“The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.”
― Jon Krakauer,
There is a mountain in Yellowstone called Everts. Well, actually it is more of a ridge, but it’s named as a mountain. Today there is no formal trail over Mt. Everts, though old maps show the past existence of a trail.
The first time I hiked Mt. Everts was in 2002. I saw a recently killed cow and calf elk, blood still staining the ground. An eagle roosted in a nearby tree, and I am certain that the mountain lion that had made the kill was nearby as well, watching us as we looked and quickly moved off.
There are many routes up and over Mt. Everts. My favorite is what I call ‘The Heart of Everts’, a one-way hike that travels past glacial lakes and along ridges carved by those same glaciers. Almost any ridge on Everts provides long-reaching views of the Gallatin and Absaroka Mountains. Hiking here follows the footsteps of native tribes, travels along bison, elk and pronghorn migration routes, and then descends steeply to the Gardiner River.
We hike Mt Everts a few times each season. It is a great spring hike and a lovely late summer/autumn ramble. In a few days we will do it again and I look forward to a day of grateful meandering.
Seen from the Tower Road, Mt Everts presents a long wall of stratified layers of sediments deposited from the ebbs and flows of an early ocean. (The same ocean deposited the red rock layers of Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.) Mt Everts’ bands are tilted because of mountain-building activity which geologists call orogeny. And later, a layer of ash from the Huckleberry Ridge volcanic eruption of the Yellowstone Volcano landed on top of the sediments. That thick ash layer looks sort of like the edges of a scrunched reddish blanket. The formation is called Queen Elizabeth’s Ruffle as the cliff edges are steep and appear crinkled like the large lace ruffle she wore around her neck. More recently, glaciers carved the landscape into what we see today. An entire seminar could be taught about this mountain, but this broad geologic description will suffice.
I think of previous Mt Everts treks: I’ve seen a black bear swim across one of the small lakes, almost stepped on an elk calf hidden in the tall grass, found obsidian flakes dropped by native Americans. I’ve stopped and sat silently, gazing at the landscape, seen coyotes, heard the bugle of bull elk in September, given bull bison wide berth. There is no such thing as an uneventful Mt Everts hike. This next ramble will be no exception.
To be continued….
But for smoky haze from the multitude of wildfires burning in Montana and other western states, Friday dawned clear. The cool morning gave way to warm temperatures as we hiked through thigh high dry grasses and wildflowers gone to seed. The browns and golds of autumn were punctuated by tiny spots of blue and purple: Hare Bells and asters are holding on for a few more weeks. Robins and Gray Jays flew into trees. Butterflies and beetles lit on thistle flowers. A grouse flew up almost under our feet, giving us a heart-thumping startle. A bull bison relaxed in a golden meadow near a kettle pond. Aspen recruits grew near a fallen ‘mother’ tree, thick-trunked but shortened from years of winter pruning. Bison pies were turned over most likely by ravens searching for insects in the scat. Flattened grasses gave hints of bison and elk bedding down in the open meadows. A full day of meandering the heart of Everts is always eventful.
“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.” ― Nancy Wynne Newhall