Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yellowstone 2010, Day 5

This is the latest installment of the Yellowstone report by guest author, Oliver Lignell.

Day 5 – Hangin’ in the hood (0 Miles)
When I woke the next morning, I was more comfortable than a bug in a rug. The thought of getting out of bed was not rousing, but I had to force myself to. I had a plan. In the never ending search for ever more excellent food in the back country I had found and brought along a few new items. One of them was ingredients to make orange maple scones. That was the plan for this morning and I knew it would take time to get them right, so I had planned them for the lay-over morning. Since failure was not an option and cooking included sipping fresh pressed French roast coffee, I hauled myself out of bed and hobbled down to the cook area. Kevin was already up and eventually decided to prepare some hot cereal – he was too hungry to wait for scones.
As I opened bags, mixed ingredients, and boiled water a few other folks stirred. It was probably a good thing that everyone was moving slowly that morning. It was an involved and sticky activity to make the scones and they took a while to cook just right. Dan T., cook extraordinaire, had to be called upon to assist with dough management. However, when all was said and done, the crisp light and fluffy scones were excellent. No one refused seconds and there were no leftovers. A light breeze picked up as we considered plans for the day.
The plan had been to have a leisurely day exploring the Shoshone Geyser basin, but now that we were 3 miles further away, the idea of a 6 mile round trip on sore feet was not enticing.  Therefore, we followed a time honored MountainGuy tradition. We punted. Each of us retreated to our tents to organize, rest, cogitate, and generally do nothing. It was well earned nothing.
I modified my tent area in to more of a living room, building a small windbreak with a few logs propped against a nearby tree to shelter it from the lake breeze. Dan S. explored the shore from a trail that led from his area, finding a choice spot for relaxing at a small sheltered beach. I believe Dan T. napped and Rick read. It is not recorded what Kevin did.
However, all gathered again near lunch time at Dan S.’s small beach to check it out, have lunch, and discuss our plans. It was sunny and sheltered from the strong and constant wind coming off the water. Pads were unrolled, food options evaluated, and serious snacking began. Dan S. dipped in the lake. Dan T. sunned and napped. And, it was here I believe that the stunning idea of splitting up was first aired. Dan S. floated this idea after reviewing the map and considering another two days of hiking with a toe nearly detached from his foot.
“You know”, he said with his usual tact, “ there is a much shorter way to get back to the car. If we left this way, we could save a whole day”.
Rick replied, “Why would we want to save a day?”
“What about the Shoshone Geyser Basin?” I said. “How could we miss that?”
“Well, you know”, Dan S.  replied. “If we headed north on Shoshone Lake trail we would have only 12 miles to hike to get out. We could do that in one day, drive over to see Old Faithful, and get back home a day early.”
Dan T. thought about this for a minute. “Hmmm. I’ve never seen Old Faithful before.” Dan T. seemed a bit taken by this idea. And, to be fair, he was getting tired of the foot surgery he performed on a daily basis. Each morning he would unroll a 5 pound foot care kit and begin by peeling and slicing off shreds of dead zombie skin and then wrapping, sewing, injecting, padding, and binding the remains of each foot. He rarely complained, but the whole business seemed to validate that there was, in fact, and issue with his boots.
As the de facto planner for the trip, I had trouble wrapping my head around this idea. Leave early? I was always scheming to stay longer. Old Faithful? I’d been there, it was cool, but crowded and the last thing I would willingly submit myself to was crowds. Heck, that was one of the MountainGuys by-laws, unwritten of course – thou shalt never knowingly seek out areas crowded with other people. On the other hand, there was another conflicting by-law – thou shalt never impose your will upon another, unless life or limb is at risk.
“Well”, I said. “This deserves some thought. We can figure it out later.” When faced with a decision that is difficult to make, the true MountainGuy punts until more propitious timing arrives.
Dan T. tent at our Shoshone Lake campsite--next to the no camping sign.
Back to the site we went, each to our own devices. I, for one, was keen to map out a Frisbee golf course. In this endeavor, however, I was thwarted. No matter where I searched, the trees were uniformly too close for good throws. I found a few potential holes, but two holes do not make a disc golf course. I was grumpy, but decided I should beef up my personal lounging area since the wind had now increased to near gale force. This occupied me for several hours and required moving approximately 2 tons of downed trees and small boulders as well as mixing up an adobe clay mixture – all of which would be carefully returned after used. Once complete I had an impervious wall supplemented by a neat angled gull wing formed from my tarp. It performed quite well and looked really cool.  Alas, there is no documented record of this architectural masterpiece.
Dinner that night was cooked and consumed at the shelter, where we could relax out of the wind. First, we had beef jerky (reconstituted) fajitas with hot sauce. As we ate, we had our closest encounter with a large animal. A Bald Eagle glided over us several times on immense wings, probably no more than 30 feet away. We were excited to actually see some wildlife. Who knew that eagles fancied beef jerky? After this excitement, it was time to unveil the secret weapon: Chocolate Lava Cake.  Since this was a bit more complicated, requiring forms, a whisk, and complex instructions, I had asked Dan T. for help “baking” this before dinner. Alas, despite Dan’s help, it did not meet the advertised specifications. Each cake was really more like a pudding-like wedge, leading Kevin to dub it “Inside Out Pudding”. Despite the mess, it was all consumed.
"Inside Out Pudding"--not likely to be on future trips.
Further discussion on the plans for the next day was the next topic. The Dan’s were wedded to the idea of a single long hike out to Old Faithful. Rick, Kevin, and I could not give up the Shoshone Geyser Basin and another night in the wilderness. There was only one solution. So be it. The parties would split up and meet at the car in two days. Dan and Dan would hike out the next day, visit Old Faithful, and then find a room or place to camp that night. We would meet at the Shoshone trail head the day after. With that decided we started figuring out the logistics of who would take what. This seemed to require more calories, so Kevin whipped up some popcorn and we munched this as the moon rose and we finalized our plans for the next day. After hoisting the food up above the ground we stood around joking and enjoyed our last evening as a group in Yellowstone.

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