Today our goal is Grants Village and we have 13 miles to the trail head and then a 7 mile hitch. Along the way we want to stop at a thermal area and see if we can find a warm spot in the creek. We planned to be on the trail by 6:30 so this means a 5:30 start.
I wake with the first light but then hear the dreaded rain drops on the tent. I look at the sky but it is still to dark to see. In this light it looks grey all over. I lay there thinking this may change our plans. The drops get heavier and then stop. The sky is now light enough to see. There is not a cloud anywhere, not sure where the rain drops came from but it is a relief to know we have another beautiful day.
We all pack up and even with the slight rain delay we are away by 6:30. Heading out from the camp site we cross the creek on the log bridge we laid down yesterday and are all thankful not to get our feet wet while there is still frost on the ground.
We follow the trail around heart lake and see signs of bear activity. There are rotten logs on the side of the trail that have been ripped open to get at the grubs inside. We see some prints in the mud and trees that they have been used to sharpen their claws on. They have ripped the bark from these trees and left deep 12″ long claw marks raking the trunks.
When we originally booked our permit we had camp site 8J1 near the north end of heart lake. When we reach the turn off for this site there is a sign posted saying the site has been closed due to bear activity. We were later to find out that the day before a bear had visited the site and ripped into someone’s tent!
As we pass the heart lake ranger station we see the first hikers that we have seen in this leg. We know we are getting close to a trail head now.
We spot the hot springs that we want to detour by this morning and start cross country to see them. There are lots of different pools in a multitude of colours and temperatures. We wander through the area in amazement and head down to the creek. We find a spot where one of the thermals flows into the creek and decide this is a good place for a morning soak.
There a small fish in the stream and once we sit still for a short time they swarm around us and start sucking the dead skin off our legs. Fireant has a scab on her leg and the fish seem intent on this. By the time we hop out there is nothing left but fresh pink skin.
Being a boy I was soon trying to catch the fish with my hands. Yeti bet me her breakfast that I could not catch one and so the challenge was on. I pulled my hat into the fray but once again Yeti was right, her breakfast was safe, I did not catch a single one but I had fun trying.
After an hour relaxing in the hot water we reluctantly got dressed and headed up the hill to the pass. As a true water baby, as Yeti calls me, I was in heaven and totally relaxed by the warm water. We took the hill at a good pace stopping several times to look at more thermal features and at one point feel the ground on the trail because it was radiating heat.
We arrived at the trail head at 1 O’Clock. We had been chatting with a hiker on the trail down and Fireant got a lift into Grant Village with him. He did not have room for Yeti and I so we headed out to the road to hitch. It took a long time for us to get a ride as most people where on holidays with their families and had a full car. Eventually a truck pulled up. They had 4 adolescent children in the back seat but plenty of room in the tray and we welcomed the ride.
After checking into the campground we headed back up the road for a shower, washing and then a nice dinner in the restaurant with a great view of Yellowstone lake.