Big day planned here today. A hike to Avalanche Peak and a trip to Cody, Wyoming. We also have to check out of our motel this morning. This led to us leaving around 9:15 instead of the scheduled 8:00. Mallory stayed with us last night so she could hit the park with us again today. Just like old times!
Today is our first time entering the park before Noon, much less this early. We could tell something was up when we exited the motel parking lot and could already see the line of cars to get into Yellowstone backed up all the way through town. We got in line, but it moved pretty fast. We were on our way.
Avalanche Peak is located on the east side of the park, near the East Entrance. Cody is located about an hour east of the park. Today will involve lots of driving.
Today’s drive took us past Yellowstone Lake for the first time. It’s gorgeous. There were several pullouts and lots of cars were stopped, and people were walking along the shoreline.
The original plan was to hike the trail in the morning, and then eat lunch in Cody. Wow, that did not go as planned. It took about 2.5 hours to get to the trailhead (80 miles), so we ate lunch at some picnic tables at the trailhead. A dose of great scenery and good food, and the crew was ready for a hike.
The summary of this hike, which was highly rated by my trail guide map, indicates it is a steep climb from start to finish. That is no lie. From the first few steps, it was a vertical climb.
Side note: The author of our trail guide is named Jake, and the family has been saying some disparaging things about Jake since we got lost on our hike yesterday. Today on our drive, some of these negative vibes were resurfacing, and out of nowhere, Marissa (who we thought was asleep) pipes up and says, “Screw You, Jake!”.
The hike was described as being 4.6 miles with an elevation change of 2,000 feet. We had to take rest breaks every few minutes. It was quite challenging. We passed through a forested area, then a stage of dead trees, and then rock fields towards the top. At every stage, we saw snow, and in many cases, had to hike through snow.
We hiked straight up for about 2.5 hours and from what we could tell, still about 400 feet from the summit. We decided we had gone for enough as we had a great view of Yellowstone Lake, and that was one of the payoffs of this hike. We sat down to rest, have a snack, and enjoy the views.
We were joined momentarily by another hiker, who we learned was named Matt. He sat down and joined us and we had a nice chat while all of us took a load off.
Matt took our picture and we returned the favor. Matt is from Shreveport, and is working at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel for the summer, much like Mallory’s summer job here. Matt’s Dad had worked in Yellowstone for a summer 25 years earlier, which inspired Matt. Sounds like a pretty cool family tradition to me. Best of luck to you, Matt!
We began our descent with the strong desire that it not take nearly as long to get down as it did to get up. Going down was sure easier, but in some cases more nerve-wracking. There was plenty of slipping and sliding, but nobody crashed (too hard).
Going down, we were passed by a father and daughter that had also passed us going up. We asked them how it went and they had made it to the tip-top. They were unsure which peak was the actual Avalanche Peak, so they hit all three. Wow! The daughter seemed pretty young so I asked her how old she was, and she was 12. Double Wow! Girl Power.
When we made it to the bottom, we made a beeline for Eleanor Lake, conveniently located next to the parking lot. We cleaned up our legs from the hike and that cold water felt so good.
It was after 5:00 when we finished. Our side trip to Cody was off the table. We opted to head straight back, with a stop for ice cream at the general store at the lake. As we were pulling out of the parking lot of the trail, we saw a mule deer come out of the woods near the trailhead. A new animal for our sightseeing pleasure on this trip.
Once back in West Yellowstone, we stopped for dinner at the Slippery Otter. Great name, and equally great experience for us. The Bison Burger with blue cheese is a game changer.
Tonight, we checked into Yellowstone Under Canvas, which is where Mallory is working this summer. The guest experience was fantastic as we checked in. We got all setup with our tent, which features a wood-burning stove and three twin beds.
After we settled in, Marissa and I went to the lobby tent and grabbed some s’mores fixings and enjoyed the fire. There were several other families there and we passed the time visiting about the area. Stephanie joined Mallory in town for karaoke night, which is a popular activity for the Under Canvas employees.
It was a long day, but a fun one. Looking forward to one more full day of exploring Yellowstone and checking out more of Under Canvas and the friendly people here.