Yellowstone National Park
Flying the Edge of America
Saturday, July 12, 2008: Yellowstone National Park
On the way to Yellowstone
We left Glacier International airport bright and early to
ensure we caught the cold morning air and bright blue skies for our flight
to West Yellowstone airport. I
was a little worried about this flight as it was over high terrain all of
the way, but we had perfect weather for it and the flight went exactly to
Julia posing next to an artistically decorated bison
which was distributed all around town
To avoid the high ground I tracked a course via all the
valleys I could find. The scenery between Glacier and Yellowstone is truly
fantastic and more than I imaged we would see on this trip. The USA has to
have the most beautiful countryside in the whole world. I do not say this
lightly as I have seen a lot of beautiful countryside in other countries. Every
county has something to offer, but the USA has it all from deserts to snow
capped mountains and almost everything in between; it is really hard to
compete with the natural beauty of the USA.
Our motel room was very nice and made us feel like we
were in a home instead of a motel as it had a kitchen. We were able to buy
groceries and cook our own food. Not since our camping in California and
Oregon have we been able to treat ourselves to home cooking.
Flight to Yellowstone
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The view as you enter the park
We arose with the sun this morning. We were very excited
about seeing and hiking the Yellowstone park. After
breakfast we were on the road about 9:00 a.m. and as our motel is just
outside the west park entrance we soon found ourselves surrounded by
Yellowstone's natural beauty.
The chick being attended to by mom
It was going to be a hot day so we decided to do our nine
mile hike in the morning while the air was still cool. We headed out on the
Mallard Creek trail which is in the Old Faithful park area. About
ten minutes into our hike we came across a Bald Eagle nest resting atop a
tall dead pine tree. We first sighted the chick only but on our return we
got to see both parents too; a truly wonderful experience.
The hike took us through some of the burnt out pine
forest, now regenerating. We walked on crushed volcanic pumice-stone, which
had the consistency of dead coral, and black volcanic glass scattered all
along our path. These were all reminders that Yellowstone Park is the top of
the world's largest subterranean and active super volcano.
From our hike it was a quick trip to visit Old Faithful
which went off right on time as predicted by the park rangers. Much water
was squirted into the air to the pleasure and gasps of the gathered crowds.
first day in Yellowstone Park
Monday, July 14, 2008
Our humble abode
got really hot on our hike yesterday so we decided to hike later in the
afternoon; this would give us cooler air to hike in and a better chance to
see the wild life as they tend to be more visible at dawn and dusk. Julia
also was ravaged by mosquitoes on our hike yesterday.
Yellowstone River cascade
Their bites did not make themselves felt until the next
day but Julia had been bitten all over her ears and scalp; very nasty. So
the first order of business after breakfast was to find a sporting shop and
buy personal mosquito nets, which we did. After eating a lunch of buffalo
burgers we were back on the road in the park headed for the Canyon region.
Colorful palette of the canyon
After speaking with a ranger yesterday the Canyon region
sounded like a real wonderland, and it was. We hiked for about ten miles. The
walk took us down into the canyon and along both banks. This exposed us to
many waterfalls and spectacular scenery. On the final park of the hike we
left the river and hiked into the back country were the scenery changed
dramatically back to a more volcanic one with bubbling mud pools and smoking
sulfurous gas vents.
Julia looking at bison
Plus we were mobbed by mosquitoes again. There were
hundreds of hungry bitters all drawn to us by their inferred, and Julia
tells me, carbon dioxide detectors but this time completely thwarted by our
netting and insecticides. The
scenery changed again to open green and lush pastures filled with herds of
We were now bathed in the gorgeous late afternoon light
and treated to the scent of wild flowers which covered the pastures and
surrounded us with color.
Canyon Hike Video
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Julia on the Beaver Ponds hike
It had to happen, we were grounded by the weather; our
cruel mistress. Our
plan was to leave Yellowstone on Thursday but our mistress had other plans.
However, if you were to be stuck somewhere I could not think of a better
place than Yellowstone National Park.
Julia with a beaver dam in the background
Today we drove to Mammoth in the northern part of the
park. While at Mammoth we hiked the Beaver Ponds trail. It is surprising to
me that every time we walk in Yellowstone we encounter very different
terrain and scenery. It also seems that each walk we do just gets better and
more beautiful; how can this be? The Beaver Ponds hike climbed slowly up
wooded hills and surrounded us by magnificent wild flowers. The
views in this area of the park were reminiscent of Northern California our
home; brown rolling hills but covered with thick sage bushes and every color
of wild flower. We finally reached the beaver ponds which other hikers we
met assured us they had seen beavers swimming in.
These other hikers also assured us they had spotted a
bear, just in front of where Julia and I were walking. As for us we did not
see anything but a baby rattle snake which Julia almost stood on.
Beaver Ponds Video
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Today we had a day of rest. We hung around the town of
West Yellowstone, went to the IMAX Theater, ate lunch, and kept our eye on
the weather forecast. It looks like the weather will give us a window to
leave on Saturday, let's hope.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
We hiked up 2,000 feet to the top of Mt. Washburn which
is in the Tower-Roosevelt section of the park. It
was a very pleasant hike up a steep switchback fire access road that led to
the fire observation tower at the top of the mountain.
At the top of the park
Along the way we were treated to the fragrant smells of
wildflowers as the wind blew up the side of the steep hills which were
covered with them. At the top we had a great view of most of the park. As
we started back down the trail we came across a red-tailed hawk perched on a
rock. After the hike we drove the northeast section of the park on our way
back to the motel.
This area of the park is noted for its wolves so we
stopped regularly to scan the open terrain in hopes of spotting the elusive
animal; but alas we did not see one. It rained heavily on the back with much
thunder and lighting.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Julia surrounded once more by wildflowers
Our hike today was our last hike in the wonderful
Yellowstone National Park for this trip. We drove to the southeastern
section of the park which is where the Yellowstone Lake is. This lake is
huge and is the power source behind the Yellowstone River which carved out
the Yellowstone Canyon. Our
hike followed the river for three miles to the Hardy Rapids the first of
many white water sections in the river.
We were advised by a ranger to watch out for bears as
there had been many sightings. It was an extremely divine walk. We saw many
bear droppings on the trail, a heard of elk, three bison, but no bears. They
must have been close but they did not reveal themselves to us.
Once back at the motel we checked the weather and it
looks like we will be leaving tomorrow morning to continue our trip around
the USA. Next stop is Billings Montana for a one night then on to Rapid City
and Mt. Rushmore.
Wayward Bison Video
Miles Hiked: 83
Miles Flown: 1,736 States Visited: 5