Winter has officially come to Yellowstone National Park. On our eight day hitch, it snowed nearly every night. We managed to complete our goals for Mystic Falls Trail, though it was a muddy mess the entire week. Over the past three hitches (24 total days on this tail) we put in 212 log retainers, 41 water bars, 21 stone steps, 36 cubic feet of cribwall log structure, and 1/4 mile of retread/rehinge work on the trail. It has been an amazing learning experience for us all and the national park crew that worked with us complimented us by saying we were the best MCC crew they have ever worked with in over seven years. We were treated to a potluck on Saturday night, main dishes: venison chili and fresh lake trout. And on Sunday the crew leader from the park bought us all Pizza and Wings at a pub in West Yellowstone while we watched the first half of the Bears/Packers football game.
I'll miss Yellowstone and the daily Bison traffic jams. I'll miss the sulfuric odor as we walked the boardwalk in Biscuit Basin each day to the Mystic Falls Trailhead. I'll miss the Nez Perce Cabin that the parks service let us use for cooking and staying warm in the evenings before heading to our cold tents for a long night of sleep. I'll miss learning new skills and applying them each day with quality and care. I'll miss the late night howls of packs of coyotes, the bugling of the elk, and the grunting of the bison nearby. I'll miss the weekly educational trips to different parts of the park to learn more about the geology of the unique landscape that is the park. I have been fortunate to have spent a month of my life getting my hands dirty in the dirt, rock, and mud of the land that is Yellowstone, to make the path a better place for those that follow. I hope someday some of you can visit the park and see what a magical place this is. And if you are here, head on over to Biscuit Basin, walk across the boardwalk until the wood ends and the forest begins, follow the trail that is called Mystic Falls. The loop is 3 miles, the path has been prepared for you and all the others.
Katie, Maggie, Joe, Jon (my co-leader), Derrick (another Hoosier), and me