When we woke up, it was not only wet, but everything was freezing cold and slightly frosted. Garbelly sighed and began getting ready. This began with the deflating of his thermarest, and followed with him getting the food bags down from a tree. After shaking as much water as he could from the tent, he realized there was no hope.
Our packs were now packed and we were shaking from the cold even with our down jackets and rain coats covering our upper bodies. We kept our feet dry for as long as we could. Five minutes later we were shin deep in water wading through a swampy trail. We continued to do this before crossing a creek. Fortunately this creek was fed by numerous hot springs and it felt amazing. Garbelly stood in it for quite awhile before reluctantly continuing to hike through the marshy grass.
Before we knew it, we were winding through the Shoshone geyser basin. Steaming vents and small geysers completely surrounded us. Our trail snaked through these pools and a few times we could even feel the heat through the ground underneath our feet. It warmed us up quickly and we finally took off our jackets. As we stood there, Winter and Scavenger hiked ahead and we continued to stare at the sulphuric wonders.
We eventually caught up to them a few miles later and reached the junction to Lone Star Geyser. Since it was only 0.3 miles away we decided it would be silly to miss. We knew it erupted every three hours but were not sure when the last eruption had occurred. Unfortunately we had just missed the eruption, but since all of our gear was soaking wet, we decided to set it out to dry. With the sun high in the sky, everything dried out in about fifteen minutes. This was enough to convince Winter and Scavenger to head to the lunch buffet. We decided to wait for the twenty minute eruption of the strange alien mound protruding from the earth.
As we waited, we were able to talk to the few day hikers that wondered in to watch the geyser. Lone Star gets its name due to its distance from the other geyser basins. Since its nearest geyser is still around three miles away, Lone Star is a bit of a loner. We passed the time by eating and looking for shade. A few rumbles were emitted from the smooth mineral deposit hill. After a few minor eruptions of spewing and gurgling, the geyser erupted into full force shooting water forty feet into the blue sky. We watched for ten minutes or so and then decided to hike onward towards Old Faithful Village.
We got to the village and immediately ran into Liam and Kate. They had just watched Old Faithful erupt and we had been able to catch the tail end of it as we were walking down the trail. We went to the post office to get our resupply boxes and then headed to the lodge to see about the buffet. Unfortunately we had missed lunch by ten minutes, and the dinner buffet was a whopping thirty dollars per person. We decided to save our money for the next town.
The history is so rich in our National Parks. You can just feel the buzz of life that dates back generations to visitors who have come before us. It is a wonderful feeling to carry on the tradition and to fill the same space while admiring the same natural world.
We heard from a couple hikers a few days ahead that a magical place existed in the Old Faithful Lodge. It was named the "Tub Room." This location was shared to them by a few staff members of the lodge. Basically we were given a treasure map and after arriving at the lodge, we set out to find it. From the downstairs common area, we wondered up the stairway to the second floor. From here we turned into a hallway and followed it until it intersected another hallway. Towards the end of the hall, a small sign read "Tub Room." We walked through a swinging door and found two private rooms with claw foot tubs, soap, shampoo, and even conditioner. The room was a haven set away from the zoo of people right outside. Before we took a much needed bath, one of the maids asked us if we would like a towel. It was all coming together. Today we felt spoiled from the beauty of the National Park and also from the "Tub Room."
We walked back down the hallway with wet hair and climbed up another stairway to the third floor balcony. Here we found a place away from anyone to pack our food for the next stretch. We had not planned on doing the "Mack's Inn" cutoff when we planned for the hike. However, we heard from hikers ahead of us that it was full of good food and cheap camping. This sounded like a good place to take a zero day and catch up on writing and rest. This meant that we had an extra day of food in our boxes. Combined with the couple days of leftover food from Yellowstone, our packs were heavy.
Just as we were finishing up packing our things, a couple beside us asked us where we were backpacking. As always, we tried to tell them that we had hiked there from Mexico without sounding too eager to brag. We talked for a couple minutes before continuing to pack and then leave to finish our mileage for the night. Soon, the woman showed up with their two children, and they proceeded to snack on cheese and crackers and drink wine. (The children of course did not drink any wine). Garbelly slung his pack over his shoulder ready to head out and say goodbye. Before he could speak they asked us if we would want to join them for a glass of wine and a little food. Hiking can always wait another hour.
We sat down with them and began to share stories about everything we had been through so far. The kids were interested in the animals we had seen so far, especially the two bears in Yellowstone. Before they headed to dinner downstairs, they brought us tangerines and cookies for later. The young boy even peeled a few tangerines for Critter while she told stories. After they left, we each looked at each other and said that we had to be the two luckiest hikers on trail. We could not be more grateful.
Finally, we left and walked the trails surrounding the Old Faithful geyser basin. On our walk out of the park, we saw the sun set over all of the pools and geysers along our walk. Surprisingly, the park was still buzzing with visitors too awestruck to head to bed with all of the beauty the park had to offer. As soon as our concrete path turned to dirt and then disappeared into the woods, we saw no more people for the rest of the night. We stumbled down the trail for a couple hours and then set up in the darkness of ten o'clock. It had been a long day, but had been incredibly rewarding.
Garbelly & Critter