Monday, August 16, 2010
Yellowstone National Park is a "Wow" kind of place. We have beautiful nature spots in our neck of the woods. You can proclaim frequent "Wows" while hiking through Zion National Park. This place, Yellowstone, is beyond comparison. At least in my estimation.
Nick was on a road trip and was going to be in Yellowstone all by his lonesome--with all those bears! I think not! Mike and I decided to drive all the way up there (9 hours one way) and spend a couple of days. We left after church on Sunday the 8th and got to his campsite near the south end of the park (Lewis Lake) by about midnight or so. It was quiet hours, so we weren't able to blow up our air mattress with the pump (too much noise), so we slept on the hard ground with only the sleeping bag below us. Ugh. Needless, to say, between that hard ground--no rocks, though--and it being so cold, we didn't sleep much. At least, Mike and I did not. And when I heard Nick softly snoring, I was pretty sure it must have been a beast outside the tent, snuffing around. That didn't help me sleep, either. But it was something to look forward to the next night there--an inflated air mattress with sheets and sleeping bags and the comforts of home. Except there were "vault" (?) toilets and only one faucet several hundred feet away. ;-)
Here's my cute fellers in the early morning.
The view just by our campsite was really pretty. There was a meadow. I expected to see deer grazing there in the morning when I got up, but there weren't any. Nor bears, so that was nice.
The lake was glassy and smooth. Lewis Lake, near the South side of the park. Nick actually bathed in that the previous day. Brrrr.
And Nick cooked us ham and eggs for breakfast. He took care of most of the food while we were with him. Packed lunch food, planned dinners, cooked breakfast. It was nice.
As you know, there were many MANY acres of Yellowstone that burned up in the fires of 1988 (?) Not sure on the date. Much as grown back and you can see from this picture the dead trees above and the new growth below. The new growth of lodgepole pines is so thick everywhere! It's amazing. Thick THICK forests, and many of them very new. These trees are only 8 to 12 feet tall along the side of the road.
Not a fire, but a steaming geyser. We spent the first part of day one touring many geyser basins. This one is the first we stopped at in West Thumb.
There are so many colors, so many different types of volcanic activity all around. I hadn't really though of Yellowstone as being a volcano, but that's what it is. And it's very active! Just way different than the typical things we think of with volcanoes. I collect silhouette pictures of me and Mike with water. Someday I'll make a nice collage of them.
Nick consulting his trail guide.
Me at the side of West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. There's a geyser there.
I thought this moss growing on the dead trees was cool. Another cool thing was how different pots, adjacent to each other, would have such divers levels of activity. One would be bubbling away, and right next to it, just a foot or two, it'd NOT be bubbling.
We stopped at the Continental divide for some photos. The Divide meanders all through the park. We drove past one little pond of a lake that actually had two outlets--one on each side of the divide. So some of it's drainage went to the Atlantic, and some to the Pacific ocean. Mind bottling, as Eric would say.
Mike and Nick by "Sapphire Pool" which was quite striking. But don't drop your camera or sunglasses into it!
After that little board walk of pools and geysers, I wanted to walk on to Mystic Falls. Nick had a sore foot and Mike wasn't accustomed to hiking quite so much, so I went alone. There were lots of people on the trail, and I hurried along the trail and snapped a few photos. It was a pretty walk along a stream bed. There sure are a lot of fallen trees around everywhere. a LOT.
I turned around a bend and saw that dark thing up ahead of me and thought it was a moose ! Or a BEAR! But it wasn't . It was a stump. It was a good thing, because at that time I was the only one visible on the trail and felt a little creeped out at the prospect of meeting either on my own.
And this is Mystic Falls. 1 mile in and I jogged the one mile out. Not all of the whole mile, of course, but I did hustle and run the down hill parts since the fellows were waiting for me and I wasn't really sure how far it was. I was only gone a half an hour.
In the afternoon, as we headed toward Mammoth, we were stuck in road construction delays and in heavy rain and hail. Big thunder and lightening storm.
After it cleared, and we ate in Mammoth at a restaurant, we were headed back down to the other end of the park to our camp and came across these spectacularly rugged granite boulders just out of the blue. It was smooth mountains, trees, meadows, turned a corner and BAM! There it was as we wound down the side of the mountain.
We stopped at more geysers. We saw a lot of geysers. I believe this is up at Mammoth.
This is also at Mammoth. That was pretty spectacular and we enjoyed this area. It was chilly and rained on us a little here. We were not expecting it to be quite so cold. I think it was only in the 50's and 60's.
We saw lots and lots and lots of Bison. This one posed for us nicely. I think Nick got a lot of pictures on his camera, too.
I believe this is Day two. Tuesday the 10th. We planned to drive from our Lewis Lake campground to Canyon. This is Le Harvey rapids on the way. This would be cool to see in July when the fish are jumping ("running") up the river. The water was plenty pretty.
This is Hayden Meadow or something like that. 'Tis truly where the buffalo roam. We were stuck in traffic coming and going through here because they were on the road and they have the right of way. And they know it! We counted hundreds in the meadows.
This is Mike and me at the lower falls. We walked down the hundreds of stairs on the "Uncle Tom's Trail" down to the bottom. Then we walked back up. And we survived.
If you looked left, you saw that (above). If you looked right, you saw this:
And if you looked down, you saw this:
There are quite a few stairs. They are just attached to the side of the cliff in most of the walk down there.
Nick and Mike at Artist's Viewpoint. We walked along the trail to this place, then Mike walked back to the car in the parking lot. Nick and I went on to do a short Back Country Hike.
Nick read about this Clear Lake hike on a website and it was suggested as a good one because you see such variety on one short back country hike. Nick was anxious to get away from the crowds. Those previous places were really busy with many tourists. So, at the first of the hike (it was about 3 1/2 to 4 miles, maybe less) we skirted along the rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. That was a pretty view.
We hiked through some alpine trails, watching for bears and seeing very few people.
Oh, I guess these are a bit out of order. Canyon View, below.
We passed Lily Pad Pond. That was pretty. I do adore lily pads. Unfortunately, so do mosquitos, so we moved right along after I got bit while just stopping to take a picture of this pretty little swampy area.
We also passed by some mud pots and steam vents. Then we passed by "Clear Lake."
Then we went through some lovely alpine meadows. There were actually deer feeding here. I took a picture, but they'd moved back into the trees by the time I got it snapped. (I was busy watching for bears.)
Other than the doe we saw, we also saw this little squirrell that was teasing Nick.
The wildflowers EVERYwhere throughout the park were just amazing. All kinds, everywhere. I just loved them all. This is just a shot of wildflowers.
We noticed so many of trees had the bark scraped off them like this. We speculated as to whether it was done by bison or by elk or deer.
This whole big stand of trees didn't have one tree in it that was unaffected by the bark-scraping activity.
Back to Hayden area and the bison. There was a huge traffic back-up. I was driving. I was so busy watching the bison swim across the Yellowstone River that I almost ran over one right in front of me!! Mike had to keep saying, "Linda! Linda! Look out!" I mean, I was only going 2 mph, but still. One does not run into a bison without some kind of consequence, I'm sure. Nick took the best picture of that fellow giving me the evil eye. It's on Nick's camera, however. Check Facebook on a future date.
Another stop was Sulphur Caldron. We were kind of wearing out and didn't go see the Mud Volcano that was right across the road. But we could sure smell it all! Wow. And the area that I'm standing on while taking the photo of this sign COLLAPSED about 10 years ago and fell into the sulphur pots!!! It's been rebuilt, but still. I'm glad it didn't fall in again while I was there. Another point we stopped at also had been shortened by an earlier earthquake.
We stopped at the Lake area. There was a really pretty beach by the little wildlife museum there. Me and Mike. Late afternoon.
We stopped by the Lake Lodge and sat on the front porch rockers for a minute.
This was the view we had over the lake. Pretty.
And the inside of the lodge wasn't too bad, either. Two fireplaces. On Monday, we did go to Old Faithful Lodge and looked around there, got ice cream, walked around the geysers in that area, too. I don't know why I don't have any pictures of that.
On our way back to Lewis Lake, we stopped to take a photo of a large buck feeding in the meadow. I didn't get a great shot, but there had actually been two of them there.
Roasting marshmallows after dinner on Tuesday night. Or maybe they're just playing in the fire. We had tin foil dinners this night. They were yummy.
Near our campground was a river area below Lewis Falls, and it was supposed to be a Moose habitat. Nick and I drove down there in the evening before dinner, before dark, but didn't see any. Darn. I wanted to see a moose. But he stopped to go find some willow branches for our marshmallows and while he was gone, I waited in the car. What I didn't know was that the headlights were on. So when he returned, the motor wouldn't even turn over! Dead as a doornail. Ugh. So he tried flagging down a car our two, then decided to hike back to camp (only 1 to 2 miles at most) and get his car to give mine a jump. Well, a nice Amish family stopped just about then, and he had jumper cables, so they got us going. Whew. Amish people driving through Yellowstone? What is wrong with this picture? maybe they were Mennonites. I don't know, but they were a nice young couple with two little kids and they were from Pennsylvania and had been visiting the man's family in Washington for 10 days and were heading home. A month long trip for them, and Yellowstone was one of their stops. I'm glad they stopped by!
Mike and I got up early Wednesday morning, braved the cold and went back to the same area, moose hunting. No luck. But I did get this nice photo of the sunrise reflection on the river.
Nick made us a lovely breakfast on Wednesday morning, then we headed out, driving through the Tetons on our way home. Those were loverly, too. We were home by about 9:30 p.m. or so. Yes, Yellowstone is full of WoW factor, that's for sure. We saw Elk, a wolf, lots of Bison, bald eagle and red-tailed hawk, mice, squirrels, chipmonks, rabbits, geese. But no bear and no moose. I'm so glad we got to go!