A bend in Lamar River, Yellowstone National Park

Can you smell the funk?

Day 120, Lemon City Campsite to Cache Creek Ford South Campsite

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

For most of the CDT, we are allowed to camp at about any spot that looks suitable for pitching a tent. That's not true in Yellowstone National Park. We are required to camp in designated campsites.

Top O' and I are on a fixed schedule set by our camping reservations while we're in the park. The 18 miles we hiked yesterday would have been routine if we hadn't started more than two hours later than usual. We couldn't finish walking until shortly past sunset.

Weather Mostly sunny and breezy, becoming mostly cloudy; temperatures from upper-30s to mid-60s
Trail Conditions Several short ups and downs
Today's Miles 14.2 miles
Trip Miles 1,734.8 miles

We knew before we started that today would be much different. Our next scheduled campsite was a little more than 14 miles away. The route included no climbs more than 330 feet.

Although we woke up at our usual time, we took our time to pack and prepare to leave. There was no reason to rush.

Crossing a meadow in Lamar River Canyon

When we left camp at 7:20 a.m., we found some frost on the grass in the open meadow. I didn't notice the temperature being cold enough for frost last night, but our tents were sheltered under trees.

The campsite was near the Lamar River, and today we more-or-less followed the river downstream for the entire day. It snaked along the valley, so it wasn't always in sight.

Several other campsites were along the route we followed, including where Hollywood stayed. We ran into him a couple of times today.

Although we saw people at some of the campsites we passed, there weren't many on the trail when we were. We leapfrogged with a couple from South Carolina out on a short section hike, and that was about it.

Lamar River, Yellowstone National Park

The valley sometimes became narrow, so the trail needed to climb higher than where the river flowed. These spots provided the best views of the stream.

The river is 44 miles long, and all of it is inside the park's boundary. It is the Yellowstone River's largest tributary.

Until the mid-1880s, the river was called the East Fork of the Yellowstone River. It was renamed to honor Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, who was the secretary of the Interior at the time a geological survey was made of the park.

Two years after Lamar's appointment to that position, President Grover Cleveland nominated him for the United States Supreme Court, and he became a justice after his confirmation in 1888.

The trail climbs above Lamar River

The difference in elevation from the campsite where we started to where we finished was a total descent of only 650 feet. That is only a partial picture of what the trail was like, however. It made several short climbs and descents all day, resulting in an accumulated 1,650 feet of climbing and 2,290 feet of descending.

We never had to cross the river after we left our campsite, but there were some creeks to cross that fed into the river. Top O' stopped at one to point out the direction of the trail because it was difficult to find on the other side.

We knew we had extra time and took advantage of that with long breaks. The sky became cloudy in the afternoon, but it didn't seem like rain was coming soon. We felt no urgency to walk faster.


Today was the first day I came across fruit growing on CDT. It wasn't unusual to find berries on the AT and PCT, and a couple of times I saw apples. The raspberries I saw today weren't sweet, and I decided to leave them for bears.

Lamar River Valley

The valley widened again late in the afternoon. We were already near the side trail to our campsite by 4:30 p.m. The area we were approaching was the home of a pack of gray wolves.

Wolves were common in Yellowstone for thousands of years but were slaughtered to near extinction by the 1920s. Then after the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, a recovery effort was begun under a mandate in the law. Re-introducing wolves to Yellowstone was an extensive process requiring many studies and overcoming several legal challenges.

Finally, the first pack of gray wolves from British Columbia, Canada was relocated to Yellowstone in 1995.

Five of the first wolves were released in April 1996, and they thrived in their new surroundings. A description written of how the wolf pack grew to become a dynasty, then splintered into murderous rival packs, reads like a script for Games of Thrones.

One of the splinter packs, called the Druids by researchers, claimed Cache Creek as its territory in 2006 after being badly decimated by a rival pack. The wolves were able to breed and regroup in this area before returning to their former territory and re-exerting their dominance.

Cache Creek

The side trail to the campsite came just before Cache Creek. There were two in this area, and our permit was for Cache Creek Ford South Campsite. We arrived there at 5 p.m. We had the large and flat site to ourselves.

After setting up my tent, I collected water from the creek.

Food bags hanging in a Yellowstone National Park campsite

As usual in grizzly country, Top O' and I wanted to cook dinner away from our tents. We walked far up the side trail toward the main trail, where we found some logs to sit on.

Today hadn't been what I would call an exciting day. A good indication of this was the number of photos I took. There weren't many.

Then a fun moment happened around sundown when Beer Goddess and Butters arrived. I had to think about it before remembering the last time I saw Beer Goddess was in Cuba, New Mexico on Day 32. We somehow missed her when we were in Colorado. We may have seen Butters in Colorado, but I couldn't remember where.

Later, just before falling asleep, I began to pick up an odd smell in the air. Sure, it would be easy to accuse me of being the source, but it wasn't that kind of odor. I couldn't figure out what I was smelling.

Then the answer for the source suddenly came to me, and it was obvious. Yellowstone National Park is home to a wide array of thermal features. As a matter of fact, more than 10,000 geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and steamvents are located in the park. Some weren't more than a mile away from our campsite.

And seriously, I couldn't have been the cause of that odor. I just took a shower two days ago.

Can you smell it, baby?
Can you smell the funk?
Can you smell it, baby?
Can you smell the funk?

Does it make you feel good?
Can you feel that sound?
Can you smell it, baby,
What I'm putting down?

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