3, Lunch #3 - the extra weight in MY pack. OH thank goodness I could lighten my load!! I know we all were grateful when our portion of the food was used each day thus making a difference in carried weight. I swear, I think my weight was reduced by 10 pounds, though Chris thinks it was more like 5 lbs. (In my mind, I prefer to place it at the higher poundage). It did make a difference in hoisting the pack upon my back, cinching up the straps and carrying it thereafter. It also seemed to make some difference on my legs. 

With no relief from the rain, Chris chose a spot on the trail and we helped set up the tarp offering us some protection from the drizzle. (I was very quick to dig out the lunch fixings from my pack).


Huddling beneath the tarp, we chatted and watched as our guides quickly prepared our lunch, which I think were chicken, veggie wraps. As a side note, Chris and Nate were able to prepare the lunches, feed us and clean up, usually within a half hour. It was amazing what they could do using plastic baggies for mixing up ingredients. We all had a set of plasticware: dinner plate, cup, bowl and single, multi use fork, spoon combination which we dug out and used for most meals.

The end of this day was near Colonnade Falls which we reached by mid to late afternoon. 

It was even wetter than the previous day. Dense vegetation, tall, wet grasses, almost marshy, we managed to all set up our tents in the continuing drizzle. By now, with the rain falling the tents were as soggy as we.

With improvisation, we managed to erect our tarpaulin cover despite a close proximity of usable trees.

 At this site, a fire was allowed. Despite Ryan’s and others efforts to find dry wood, it was a fruitless pursuit, and so, no warmth from a campfire for us. 

After setting up our tents, a group of us set off up the trail for a short hike to Colonnade Falls which was well worth the effort. This waterfall is preceded by Iris Falls, which we viewed just before reaching camp. In the view from Colonnade, Iris is seen above it. 

As I looked off down the river, I detected some clearing the in the Western sky. 

Oh joy! 

Could this mean a dry (and warmer day ahead)? I sure hoped so.

Muddy Trail, though it got MUCH worse...


The 2nd river crossing. More difficult. I had the guides carry my pack across.


Debbie fording the river, Chris and Nate assisting...


Everyone safely across, time to put on boots and resume the hike.

Sophia sets up her tent


The Colonnade Falls Camp community shelter.

Colonnade Falls with Iris Falls above

Muddy, mucky trail 

Geert (G) hoisting bags over the bear hang


Tent site at Colonnade Falls Camp © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments