Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Share your latest adventure in Yellowstone.

Moderators: Bruce, DPS

Post Reply
Scatman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:11 pm

Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by Scatman » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:49 pm

This is a report from a seven day backpacking trip in July that took our group up onto the Mirror Plateau before heading off-trail to Opal Creek, Mirror Lake, Upper Pelican Creek, then heading down Raven Creek, up and over Lovely Pass to Mist Creek, and finally down Mist Creek and the Lamar River back to the Soda Butte Trailhead. The wildflowers along our whole route were just spectacular and from a wildlife perspective, this was the best trip I had ever been on. If you include our 21 mile day hike through Hayden Valley and up to Cygnet lakes the day before this trip, we saw a total of 12 grizzly bears in eight days, hundreds of bison, at least 50 elk, deer, coyotes and a lone wolf.

Image
View up Soda Butte

Image
Looking across the Lamar Valley towards the Mirror Plateau

Image
The Lamar River

Image
View from the Specimen Ridge Trail

Image
Wildflowers

Image
More wildflowers - we ran into a sow and her cub shortly after this picture was taken

Image
View as we approach the top of the Mirror Plateau

Image
View from the top of the Mirror Plateau

Image
Bison on the Mirror Plateau

Image
View down Opal Creek in the late evening

Image
View from the top of the Mirror Plateau

Image
Ran into this big guy as we made our way through old burn and new growth

Image
Absolutely gorgeous meadows on top of the plateau

Image
Mirror Lake - north side

Image
Mirror Lake - south side

Image
More elk and bison along the headwaters of Timothy Creek

Image
Elk Remains near the headwaters of Upper Pelican Creek

Image
Grizzly bear on Upper Pelican Creek - seen from our campsite

Image
Wildflowers near camp

Image
Bison skull in the meadow along Upper Pelican Creek

Image
Nice looking clouds

Image
Fern Lake Patrol Cabin

Image
Thermal area just off Pelican Creek

Image
View down the Raven Creek Drainage - it rained hard all day long

Image
Elephant Heads

Image
The back side of a grizzly on Raven Creek

Image
Lovely Pass

Image
Heading down the south side of Lovely Pass - we ran into a sow and a cub in this new growth as we made our way down to Mist Creek

Image
View from my tent at our campsite along Mist Creek

Image
Grizzly - He would circle the meadow along Mist Creek for two days as we watched him.

Image
The meadow along Mist Creek - very beautiful location - finally some good weather

Image
View along Mist Creek

Image
View from the trail - approaching the Lamar River

Image
The Lamar River

Image
View to the south

Image
Grizzly print

Image
The Lamar River

Image
This grizzly ended up being trouble for me. As he approached through the corridor of trees, he stopped when I said, "Hey Bear" and then proceeded to swing his head back and forth and pop his jowls for and extended period of time before finally leaving the trail towards the river. I breathed a lot easier at this point.

Image
The Lamar River drainage

Image
Horse/Mule Train

Image
Nearing the Soda Butte Trailhead



User avatar
BeartoothTucker
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:55 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by BeartoothTucker » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:24 pm

Great report.



rzrpirate
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:14 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by rzrpirate » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:33 pm

great report Scatman, You've shared an adventure very few will have the opportunity to do.



Kat
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:22 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by Kat » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:55 am

Thank you for sharing your photographs of parts of Yellowstone i’ll never get to see in person. I don’t think I would want to meet up with those grizzlies in remote places... Glad you’re safe!



Scatman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by Scatman » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:38 pm

Beartooth Tucker - Thanks

rzrpirate - Thanks also

Kat - You're welcome and I hope you enjoyed the report. The truth is, not many backpackers get to see the Mirror Plateau south of the Specimen Ridge Trail, Upper Pelican Creek, Raven Creek or Lovely Pass. I'm beginning to get a little long in the tooth though which means my off-trail trips are probably numbered in the future. As for the bears in the backcountry are concerned, all the bears that I have seen (including four extremely close encounters) the bear has always run away. The two exceptions were the bear I encountered in the image above while hiking down the Lamar River Trail back to the trailhead and the one that hung around our campsite on Mist Creek. The grizzly on Mist Creek never showed any signs of aggression towards us. He simply wandered through the meadow, grazing and digging. It was a special treat to just sit and watch him throughout the day.

I mentioned a day hike through Hayden Valley and on to Cygnet Lakes the day before this trip. I wanted to mention to everybody that we saw four grizzly bears along our way. We were hiking up the old stagecoach road along Trout Creek when we saw a sow with two cubs to the south of us and just after the old Trout Creek Garbage Dump, we ran into a boar that was grazing in a side drainage of Trout Creek. As we watched him, he gradually moved to the north, while at the same time, an elk appeared over a hill and began to walk down into the same drainage. The grizzly raised his head, saw the elk, and shot off like a bullet in pursuit of the elk. It was the most spectacular thing that I have ever seen in the Yellowstone backcountry. I found it hard to believe it was unfolding right before my eyes. The grizzly didn't catch the elk, but it was right on her tail for about a quarter mile. It's amazing how fast grizzly bears are. It is something I will never forget.

Image
Grizzly in Hayden Valley that gave chase to an elk

Image
Same bear as above, You'll notice the bison and the elk on the hill which were unaware of his presence at this point



Stonebridge
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:32 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by Stonebridge » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:49 pm

Great pictures of your trip! How far into Hayden Valley did you see the grizzly. I saw a grizzly take down a bison calf last spring in Lamar and it is amazing to see how fast grizzlies can move. That would have been an amazing thing to watch whilst hiking in Hayden. Glad you had a safe but eventful hiking experience!



Scatman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by Scatman » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:16 pm

Stonebridge - We were about 2.6 miles along the old road heading west when we saw the bear.



timv
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:16 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by timv » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:56 pm

What a great hike to do at primetime. Glad everything was blooming as per the normal expected schedule. Your pictures really make it look like a gorgeous spring adventure. Thanks for posting!

tv



Absarokanaut
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:19 pm

Re: Mirror Plateau Backpacking Trip

Post by Absarokanaut » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:13 pm

Awesome report, thanks for sharing man.



Post Reply