I actually lost sleep last night deciding on what hike I would place in the #2 spot, and which one would be the ultimate #1 hike that I completed this summer. It was a very tight competition, both with spectacular views and a great challenge.
BUT alas, one had to receive the silver medal, and after much flip flopping, Avalanche Peak by the East Gate won the second prize.
With a 2,100 foot elevation gain, the view of Yellowstone park at 10, 568 feet was SPECTACULAR! It took my breath away, as did most of the haul uphill. The recommended 4 – 6 hour experience lasted my boyfriend and I a shade under an hour and a half. This was partly due to the approaching dark clouds. With this being one of the tallest peaks in the region, we didn’t want to get caught in the lightning storm, obviously! So I must say, it was a quick jog down – straight down. I mean, I actually slid down the side of the mountain where the snow hadn’t melted yet.
Yes – it was steep. The steepest hike I have ever done, actually.
There wasn’t a dull moment on the hike up – filled with large aspens, and bright green ferns at ground level. A few springs popped out around the trail, and a hop or two over them were an adventure. I really DID mean to wash my hiking boots on this trip…
Once we arrived at the first opening, we were greeted with a snowy ground, a pretty little lake, and huge STORM CLOUDS quickly heading our way. We decided it was possible to beat the incoming rain if we quickened our pace. Phew – easier said than done. The elevation was getting to me, and the commencing shale trail was a bit tricky to cross.
The opening! If you could look to the left – pitch black skies!
We saw a few groups turning back due to the tricky ground and one couple in a bit of a tizzy – they had just seen a BEAR on the trail! Gasp – so we proceed with caution with our bear spray in hand, with the couple, as they pointed out the bear they were so worried about – a tiny deer about a mile away grazing on a grassy knoll. I actually had to get my binoculars out to see it. Oops.
Onward and upward, leaving that couple in the dust to coo over the deer.
After a careful, yet quick march to the summit, we were greeted by a solo hiker sitting cross legged staring off into the distance. It felt appropriate when I greeted him and asked, “so, the meaning of life is…..?”. He also found that quite hilarious and admitted that he was trying to catch his breath.
The summit was actually not at this first peak, you actually have to go across a short ridge, and there you will find the official summit. And what you see when you look around this 360 degree view is amazingness all around. From this vantage point, you could see everything! We could point out Yellowstone Lake, Mount Washburn, even the Tetons which were 50 miles to the south!
If you are looking for the best view in the park – stop here and I dare you to find a better one.
Hiking with 10,000 lbs of camera gear.
PS – watch out for the wind