Trip report #11 – Yellowstone – Beaver Ponds Loop Hike
As Scott and I discussed our desires for this first long-term trip, we agreed we wanted to be more active. We had enjoyed our twice-daily walks along the Oregon coast and looked forward to the hiking opportunities afforded us in Yellowstone.
As we were staying near the North Entrance of the park, we chose to hike first in the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Upon looking at the day-hike information provided by the park, we settled on the Beaver Ponds Loop, which is five miles in distance and described as “moderately strenuous.”
A quick check-in with the park ranger indicated no recent bear activity but we were cautioned to make noise along the trail and carry bear spray, which Scott had purchased and clipped to his belt.
As we started up the trail, we climbed quickly and had a good bird’s-eye view of the Mammoth area. The trail was in good condition and my new hiking boots, bought the week before in Bozeman, fit well and were perfect for the terrain.
Two hours in, we found a good place to rest and enjoyed the small lunch Scott had packed for us. We both noted how blue the sky was, the smell of the forest and the soothing nature of a quiet environment.
On that note, I have come to realize how much I value solitude and silence. Having grown up on our family’s cattle ranch miles from town, I had never given a second thought to how fortunate I was to be able to sit in the middle of a 20-acre wooded area or alfalfa field and just breathe. There are many things I enjoy about living in downtown Phoenix – the proximity to unique restaurants and the Valley’s professional sports venues – but it has become increasingly clear to me that I crave silence and an urban area is not the ideal place to find it. Scott has expressed same, and certainly this will be a factor to consider in our plans for the future.
But back to our hike …. A little further down the trail we came upon the second pond. As it was larger than the first, we hoped to see a beaver but didn’t. (In fact, the only animals we saw on our hike were squirrels, and one of them was pretty chatty and less than pleased to see us in his territory.)
It was clear from the trees and underbrush around us that Indian Summer had moved on and been replaced by her sister, Autumn. We were surprised at the way the foliage color had changed in just the week since our arrival. Is there anything more perfect than the way golden aspens frame the bright blue sky on a late-September afternoon? I think not …
Rounding a bend we saw the Mammoth thermals through the trees, signaling we were nearing our destination. The last quarter-mile was the steepest we’d encountered, seeming to drop nearly straight down as we descended 350 feet. We reached our truck just as a gentle afternoon rain began to fall.
Despite our disappointment at seeing no wildlife, we enjoyed our day and look forward to more hikes during our Yellowstone stay.