Sunday, July 22 – Amazing Hike!

Before getting into the title subject I will digress for a moment. On our way back this day,  we encountered numerous drivers who ignore the warnings to not stop on the road to view wildlife (except, obviously, if the wildlife is on the road blocking the way) and/or driving along at 25 mph. We regularly have people come in to the marina late for their activity and complaining about the drivers who are in their own world.

What I don’t understand is, if everyone is complaining about the knuckleheads, then just WHO are the knuckleheads? I have yet to meet someone who said, “I saw a buffalo so I stopped the car for 2 minutes in the middle of the road and just watched.” All I can assume is they must be holograms. Perhaps next time I’ll try just driving through one of them and see what happens.

Some of us slept in this day (not me) so we got a bit of a late start. We decided to go on a hike and Ribbon Lake was our destination based on information in a Yellowstone hiking book we’ve purchased. The trailhead is at the end of the Artist Point lookout in Canyon. The lookout location in Artist Point is breathtaking to start with and the write up in the book promised vistas that were at least as captivating.

So we set out on a 4 mile round trip easy  (according to the book) hike over flat (according to the book) terrain on a well maintained (according to the book) trail. We’ll probably use the book for kindling soon. In a moment you’ll learn why. As we proceeded along the trail from the parking lot the trail widened and then took us to the edge of the canyon. We were able to view down 900 feet into the emerald green water below and as we progressed along the trail, weaving closer to and further from the rim, the views just got better.

View from trail to Ribbon Lake

 

After a half mile the trail turned away from the rim and we descended into a densely wooded section.  We came upon a marshy meadow and crossed a solid but deteriorating footbridge, then we ascended. And ascended some more. We made some strenuous climbs and some treacherous descents over ground that at times seemed ready to force us to our knees or buck us from its surface. Loose chunks of rock and gravel made it all the more challenging. Along the way pieces of Mary Ann’s camera gear made their way from her shoulders into my backpack.

And then there were the mosquitoes. What they lacked in size (average was probably 6 pounds) they made up for in shear numbers. Swatting them by hand was challenging because they covered so much surface area on our selves, our hands just weren’t enough. This helped us figure out a useful purpose for the hiking book.

A mile in I noticed ominous looking clouds and wondered out loud if we should turn back. But Mary Ann was in it for the challenge as much as the views so we plodded ahead. And in the process we encountered the work of a secret workforce in the park that I have long suspected and now have conclusive proof of their existence: the Tree Stump Insertion and Camouflage Crew. If my big toe doesn’t fall off I’ll be amazed. I must have tripped a dozen times over tree stumps and roots that were barely visible and protruded just high enough to break my stride.

We finally reached our destination and were disappointed in what we saw. But we chowed down on Zone bars, guzzled some water and we loaded the last 57 pounds of Mary Ann’s camera gear into my backpack, and then turned to make the return trip. As we did, we heard the first rumblings of thunder. A tenth of a mile later we began feeling the spray from the approaching storm and the thunder grew more frequent.

As we reached the halfway point of our return the rain had become light but steady, the wind persistent and cool. We were soaked pretty much through and were grateful to be on such well maintained, level ground.

We finally made it back to the truck, drenched but in once piece. The next day we BOTH slept late.

Note to the Park Service’s Trail Degradation Crew: nice job!

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