29 Apr

Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Susan Alton

Susan Alton

Susan Alton

Washburn, Yellowstone National Park

Fog: thick and white
along the Yellowstone River. Socked in. When we left the 5er for our Volkswalk
up Mt. Washburn at 7:00 a.m., the first animal we spotted was a coyote about a
mile from our campground, followed in rapid succession by four elk and two white

A few miles farther, a
lone bull bison walked in the center of our lane. No one could pass by. The
brave driver of a smaller import car in front of us passed the bison. At that
point, the bison decided to walk the center line. We could not get by until he
moved to the other side of the road. Flashers flashing, we waited. In a few
minutes he moseyed into the other lane far enough over that we felt we could pass
him safely. We left our flashers on to warn oncoming traffic of the hazard in
the fog.

Upon climbing Dunraven
Pass away from the Canyon area, the fog stayed low along the river and we were
once again in the sun. We parked at the Dunraven Pass/Mt. Washburn parking lot,
put on our sunblock, used the outhouse and started up the trail.

This 6.2 mile
roundtrip walk is wonderful. The whole way up, the trail is an old stagecoach
road so it is easy to walk two to four abreast. The grade is moderate, no
really steep sections. We took our time. I took photos, enjoyed the wildflowers
and Bob spotted a yellow-bellied marmot family sunning on an old log. The two little
marmots were playing on the rocks and logs.


View at beginning of trail.


Nice wide trail.


Greater sage grouse.


Bob on trail.


Marmot sunning, probably momma marmot.


One of two marmot pups.

Higher up we go!

Up and up we hiked. The
main highway looked smaller and smaller below us. Bob thought a car on the road
was a motorcycle ‚¬Â¦until he looked at it with binoculars. Soon we were higher
than the surrounding hills and mountains. (Mt. Washburn is the highest mountain
inside Yellowstone National Park boundaries.)

At the top is a
working fire lookout–in summer only. (No need in winter when snow is 30’
deep.) Inside the bottom level of the fire tower are displays showing all the
mountains, lakes, canyons and rivers in the distance. 

Enjoying the view.


We made it and still have energy.


Today was not crystal
clear. Smoke from fires in Idaho cast a brownish pall over long-distance views.
Even so, we could see about 25 miles. On a really clear day, the Grand Tetons
are visible 75 miles away.

If you go up one level
in the fire lookout, there is an outside area for picture taking and a couple
of interpretive signs. We hung out downstairs on the benches to eat our trail
mix and relax while looking out the windows. Before heading back down the
trail, I made use of the restroom at the top.

No mountain goats or
sheep in our wildlife count today. We asked one lady who had gone up earlier
than us if she had seen any goats or sheep. She had seen some bighorn sheep, but they went down and she could
no longer see them. The ranger said the same thing, no bighorn sheep or
mountain goats up high.

Downhill was a piece
of cake. No shortness of breath at all. Beautiful views greeted us at each turn
of the trail. We could see the low-lying fog of morning had burned off.

Many more people were
coming up the trail than us early birds who were on the way down. We started
the trail at 8:00 a.m. It took us 2-1/2 hours to reach the summit and we were
down by 12:20 p.m. People were waiting for parking places. I told Bob it was
such a good hike I wouldn’t mind doing it again while we’re here. Maybe we
could start really early like 6:30 a.m. and see some bighorn sheep or mountain
goats! I’m game.

On the way back to the
5er we stopped at Canyon area General Store for deli sandwiches, carrots,
apples, bananas, and Grasshopper cookies. Good lunch. (Some is for more lunches
in the next few days.)

Next we went to Mary’s
Point on Lake Yellowstone for cell service so Bob could call in to work. I was
able to use his smartphone to moderate my blog comments and check my email.

When we returned to
the 5er, Bob decided to level it. Our heads were downhill when we slept and it
felt like the back end was in a hole. I pulled in the slides so he could put
down some leveling blocks under the tires on the right side. He said he didn’t
need help so I sat inside writing my blog.

SLAM! Uh-oh.

I went outside to see
what that noise was. Uh-oh is right. He forgot to lock the 5th wheel
into place. When he pulled the truck forward, the 5th wheel slammed
into the bed of the pickup truck, denting the sides of his pickup bed and the
tailgate. It could have been worse. He was able to elevate the supports and
stabilize the 5er enough to put the pick up with 5th wheel back
under the trailer. Looks like we’ll get a new tailgate when we return to San

The trailer is more
level now than it was. It’s a big improvement.

Kitty play time. Bowie
attacked the throw rugs and dove underneath them. That must not have been
enough interaction because he went after Sunnie. The two of them are squaring
off in the living room, having a great old time playing. I’m glad they’re such
good buddies.

Sunnie “hunts” the
least chipmunks that run around outside our 5er(fifth wheel trailer, for short). He sits in the window, tail
twitching, following every little movement they make. Last night, I thought he
was going to go through the rear window to attack one. We call the windows of
the 5er “kitty big-screen entertainment system.”

Today’s wildlife
count: coyote, four elk, herds of bison, white pelicans, five or six
yellow-bellied marmots, two greater sage grouse, sandhill crane,
golden-mantle ground squirrels, and least chipmunks.

This evening Bob is
going to run. When he gets back we’ll have tostadas for dinner. Last night, Bob
cooked grilled tuna and cheese sandwiches. Very tasty.

We discussed our
return trip to San Antonio. At this point, the plan is Cody, Wyoming to
Thermopolis, Wyoming, northwest to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. Then we
will head south to Scottsbluff, Nebraska and follow part of the Oregon Trail on
US 26 to I-80 across Nebraska to US 81 south.

We will meet our friends Jackye
and Dan in Wichita Falls, Texas, then drop south back to San Antone. One of the
sights we want to see is the railroad switching yard I read about in a blog.
But I forgot whose blog and where the large railroad switching yard is. Any

Tomorrow we’re
planning another hiking day. One of the rangers in the Fishing Bridge Visitor
Center marked some of his favorite hikes for us on a day hike flyer. We want to
do the Shoshone Lake (6 miles) and Riddle Lake (5 miles) hikes in the Grant
Village/West Thumb area. At Riddle Lake there is a chance we may see Trumpeter

Life is good. We hope
to see you down the road.

Travel Bug out.

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