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Day 3

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone

Our anniversary!

Saturday, June 18   Lordy, it gets light early this time of year. I was not really mentally ready to crawl out of the sleeping bag at 5:30 am, but crawl I did, at Susie's urging that we had a full day (not necessarily of hiking) ahead of us. (Tonight we would celebrate our anniversary with some friends, and tomorrow, our daughter and family would arrive from the Kansas City area, and there was still house cleaning to be done.) We pulled out of camp at an unbelievably early 8 am, and climbed to the small saddle to the NW of where we had stayed. The arrowroot balsam leafs were blooming in the yellow splendor, and there were snow capped peaks to the north of us. A wonderful morning for hiking. The trail pitches over as it begins its descent to Turkey Pen Creek. The forest was delightfully open, and reminded us of high elevation forests in the southeast. In this protected forest, the aspen were just starting to leaf out. A super morning.

In one of the many meadows along the trail, we stopped for rest break near where some very tall irises were blooming. They reminded me of the irises my mother used to grow back in Michigan, because they looked so formal. We joked that - as my former spouse would say - they reminded us of the Crested Dwarf Irises in the Smokies, because they were so different. Shortly, the trail pitched over, and makes a sharp descent to the sage brush covered shelf on the south side of the Yellowstone, perhaps a couple of miles east of the main Park Entrance. As we covered the distance to the Entrance Station (via a bridge crossing of the raging-with-snowmelt Gardner River) in hurried fashion, we turned around for one last look at the Yellowstone River coming out of its Black Canyon. We caught sight of a bald eagle soaring on the thermals, presumably looking for an early lunch. Yeah, it had been a pretty good hike for The First One.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 2005