CDT mile 1715.9, miles hiked 23.3

The park boundary along the snake river

Yellowstone national park, a place near and dear to my heart long before the idea of hiking the CDT ever crossed my mind.  When I was a teenager I was a mess, I ran around with some bad kids, got into some trouble and rebelled against my parents with everything I had.  But when I was 18 my parents insisted I go to college, so I said, “fine I’ll go west.”

I had my heart set on going to the University of Montana, so the fall of my senior year before I would leave for the Appalachian Trail in the spring my father and I took a trip to Montana to see the school and also while there we went to Yellowstone.  No my father and I are a lot alike so much so that for many years we wanted to kill each other at times, but that trip to Yellowstone changed all of that for us.

I have fond memories of driving the park road at early morning hours to watch the wildlife, a bison covered in hard frost still is as clear as the moment I saw it.  We visited the grizzly research center, old faithful, the lake, geysers, hot springs, mud pits and even took our picture on the continental divide.  To this day I think of that trip as the moment we finally understood each other and came to some sort of peace that I would live a different life than what they thought was best for me.

Wildflowers do well in the burned areas from the 1988 fires

Flash forward 8 years later and I again visited Yellowstone this time with both my parents, my sister Courtney and Suzy.  At Mammoth Hot Springs I got down on my knee and asked Suzy to be my wife.  Luckily she said yes otherwise it would have been one hell of an awkward week of vacation for everyone.  That trip was special as it was the trip where I will always remember Suzy seeing her first moose, and elk bugling in the fall air.  The long walks we took in the park and the two days we spent at old faithful watching geysers and hiking.
So today when I descended down from the lakes and crossed through a marsh at the headwaters of the Snake River, I knew a third chapter of my time in Yellowstone was about to begin.  When we hit the border all of the above memories came flooding back in, the park is a special place and this time I get to see it on foot, a more intimate way in my opinion.

Our first day in the park consisted of walking along the Snake River until it’s confluence with Heart river.  We had texted my good friend Tomato last night and he was able to get our permit changed so we could do a bigger hike in today.  So when we hit the boundary we had nine miles to hike.

The terrain was easy and we made quick time, there were flowers all around and Johnny was I awe.  For Cheezy and I, we just enjoyed the nice easy hiking and making noise to scare away bears.  We saw fresh bear tracks on the trail and pile of scat still wet and fresh, but no bear.

The snake river

We made camp by6 pm, enjoyed a soak in the creek and made some dinner.  We even had enough time for a quick fire before turning in for the night.

I’m excited for the next few days even though we are going slower than I like the park is so special I want to enjoy it.  The memories of the past will help build new memories for me and I can’t think of a place more American to share with my German friends than our first national park.  Tomorrow is my mothers 70th birthday so to her surprise I am going to hike into grant village so I can call her on her special day.

I look forward to sharing this Yellowstone experience with Suzy when I get home and also my Dad next time I see him.  I think he would really get a kick out of seeing these off the beaten path parts of the park.

Easy walking through flat terrain

Oh yeah and I didn’t go to university of Montana but instead Virgina Tech, so maybe that should be my lesson today, no matter what you desire don’t over plan your life but go with it, because sometimes the unexpected choice will make all the difference.