Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yellowstone - Part 2 (Avalanche Peak)

We did a lot of hiking on our trip out west, and my favorite hike was a climb to the summit of Avalanche Peak, near the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  Only 2 miles from the trailhead to the summit, this is one of the easier mountains to conquer, but there are 2,000 vertical feet in those 2 miles, making it more strenuous than you might think.

The hike began in a somewhat haunting forest around 8,500 ft above sea level.  The trail was steep from the very beginning and remained so throughout the entire climb.  We crossed a small but beautiful meadow, and from there the vegetation gradually thinned leaving sick looking pine trees and grasses. 

 Eventually it opened up onto bare rocks and scree, where we saw a marmot scurrying around, apparently not too concerned about our presence.


A false summit loomed ahead with scraggly looking trees holding on for dear life.  The trail wound around the edge of the mountain, the steep drop on our left making my partner quite uneasy.  After reaching what we thought was the summit, we discovered that we still had a long way to go.  From there it was all rocks; the trail was simply a long trench carved out of the scree.  Each step was treacherous as the stones have a habit of shifting.

The final stretch was a 5 ft wide ridge leading to a small peak inhabited by a ground squirrel(!) and covered with sharp rocks.  The view from the top was glorious.  There was actually another peak 50 yards further down another narrow ridge.  I couldn't tell if it was higher or shorter than the first peak, but I decided to go check it out anyway.  Mrs. Michissippi stayed glued to the first spot, satisfied that she had completed the climb, and not wanting to move until she absolutely had to.

On the way down we saw a pika, which I was actually quite excited to see.  I remember seeing one in Rocky Mountain National Park as a kid, and I thought it was a very cool animal.

I highly recommend this trail for its views, challenge, and nice length.


  1. So this is what pikachu was named after?

    1. I thought so for a while, but apparently not. From wikipedia: "According to series producer Satoshi Tajiri, the name is derived from a combination of two Japanese sounds: pika, a sound an electric spark makes, and chu, a sound a mouse makes."

  2. Lovely hike. I did it in 2003. The view is one of the best in the park.

  3. Oh, and I saw that same ground squirrel. It begs for handouts.