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Yellowstone Upper Loop

Ok. So, Rogue and Fall Risk took me back to Yellowstone. On our last day out west. Determined to at least do the upper loop. And see if it was as comparably unimpressive as the lower loop.

Mostly we wanted to see the Canyon.

So we woke up at 4am. And headed on over to the park. Before the other 4,000,000 people.

And straight to the South Rim.

To Upper Falls Viewpoint. I think.

Where we found how this park redeems itself.

Because this.

Like, why isn’t this on the covers of brochures???

And we kept reading about Uncle Tom’s 300 stairs. Down into the canyon.

Which obviously we wanted to do.

And we saw people walking up and down this.

Which we also obviously wanted to do.

Because why wouldn’t you want to climb down into a 1200 foot canyon. And back out again.

So we got back in the car. And drove around. To the Brink of the Upper Falls.

Where, we saw this.

Which is definitely the stuff my nightmares are made of.

But still no way down into the actual canyon.

So we stopped a park ranger. And asked.

And he explained that Uncle Tom’s is closed. Permanently. Unless a Russian Oligarch pays for the repairs. And then we would name the stairs after him. Which seemed oddly specific. But ok.

But he explained that what we were looking for was the Brink of the Lower Falls.

So, he drew us a map. With highlights. And said to us, several times, “This is the park’s hardest trail. It’s a 600 foot drop. Which means you have to climb back out.”

Uh huh.

“You’re gonna go down 600 feet. But then you have to climb that 600 feet back out.”

Right. That’s how geography works. We wanna.

“But it’s really hard. With 600 feet of climbing.”

Look, dude. We’ve run ultras with 6,000 feet of climbing. Granted we had full access to oxygen for those. But I think we can handle your little 600 foot climb.

So we got back in the car. Again. And drove to the Brink of the Lower Falls. On the South Rim.

And I steeled myself for Yellowstone’s toughest trail.


As with the rest of Yellowstone. The climb was wildly underwhelming.

A seventy five year old man was in front of us. On the climb back out. And didn’t appear to even be out of breath.

My point here is. We were fine.

The most challenging part of the climb. Was resisting the urge to throw people on over the side. When they just stopped right in the middle of the trail. And then. When you tried to go around them. Just started walking again. Right in front of you. Slow as fuck.

Situational. Awareness.

Anyway. It was worth it. Because we got to see this.

Seriously. Screw Ole Faithful and grand prismatic fart mats. This. This is the stuff you wanna see.

So we got back in the car. Satisfied that we had finally found something worth seeing in Yellowstone.

And felt like we might possibly be done.

And we were on our way out when someone mentioned Mammoth Hot Springs.

As another place that Travel Goddess had told us not to bother with.

It was 21 miles behind us. In the opposite direction…

And less petty people would have felt ok about heeding that suggestion. And moving on along. To better things.

We are not less petty people.

We absolutely turned the car around.

And drove 42 miles out of our way.

To do the thing that Travel Goddess told us not to do.

And we just laughed and laughed. About doing all the things Travel Goddess told us not to waste our time on.

But yeah. Probably don’t bother wasting your time going there.

And here’s where karma steps in. To put us back into our places.

After we had spent the day. Wasting our time on the thing we were told not to.

And we were leaving the park.

We started seeing all the messages. And photos. From people telling us to go to Lamar Valley.

Because that’s where the wildlife is.

We didn’t go to Lamar Valley.

We didn’t see a damn bit of wildlife. Except these damn bison.

Yeah yeah. Whatever. There are millions of those goofy looking guys all over this damn park.

I wanted to see a grizzly.

And not pet it.

To demonstrate what an excellent rule-follower I am.

But no.

We spent our Lamar Valley time trying to piss off one of our friends.

We did stop at Upper Mesa Falls on our way back to Driggs.

As suggested by our Airbnb host. (Who called us easy communicators, by the way. I’ve…never been called an easy communicator before…)

But we found Upper Mesa.

Paid $5 to park.

And then walked a short distance to this.

Good things happen when you actually listen to people.

So, to sum up.

If you visit Yellowstone.

Unless you have a keen interest in geology or biology.

Just skip the lower loop.

And spend your day exploring the Canyon.

And Lamar Valley.

And send me pictures of all the wildlife you see there.

Because I’m still not convinced they exist.

(And go ahead and skip Mammoth Hot Springs…)


Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.

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