Chris P. and I got out for three fine days in YNP this past weekend. The trip was just too good to fully explain, so here are some highlights and notes on gear.
We started at the Wapiti Lake TH, and lucked out at being the first party let in for over a month. I presume this accounts in part for the vast amount of wildlife we saw on Saturday. We headed east towards Wapiti Lake, south to Fern Lake, then continued south along Astringent Creek to Pelican Valley. Superlative hiking. A bit of rain, unique forest, beautiful creeks, elk, bear sign, bison. The wheels started to come off hiking up Pelican. We (me, since I planned this thing) didn't have the map for that part, and at the juncture with the Pelican Cone trail we did not know to go south and cross the meadow into the woods. Instead, we followed a bison trail up upper Pelican until near dark, and camped in a nice spot. It opened up and rained well right as we got dinner going, and we retreated posthaste.
The next morning we continued up the valley and over a vague pass into the upper reaches of Willow Creek. Finally back on the map, we triangulated off Pelican Cone and used the GPS to confirm our location, and bushwacked and log hopped over Lovely Pass and pack down into Mist Creek and the actual trail. A lovely, if unplanned detour. We forded Mist and the Lamar without incident (or wet feet, not that they were dry at that point) and headed north, behind schedule, but not really minding that fact.
We camped at Cache Creek, which was a very nice place. The trips most entertaining moment occurred as I walked back towards the fire after getting water, to see Chris sitting by the fire, quite unaware of the large male bison 50 feet from him and moving closer. "Whoa!" was all I could manage. Chris joined me on the gravel bar, and we let our neighbor pass peacefully.
The next morning we hiked out to the road in cool weather, enjoying more bison viewing at close range. We hitched to Mammoth, and completed the trip by walking the old road back to Gardiner. A trip abbreviated and somewhat ill-planned (too ambitious mileage, by a lot), but a fine adventure in a gorgeous location. The Wapiti to Lamar piece would be a fine 2-3 day in itself, and our full plan to hike Specimen ridge to the Black Canyon remains for a latter day.
Some gear notes:
Black Diamond Firstlight
My trusty old tent proved itself again, keeping us dry from an almost full night of steady rain. Two almost 6' guys were bound to knock some moisture off the walls, but I slept well and my down bag was just fine. I love this tent.
Modded Cold Cold World Ozone
My simple anti-weight weenie pack. I replaced the backpad with 8 segments of cut-down Zrest years ago, and recently cut off the lid and added a light ripstop extension collar. It's got nice shoulder straps, a 1.5" web belt, and a bombproof ballistics body. It carried the simple ~20 pound load well.
Patagonia French Roast pants
Repelled water, dried fast when soaked, kept me warm. Good stuff. Mine are an older version with a welded right thigh pocket, which I like. The on-seam upper pockets are getting removed when I get around to it.
A great rainjacket. Nuf said.
Still getting the job done. My current shoes have survived a few 30+ mile days in the Grand Canyon and a few ultras. My feet did get soaked several times over on this trip. With moderately thick wool socks I was fine, but in the future I'll add a pair of NRS Hydroskin light neoprene socks.
Mountain Hardwear scree gaiters
Spandura is good. These went from good to great when I sewed a bit of velcro on the back of each gaiter, and glued a corresponding piece on the back of each shoe. No more dead instep straps.
Ti Sierra Cup
Not bit enough, nor the correct shape, and lacking a lid. Not effective for boiling water on the fire. Too light and simple.
Bag of seven bagels
Worth the bulk. I like good food.