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Old Faithful to Macks Inn – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Old Faithful to Macks Inn Hike Overview

yellowstone pools hike on the continental divide trail 2018
Back on the official CDT, the trail leaves Old Faithful via a boardwalk through some really cool geothermal features. Mostly, colorful pools and hot springs. Not the kind you soak in though, the melt your skin off kind. After leaving the boardwalk and hitting trail, we left the hoards of tourists behind for good. The trail passes by a lake and some undeveloped geothermal features just before we cross into Idaho. From here to Macks Inn, the trail is rather unremarkable. I did, however, see a bear for the first time since the Gila here. 

Saturday August 25th – CDT Day 127

Got the all you can eat breakfast buffet at old Faithful Inn. Katie and hopeful joined. We talked about our routes going forward and it looks like we’ll be going 3 separate ways after crossing into Idaho. I will be following the Idaho/Montana border, the official CDT. Katie and Hopeful will each be doing some variant of the Big Sky cutoff route. This will save time and allow them some extra days to reach Canada before winter.

The trail leaving old Faithful passes by many geysers, colorful pools, springs and other geothermal features. Touristy, but really neat. This area is called upper geyser basin.

My favorite pool here was Morning Glory. I somehow missed it on my last visit to Yellowstone and it was nice to finally see it. 

The CDT then passes through biscuit basin. More geysers and colorful pools. Past the boardwalk, the CDT continues on into the woods. Now the day’s hiking really begins.

After an uphill climb, the trail levels out. Easy hiking for a while. Ran into two women clearing trees from the trail who worked for the nps. They were kind enough to let us borrow their saw to use as a prop in a picture we asked them to take of the 3 of us.

Reached summit lake and saw old scout here taking a break. We did the same to filter water for the upcoming dry stretch.

The next section was a mix of burned trees and healthy forest. Passed by a couple more hot springs and geothermal features just off the trail. The sulpher smell gave them away and pushed us in the right direction.

Crossed into Idaho around 7:15pm. The border was just a couple of rocks lined up across the trail with a metal Blaze sign reading “welcome to Idaho”.

Hiked a couple more miles to get out of the Yellowstone National Park boundary. Camped a few tenths of a mile past the boundary and had a small fire. This will be my last night together with Katie and hopeful.

Miles – 21
Total Miles – 2103
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Sunday August 26th – CDT Day 128

Had some rain from about 4am on. Fortunately, it cleared up as we were waking up at 7am.

We hiked together for another 4 miles before our routes split off. It was a sad moment to leave my friends behind. We had a good run, almost a month together and around 450+ miles. The last month has been the greatest adventure of my life and I was very fortunate to have been able to share that time with Katie and Hopeful.

I pressed on, alone. The Trail followed some degree of dirt road for the rest of the day. In the beginning, the roads were pretty rough and had large berms and pits built into them to prevent Motor Vehicles from using them. However, they were a real annoyance to walk around too.

It was late morning and I needed water. One of the only water sources in the area was Latham spring. It had a side Trail leading down to it from the dirt road I was following. I got about 30 feet away from the spring and scared off a black bear. Medium size, alone. He scampered up the hill and I proceeded to draw my water from the same Source he was drinking from.

The rest of the day was a boring road walk. The roads eventually got wider, flatter and more trafficked. A couple of ATVs went by, then a few cars. Passed by some summer homes, then reached a paved Road. I followed this to hwy 20 where macks inn and island park is located.

Arrived at the Sawtelle Mountain Resort around 3pm. The room was pricey, but I have my bounce box here I need to deal with and with the forecasted cold weather and rain tomorrow, I really don’t want to have to do that in my tent in their Campground.

When I checked in and ask for my boxes, they had not gone up to the post office recently, so they were not there. The woman at the front desk said she’d pick them up in the morning on her way into work. Bummer, I wanted my box tonight. Oh well, tomorrow is a good day to take a zero and avoid some nasty weather. I just don’t have too many Zeros left I can take to reach Canada by October 1st, my goal.

I ate at Connie’s next door. Great Burgers here! It’d be tough to beat that burger at Flagg Ranch but this was up there.

Plotted out the rest of my towns, mileage and days for the rest of the hike on a piece of paper. 840 miles left, 34 days to October 1st. I plan on two more zeros in the towns of Darby and Lincoln. These will be my last two bounce box stops as well. The Revenant was on TV and made for a great background movie to all the planning.

Miles – 22
Total Miles – 2125
Rain – no
Sleep – hotel
Animals – black bear

Monday August 27th – CDT Day 129 (zero day)

The skies were cloudy and it rained on and off this morning. Much colder outside.

Resupplied at the Robin’s Roost grocery store across the street.

Spent the afternoon backing up photo and video, and going through my bounce box. It rained much of the afternoon and evening. This is really great news for all the wildfires burning in the area. Specifically, the Goldestone Fire that has closed a section of the CDT between Leadore and Darby. Hopefully this isn’t an issue when I get there.

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Flagg Ranch to Old Faithful – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Flagg Ranch to Old Faithful Hike Overview

yellowstone hike on the continental divide trail 2018
After leaving Flagg Ranch, we enter Yellowstone through the south entrance. The only wildlife I saw was a fox, very disappointing for a place known for it’s animals. Much of our route through Yellowstone was wet, swampy and not particularly scenic. The highlight of this section was the Bechler River and the Mr. Bubbles area. Here, we were blown away by majestic waterfalls and soaked in a natural hot spring.

Wednesday August 22nd – CDT Day 124

Woke at 7am. Packed up camp, just in time to beat the rain. Headed over to the lodge to grab breakfast and ate by the fireplace. Didn’t start hiking till after 10.

Walked hwy 191 north about 3 miles to the Yellowstone south entrance. Got our Backcountry permits at the snake River ranger Station.

My GPS showed the South boundary trail starting from a road that was signed “employees only”, but we followed anyways. Sure enough, the was trail was there. Hmmm.

The south boundary trail was pretty boring. Kinda like walking power lines or a pipeline, just a staight line through the trees. There were a couple of creek fords. Bridges are pretty much non-existent in Yellowstone.

Filtered water from the outlet below grassy lake dam. Shortly after, we crossed a river. This one looked bigger than it was. Crossed with no issues.

Shortly after, the skies darkened. It was thundering and lightning in the distance. The wind picked up and eventually it started pouring. There was some hail involved as well.

We hiked a few more miles in the cold and rain. The rain let up but the damage was done, being soaked. When we reached our campsite, we were greeted by a sign warning of a bear frequenting the area. Oh boy.

I ate dinner in my wet clothes as the temperature dropped. Hit the tent as soon as possible, around 9:30pm.

Miles – 20
Total Miles – 2047
Rain – yes
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Thursday August 23rd – CDT Day 125

Everything was soaking wet in the morning, and it was cold. Cold and wet shoes, socks, boxers and shirt. The skies were still dark and looked like rain. We were all slow to leave our tents and get going.

Most of the morning was spent fording small creeks and sloshing through swampy fields. It was not very scenic either, so our spirits were low.

Reached the bechler river. It flows through a large meadow here. Hopeful and I were in front and Katie was behind. When she caught up, she had seen a black bear momma and cub, only minutes behind us. Pretty cool.

Now the trail follows the bechler River. This was the most scenic thing we’d seen in Yellowstone thus far.

As we hiked up stream, we encountered several waterfalls. Some were huge, really huge! You could feel the mist really far away. Very impressive.

Father upstream, there were many cascades. This river is wild. We really enjoyed this section.

We forded the river a couple times. Water was mid-thigh deep and swift, but manageable. Ran into trail crews working in this area, they have to Ford the river twice a day.

There were some geothermal features in the meadows now. Hot pools of Sulphur smelling water.

 

We reached the junction for a hot spring named Mr. Bubbles. It was a half mile walk to get to the spring, and we could see large plumes of steam rising in the distance.

Approaching the spring, there were several geothermal features nearby, mainly on the opposite side of the creek. One large one resembled mammoth hot springs, for reference. We thought this was Mr. Bubbles at first until we followed the trail to something more obvious.

Mr. Bubbles hot spring

Mr Bubbles itself was not as impressive visually, but makes up for it by being a great soak. There were a couple guys in the spring when we arrived, who later left us alone. We soaked for a while and really enjoyed this spot. What a wild place to be. Natures hot tub!

Miles – 18
Total Miles – 2065
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Friday August 24th – CDT Day 126

Stated hiking around 7:45. Along the bechler was a couple more interesting spots like twister falls, but nothing like yesterday.

Must of the hike into old Faithful was pretty boring to be honest. Just woods and not much to see. I covered great ground though. There were a couple of geothermal features near firehole River.

Reached old Faithful at 1pm. Ate at the geyser grill. Food here is subpar at best. Got a shower at the old Faithful inn. Showers are free for CDT hikers. Nice!

Didn’t need much from the general store for resupply, since I carried extra food from Flagg ranch. Just some almonds to add to my m&ms.

Hopeful, Katie and I agreed to meet up by the front entrance to the general store. Let’s go and Reed were here as well, who are southbounders. Later, we all ate dinner together at the bear pit restaurant in old Faithful inn. Another northbounder named old scout joined too.

Katie met a guy who worked here at the park who offered to let us camp at the RV park site. After dinner, we headed there and set up for the evening. Sat by the fire for a while and in bed around 11.

Miles – 17
Total Miles – 2082
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – fox

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