Mark and I have a brief discussion about which way to head back to Joseph's Coat. I am worried about getting cold if we elect to follow the Coffee Pot drainage and walk in Broad Creek. The alternative is to follow the route we took in. I finally make a case that the way through the Coffee Pot drainage is easier and we get to see some features that we have not seen before. Mark seems more than happy to try that route. So we cross Coffee Pot Creek once again, ascend the hill to get over the creek and begin the descent to Broad Creek.
The water at Coffee Pot is so bad that I am genuinely looking forward to what I call "the sweet, pure waters of Broad Creek." Everyone laughs at that. Broad Creek clogs water filters too.
I explain to everyone that the trick here is to keep the other side of the Coffee Pot drainage in sight and not allow ourselves to be drawn into the drainage. The way is pleasant after what we did to get into and out of Fairyland and it seems like only a little trouble to walk over or around deadfall. We get into one section where there are many elk droppings and obvious elk beds. Just a half mile or so from Coffee Pot, unknown to us, a small herd of elk had spent the night.
Soon the way gets steeper and we can hear the rush of Broad Creek below us. We should have cut over to the Coffee Pot drainage as soon as we heard the creek, but we stay to the north side and find ourselves stuck on a rocky outcrop. There is a small trail to the right that we follow and it quickly becomes clear that others before us have taken this way either up or down to Coffee Pot. There is a tricky spot to descend to the creek and we all slide under a fallen log to make this happen. Then we put on our sandals or Crocs and head the 30 or so yards upstream to the logjam at the confluence of Coffee Pot Creek and Broad Creek. Coffee Pot Creek is at this time of year little more than a trickle.
Here we stop to pump water. I pump for Dianne first and then I pump a 32 oz bottle for me. I drink it all and start over again. Since Mark's pump is so much faster than mine, he offers to do one of our bottles and I toss it across the creek to him. I am not sure what kind of trouble the girls are getting into but I hear all kinds of mischief going on behind me. Everyone is glad to be out of a steep area.
In 2003 I was so exhausted that I did not properly enjoy the wonder that is Broad Creek Canyon. The creek bed is golden in color and it is tempting to call it "the yellow brick road." For the most part the way is easy going, but we do have to negotiate a few fallen logs and one or two deep eddies. There are small waterfalls that we circumnavigate and when a game trail presents itself at the side of the creek we get out and take it.
Sooner than I hoped, sooner than I expected, Logjam Thermal Area opens before us. I have no recollection of this area from 2003. Yet it is a wonder to behold. On the north side there is a small cave. The cave appears to have some kind of small thermal in it. I remember that Jake was very interested in the cave in 2000. There are fumaroles and frying pans. The east side of the canyon here is mostly a meadow while the west side of the canyon is the sort of colorful rhyolite that dominates Joseph's Coat. There are oranges, yellows and reds nearly all the way up. Dianne finds a little bubbler next to the creek that consists of a single hole. She loves that little spring and points it out to everyone.
Then we come to the gem of the basin at the southern end. It is a large thermal bubbler, very much like the Chocolate Pots on the Gibbon River, but much more colorful. I have my doubts as to whether this is the thermal that both Dianne and I remember. Dianne says in a knowing way, "Gary, you know that thermals change." Reluctantly I agree. It is not the way I remember it and it is certainly possible that the thermal changes with the seasonal water levels. There are all kinds of interesting things growing in the warm waters produced by this thermal and I am delighted to see bees buzzing around a few flowers.