Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Adventures in Yellowstone

After some previous weekends of cross country skiing fun, this weekend we decided to get serious about it all and took some leftover Christmas money and combined it with some new and used mid-winter gear sales to get ourselves outfitted for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing.  Thanks Mas and Pas, hope we took enough pictures for you!

As the kiddos and I headed around town looking at gear Matthew was super interested in it all.  I wasn't really planning to get him gear this year, but when I saw the basket of cheap kids snowshoes and when he was so excited about it, I decided he needed a pair. (Maybe they strategically placed them next to the kid backpacks as a gentle reminder of how nice it'd be to not have to carry a preschooler on your back!)  Matthew could hardly wait to practice and we stayed out front until the sun set "running" in our snowshoes:

Catherine got snowshoes too but she needs to get more comfortable walking in just boots before she tries them out.  Oh yeah, and she needs to leave her mittens (well, and boots as you'll see) on!!

With a pretty great forecast on deck we decided there was no better place to test everything out than Yellowstone.  Since Mammoth is normally the last place we visit and breeze through, we thought it would be fun to spend a bit more time there.   As we entered the park, we saw this sheep silhouetted against the sky.   He was on quite the peak:

Not a bad start for the trip, considering we had many bad memories from our last "winter" trip in the park.  While thankfully we didn't crack an oil pan (or worse) this time, we did have a close call with this guy.  He stepped out right in front of me from behind a bush!  I'm pretty certain he scared me more than I scared him, but after a short stare down he did turn around instead of crossing.

Once we got in the park, we headed out on snowshoes as we had promised Matthew.  He wants to wear his snowshoes all the time thankfully as we are eager to have him do more walking/hiking independently.
Catherine meanwhile took the easy way out!  We had borrowed our neighbor's DIY pulk set-up which worked out really great.  We just strapped Catherine's carseat on and clipped the poles to my belt.  She was pretty content about it.  
On the trail:
 Canary Spring:

 The kiddos checking out the springs and the bison that were hanging out below:
Unfortunately, on our return from the springs, Matthew started to get sled envy, so we snowshoed back to the car and put on our skis.
Once we configured the sled for an additional passenger, we were ready to go, though Catherine was none too happy about sharing her carriage with someone else.  We did a nice 1.4 mile loop around the Upper Terraces at Mammoth.  There was a pretty steep stretch in the beginning but after that it was a nice ski and we had the trail mostly to ourselves.  Pulling the sled was definitely an experience as every time I started to get going, it felt like something was trying to push me down!  Luckily, the sled only tried to pass me once or twice on the downhill, which Matthew thought was awesome.  Me? Not so much.

There were a few sections of the trail where the ground was too warm for snow.  Hazards of skiing in a geothermal area I suppose :-)
Hanging out with a geyser:
 Matthew took a break from the sled to run down the hill instead.  This was great for all of us as it made the sled much easier to pull and Matthew seemed to enjoy it!
And sneaking up on Catherine.
Catherine decided her boots were undesireable at some point so we took them off.  It also kept her from kicking Matthew in the head with them and with wool socks under her pj legs she stayed toasty warm.  Of course, the kids were super excited to get back for hot cocoa and especially lunch since we ended up out way past lunch/nap.
We had left our plans pretty loose contingent upon weather but with clear roads and clear skies to the East we had lunch in the car and headed to the Lamar Valley which is a) the only part of the park open to cars in the winter and b) a section of the park we'd never visited.It was our lucky day because a few miles out we (along with many others) spotted these two bull elk:
And, on our way to take some pictures, spotted this moose down near the stream.

The moose moved up the hill and eventually on his way:
But these two kept posing:

And then a sweet old lady offered to take a picture while we posed:

We then put the kids back in the car with the plan of driving out to Lamar Valley and back while they napped and then we'd do a bit more exploring near Mammoth.  HA!  In the kids ever-present love/hate relationship they kept "talking" to each other, making faces and trading loveys.  We did see this guy:
And made it to Cooke City which was both underwhelming and pretty much closed, including the visitor center, though at least they kept the bathroom open and Matthew rather enjoyed this statue:
 Oh yeah, and the views weren't half bad!
Catherine finally fell asleep just before we got back to Mammoth, thankfully sleeping through our first Bison Jam:

Since she was out cold so we decided to just head home under a big, cloudy sky.

A winter storm warming was set to start at 5pm but we lucked out with dry roads the whole way home and woke up to a nice blanket of snow.  Matthew's already been out in his snowshoes again. I think we've created a monster!  


  1. I am so jealous of this. Evan would HATE it, but I would love to come see all of your nature out there! Now how do I get my company to send me to Montana... :)

  2. LOL, we'd love to have you anytime! We'll have to start scheming to find someone interested in your software :-)


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