Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yellowstone

Thursday, June 26th. I awoke in a carbohydrate daze from the gluttonous pasta experience the day before. The three of us got up and decided it'd be best to bathe even though no showers were present at the campgrounds. There was on the other hand a lake right next to us and seemed like a reasonable alternative. It was mid summer yet the lake was frigid. I would estimate 55 degrees. I loved every moment of it! You all should know by now how much I love the cold and I must have spent at least 15 minutes just floating and swimming... feeling my appendages go numb and my nervous system shut down from hypothermic shock. Glorious. Katie managed to man up and wash herself (being brief, yet thorough). Josh, eh... not so much. He dipped into the lake. barely getting a thin film of water on himself. He rushed out of the cool water to soap up and barely rinsed it off. I can't blame him terribly though. We were at about 7500 feet in elevation and the air was a crisp 70-75. I think his thin, hairless body might not had been made for these arctic temperatures.

On the walk back to the campsite I noticed this lovely sign. What a confidence booster, eh? Lets be serious though, someone at the campsite had to be more foolish then ourselves when it came to food storage, right? I figured the bears will get them first and their screams will be like a warning system to the rest of us.

We got everything in order and piled into Katie's car. I must admit, it was heavenly to be wearing casual clothes. We went into town and grabbed a late breakfast and were ready to get moving. Sadly though, when we stepped out of a local diner we discovered my bad luck was spreading! When we returned to Katie's car we found it's rear tire flattened limp. Her poor little Honda Civic was out for the count. Luckily, there was a tire center right across the street (literally across the street. What are the chances?). Turns out we had been impaled on a nail in such a way that the tire was unpatchable. So, we were forced to get a whole new tire. It really kinda sucks because it was a new car and everything is covered under warranty save the tires really. El shitty.



Katie's car getting gutted.

By the early afternoon we were mobile again and were Yellowstone bound. We got to the gates and start discussing our pricing options with one of the park rangers. Apparently it's 25 bucks a day to drive through the park. 7 dollars per cyclist to go through. Considering we knew we'd be driving through the park 2 days and 1 day of cycling, (totaling 64 dollars) we decided to get an Annual National Park Pass. Admittance to every National Park for one year for 80 bucks. Theoretically we'd practically break even on Yellowstone alone.

I was quite excited! I just didn't know what to expect.. I mean I knew it'd be cool and all that. I just had an odd sensation coming toward the park, very... other-worldly. I don't know, It's hard to explain.

Let me put it this way- Remember watching Jurassic Park for the first time? And when they go through those big gates and you kinda wonder "Hmm, I wonder what EXACTLY it'll be like in there?" That's how I felt entering Yellowstone. I mean stop and think for a moment. Imagine you're about to enter Yellowstone. What would you expect?

The initial experience of the park was definitely not what I expected. Everything seemed somewhat smaller. The trees just weren't as big. They seemed somewhat more... natural. Almost sacred. Not to sound terribly gay, it was just a bit moving. It also did not take us long to notice that there were dead trees everywhere. Not what I would had expected, but apparently back in 1988 there was a wildfire in respect of the normal cycle of nature forest rangers allowed the fire to burn and it wiped out most of Yellowstone. But, that fire also reseeded the entire forest and all the trees we were seeing were the adolescent saplings from that event.

A bit further down the road the valley widened and that's when we got our first true Yellowstone experience. You look off into the field and just see Bison. Small little groups of Bison.. grazing. Almost completely oblivious to us. It was amazing! You wouldn't believe how huge these things are. I'd dare say a large one stood 6 feet tall? Maybe even more. Just absolutely huge animals. As you follow the river meandering through the valley you'd look and see people just out in the valley wading through the river fly fishing. It was a bit confusing at first. I wouldn't had thought you'd be allowed to fish in an animal sanctuary like that. I wasn't even sure you were allowed off the beaten path like that. No one else seemed to be wandering off into the habitat. We cautiously stayed far away.


We went a bit further down the road and stopped to look at some more buffalo, this time closer up. It was a bit more challenging this time in that a small group of people, 10-15 had gathered to get up close, photograph, and gawk at the beasts. Right before we left though I turned around and was stunned. About 20 feet away were three buffalo off in the woods on the other side of the road! Somehow everyone had missed the 6000 lbs of giant cow to our left. Josh decided we weren't close enough and whipped out his camera phone for a close up.


Josh biding his time before he's impaled by a bison.

After a bit of a animal-induced high we jumped back into the car and started heading toward some of the main attractions. Well, before I go into the attractions maybe I should explain a bit about Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a park composed of two main loops. There's the larger southern loop and a smaller northern loops. There's probably a good 250ish (Maybe more?) miles of road to traverse in the park and the average speed limit I'd say is about 30mph (max 45). In other words- it's a pretty damn big park and you gotta go pretty damn slow through it. Kinda a big pain in the ass. To get a better idea here's a link to the official map.


So we started heading down the western side of the big loop toward the Lower Geyser Basin. You park and follow this wooden path raised over a sandy-muddy foundation. You walk along and can smell a faint sulfur scent and it's surprisingly warm. As you walk along there are these pools, gorgeous pristine blue pools, that have clouds of steam billowing off them. You'd never guess it by looking at them, but the pools are steaming hot. Like 190 degrees hot. Like people fall in/jump in and are scalded to death hot. It turns out the coloration of the water is due to certain bacteria growing in all these odd sulfery pools. Kinda interesting. Kinda smelly.

There was just all sorts of cool stuff! And this was just our first stop. Look at all this cool stuff...



video

video


Next stop was the "Grand Prismatic Spring." I think I like this one solely based upon it's kickass name. I wonder who's the guy who went so over the top with the naming? Anyway I really liked this spot. It just had some really cool scenery. Check it out.







This one might be my favorite. It's a photo of the warning signs they had all over... "Don't fall into the scalding water little Jimmy!"

Continuing we headed south to Old Faithful. As pretty much the largest attraction at Yellowstone old faithful has it's own lodge nearby and a large parking area etc. Issue is our faithful companion isn't quite as regular as you'd think. Right as we got there he was about go to off and frankly I wasn't about to go running to see some water shoot into the sky. Josh on the other hand went running like a school boy to the playground. He caught the last couple moments of the eruption. There would be no old faithful for me. And no pictures for you.

Directly south of Yellowstone National Park are the Grand Teton Mountains. Josh was interested in seeing them (I was a bit more partial to Yellowstone) but we all agreed to have a look. Josh tried to inform me that Grand Teton was french for "large breast." I couldn't believe that any pioneer could had been so horny that these jagged peaks reminded him of some tatas. But lone behold, Josh wasn't lying. Unbelievable.


The Grand Tetons were nice. Josh seemed to enjoy them more than Yellowstone. They were similar in many ways, but they just had a different feel to them. Probably the most noteworthy part was a large gathering of people. We pulled over to see what it was for ourselves when we saw it. Off in the distance, a Grizzly Bear. About 100 people all gawking at a Grizzly. What protection did they have? None. There was a ranger there with a large can of bear mace but honestly, I don't think it would have stopped them. We all took some photos and decided not to stick around and tempt fate. I think we've seen enough bears for one cross country trip.



Tad tough to see, but that's a grizzly.

Afterwards we decided to head back, we were all pretty exhausted. Sightseeing is shockingly taxing physically. And frankly it was going to take quite some time to make it to camp going 25 mph. On the way out we did catch a beautiful sunset though!



Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 0.0 (Day off, 3rd day of rest)
Total mileage- 901.58

1 comment:

A.L.F. said...

Amaaaazing pics.