Struggling Upwards

After seeing bear scat on the trail to the natural bridge in Yellowstone, we decided to rent some bear spray for our morning hike up Mount Washburn. Bears scare me, and for good reason. We looked into buying bear spray at the park, but it was $50, and renting it was much more reasonable. All four of us watched a video about how to use bear spray, and Ed and I practiced pulling the trigger with an empty can of bear spray.

chipmunk
Not a bear, but a chipmunk

And we were off to climb Mount Washburn! It is one of the more popular trails in Yellowstone, but since we got an early start, there weren’t that many people on the trail yet. We were basically going to climb three miles up at about a 10 percent incline, and then come back down. Ed and the girls, of course, were faster than I was. Even with all my training for the 2 day breast cancer walk, and working out at the gym, I still felt woefully out of shape. However, I think because I had been exercising, when we rested after a steep climb I recovered faster, and walking on the treadmill at an incline strengthened my ankles, so I felt strong as I was climbing.

halfway-up

We ran into another group stopped at a logical resting place, and started chatting with them. One of the fun things about being a tourist is meeting new people from different places, although if I remember correctly, they were also from Illinois! The daughter was working at Yellowstone for the summer, so her family came to visit her and she was showing them around. She took the picture up above.

At the top of Mount Washburn is a fire lookout tower. We got warm while we were climbing, but then at the top the wind was blowing and it was really cold!

10000-feet

Before we headed back down the mountain we warmed up inside the lookout tower and used the bathroom. (I was so happy there was one up there!) We saw some bighorn sheep in the distance, and also a little yellow-bellied marmot. We spent some time looking at them through our binoculars.

at-the-top
I love how you can see part of the trail in this picture!

On the way down the mountain, we ran into a number of people walking up the mountain. The day was getting warmer, the path was getting busier, and I was glad that we had started so early that morning! Unfortunately for me, however, we still had a lot of time to explore Yellowstone. I’ll tell you what we did next tomorrow.

Keep up with our road trip:

The Great American Road Trip: Badlands National Park
Leaving the Badlands and Entering Wind Cave National Park
Not National Parks: Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower
Driving Through Wyoming

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