YELLOWSTONE – Day 2

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WP 00 to WP 08, Mile 00 to 12

We got out of the cabin in fine fashion. We each got a shower and the wood stove was plenty warm. Our start was a little iffy as we skied through dense trees taking a theoretical beeline approach instead of back tracking around to the snowmobile roads. Once on the roads it turns out the snowmobile roads had just been groomed and nothing had been on it since. The surface was so smooth our skis had trouble tracking on even the slightest off camber sections.

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Needless to say we made our first 8 miles in outstanding time. I wound up my pace to just past pretty dang slow and kept it there for hours. It took a while to see our first snowmobilers. I was really surprised how quiet the new machines are. Not all sledders and skiers see eye to eye on things so I was extra careful to be respectful of them as we moved across terrain they took great care to maintain. Everyone was considerate, we got several waves and even a few cheers!

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Sled tracks ended at the park border. It was pretty cool to lessen our connection to modern input. David’s route had us ski up a gentle slope until we gained the 8000’ – ish plateau that defined the geographical nature of this part of the park. The slope was gentle enough to rely on the waxless feature of our skis part of the way and skins on the steeper sections.

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At 5-6 hours into our day we were in a burned out section of the plateau, having left the treed slopes and snowmobile road to get to it. Navigation waypoints were a bit further apart but we could see a long way. The Tetons loomed through the trees at our distant right.

We set up camp in a huge meadow, 12 miles in and pretty pleased with ourselves. There had been no evidence of wildlife and surprising few bird sightings. The only tracks seen have been squirrels and an occasional small cat track. We opted to take no more precaution with food than to put it in our backpacks. I stamped down a platform for our tent and David dug a trench and platform for our kitchen.

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As afternoon edged toward evening the temps turned markedly cooler from our daytime temps of 30-40F. After setting up the tent I pulled off my boots, changed socks (dried my day-used socks by stuffing them over my shoulders inside my jacket), pulled on huge down booties, pants and jacket. By the time we started dinner it was hard to have fingers out of gloves for more than a few seconds.

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I recommended using Jetboil stoves with compressed gas canisters. They had been solid and dependable in Pakistan at elevations and temps more severe than we could encounter here. Still my old rig was barely sufficient. David’s newer MiniMo Jetboil did better but we had a full time cooking job keeping canisters warm. A marginally workable solution but a bit from ideal.

My biggest beef with winter camping is how long I spend in a sleeping bag. By 6:00 PM we had eaten, the sun was giving no thermal value, and we really had nothing to do. The math is easy – 12 hours in a bag. Sure I was a bit tired but really – 12 hours. What a drag. And something happens to my 50+ year old eyes after being outside all day that affects my near vision so I could not read without a headache producing squint.

Into the tent we went. I wear 2 jackets, down pants and booties inside my bag. My outer down jacket (aka The Problem Solver) has 2 gas canisters, sun screen, toothpaste, my freeze-proof (NOT!) pen, GPS, phone, and camera and extra batteries in its pockets to keep them all functioning. Makes rolling over… interesting.

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I try to poop and pee before I climb into my bag. I find it really discouraging to have to climb out of my bag and do either in the coldest part of the night. In alpine situations I use a pee bottle but neglected to take one this time. So I ended up playing a mental game of complete denial through the night. Instead of waking up to nature’s call I was woken up by David moving around like he was ill. I asked him what was going on and he said he was feeling sick. This could be interesting.

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One Response to YELLOWSTONE – Day 2

  1. Tania Petrulis says:

    Those pictures are beautiful!! Glad you’re having good weather so far and hopefully feeling strong and happy!

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