We knew it was going to be a short day since we had to make the drive to West Yellowstone. In the summer it is a 55 mile drive since the park roads are open. In the winter, however, road closures turn the once short journey to a much longer 167 mile drive. We decided to spend the morning in Mammoth Hot Springs. We started out skiing on the steep left side of the Upper Terrace Loop and turned off onto the Snow Pass Trail about .5 miles in. The un-groomed Snow Pass trail had recently be skied on, so a channel had been cut making the going easy for awhile. Of course you can not get to a pass without elevation gain and suddenly the trail went starkly upright an a very steep angle… much steeper than I have ever encountered on skis. The trail is narrow and herring-boning on it was difficult, next to impossible. We ended up removing our skis and walking up the trail though we were careful to remain on the side of the cut trail to preserve it for more experienced skiers. The trail leveled out and we were able to put on our skis again. There were some great views before the trail again began to climb. Eric managed to keep his skis on, but I had to take mine off again and trudge along the side. We did indeed make it to Snow Pass, but there are very few views there. I recall doing the entire loop in the summer two years ago… I think it is much nicer at that time of year. But my opinion may be a been bias as I was particularly exhausted this morning. We slowly descended the narrow trail and skiied Upper Terrace Loop a final time before heading out… just before the arch we spotting a man at the pullout with a large camera lens focusing on a tree across the Gardiner River. We pulled over and discovered he was focusing on a large bald eagle perched on a tree across the river! A beautiful creature to see as we headed to our next adventure.

We Drove back up to Bozeman and South again to West Yellowstone along 191 through the Gallatin National Forest. Luckily it was a sunny day and we made excellent time, arriving at West at 2:30… 2.5 hours earlier than expected! We wandered around for a bit exploring the winter culture. Snowmobiles drive through the street and folks passed us on xc skis. We picked up Rossingnol backcountry xc skis from Freeheel and Wheel at 5:00pm and met Marc at the visitor center. Marc is my former Yellowstone Co-worker and a close friend. He was kind enough to put us up in his trailer during our visit. Eric decided that Marc is basically a taller version of himself…. very similar viewpoints on the world!

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