Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yellowstone Backcountry - Buffalo Plateau Trail - Part 5

On our way to Slough Creek and "home"....

Our last day hiking - out of the backcountry. Got up before dawn to get an early start on the hike back to the car and the long drive back into Jackson. We were now very efficient at breaking down camp and made quick work of making breakfast, preparing the fire pit for our departure, pumping water, taking down the tent, and repacking the packs (minimal yard sale). I really liked the way the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL tent is designed so that you can take down the tent and pack that dry and only have to worry about a damp fly and footprint. Saves weight!

We got going, forded Buffalo Fork creek, and found our way to the Yellowstone Border.

Our legs were good or maybe that it was that we were trending downhill! We marveled at the surrounding slopes and their mineral outcroppings - the stuff of Yellowstone that most tourist need to get in line on a boardwalk to see!

As we weave in and out of wooded sections of the trail, we find fresh bear and wolf tracks left after the previous day's rain. Cool! We continue to fly.

We come to a spot on the trail with a great view of one of the Slough Creek meadows. It was really cool to see the former oxbows that had filled in after the stream changed course. Beautiful!

Wish we had another day to fish! Family and the flight home beckoned...

The trail was well defined, and we passed interesting geology - rock walls, rock peaks, glacial erratics.

Skulls, vertebrae, and various bones scattered about remind us that we're still in the backcountry and of the life and death struggle going on just beyond the tourist campsites. One of the last skulls we saw still had blood on the bones so we didn't linger - no need to risk attack or injury so close to "home"!

Suddenly, we see tents, and we realize we're back at the Slough Creek campground. We ford the streem and we've made it! We're at trail's end. Safe and sound. I fill out the trail register and we take a moment to whoop it up!

Then, it's all business. We throw packs in the rental car, change into comfortable shoes, and make a beeline for Jackson. We make a brief stop at Yellowstone's Canyon campground backcountry office to report on our trip, reporting downed trail markers, lack of bear sightings (for future hikers), difficlty in Poacher's Trail intersection location, etc. We were surprised the park rangers didn't seem too interested in the post-hike brief/intel, especially since the many we talked to had never heard of the Buffalo Plateau Trail and it was obvious it was not often hiked. Oh well, we did our duty.

Made it to Jackson, and got a room for the night. Organized some gear and set out socks, boots, and other stuff for drying. Beat feet to a mexican restaurant in Jackson and had a nice dinner basking in the late afternoon sun. After dinner, we made our way to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar only to fend off a cougar attack, as we drank some well-deserved celebratory beers and recounted our hike with gusto and loud storytelling - a good way to cap our spectacular trip! Can't wait to do it again!!!!!!!!!