Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 55: Beaver Creek to Firehole Creek

A cool fog descended in the night. We bundled up slipping our feet into sodden shoes and heading down the trail. 

The trail followed the Heart Lake beach, where the cold, gray lake water disappeared into the fog. A faint sulphur aroma wafted toward us on the cool morning breeze. 

A ranger approached and asked to see our permit near the Heart Lake Patrol Cabin. He radioed the number into headquarters while we took a lengthy, unscheduled break, unable to hike on until he cleared us. Finally he cleared our permit, shifted our campsite reservation to another site farther up the trail, and allowed us to hike on. 

Steam rose from the creek next to the trail. Small, bubbling, cauldron-like pools lined the creek. A scalding hot stream trickled from the pools into the hot tub like Witch Creek. A large pool of emerald green water steamed nearby. 

Day hikers proliferated as we neared the Heart Lake Trailhead. "Are you from Bishop?" a family asked Sierra. The Jellison family, from our hometown of Bishop, were day hiking to Witch Creek and had heard we were on the trail. We also met two more northbound CDT hikers, Birdie (PCT '12) and Tibetan. 

Rain and hail pelted us as we reached Shoshone Lake. We waded into Summit Creek, knowing we were unlikely to get any wetter than we already were.  Soulshine shivered on the far bank, having swum in the creek with his clothes on just before the storm. 

The Shoshone Geyser Basin was the highlight of our day. The basin was dotted with steam vents, bubbling pools, cones, hot streams, geysers, and other geothermal features. Canadian geese strutted along the warm, swampy marsh next to the river. 

Upstream from the basin, hundreds of bright yellow monkey flowers clung to the shifting sand at the bottom of Shoshone Creek. 

Tired after a thirty mile day, we reached Soulshine's assigned camp near the Firehole River only to find squatters already there, food hung, enjoying the nearby hot pools. They darted away when we approached, disappearing into the trees and leaving their food behind. Soulshine arrived. Although the designated bear pole was too low to inspire confidence, we hung our food next to the other hikers' food and hoped for the best.  

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