Sunday, September 30, 2012

lamar to pelican

And...we're back. The past month has been a blur. August and September are always the busiest months around here. They are the two months that we actually have summer, and as such, we cram as much into them as we can. We were in Alaska, Chicago, and also made two trips into Yellowstone's backcountry. We'll start there...


Last month, we hit the trail and completed a backpacking trip that's been on my list for a long time: Lamar to Pelican.  The trail starts at the Lamar River Trailhead, in the Northeast corner of the park, and ends 34+ miles later in the Southeast corner of the park, in Pelican Valley. And oh yeah, Pelican Valley has the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the park, so going in a group is recommended.

Five us took off on a Friday morning and hit the trail.  The trail follows the Lamar River, and part of the group peeled off to fish their way to our first campsite.

After 7.9 miles, we reached the Calfee Creek Patrol Cabin.

Sunny skies, beautiful river views. 

We finally reached Miller Creek, which was a nice destination to reach for us mentally, as it (finally!) signaled that we were making some progress.  We rested our feet and filled up our water bottles here. 

After 10.5 miles, we reached our first campsite, backcountry site 3L7. It started to rain when we reached the campsite, so we quickly set up our tents and waited it out.  When the rain subsided to a drizzle, we were able to start a fire and make dinner. 

After dinner, we noticed movement in the meadow across from our campsite, and spotted a cow moose feeding in the tall grass. We watched her for about 30 minutes before she ran off into the trees.

Mileage for day 1: 10.5

Day 2 dawned clear and bright, and we continued to follow the river, while the boys broke off again and fished their way along the trail. 

The views were spectacular and we stopped often for photos.

I got excited whenever we stumbled across signs, as it seemed like we're getting somewhere.  At this divide, we were only 6 miles from the park boundary and had come 16.7 miles since we started. 

Wolf tracks going one way, grizzly tracks headed the other.

Because of the concentration of grizzlies, the only camping in the area is over Mist Creek Pass. There's no camping in Pelican Valley itself, so you really need to get one of the two campsites just over the pass or you're looking at a really long day.

Backcountry campsite 3T3, our home for night 2. Steve and Angie reached the site first, and spotted a grizzly meandering in the area. Luckily, he went on his way and didn't return.

After two days of heavy mileage, it was time to adjust the blisters.

Day 2: 12.9 miles

The whole gang at the campsite on day 3, getting ready to make the final push out to the trailhead.

We left the campsite, and began the climb up Mist Creek Past.

Group photo, minus camera-shy Steve, at the Mist Creek Pass sign.

And then it was time for the final descent. Angie makes it look easy.

Pelican Valley patrol cabin, which means we're getting closer...

The last trail sign we'll see before we reach the car.

Pelican Valley, the final miles.

Pelican Valley is beautiful. But by nature of being a valley, it is wide open and it was hot. HOT. After walking for what seemed like hours, we finally heard traffic and new we were close.

Day 3 miles: 10.8

Grand total for the trip: 34.2 miles