Mt. Washburn and a Horseback Ride
[Yellowstone National Park]
Today was our last day in Yellowstone, and Mother Nature finally smiled upon us with our first fully sunny day since we got here on Monday. And it was not too soon, as we were waiting for the weather to clear in order to hike Mt. Washburn, the park’s most popular trail.
The hike was not too strenuous – 1400 ft elevation in just over 3 miles. What made it hard were the piles of snow still present. One part of the trail was entirely under snow, which we had to traverse. It was a slow and slippery affair, but we made it! The rest of the trail was actually pretty nice – wide and not too muddy. From the very beginning, we caught glimpses of the views that awaited at the top.
Atop Mt. Washburn, at 10, 243 feet (~3100 m), there was an old fire lookout that was actually still in service. There was an ugly 3-story building there, which featured an intepretive center, an observation deck and the fire lookout’s quarters on the very top. This fire lookout is one of the few remaining in service in the United States. The person living here arrives as soon as the snow conditions allow, usually in late June, and stays through summer and Fall. We couldn’t go into the quarters but there was a picture of it on the observation deck.
The views from the top were amazing. 360 views all around. We could see the Grand canyon of the Yellowstone, which we’d toured a couple of days before. Many mountain ranges were visible in the distance, most notably the Grand Teton, one of the three Tetons, where we’re headed tomorrow. We even saw some bighorn sheep there!
After a picnic lunch in the sun back down in the valley, we headed for the horseback ride that got cancelled yesterday. I had not been on horseback in about 4-5 years, and it’s been about 15 for Laura, so we were both excited about it. The horses were very gentle and we had a great time riding through a lush valley.
And this concludes our five days in Yellowstone! Many of the park’s 5,000,000 annual visitors never get off the main road through the park. We were happy to have explored this park on so many days and to have seen so much! There is no other place on Earth like this simmering supervolcano.