Monday, June 30, 2008

Various YNP water falls

I went to Yellowstone Park in early June as I have for several years now. This time however I met some friends who had not been to YNP before so I tried to show them the major tourist attractions. Besides thermal features, they like water falls so I made a point of going to some of the many falls within YNP. Of course the first set I showed them were the upper and lower falls of the Yellowstone - the pictures you see associated with the grand canyon of the Yellowstone. We walked along the edge on both sides to each fall.

When we were there it snowed and much of the eastern portion of the park was closed or difficult to reach and we had limited time. I tried to pick waterfalls that were dramatic and reasonably easy to access. We saw Undine, Tower, and Gibbon Falls in the snow. We hiked to Fairy Falls and Osprey Falls, which I mentioned in my last post. The Virginia Cascades road was closed but I showed them the Firehole River falls. I would have liked to go to the southwestern corner and hike into Bechler and Cave Falls but we didn't have time.

Thinking about YNP, I realized there were several falls which we could drive to but did not go to for various reasons. Also I know of several good hikes to falls we didn't get to either. Still we saw at least one waterfall a day which is good enough. I never seem to have enough time in Yellowstone to do all I want to do.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Osprey Falls - YNP

I just returned from a trip to Yellowstone Park and my most notable hike was to Osprey Falls. I've been to the falls before but this was the first time in the spring when the water levels are higher. I enjoyed the hike and the falls are magnificent. This hike, starting at the trailhead near Rustic Falls on the main loop road, is about 9 miles long with an elevation gain of about 800 feet. Nearly all the elevation change is during the last mile of the hike, you descend steeply into the gorge of the Gardiner River along the Sheepeater cliff. You cannot see the falls until you are there although you can hear them a long ways up. The descending trail is a bit steep and gravelly, a good place to use hiking poles. The first part of the trail is along an old road which now allows bicycle traffic and is quite easy and open. As we hiked back along the road, we had views of the Gallatin range which were nearly snow covered and shining in the the sun. We didn't see many animals at all except for a colony or marmots on the way into the gorge. I have seen grizzly, elk, and coyotes in the area before.

If you want a longer or more strenuous hike, you can hike to the summit of Bunsen Peak and down the other side and pick up the Osprey Falls trail near the junction of the road and the Bunsen Peak trail. Or you can hike from the other end of the bicycle road which rejoins the main road nearer Mammoth.

I don't yet have a picture of the falls or the mountains but both were dramatic. We met several hikers along the trail, this isn't a hike you will usually have to yourself.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Utah trip - little hiking

I returned recently from a trip to Utah, primarily Canyonlands and Capitol Reef areas with some time in the Escalante-Grand Staircase area. I didn't do as much hiking as I had planned due to weather and other factors.

The first 4 days of my trip were too hot, in the high 90s in the afternoon. Being from Seattle, this was far too warm for me this early in the year. I did so some hiking before noon, but was too hot and disinclined to do much of anything after noon. I ended up heading into local mountain regions just to cool down. I managed some rim hikes in Canyonland, Island in the Sky. I stopped and hiked in Butler Wash to the overlook of Indian ruins and explored the wash a bit but quickly became too warm to enjoy the hike. I had the same problem initially in Capitol Reef and decided to wait until the following day and go up into into the mountains separating Torrey from Boulder. However, I ate something which badly disagreed with me and spent the night vomiting. I was better the next day but unable to eat and did not feel like hiking at all. It was also much cooler, it started to snow before I left the mountains. I spent a bit more time in Capitol Reef and walked a bit but not much.

I tried some hikes the next day in Escalante-GrandStaircase monument. Very attractive area and the weather was reasonable, not too cold and not raining. However my skills at navigating in canyon areas are poor and I kept losing the trail (or where others had gone) and getting to dead ends. Frustrated, I finally gave up and found a campsite in the nearby National Forest. The next day I planned to hike in Bryce but when I got there it was snowing with very poor visibility. I decided to go on and try to get out of the bad weather and basically leave Utah and start home.

I enjoyed my trip but really wished the weather had been a bit less extreme and I hadn't gotten ill. It was a long drive for very little hiking.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Trail head vandalism

I just returned from a camping and hiking trip to Utah, I will say more about that later. However, I was struck by the amount of vandalism I saw at various trailheads. This isn't confined to Utah, I've seen it in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming also and easily believe it occurs elsewhere. What amazes me is the sheer pointlessness of most of it.

Many trailhead toilets are vandalized in some manner, often with bullet holes through the door. Why shoot a toilet door? Don't you use the toilet? Another common bit was to take the toilet paper and remove it from the roll to throw on the floor. Again, why? I could understand taking the toilet paper but not just using it to make a mess. And once I found a toilet where some idiot had crapped on the floor. I'm fairly sure it was human and I would think it would be more difficult to crap on the floor than in the toilet.

Signs, maps, and brochures at trailheads were also subject to vandalism. Signs might be shot, pulled down and torn up or scribbled over. Brochures were torn up and scattered around. Wooden markers or small metal signs on trees, such as along the Pacific Crest Trail, get removed. I don't know how they get removed, some probably by natural forces but others go missing in the middle of good weather. I've talked to Forest Service crew and Park rangers who think hikers steal the signs for souvenirs or other reasons.

Of course except for the trail signs past the trailhead, all of the above could be done by non-hikers, people just driving to the trailhead for other reasons. In some places I've seen garbage that was unlikely to have come from hikers strewn about the area. I am amazed that people are so stupid not to realize this behavior will cost them, for cleanup costs and repair costs and possibly by limiting access.