We drove through the famous Roosevelt Arch at about  8am on Saturday morning after driving through the night from Seattle to Yellowstone. We were immediately greeted by an onslaught of wildlife. Bison herds on the rd, hordes of elk on the plains and big horn cheep high on the cliffs  before we even reached Mammoth Hot Springs. We were eager to start skiing, but first we needed to set up our home for the next five days.

As expected the Mammoth Campground was hardly as crowded as it is in the summer. Only a few hardy souls dared to camp in the Yellowstone winter… though the weather was anything but harsh. It looked liked 25-35 degrees with light snow over the next few days. We’d opted to bring our 3 season tent for the extra ventilation. Our single wall winter tent would collect way to much condensation without steady winds. Our setup worked well over the next few days. A blow up mattress, then closed celled sleeping pads, then sheets, 2-person sleeping bag, down blanket and Mideast blanket. We might have been a little too warm some nights!

After setting up camp we headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs which is also park Headquarters. After a quick look around the visitor center and lower terraces we drove a little further up the road to the Upper Terrace Loop. This is a short and sweet xc ski loop around the upper terraces. It was Damien’s first experience on a groomed xc ski track as well. The trail was in good condition. Some sections were void of snow, but some green rugs were placed over the bare payment as bridges. The track passes both active and inactive springs bring heat to an otherwise frigid environment. I suggest doing this 1/25 mile trail counterclockwise. This way is gradually uphill ending with a fun slightly steep downhill.

After the Terrace Loop we decided to head over to Lamar Valley for the rest of the day. We pulled near the Buffalo Ranch where several folks were looking through scopes. It turned out they had spotted the Molly wolf pack lounging in the snow in the distance… all 15 pack members. They let us take a look at the toughest pack in the park; tiny black dots in the snow.

From there we moved on to the Lamar River Trail and did a quick ski in that area before moving on to the Slough Creek Trail which is 2.25 miles. This trail is not groomed but was packed down well by snowshoers. The ski was uneventful as far as wildlife and thick snow fell around us as evening set in. It was time to return to camp for mountain house dinners.

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