At 6:00 am a group of seventeen intrepid hikers from the Yellowstone Association, Xanterra, and other park organizations gathered to meet for the day’s journey. Our mission was the summit of Electric Peak, the spectacular mountain that dominates the horizon of Gardiner, and the view from my home.
Normally the trek to Electric Peak involves a twenty-four mile round-trip hike, but for a few weeks each summer the USFS opens a dirt access road to the public, which shortens the journey to 14 miles.
We could not have picked a more perfect hiking day. Clear blue skies dominated, without even a hint of cumulus clouds—a break in the pattern of the last few weeks of consistent afternoon thunderstorms. Even the wind seemed to be resting as only a faint breeze blew at times.
The approach from the north begins on the access road, and meanders through fire-scarred forests, wildflower covered hillsides, and an endless alpine meadow. Although a trail exists in some sections, much cross-country travel is required. The final push to the saddle involves walking on a precarious trail over loose scree, and then some fun scrambling up rock to the summit.
Electric Peak, elevation 10,992 feet, (the sixth highest in the park) boasts some spectacular views. To the south the Grand Tetons are visible in the distance, while to the west Lone Peak and Sphinx Peak in the Madison Mountain range stand prominently on the horizon.
The peak’s distinct appearance is due to many geologic artists: formed from sedimentary rocks in the Cretaceous period, decorated by lava in the Eocene, and sculpted by glaciers during the last ice age. The mountain received its name when a member of the Hayden survey in 1872 was almost struck by lighting on the summit—you can read more about the story in another entry of my blog.
Given the distance required to reach Electric Peak, we think our group—along with four young Gardiner residents, and four park visitors who approached from the south—all hold the record for the most people on the summit at one time. After the hike, some of the group celebrated our accomplishment with beers and the delicious outdoor barbeque at the Two Bit Saloon and Raven Grill in Gardiner.
For more photos of the hike visit my photo gallery.