Yellowstone – Real Time Notes

When we travel sometimes we have the luxury of a quiet evening in out hotel, having a laptop along, a good wireless connection, and 1 hour of solitude with which to write my posts that exact evening.  And sometimes I’m camping at 8000 feet surrounded by wildlife, through the hot and cold, in a jam packed car and even more jam packed itinerary.  This means more of the posts (and flushing out of our stories) happens on the tail end of the trip.  But as I go I like to keep real time notes – just point form notes on thoughts, what is happening, random quote etc.  And as I look back on my real time notes for Yellowstone you will quickly see – it was a JAM PACKED 3 days.  In fact, I think the majority of people I know would never attempt to do what we attempt to jam in to only 3 days.  But in case you want to get a feel for our time in the park I thought I would share with you below my raw notes from our 3 days in Yellowstone.

August 13

  • Breakfast and Tea at Bear Canyon Campground
  • Drive to Walmart for Groceries
  • Try to pack all those groceries into the car.  Meg breaks down an entire chicken in the parking lot, #peopleofwalmart style
  • Drive through to Gardiner, MT.  See dog wearing shoes.
  • Take pics of Roosevelt arch, then Yellowstone sign.
  • Pay to enter.  By park pass.
  • Drive to Boiling river parking lot.  Walk trail (1.5 miles RT).  Lots of current, rocks and literally boiling water.
  • Take photo with Wyoming sign
  • Go to Mammoth Hot Springs Area.  See Elk.
  • Have picnic in grass across from Mammoth Visitor Centre – currently in portables.  Eat salad and carrot sticks.
  • Visitor Center.  Lots of samples of scat and horns/antlers from various animals for identification purposes.  Decide I want to see a moose.  from a distance.
  • Drive to upper terrace parking lot (lower is full).  Explore.  170 stairs down and then back up.  250 foot elevation change each way.
  • Drive east towards Tower Falls.
  • Stop at calcite springs and appreciate canyon, steaming water (the springs I assume), and a bunch of columnar basalt (I only know it’s called this because Meg told me).  Really Cool.  Walk to overlook is 0.1 miles from parking lot.
  • Drive to Tower falls.  walk to overlook is 0.1 miles from parking lot.
  • Stop at place with second generation trees growing amidst burnt remnants.  Take photos for ecological succession lesson in Science 10.
  • Elk.  Tour bus with foreign tourists had also stopped.  Saw tourists approach within 5 feet of elk antlers.  I was within 25 feet before realizing we were suppose to be within 25 meters. 2 elk – one darker one lighter, though he was hiding further back in the trees and harder to photograph.  Originally thought they were moose.  I need to know my forest animals better.
  • See Pronghorn deer.
  • See Coyote
  • See Bison.  Many.  And what Ray swears was a grizzly, though we were way too far away to make that confirmation (note: bring longer lens next time.  500-600 mm). Bison spread out over 5 km of so on the land south of canyon, north of fishing village.
  • Swimming bison – looked to have a hurt leg.  Originally were drawn to take photos of him standing in the river, but then fascinated to watch him swim.
  • Mud Volcano (half closed due to bison appearing). Saw volcano and dragons mouth spring – makes creepy sounds that are hard to capture on film.  Didn’t see mud geyser due to bison.
  • Arrive at Bridge Bay to camp.  Super nice check in, camping around ll different types of people, but all super quiet by 9:30.
  • Neighbour payed guitar from 8 – 10 – it was lovely and soothing.  Played “light the fire” which I haven’t heard in years.
  • at checkin camp lady told me grizzly roams that camp about 1 morning per week.  Se wanted to go over bear rules, but I assured her I knew them ALL.
  • Had Fajitas for dinner.  Organized car and cut up and organized food.
  • note: high elevation hurt my lungs a lot today.  Physical exertion = nausea.  Hopefully better tomorrow.

August 14

  • West Thumb Geyser.  Flows into Yellowstone lake.  heated by magma chamber 5 km beneath the surface
  • Crossed continental divide.  Stopped for photos with sign.
  • Unplanned stop at Kepler falls.  Very pretty.
  • Skipped the lonestar geyser in favour to getting to Old Faithful
  • Arrive at Old Faithful.  Check time for eruption.  Have time to buy souvenirs and go to education centre.  Gather info on Ray and Meg’s hike and how to get to morning glory.
  • Watch eruption.  almost 10 minutes late.
  • Meg and Ray do 4.4 km hike to Morning Glory, Alyssa buys post cards, talks with Ranger about moose (need to go to Tetons), and makes lunch.
  • Lunch in Old Faithful Parking lot.
  • Drive to Black sand basin.  No parking to had to move on.
  • Biscuit Basin.  Parked and explored.
  • Midway Geyser basin.  Parked and explored.  Home of grand prismatic spring – Alyssa’s favourite.  Parent there told kids to put his hands INTO the bacterial mats for photos.  We cringed.
  • Fountain Paint Pots (mud, geyser, and loud fumarole)
  • Artists Paint Pots.  Meg talked to Ranger Rock about why the rocks are white (answer: high silica content)
  • Norris Geyser Basin.  All did the Porcelain loop, Meg and Ray did back basin loop as well (extra 2.6 km)
  • Stopped at Sulphur Cauldron
  • Saw same bison swimming with sore leg.  Moving a little better than yesterday though – which is good.
  • Bought smokes ingredients in fishing village
  • Bought wood and kindling
  • Made French toast and bacon for dinner (Alyssa fears for bear attack)
  • Made sandwiches for tomorrows hike (meg and ray)
  • S’mores and campfire
  • Total km for the day: 13.3 km for Alyssa, 20 km for Ray and Meg
  • Thoughts: Would love to go a pro-d for teachers run by rangers.  Do they offer this?  Need to wear more sunscreen and drink more water and higher elevations.  Navigating by park map is the way to go – super easy.  GPS is packed away.  Would love to see park in late June/early September – just out of the reach of tourists.  Also, early morning sightseeing beats the crowds.  Need to aim for more 6 am starts.

August 15

  • Early Morning Granola
  • Drive to Mt. Washburn.  Ray get’s pulled over by park police and gets a speed warning.  Ranger mostly concerned by the fact they had to shoot an elk that morning because of a collision.  Meg opens door into the ranger and spills water on him.  Still don’t get a ticket (phew).
  • Drive Ray and Meg to Dunraven Trail head to hike to top of Washburn.  Sign says 1400 feet gain and 3 miles to the top (over 10,000 feet).  2-2.5 hours.  They did it in 1 hour.  They continued on spur rail and eventually did connect with part of the seven hole trail, ending at inspiration point at the canyon.  Was suppose to take 5-8 hours. Too them 4h 59 minutes, including a 45 minute break for lunch a hail storm and bear freak out.  Ranger told them this was top 20%.  Saw bear poop.  Freaked out.  Wished they had the bear spray. 11.5 mile hike.
  • Alyssa drop up Lamar valley and met up with pretty views and bison.  Came back and went to canyon visitor centre and shop.  Did brink of the upper falls and lookout for lower falls before meeting Meg and Ray and inspiration point.
  • Went back to Ed centre together.
  • Went to artists point on south rim
  • Hiked together Uncle Tom’s Trail – 300+ steps down over 500 feet (and then back up) to see lower falls up close.
  • On the way home delayed by bison on the road.  Made it back for hot dogs and early night in (6:00pm being early).  New, noisier neighbours arrived.
  • Total walk for the day: 6.3 km Alyssa, 21 km Ray and Meg

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