AcadianX in Yellowstone 2019

Jeremiah Pastor “The Bullfrog” – AcadianX Lead Adventure Guide

A team from AcadianX traveled to Montana to explore the southern region of Yellowstone National park in October of 2019.  Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.  Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world.  The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2), comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super-volcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Half of the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone. The park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone.

Our team focused their trip on the the Heart Lake Trail and the Snake River Loop.  This backpacking route is a diverse hike in the southern half of Yellowstone featuring incredible natural history, thermal activity, wildlife viewing opportunities, soaking in hot springs, and an ascent of Mount Sheridan.

Beginning from the Heart Lake Trailhead we entered a burn area from the 1988 fires. Now over a quarter century old, the cleansing, regenerative effects of the fire were clearly evident. After about 4 miles, Factory Hill (9,607’) dominated the southern view as we then ascended a gentle plateau overlooking Witch Creek and Heart Lake. A number of hot springs pour into the creek, raising its temperature to nearly 200-degrees Fahrenheit! The trail followed Witch Creek through another burn area and then entered a meadow before joining Heart Lake. The largest trout ever caught in Yellowstone (a 43-lb. lake trout) was caught here. Along the lake’s western shore is Rustic Geyser, which is occasionally active.

The second day was intended to be spent hiking to the summit of Mount Sheridan. Mount Sheridan was named in 1871 by Captain Barlow after General Philip H. Sheridan, a distinguished soldier who often visited the park and worked in its interest. At 10,308 feet the peak lies a whopping 2,858 feet above Heart Lake. The trail winds its way through meadows and forests up the northwestern shoulder of the mountain. Once atop the peak there are spectacular 360º views of the Grand Teton, Lewis Lake, the Absaroka Mountains, and Yellowstone Lake. Also atop the summit is a fire-lookout – hard to imagine living up here through the summer thunderstorms!

On the third day due to weather our route was compromised so the team decided to return to the trailhead via the route they came in on.

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