Mt. Washburn and Spur Trail, Yellowstone NP, Aug. 24, 2017

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Mt. Washburn and Spur Trail, Yellowstone NP, Aug. 24, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:27 pm

We had a great time in Yellowstone but communication was difficult with limited cell service and it was the busiest of the three times I've been there in summer. We were told it's been like that all summer, no worse during eclipse week.

The Tuesday drive-in was slow, we were tired and just stopped at a few viewpoints along the Lewis River and at the Mud Volcano, got to Canyon Lodge by 6PM. In all, 9 of us were there for Tuesday dinner (us, Al & Peg Solish, Richard Weinstein and family) with Larry Agin leaving noon the next day. Richard and family had seen the eclipse in Casper in the backyard of friends of his in-laws. The others had been with us in Jackson.

Wednesday we set out in two cars, stopped at several Grand Canyon overlooks, then drove to Mammoth Hot Springs. The two groups never saw each other until we met at Roosevelt for dinner at 5PM. After that we went to the Lamar Valley for wildlife viewing, then back to Canyon.

From my first trip in 1995 I knew of an excellent option for Thursday to avoid crowds yet take in much of Yellowstone's unique scenery.
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The blue line on the top map is a wide dirt road climbing from Dunraven Pass at 8,850 feet to Mt. Washburn. After summiting, we took the red and white Mt. Washburn Spur trail along the ridge line, then descending to meadow and forest below (both maps). From there we hiked the western part of the Seven Mile Trail (blue line on lower map) to the Inspiration Point Road and finally back to Canyon Village, total about 13 miles in 8+ hours. Liz and Al Solish did the complete hike with me while Peg Solish climbed Mt. Washburn, then returned to the car and drove it back to Canyon Village.

Climbing the Mt. Washburn road we get an overview of our hike yet to come.
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We skirted the far side of the large meadow in the middle and eventually reached the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Farther along the dropoffs to the east get steeper through some couloirs with flowers.
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Finally the top of Mt. Washburn comes into view.
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This is one of three manned fire spotting stations within Yellowstone. There are restrooms and an enclosed viewing area on the first floor of the building.

View south:
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The road we hiked from Dunraven Pass is at right. Yellowstone Lake is in far background beyond the Grand Canyon.

Northeast view over Lamar Valley:
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Leaving Mt. Washburn, here's the start of the Spur trail. We saw only two other people for the next 6 hours, so even admin would approve of this part of Yellowstone.
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When Adam and I were here in late July 1995 the entire north side of this ridge was covered in wildflowers, but I guess we were late for that this year.

We started to see some flowers halfway down the south side descent.
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And more once we reached the flatter meadows:
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Farther along in the meadows was a bison skull.
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Here we are in the largest meadow with the view back up to Mt. Washburn, fire spotting building still visible.
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Past the meadows we arrived at Washburn Hot Springs.
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Most of Yellowstone's thermal features are road accessible with boardwalks and lots of warning signs. But this one is 6 miles from any road and very much in its natural state. The ground was spongy and once Al left a 2 inch deep footprint.
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The upper pool in the background of this picture is a bit off the trail, so we approached it through the forest on the other side.
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Shortly after 5PM we got a short thunderstorm with about 10 minutes of hail.
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The storm let up before we reached any views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Our first view was of Silver Cord Cascade, Yellowstone's tallest waterfall at 1,200 feet.
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The more amazing sight was the Yellowstone River temporarily turned yellow by the hailstorm runoff.
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At the next overlook 15 minutes later the river was mostly clear again.
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The trail ended at the Glacial Boulder on the Inspiration Point Road.
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That road is closed this year for construction. As it was 6:30PM we figured no one would be down there so we decided to check it out. Downstream view from Inspiration Point:
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Construction materials:
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Those big rocks will be broken up to form stone walkways.

The reason for the construction is that the viewpoint upstream to Lower Yellowstone Falls was destroyed in an earthquake in 1975.
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Presumably this new one will restore that view, and they think the ground is stable enough now.

We walked a mile+ back to the main road where we got enough text service for Peg to pick us up.

She drove us immediately to Canyon's dining room, where we put in our names for dinner. With over an hour wait, we had plenty of time to clean up and relax a bit. We brought a lot of wine on the trip, not all of it used in Jackson. Yellowstone dining rooms charge a reasonable $12 corkage fee, so we brought wine to all 4 dinners in the park.

Richard and family left early the next morning. We and the Solishes had a mellow Friday in the Middle Geyser Basin and a short walk to the overlook of Grand Prismatic Spring. Peg and Liz there:
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We arrived at Old Faithful 6PM, put in our name for the not surprising two hour dinner wait, then wandered the Upper Geyser Basin. Al and I were fortunate to see Grand Geyser's 11 minute eruption.
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Re: Mt. Washburn and Spur Trail, Yellowstone NP, Aug. 24, 20

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:30 am

Nice TR. I doubt that I'll be able to visit YP in the foreseeable future so this'll have to do.
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Re: Mt. Washburn and Spur Trail, Yellowstone NP, Aug. 24, 20

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:45 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:Nice TR. I doubt that I'll be able to visit YP in the foreseeable future so this'll have to do.

Not sure why that would be. I'd recommend as soon as your kid's school year ends in June, probably not quite as busy as July/August. Plus June is the month when Beartooth Basin ski area is open! viewtopic.php?t=11007 This is a family trip Patrick should have done before Morgane went to college.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9512
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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