2016 Introduction

This section is where I’m documenting our Mancation 2016.  My oldest son, Zachary, and I took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. We spent two days driving to Yellowstone, stopping at Wall Drug, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, and Crazy Horse Monument along the way.  We then spent three full days in Yellowstone doing the normal tourist stuff followed by eight days in the backcountry.  Before heading home we spent a day in Jackson Hole, WY and The Grand Teton’s National Park.  It was all pretty epic.  I’ll post pictures and details of us being tourists after I finish documenting the backcountry days.

We got some pretty descent pictures in the backcountry, but I was disappointed with the video that I shot.  The GoPro was attached to the shoulder strap of my backpack.  Unfortunately, it was often tilted a bit sideways and angled down at the ground.  However, I’m creating some videos using what video I can.  I was also new to posting videos from my iPhone.  I shot most in portrait which doesn’t come out very good particularly when mixed with GoPro video.  I should have been shooting video in landscape instead.  Anyway, I’ve used what I can.  I have learned a lot about shooting video so I’ll do better next time.

The below picture is Zachary and I at the Thorofare Ranger Station. Getting to this cabin and back out safely was pretty much the main objective of the trip.  It is the most remote building in the lower 48 states.  We sat on the porch and used the awesome out house.  The closest road is 32 miles away.  Unfortunately, the ranger wasn’t home.

Like life, it turned out to not really be about the destination though.  The journey there and back out was the best part.  This was a point-to-point trip meaning that we started at one trail-head and ended at a different trail-head.  It took four days to hike to the Thorofare Ranger Station and four days to hike back out in a different direction.  In those eight days we experienced the beauty, peacefulness, and at times the uncertainty of the wilderness.  Walking through a land that is mostly undisturbed by the “progress” of humans is immensely satisfying. I was reminded how nature can recharge my soul.

We hiked South along the East side of Yellowstone Lake through burnt ghost forests and fresh smelling pine forests. We continued further South along the Yellowstone River and deep into the Thorofare valley which lies at the foot of the Absaroka Mountain Range.  We turned West and made a sketchy ford of the Thorofare “Creek” and Yellowstone River only in our underwear in 47 F. temperatures. We crossed over the Continental Divide and then hiked North along the Snake River to Heart Lake. Before we left we hiked to the top of Mt. Sheridan where we could see most of the wilderness that we had just traversed as well as the Grand Tetons to the Southwest. In all we covered a little more than 90 miles of the Southeast corner of Yellowstone. What an amazing journey.

We saw mule deer, elk, a Bald Eagle, several Golden Eagles, an owl, numerous falcons, ducks, geese, cranes, grouse, woodpeckers, and many other species of birds.  We saw bear, wolf, coyote, and possibly lynx tracks. We surprised a Black Bear at about 15 yards. That was an intense five seconds, but the bear chose to let us be. We are certainly thankful for that.

The weather was incredible.  We didn’t get any rain, but we did experience temperatures between about 80 and 30 F.  While 80 F. is somewhat comfortable in Missouri, it felt like an oven on the mountain trails with no shade, particularly along the Snake River.  Waking up to a frost covered tent just on the West side of the Continental Divide shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was.

I hope that you will browse through the various links above and that you will enjoy our pictures, video, and the story of our adventure.  I was able to use detailed GPS logs and texting history from my DeLorme inReach Explorer to recall a lot of the events, impressions, specific timings, and mileages for each day.  The best way to navigate through it is to start with the overview and then click on the blue links for each day to see detailed daily descriptions.  If you are interested in equipment, check out the Equipment Page.

With some luck, I plan to hike all four corners of Yellowstone.

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