Day 8 - Now, That's Impressive


Sorry for the missed post, but we stayed at Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone last night and had no cell phone, no Internet, no connectivity of any kind. Totally unplugged. Really missed being able to post at night, too!

The drive from Cody to Yellowstone National Park was filled with twists and turns through valleys and gorges lined with enormous mountains of varying composition, from rock and clay to evergreen forests. As we weaved our way through them, I couldn’t help seeing them as sleeping giants, completely oblivious and undisturbed by the temporary and pesky existence of humans.

Despite only having one day here, Yellowstone completely lived up to its reputation. We began with Old Faithful, watching the geyser from the balcony of the Inn, which in itself was a sight to see. The towering lobby, enormous timbers and giant chimney clock were beautiful. The kids immediately commented on how this Inn resembled the hotel at Disneyworld we stayed at – the Wilderness Lodge. They almost didn’t believe us when we explained that Old Faithful Inn came first.

While driving “the loop” around the park, we were fortunate to see all sorts of real wild animals roaming around. We saw bison, elk, deer and even a grizzly. They’re pretty easy to spot, actually, as the two-lane road becomes a virtual gridlock (think NYC rush hour) when every vehicle in both directions either stops mid-road or on the shoulder and people scramble out with cameras in hand to snap the elusive picture of authentic wildlife, breaking numerous park rules simultaneously. We’re no exception, though with our 30-foot vehicle we tend to stand out a little more. But the memories and pictures are well worth the stigma of not abiding by the rules.

We finally began our first official hike around 4:30 pm up near the Yellowstone Canyon. Words and pictures cannot do the experience justice. We began by strolling through flower-strewn meadows with towering pines. Our first destination was Clear Lake – a cool body of water laced with the unmistakable aroma of rotten eggs. The kids were genuinely disgusted that water could be so uninviting aromatically.

From there, we trekked across moon-like landscape riddled with thermal pools where we could watch steam rise and mud bubble, as well as hear the earth below the surface gurgle and boil as we stood atop the world’s largest active volcano. (Yellowstone is actually an active supervolcano with a history of erupting every 600,000 years. It’s been 630,000 years since it’s last eruption. Just saying, if you hear a rumor it’s about to go get on a plane for another continent as quickly as possible!)

The white ground and overwhelming sulfur smell were offset by the thunder clouds forming above our heads, all of which motivated us to quicken our steps through the thermal pools and moonscape. More abruptly than you would imagine, the landscape quickly changed to a moss-covered, forested area with a beautiful Lily-pad lake. But all of these vistas paled in comparison to what we encountered next.

As we ascended the side of a hill, we came out of the trees only to see the vast, monumental canyon of Yellowstone appear on both sides before us. We were, literally, on the edge of the rim, looking down at a raging river a thousand feet below, and beautifully colored rock faces across the canyon. It was breathtaking. Pictures cannot, unfortunately, adequately convey the scale, the depth, the nuances of what is easily the most impressive place I have yet to see.

We dared to inch our way right out to the edge of the precipice – no fence, no guardrail, just exquisite views surrounding a sheer drop. We stayed for a bit, just basking in the cathedral-like setting. But our next destination, according to the park ranger who had recommended this hike, was Artist Point – the most photographed spot in all of Yellowstone. So we set off to find it.

Which was easier said than done. For the trail we were following hugged the rim of the canyon. And every few hundred feet proffered another fantastic overlook of the canyon below. Every time we reached a new wide-spot in the trail or perilous, unfenced overlook, someone would ask, “Is this Artist Point?” After the 4th or 5th inquiry, we finally stopped asking as the rain fell, pelting us with cool large drops. We quickened our pace, only to emerge into a paved lot and man-made outcropping – Artist Point.

From this vantage point we were able to see what we had previously only been able to hear – the enormous waterfall at the far end of the canyon. Once again we loaded our cameras with photos of every possible perspective. It was
Beautiful blue skyBeautiful blue skyBeautiful blue sky

The roof of the Old Faithful Inn
unanimous that the entire hike was well worth experiencing this particular view.

Making our way along the last leg of the trail we finally had to skip the last few overlooks, no longer able to fully appreciate the beauty laid out before us due to our legs and feet groaning from the effort. We shifted gears, focusing now on giving our weary legs a rest and finding our RV sanctuary, not expecting anything memorable at the end of our nearly 3-hour trek. How mistaken we were.

Just before the parking lot, Billy spied a doe in the woods. Quickly retrieving his camera once more, he raced along the path to follow the deer. As we rounded the final turn, we discovered that not only had we stumbled upon a doe, but a mother, accompanied by her two fawns. They were approximately 20 feet from us, and stood peering at us curiously as we stood in awe of them. We considered each other for a few minutes before mama deer corralled her young and they pranced off into the woods.

The day could not have ended on a better note. After grabbing a quick dinner, we encountered more wild animal traffic jams on our way to our campground, where the registration clerk assured us that bears visited the campground every night. Needless to say, we opted not to go exploring in the dark.

Yes, Yellowstone lived up to its reputation and gave us one of the most scenic and animal-filled days we’ve had yet. What a gift, that our ancestors had the foresight to protect these natural wonders by creating our National Parks, Yellowstone being the first of so many to follow. Impressive, indeed.

(I'll add a lot more photos when we get to wifi again. Just can't spend 2 hours uploading pics on my personal hotspot with my iPhone!)

Additional photos below
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28th July 2013

The Wildness of Life
Wow, that sounds like a wild adventure of deers and dropoffs for you all. And how scary to think you were right on top of a volcano. That's why they sell those pocket seismographs in the gift shop. Sean should pick one up next time. The best part is when Billy spots the family of deer out for their hike. That's where this travel blog thing becomes so interesting, as I then went to Mrs. Jane Doe's travel blog and read about her comments meeting you guys. She said what a nice family you all were, but that Todd looks like he's put on a few pounds from all that Kansas City Royals ballpark food. Keep on hiking and hitting those keys to let us stay on the journey with you. Thanks.
28th July 2013

To sit here and imagine you all peering over a canyon edge, regardless of the spectacular view, sends shivers to my spine and goose bumps to my heart! Please, Obama, raise my taxes and build a fence! To think that Todd's "lack of fear" genes, which have haunted my life, should be so shared by a family, is unthinkable! Oh, Billy, thanks for finding those deer! You're talking MY language! Please, all of you, be careful! Falling hurts! Your descriptions are fantastic, Marcia, and the "wonder of our world" shines through! However, I like the "grizzly smiles and antlers" best! Keep trekking! Love, love!
29th July 2013

Happy Trails!
I am having so much fun reading your daily blog! Thanks for taking me along!! Your family picture in front of Artist Point is the best!! Stay safe!

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