We never did make it to our destination, but we did have a great day!
Destination: Terraced Falls at the south end of Yellowstone Park. This particular destination is WAY off the beaten path of what people generally consider to be Yellowstone Park. You don't even go through one of those major entrances. You just pass a sign on your way down the trail.
Here we are at the beginning of the hike. I'm glad we took our photo then (thank you camera timer!)
Here is the little sign we hiked past.
Then a little farther down the hill, we encountered a fork in the trail. And we took the wrong tong. Oops.
But on the other side of the little creek we waded across, I found this:
I do believe that it is a bobcat, or some other cat. It's about 3" in diameter and was in the sand on the other side of the creek. Then the kids sloshed ashore and washed it away.
But farther down the trail, we found these!
Two perfect black bear tracks in the mud. I was TOTALLY kicking myself because I had neglected to bring the track kit and it was sitting in the car back up at the trailhead,
Grrrr . . .
But we continued down the trail and found this river. SO pretty!
The fall colors along the river were amazing. And we hiked along for a while just enjoying the forest and listening to the kids talk and sing and whine that they are hungry. (We'd been feeding them pretty much constantly since we had fed them breakfast.)
And we even saw a waterfall. A little one, but a waterfall nonetheless.
And then we turned around and headed back. We were pretty certain by that point that we'd gone the wrong way. And then we went past the bear track again. The thing was killing me with my kit in the car.
So we crossed the creek again and had a snack and then my awesome, loving, patient husband headed up the hill to the car to get my track kit. I love that guy.
In the mean time I discovered the sign that said, "Terraced Falls" and just kind of shook my head. And then I went and sat on the rock bar and told the kids to throw rocks into the stream. It really isn't every day that my kids get TOLD to throw rocks, and they were VERY compliant when it came to that directive.
Carsten especially. He started out throwing one at a time.
And soon he realized that he had two hands and most certainly could use both of them at the same time.
The bigger the splash, the bigger the smile!
The two big girls went down the bar a little way and found big rocks to throw.
This one did her three-year-old thing and wandered around talking to herself and examining everything she found that caught her attention. I love this kid.
And then the awesome and patient husband returned with the track kit. The kids were happy and rested and refreshed and ready to go find that track again. Yes, we would have loved to go see the waterfall, too, but they were kind of excited about the track.
It was about 20 minutes back down the trail. We made it, found it and went to work.
Check out the meadow we were right by. What a beautiful view to enjoy for the half hour we had to wait for the plaster of Paris to set.
Check it to see if it's ready yet.
Not quite, but it's getting there! And so we poked around and the kids poked in the mud and walked on the logs and examined the grass and talked and sang and waited really quite patiently. Carsten especially. He fell asleep.
And it was ready, so we dug it out using sticks and went on our way back down the trail. It was still pretty soft so I didn't dare to get the mud off and check it out just yet.
After crossing the creek for the fourth time, Calla found this gigantic mushroom.
She wanted to ruin it, but I reminded her that we were still in Yellowstone and she was still a Junior Ranger. She smiled, gave the mushroom a pet and skipped up the trail.
Now I don't have a picture of it, but there is one spot on the trail that is basically a little 3' rock cliff that we had to climb up. Brent asked Calla if she needed help. She said no, "I'm a rock climbing genius!" I have no idea where she picked that up, but it completely cracked me up.
I think we pretty much wore the kids out hiking probably over four miles. This is what Violet looked like when we pulled into the driveway.
The bear track after we got it home and rinsed it off some:
I will tell you that while I am somewhat disappointed that we didn't actually get to the destination we set out for, I'm thrilled to pieces with our day and the bear track. We'll try to go up there again in the next month if the weather holds. And now my kids have something for share at school when they go back after our two week potato harvest break. Those potatoes are coming out of the ground fast and furious around here!
Let the adventures continue!