Day 4

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    Posted by Paula ( on August 24, 2005 at 21:49:39:

    In Reply to: Day 3 posted by Paula on August 24, 2005 at 21:46:38:

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2005

    We woke up early and drove north towards Mammoth for the guys to fish at Slough Creek. We had orange juice, coffee and granola bars in the van. We went through Mammoth and headed east, seeing some bison at close range. We pulled off to watch one group with an altercation and head butting going on. We stopped at a bridge over the Lamar to fish. I got out the stove and heated up the gravy for biscuits and gravy which we ate after they finished fishing without even one bite. We drove on to Slough and they went down through the meadows to fish some more. Rick & I climbed a small rise and looked for animals with the binoculars. The fishing was unsuccessful again, the only thing biting was hordes of mosquitos and they said they'd had enough fishing.

    Daniel had been wanting to climb a mountain and Rick's back wasn't worsening with hiking so we decided to go up Mt. Washburn since so many on the chat page had recommended it. Even the views on the drive up to the parking lot were great. We put all our stuff in the packs & fanny packs and started off up the trail - and I do mean up. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of wildflowers, the views in every direction were terrific.Three bluebirds flew across the trail right after we started and we saw lots of big ravens further up. Everytime I stopped to catch my breath the view was more spectacular. Daniel & Preston soon left the old folks behind and I lagged way behind Rick, but really enjoying the hike. At one stop I saw the group behind me looking through binoculars up the slope and I turned and could see three bighorn sheep beside a cluster of trees. I learned later that Daniel and Preston had seen them up close right on the trail. I was the last one to reach the lookout tower at the top, it is well worth the trip up.
    We could see bad weather moving in and briefly discussed whether we should wait it out or head down. We decided to go ahead and start down since it wasn't far and Rick had been talking with a guy who was visiting the ranger and he told him storms usually blew over quickly. Can you sense I'm setting the scene here? We started down laughing & talking about the great hike. Going down was a LOT easier hiking so we were visiting. Daniel asked if I had written down all the information on the trip and hikes so he could do the trip on his own sometime and I reassured him that I did have everything written down. I also told him about John Uhler’s Yellowstone chat page and all the people on it. I told him about all the information and trip reports from Ballpark Frank, Dave Parker, Wendy, Oldtymers, Jake & Leslie, Albee, Yellowstone Girl, Lone Eagle Woman, Hellene, Funkiller, Teewinot and everyone else whose names aren’t popping into my brain just now. I told them about the Fairyland Basin trip, Loonions and Allison. I told them that all of these people and their input over the last few years were the reason we were having such a great trip because I had saved lots of the information and suggestions on a disk and printed it all out to use planning the trip. They were amazed that all this began on the internet.The wind continued to pick up as the dark clouds got closer. I put on my fleece jacket then and added my poncho when it started to sprinkle. Then I heard Daniel say, "Ouch!" at the same time I felt a sharp sting on my head - we were being pelted with hail and it hurt. I kept walking thinking it would stop but it just got harder, heavier and more painful. We saw some dead trees standing up ahead and ran to take shelter behind the trunks which helped a lot. Soon three young girls came running down the trail screaming and we yelled at them to stop behind the trees, too. Their parent and another couple hiking uphill joined us soon. I couldn't believe how long it lasted, the ground was completely covered and white like a snowfall. One of the little girls was really scared and yelling, "We're all going to die!" It slacked off a little bit a couple of times but then would get stronger again. Rick & I both estimated it lasted about 20 minutes. We were on a slope and I had to change positions a couple of times because my legs would go numb. Finally the hail got smaller and lessened so we continued down the trail, which was covered in the hail. I was surprised it wasn't more slippery, but the road was rocky underneath the hail. The guys ran down quite a bit of the trail because they were cold & wet (hadn't put their ponchos on as soon as I did). They had the heater blasting when I reached the van. It had continued raining the rest of the way back. All of our shoes & socks were soaked. We started driving back and stopped at Tower to eat since it was still raining, but they didn't serve any hot food so we went on. Right afterwards we came to a bear jam and watched a black bear eating berries right by the road in the rain. Then he moved to a bush even closer to the road. We got some pictures and then went on. Soon the rain stopped so we got out at Lava Creek and made some sandwiches and ate them for lunch. We got to Mammoth and did some sightseeing, driving through the Upper Terrace, there were some really pretty areas and one large one right by the road where you could see the thin sheet of water flowing right over the formation.
    We stopped right before the canyon because Daniel wanted to climb on some of the rocks. We got some pictures of him climbing and arriving safely at the bottom.
    We arrived back at camp to find our tents upside down, we'd forgotten to use the tent stakes. But it had to have blown pretty hard because our tent was pretty weighted down with both airbeds, sleeping bags plus two heavy canvas folding chairs we'd put in there to keep dry in case it rained.. A couple of the sleeping bags were pretty wet so we decided to take them into town to a Laundromat to dry. The campground host came around and told us about a Laundromat with showers in West Yellowstone, north on 191. We passed three elk jams on the way into town. When we arrived at the Laundromat we spent quite a while drying the sleeping bags (I used too hot a temperature on Rick's and melted the zipper and part of the fabric), washing some clothes and shoes from the muddy hike, and taking hot showers. These showers weren't as nice as the ones at Old Faithful and cost $4.00 for six minutes, but they felt great. Unfortunately, there wasn't an electrical outlet in either the Women's Shower or the restroom so I didn't get to dry my hair and had to go with wet hair.
    We ate at Wild West Pizza - really good with lots of garlic. They just had lots of long tables you shared with the other customers. We got to know a couple from Utah whose father bought a cabin on a lake there in the thirties and the whole family splits up the time there in the summers. The restroom was in the bar and was decorated in red, white and blue - tire tracks running all over the walls and ceiling.
    We went back to camp and lit a campfire which we sat around watching the lightning and thunder get closer. When it started we headed for the tents quickly and tried to sleep despite very noisy new neighbors. In a while a ranger car pulls up to their site and two rangers with really bright flashlights approach their tent talking loudly. We couldn't hear what they were saying because of the storm and weren't sure if they were in trouble for the noise or because their fire was still flaring up three feet high in the rain with them nowhere to be seen. Anyway, they put out the fire and peace and quiet fell over the campground except for the rain, thunder & lightening which continued most of the night.

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