Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yellowstone Backcountry - Buffalo Plateau Trail - Part 4

Buffalo Fork Creek campsite.

Finally a rest day! Wahoo! Time to do some trout fishing!

Got up at 7:30, got the packs down, pumped water, and backwashed the filter but it's still pumping harder than it should. Still serviceable though. In the morning light we found the campsite fire ring. As the sun rose, and I boiled water to prep for breakfast, I spotted an ermine (short-tailed weasel) as he scampered along a log by the campfire. Too quick for my camera to capture.

Made coffee, and oatmeal with papaya, cranberries, and other fruit Tom has been lugging over hill and dale as extra gorp rations. Even with all those goodies, the taste of the Ya Ya Gumbo from two nights before lingers on. That was some powerful Ya Ya!

Tom and I removed the tops to our Osprey Aether 70 packs and re-rigged them with the hip belt for an ultra convenient and functional fanny pack! This is a great feature of this pack!

Put our rods and reels together, tippits on - Blue Ribbon flies (hoppers and terrestrials, irish caddis, black caddis, Adams, damselfly nymphs, etc) out and ready!

As we walked to the stream, I told Tom to catch a few of the grasshoppers that were abundant in the meadow grass. He wondered why out loud. As we neared the stream edge, I picked out a run and tossed one of the hoppers at the head. As soon as the hopper got into the tailwater - gulp! I explained "highcountry chumming" as a means to determine where the fish were holding. Cheating? Maybe a little, but we were both novices in the ways of the highcountry so this one act of hopper chumming gave us the knowledge we needed to be effective.

With a single Blue Ribbon chaos hopper, I caught dozens of cutthroats. Beautiful fish! The largest was perhaps 9-10 inches, but it didn't matter because they were beautiful and plentiful. Although the water seemed shallower than I'm used to in eastern streams, each tailwater contained an eager fish or two or three!

We also fished some pools that had been formed by the placement of brushpiles across the stream. Beavers? Looked like human engineering to me....

A little after mid-day, Tom and I got chased off the river by a thunderstorm and we retreated back into the tent hoping that the storm would be short lived so we could resume fishing and make our way to Hidden Lake and try fishing for trout with damsel nymph flies. We spent an hour or two recounting our hiking mishaps from the day before, cursing the map makers and carin maintainers, comparing trails in WY and MT, and generally celebrating our bushwhacking prowess. Good fun!

After the thunderstorms and lightening subsided, we headed back upstream for more cuts. After dozens of trout caught, I lost my BR chaos hopper in a tree and switched to a BR Flies Royal PMX and that worked just as well.

Here's Tom with one of his many fish...

Tom and I fished along Buffalo Fork Creek among the mineral deposit outcroppings that marked its volcanic past.

We coaxed a few trout out of these pools and runs.....

Really....We didn't plan matching outfits! See our shorts are differet! Really!

As dusk approached, around 7:30 pm, we beat it back to camp ahead of another approaching thunderstorm. We made Will's couscous with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes for dinner (still tinged with Ya Ya seasoning), hung the packs and food, and hit the hay.


John said...

Did you camp outside of Yellowstone then, on the Buffalo Fork Trail or the Poachers Trail? You mentioned that you had found a good spot with pole already in place to hang food.

I ask because I am planning a hike, though a bit different from yours, that will take the Poachers trail and eventually end up going down Buffalo Fork Trail, since there are no backcountry campsites on that trail it would make sense to camp before entering the park at the same location you had....


KevinDuBoisPhoto said...

If you check out the earlier blog posts (specifically: Yellowstone Backcountry - Buffalo Plateau Trail - Part 1), you will see we started the hike in Yellowstone, in the Roosevelt area, at the Hellroaring Creek trailhead. Since we hit the trail around 4 pm, we only hiked in a few miles and camped the first night at the established campsites along Hellroaring Creek. We had reserved site 2H4. You can look it up on the trail maps.

From there, we continued on the Buffalo Fork Trail, but had to veer off the main trail to make it to established campsite 2B1 (a (horse) pack animal campsite). That one was a little difficult to find since it seemed a lot further down the side trail than we anticipated and the blaze marking the campsite was hidden by a young evergreen tree. You can see the pictures in the blog post entitled: Yellowstone Backcountry - Buffalo Plateau Trail - Part 2. We actually spotted the bear pole and fire ring first, then as we approached we saw the blaze marking the campsite.

On day three, we continued along the Buffalo Fork Trail, past the Buffalo Plateau Patrol Cabin (shown on the maps), but after crossing about 9,200 feet, the trail disappeared and we got lost in a meadow searching for the Poacher Trail intersection for about an hour. We had three different maps, google earth images, etc, but still could not find a positive trail sign. See the pictures at: Yellowstone Backcountry - Buffalo Plateau Trail - Part 3 Luckily, because we could see our destination, the Buffalo Fork River at the bottom of the canyon, and we had a map and compass, we bushwhacked down the slope and intersected the Poachers Trail adjacent to a wetland feature we identified on the topo map. Looking back, we discovered that the depiction of the trail on the map we were using was wrong. I even contacted the publisher to inform them of the error, but they were not that concerned. Anyway, we followed the Poacher Trail down slope to the bottom and the trail intersected another trail paralleling the Buffalo Fork River. Again, luckily, we turned left, and within short order spotted the bear pole and then the fire ring that marked the established campsite. There was no campsite marker or carin that we ever saw, you just had to be observant and see the bear pole. I could show you on a map where it is. It's on a point of land that sticks out towards the river. If you want, I will scan an image and add it to the blog post or send to you.

After camping at the established site along the Buffalo Fork river, we continued on the trail down along Slough Creek, back into Yellowstone, and finished the hike at the Slough Creek Trailhead where our car was waiting.

Hope this answers your question. If not, email me and I'll do what I can to explain better.

It's gorgeous country. You're gonna love it!