SUBMITTED JUly 2016
My wife and I took a stab at a New Mexico solve a year ago, and had a great time discovering Santa Fe, Northern New Mexico, and ourselves in the process. Needless to say, we came home with our pockets empty of gold, but we had our hearts filled with happiness.
I was determined to figure out where I went wrong with my solve, and decided that I was completely wrong about my search area, and decided to research Yellowstone National Park as much as I could. I had looked at ideas relating to the Firehole/Gibbon/Madison theory for WWWH, and had even formulated multiple ideas. One had me hiking to the top of Fairy Falls. Another idea had used Fountain Freight Drive as “heavy loads and water high.” None would give me an answer that completely satisfied my desire for accuracy.
Then I read about the Boiling River. I had seen that it was one of only a couple of spots in which you could (legally) swim. It’s formed by the runoff from Mammoth Hot Springs, so it could definitely fit WWWH, and it’s got canyon both north and south. I took the southerly “down” route on the map, and followed it to the Sheepeater Canyon bridge over the Gardner River. This was just south of the mouth of Lava Creek, and I had read where Brown Trout would swim up the Gardner and spawn in those regions of the Gardner and Lava Creek. I had my HOB!
From there, no place for the meek was getting out on foot and drawing nigh was an unmarked trail to the left of where we disembarked from the vehicle. Okay… I was getting a little nervous at this point. Then I figured out that no paddle up my creek was just walking, and “creek” could be a term for simply a narrow winding path, not necessarily a water creek. Heavy loads became the chest, and water high… hmm… I found an old jewelery term, High water, where a higher water meant higher quality. There are jewels in the chest, so they must surely be of high quality (at least to somebody.)
All I needed was a blaze. Using Google Maps, I went to this location with a street level view (great tool btw) and what did I see in the background? Bunsen Peak, named after
the same Bunsen that invented the Bunsen burner used by scientists worldwide!
I presented the idea to my wife, who gave her approval, but she wanted to invite my Aunt Charlotte along for the trip. She loves travel too, and I soon found out that she had never been to Yellowstone, but had always wanted to visit. She was so excited about the opportunity to get to spend time with me (that we had never really been able to do in all our years) that she volunteered her vehicle for the trip!
June 2016, we left Memphis, TN early on a Saturday morning, and spent three days driving to YNP. On the way, we stopped at Council Bluffs, Iowa and saw where Lewis & Clark had met with local Indians on their way west. I took a beautiful picture of a sunset before we left. Our hotel was more than comfortable, and after around 12 hours driving, our sleep came quickly. Too bad morning comes early… but that’s the next day.
Our second day of driving brought us through the Badlands, which is an amazing site. The formations there blew our minds away. We pushed onward to Rapid City, South Dakota, and we visited Mount Rushmore at night, which I must say, looks better at night than day (my opinion.) To really put the icing on the cake, I have to put a side note here… My dad and my stepmother had taken a trip of their own to visit her oldest son in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dad and I had hatched a little plan to meet up in South Dakota without my wife’s or my aunt’s knowledge, so when we walked into our hotel, my dad was sitting in the lobby waiting for us. The look on my wife’s face was priceless! We all ate supper together, and had a great evening. He ended up spending nearly 6 days in South Dakota while we went on to Yellowstone.
Our third and final day of driving took us by the Little Bighorn battlefield. It’s good to see the respect given to both sides of the conflict, and show that even our side is not without its own faults.
At the end of the day, we made it to our cabin in Emigrant, Montana, about 30 miles north of the North Entrance to the Park. It was beautiful there, and we couldn’t have picked a better place to stay for our time at Yellowstone.
Finally, we made our entrance! It was more than I had expected, the beauty of the mountains, the river flowing next to the roadway, and views beyond description.
Our first order of business was the search, which was not a far drive away, and was only a couple of miles east of Mammoth on the Mammoth-Tower road.
We spent about an hour searching the area, specifically around the small grove of trees directly in front of the mountain (look quickly down), but alas, nothing. So we spent the remainder of that day, and the next two days, just enjoying the sights! We had a wonderful time, and didn’t even make it through the entire park. So, next year, we’re planning on making a return trip. I might even have a better solve worked out by then… Or maybe I already do 😉