Thursday, October 6, 2016

Too Many Pictures from Yellowstone National Park

After the Jackson Hole Marathon we decided it would be a great idea to spend a few days in nature. Day One would be a trip up to Yellowstone National Park with our friends (Stan, Pam, Tom, Molly, Lee, Laura). We knew the trip would be the "highlights of the southern entrance" given it was a 2-2.5 hour each-way drive from our hotel.

We started our morning with 5am wake up calls and a 6am rollout. We split into two cars and let Lee's car lead us (he's been here before) through the closed guard stations to our first stop: Jackson Lake Lodge. We arrived at sunrise and were treated to nice bathrooms, a Starbucks coffee stand, and an amazing view of the Grand Tetons.

The road we were on had just reopened after being closed due to the fires they had in the area. You could see the marks on the road where the fire jumped across to continue its destruction. We passed a large fire camp that had several helicopters at-the-ready to combat the flames. At one of the overlooks we could see and smell the smoke.

We took a short break at Kepler Falls. We timed it right to be able to see a geyser go off in the distance.

We arrived at Old Faithful early enough to have an easy time parking. After store/bathroom breaks we discovered we had lots of time before the famous geyser would blow again. We took a short walk around the area and visited the Old Faithful Lodge. We split from the rest of the group so Dave could use his fancy new tripod for shooting Old Faithful. Unfortunately it was a very cloudy day and the geyser mist blended perfectly into the grey clouds. Sadly, after the explosion, we sat there thinking "that's it?"

Turned all settings up to eleven to show the detail in the mist

We made the wise decision to get lunch when the cafeteria opened. Later on in the day the place was jammed. After lunch we hiked up to the overlook to see Old Faithful blow from a distance. While waiting we were entertained by a chipmunk and other geysers blowing in the distance.

Old Faithful predicted times are +/- 10 minutes. On our first viewing it was pretty much dead-on. This time, +10 minutes. We had a pleasant hike through the woods as we made our way back down to the geyser walkways and paths. For people who ran 13/26 miles the previous day they were sure putting the miles in today. We were pretty beat by the time we made it back to the gift shops.

We took the cars over to the Grand Prismatic Spring. The area was nuts. Cars parked everywhere on the side of the roads. We waited about 20 minutes to park. Once there the cloud cover got thicker and at times it drizzled. We really didn't get to see the full rainbow-colored effects. For decent pictures of the spring go to google images. Our photos are not that great.

Our final stop of the day was Yellowstone Lake. There were several springs right at the water's edge. Apparently people used to cook fish over them. In this area we saw 3 elk that were not stymied by the raised platforms keeping guests from the hot springs. They crossed right over to get to the springs for drinks. The slight drizzle was turning into rain. Time to leave Yellowstone.

The ride back was long. The whole group was looking forward to settling down with beer and burgers. Of course we had to hit a pull-off right at sunset with an amazing view of the Grand Tetons.

We had one more detour about 5 miles out from the hotel. A few cars were stopped on the narrow road. We strained to find the attraction in the woods and were ultimately treated to glimpses of a bear cub in a tree. Dave had put the big camera away in the trunk so the only camera we had available was the little point-and-shoot. The photos prove we saw a bear just as well as any picture proves Bigfoot exists.

We made it back to the hotel and went to the burger / craft beer joint attached to the nearby Four Seasons Hotel. Everything was great, just not cheap. After dinner we hit up The Mangy Moose for a nightcap. Why not extend a long day when another one is coming again tomorrow? We had a great time touring Yellowstone and were looking forward to touring the Grand Tetons the next day.


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