The Seventh Day of Christmas: Gift Ideas for the Travel Lover

There’s nothing like a good hike, especially when on a road trip, while stuck in the car for so many hours in a day. I really fell in love with hiking a few years ago, and am now addicted!

Here’s some handy items that I would absolutely love for a walk up the side of Mount Washburn, in Yellowstone National Park (I’m not sure why that one popped into my head…):

A sturdy pair of hiking boots

A sturdy pair of hiking boots

Cosy jacket for the chilly mornings

Cosy jacket for the chilly mornings

Good, heavy duty socks

Good, heavy duty socks

Something cooler, when it starts getting hot!

Something cooler, when it starts getting hot!

Some handy pants, with pockets

Some handy pants, with pockets

Water bag

Water bag

Some cool shades

Some cool shades

The pack

The pack

Ok – can someone buy me a plane ticket to Wyoming…Yellowstone is calling me for a hike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 Hike of the Summer: Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone

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.

Stormy!

Hiking with 10,000 lbs of camera gear.

 

 

PS – watch out for the wind 🙂

Hike #4 this summer

What a fine specimen this hiking trail sounds like, and a great possibility for adventure this summer in Yellowstone:

Specimen Ridge Trail

Specimen Ridge (fossil forest) 3.2 miles, one way.
Amethyst Mountain 10.0 miles, one way.
Lamar Valley Trail junction 14.7 miles, one way.
Soda Butte Trailhead 17.1 miles, one way.

Elevation change: Trailhead at 6,250 feet (350-foot gain, but overall, a 3,364-foot gain to Amethyst Mountain).
Trailhead: The trailhead is 2.2 miles north, then east, of Tower Junction on the Northeast Entrance Road, at the glacier exhibit.

The Specimen Ridge Trail is a long, hot and grueling trail during summer. But it does provide access to unusual features, terrain and valley vistas. A good portion of this trail, however, shows signs of the 1988 fires. Winds pushed the fire here and it burned the ridge extensively on most sides.

From the trailhead, the trail heads south toward the Yellowstone River, where it arrives at the four-way junction. The west trail leads to the Yellowstone River picnic area (see Yellowstone River picnic area trail for description), and the south trail leads to the old Bannock Indian Ford.

The east trail continues on the Specimen Ridge Trail and begins a steep ascent of the ridge. Atop Specimen Ridge is a spur trail to the Specimen Fossil Forest. This trail accesses the Specimen Fossil Forest Trail (see Specimen Fossil Forest Trail for description) and the petrified fossil trees on the north aspect of Specimen Ridge.

From the summit of Specimen Ridge, the trail continues east through high, rolling hills. It is not an interesting trail, but there are good views of Yellowstone-especially of the Grand Canyon-from the high points.

Amethyst Mountain (9,614 feet) is the highest point along the trail; from there is a good view of Mount Washburn to the west and the Mirror Plateau to the southeast. From Amethyst Mountain, the trail begins its 2,854-foot descent over 4.2 miles into the Lamar Valley and the junction with the Lamar Valley Trail (see Lamar Valley Trail for description). From the Lamar Valley Trail, choose from two directions to approach the Northeast Entrance Road. The longest route heads northwest down valley and ends at the Lamar picnic area near the Lamar Ranger Station, but the Lamar River must be forded just before the picnic area. The other route, the shortest and most direct one, fords the Lamar River just after the Lamar Valley Trail junction and continues northeast. The trail then crosses Soda Butte Creek via a footbridge before exiting at Soda Butte Trailhead.

I completed part of this hike last year, but I really crave MORE! It was gorgeous, peaceful and unique!