Packing Yellowstone in 2020. Not My Favorite Pack Trip.

August 19, 2020

We survived Yellowstone through the good, the bad & the ugly. Let’s stick with the good- because there was plenty of good, however first I must get this off my chest- Yellowstone has nothing on Battlepark Horse Camp. None of us could hold back on making some comparisons like the refreshing water from Battlepark, the plentiful fishing of Battlepark and the scenery of Battlepark. However, Yellowstone made up for what it lacked in other ways.

Yellowstone provided us isolation; we did not see any other humans for the duration of our pack trip. This gave us the opportunity to only follow the rules we as a group designed.

We did not use an outfitter, we as our own clan made the trip our very own. We packed through the Lamar Valley which was chosen due to its high population of wolfs. We didn’t get a chance to see wolves but we did hear them our first night. The density of wolves created amazing grazing land for our saddle and pack animals.

Despite accidentally leaving out chewing tobacco and toothpaste we never had a bear pillage our camp or belongings. We did get woken up by Buffalo wandering around our tents and it was amazing.

For the most part our horses ran free and chose to stay close to our camp. They had river access for water, sand to roll in and thigh high grass to graze. Watching the horses do as they please in the meadows was worth all the hard parts.

While fishing we did not catch one fish in Yellowstone, however we got a lot more out of our conversations. We talked about the Bible and how to be a good human. Each one of us coming from a different view point not only religiously, but politically and life in general. We learned from each other and about each other. I’ll always hold those conversations deep in my heart.

I won’t lie, the pack trip started off hard and I was counting down the days until it was over. We originally planned on taking an additional pack animal, however she was injured before our trip started, meaning we had to remove 120 pounds of supplies from our already limited portions. During the trip we filtered the water from the river. We ate packaged meals, that only needed boiling water. We didn’t have enough meals for each person to eat more than once a day.

After the first night we had to wake up early to pack up our entire camp, re-weigh all of our supplies, and continue on 19.3 miles to our next destination. We arrived to our next camp with enough time to water the horses, fill up filtering systems for our water, and set up tents before dark. That was a hard night.

After that night we were woken up by Buffalo and everything seemed to change. I was no longer counting down the days until the end, but embracing every moment wishing there was no end.

We did have coffee every day and learned that maybe cream and sugar was never a priority. I was no longer craving things we couldn’t bring and was no longer uncomfortable in my sleeping bag.

The river was much warmer than in Battlepark so it made bathing doable. At night fall I cuddled up to a flashlight, bear spray, and my loaded gun, but still seemed to get a fair slumber.

We laughed so much around the camp fire and our souls were all refreshed. To be honest, at first I declined the pack trip, but eventually gave into peer pressure. This may be one of those times that peer pressure was a good thing.

One thing I’ll never forget about Yellowstone was the number of stars visible. Never anywhere on the planet have I seen so many stars in the sky. It was unreal.

Riding out of Yellowstone today was bittersweet. We talked about everything we were going to order for dinner and all the things we have managed without. We could now break into our emergency supply of food and alcohol. We sang old country songs and threw a bottle of tequila and snacks up and down the pack string. None of the horses batted an eye as tequila splashed and trail mix bounced off of them. One of the best moments in my existence that couldn’t be planned or re-done.

I left Yellowstone still missing Battlepark, but with a new piece of myself that only Yellowstone could have given me.

The storms brewed as we rode back to our trailers. By the time we unpacked and untacked there was lighting, thunder and heavy rain.

Tonight, we are all heading back to Cody, Wyoming, but after that we all go separate ways. Some of us will return to Battlepark, some will start heading home (we all come from different states). I will head into Idaho to continue an adventure and meet up with more friends, but tonight we shower, eat and sleep in Cody along the crew we just endured Yellowstone with.