Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Heart Lake Loop - Yellowstone National Park

In the fall of 2005, my dad and I went on a very memorable backpacking trip together around Heart Lake in Yellowstone National Park for what would be one of our earliest and longest annual backpacking trips.  Since I'm writing this more than seven years after the trip, I will just provide provide broad and general information here.

Yellowstone is a national and world treasure.  Its geothermal features and wildlife are world-class and combined they make for a one-of-a-kind experience.  I've been to many of America's largest and most famous national parks and none of them come close to Yellowstone in terms of wildlife.  We saw bison, elk, bighorn sheep, and moose up close.  At night we heard wolves howling and elk bugling.  It was amazing.

After touring some of the big name sites, we started our backpack at the trailhead near Lewis Lake on South Entrance Road.  One of the first things I was struck by was the fact that geothermal features in popular areas were heavily protected and fenced off with highly visible warning signs, while features in the backcountry had nothing and could be right next to the trail.  Apparently being willing to strap on a fifty pound pack and backpack more than a few miles into the wilderness earns you some trust from the NPS.

We did the loop counter-clockwise and spent the first night near the fork up to Mt. Sheridan.  On the second day we dayhiked up the mountain and took in the stunning views while catching our breath from the 2,700' gain in elevation.

The rest of the trip was fairly level as the trail follows the lakeshore and a couple streams.  The total distance, not including the Mt. Sheridan dayhike was about 34 miles.
Falls at Yellowstone National Park Waterfall
Lower Falls

Elk at Heart Lake in Yellowstone National Park
Elk

Bighorn Sheep Near Heart Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife
Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep on a Ridge in Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Erupting, Yellowstone National Park near Lodge, boardwalk

Hot Pool at Yellowstone National Park, geothermal feature blue

Moose Near Heart Lake in Yellowstone National Park, wildlife

Campsite near Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Moose near Heart Lake with Mt. Sheridan in background.  Yellowstone National Park

Pumping water at Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park at Dusk
Shore of Heart Lake

Sea of grass near Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Moose resting in the shrubs, Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park


East side of Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park view
East side of Heart Lake 

View and dead trees on Mt. Sheridan near Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park

View of Heart Lake from Mount Sheridan in Yellowstone National Park
View of Heart Lake from Mount Sheridan


Mt. Sheridan, Heart Lake, Yellowstone National Park



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