Monday, July 23, 2007

Hiking Central Yellowstone Park Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning at five a.m. my friend Roger and his daughter are going to pick me up to drive to Yellowstone Park. We will be hiking the 21-mile Mary Mountain Trail across the center of Yellowstone Park. One of Roger's friends will pick us up at the far end and take us back to Roger's car.

Should be a fun, but long and probably somewhat tiring hike. It will be the first big test of my knee since surgery in March. I've logged about 200 miles jogging since then but no hikes of this distance.

I'll take lots of photos and post the best ones on this blog on Wednesday, assuming we don't become bear bait.

Here is a brief description of the trail from the Park website:


Trailhead: North of Alum Creek pullout, 4 miles south of Canyon Junction

Distance: 21 miles one way

Level of Difficulty: Moderately strenuous if you do the entire hike in one day

Mary Mountain has two trailheads: the eastern trail (noted above) climbs gradually up over Mary Mountain and the park's Central Plateau to the Nez Perce trailhead between Madison and Old Faithful. Elk and bison can sometimes be seen in the distant meadows. The trail through Hayden Valley is often difficult to follow as bison regularly knock down the trail markers. The western trailhead is a few hundred feet north of the Nez Perce Creek pullout. Mary Mountain makes for a long day hike, and you will need to have a vehicle awaiting you at the opposite trailhead. For shorter day hikes, the trail affords good opportunity to walk as far as you wish and then turn back. Be aware that Mary Mountain trail traverses grizzly territory, so look for posted signs concerning grizzly activity.

Photo Above: Bison traverse a meadow near the western end of the Mary Mountain trail. (Photo by Bruce Gourley)

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