This past weekend we ventured down to the park for a little walk. I was hoping we could climb Bunsen Peak (a steep, but short walk-up mountain named for the dude who invented the eponymous burner), but there was too much snow.
Our Plan B turned out to be perfect: A 5.1-mile loop with big views, a beaver pond, wildlife and lots of flowers.
The Beaver Pond Loop starts between the Mammoth Terraces and the judge’s house in Yellowstone National Park. It climbs steadily for the first mile, but then is pretty flat or downhill the rest of the way. It passes several (I’m guessing) ephemeral ponds and follows part of the shoreline of a large beaver pond. The trail ends behind the Mammoth Inn, a short walk from the parking area.
This was one of my mom’s favorite walks last summer when she was working in Yellowstone. I’ve only hiked it once: on a very hot day with about 12 fourteen-year-olds who had just flown to Bozeman from back east and then driven the 1.5 hours to the park. My memories are not sweet.
The trail was redeemed in my mind on this gorgeous spring/summer day. It was crazy-green (for the northern part of the park) and the weather was perfect. Mostly sunny, with a bit of rain when we sat under conifers to eat our lunch.
Hold onto your hat, there are a lot of photos.
Anders always starts a hike by sprinting up the trail. We try to keep up with him.
Arrowleaf balsam root. Oh yes, there will be many flower photos. I’ve been waiting all winter.
We catch up with the prince. He wore his crown for the whole hike.
Whew! After 0.7 miles, we were ready for a snack.
You can borrow this look if you want.
Finn hiked for about three minutes. I told him I wouldn’t carry him next summer. He told me “I think you probably will.”
A cow elk watches us pass. She is no doubt more relieved than we are to see some green.
Finn and I assume our usual positions. I just consider it training for when I go backpacking this summer. At 32 pounds, he’s about the right weight.
Even a prince has to pee.
Lunch = rice cake, homemade hummus, cukes and tomatoes.
The first pond is not the beaver pond.
The second pond is not the beaver pond.
Do you see all that green?
The dudes investigate some scat. Turns out to be bison (in case you were wondering).
The scat culprit. This bison was laying a couple feet from the trail; we climbed up the hill so we wouldn’t bother him. Not a good idea to make a bison stand up.
Now that’s a beaver pond.
A bird’s nest we found under the tree from which it fell.
A young buck just off the trail. Note antlers still in velvet.
Thrilled to be buck-watching.
One of two does.
Family on a rock in the forefront and Mt Everts in the background.
Finn investigates lichen.
What the phlox?
The Terraces and (lower half) of Bunsen Peak.
Anders said he wants to hike 6 miles next time.