Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Great Outdoors- Part III

I hoped the mosquitoes would sleep in later than me, but no such luck. They joined us for breakfast. Near Heart Lake is Mount Sheridan. We decided on a day hike there in hopes that the altitude and snow would keep the mosquitoes away. We put some supplies in Joe's backpack, which I offered to carry until we got to the mountain and he would carry on the way up. The mosquitoes did clear when it got snowy. It also got more difficult to walk. Joe went first to stomp deep footprints for us to step in. The snow got too thick to make it up to the top. On the way down, we did a bit of skiing in our boots and sledding on our pants. Mostly intentionally.

When we got back to Heart Lake it was still early in the day and the other options for day hikes promised more mosquitoes, so we opted to pack up the tents and backpack back to the trail head and get a new permit for a different site. It was tiring for Annie and me, but we eventually approached the car. When we were most of the way back, we saw a family hiking with no supplies. The menfolk were shirtless and all were sweating. They asked if they were halfway to the lake yet. Boy were they in for a day!

We drove back to the station to get a new permit, and though we were five minutes too late they gave us one for the Lamar Valley, almost in Montana. Luckily the hike out was much shorter, just two or three miles, and the campsite was scenic as can be. It started raining just as we started setting up the tents, just enough to get me wet and cold. A double rainbow was some consolation. Happy fourth of July! The fourth has managed to be my most consistently memorable holiday. I spent the previous four fourths in Atlanta (on a roof), in D.C. (on the mall), in Charleston (at the harbor), and in Madrid (where they made us feel at home with an American-style buffet lunch).

In the clearness of morning we hiked back to the car to do more site seeing by driving. The park is huge and takes hours to drive around. We were up in the Northeast part of the park and headed West to Tower Fall, then further West to see the Petrified Tree, and further still to Mammoth Hot Springs. This is the way most people see the park-- by car, hopping out at the sites to walk around and take pictures. Kids were universally whining or making mischief with their siblings. When we stopped at some picnic tables for lunch, a man threw nearly half a watermelon in the trash. We all gaped at each other and I almost thought Joe would dive in after it.

We continued South to the Norris Geyser Basin. We took a trail with hundreds of stairs. Then all the way back to Annie's research station in the Tetons, where we "swam" in the lake. Only I never let go of the dock to get fully in the water because it was so cold.

We cooked dinner there and chatted with some of the other researchers. In addition to the butterfly group there was a tick group. They had spent the day walking in the wilderness in white suits hoping ticks would land on them, but--what misfortune!--they were tick free.

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