Paul Bunyon and Babe
this was from "TREES OF MYSTERY!" which is a little piece of Pigeon Forge in the Redwoods National Forest
Hi everyone! We have been without internet access for a long time, so we have a lot to report including one of the highlights of the trip. We left San Francisco and headed up the coast to Redwoods National Park. We stayed at a hostel and did very little for the weekend. It was some much needed and enjoyed down time on a busy trip. The hostel was directly across from the Pacific Ocean inside the park. We had our own room on Friday, but stayed in the dorms (8 people in our co-ed room) on Saturday and Sunday. We spent Saturday morning hiking to the appropriately named Hidden Beach which we had to ourselves for about a half an hour. The rest of the weekend we relaxed in a peaceful place with no tv or internet but the biggest trees you ever saw. We watched the sun set over the Pacific, read and just hung out. We loved it. On Monday we set off for our thousand mile drive to Yellowstone NP. We crossed through Oregon (interesting fact: it is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon), Idaho and briefly Montana before arriving at the park which is mostly
in Wyoming. We fell in love with Yellowstone. The words and pictures in the blog can't do it justice, but I'll do my best to describe the experience.
Day 1: We stopped in the town of West Yellowstone to get supplies and went to our campground called Madison. We had a great sight and set up our camp then had lunch. About 1 o'clock it was time to explore the park, which, by the way, is the size of New England. The park roads make a giant 8 and the places along the way have names like Madison, Canyon, Old Faithful, etc. Our first experience set the tone for the week. We left Madison and headed out for the hot springs and geysers of Norris. On our way there was a big traffic pile up. We pulled over to check it out and saw a couple huge animals in the woods near the road. We got out to take pictures and on the way into the woods I joked to Beth and an older woman that I had to be faster than some of these people if the animals charged. Almost immediately, they did! And right at the three of
us. We started to run but the two massive bull elks stopped in the river in between us, so we stopped. I got a great picture of one from about twenty yards away. But then he charged us again. We took off up the trail to the road with him following us. I am not going to tell you the part where Beth sprinted right past a little kid on the trail because she was terrified while I stopped to let him go. We got to the car and the elk ran up the trail we had just gotten off and went across the road. My reaction: that was awesome! Beth: not so much. Looking back, it really did set the tone: we saw the most amazing wildlife one could hope to see (and much to Beth's relief this was the only animal that charged us). We left and toured the Norris hot springs and geysers, which were incredible. Then we went up to Mammoth where we did a little touring before heading for the Boiling River. Where the Boiling River (temperature: about what you think) meets the much colder Gardiner River, the park has set up a bunch of
spots where you can bathe safely. It is like an outdoor hot tub surrounded by mountains and incredible views. Beth liked it even better than being chased by a 900 pound elk. Me: the elk takes it, but this place was awesome. We drove home and collapsed after what I was convinced would be the best day of the trip.
Day 2: Our first stop was at a geyser basin called Fountain Paint Pots. It was great - we saw about five or six geysers going off at once including Fountain which erupted for more than twenty minutes. Then we headed for Old Faithful. It was crowded, but we listened to our Frommer's Guidebook (buy it if you are going: invaluable) and headed up a twenty minute trail to an observation point at the top of a hill nearby. We shared the viewpoint with only about six others and got the most spectacular view of the eruption (trust me: we saw it at least three more times). We finished the trail and caught a few more geysers, hot springs, etc. and explored the rest of the Old Faithful area. The geothermic features are amazing and the pictures can't do them
justice. We headed home, had dinner and decided to go look for animals at dusk. We went to the Hayden Valley, which was supposed to have many animals at this time of year and we were not disappointed. We saw hundreds of Bison in herds that wandered across the roads whenever they felt like it, occasional deer, some more elk and yes: a Grizzly Bear! The bear was across the valley, but some nice people let us watch her through their scopes. You could see her in our binnoculars, but in the scopes you could really watch her. It was incredible. On the way home, we started listing the animals we still hoped to see, and by the end of the trip we had seen them all. While no wild animals chased us, I still thought this day might tie for best of the trip.
Day 3: We headed out for a hike up Mount Washburn: a highly recommended six-mile round trip hike with 1500 feet of elevation gain. Beth was nervous, especially about bears, but it turned out to be her favorite thing to do in Yellowstone (mine: getting chased by Elk, but this is next). The trail is
surrounded by wildflowers, has some of the best views in the park and is challenging but reasonable. We both loved it. At the top (10,500 feet) there is an observation station where you can see the whole park (and go inside to get warm if necessary). While we were at the top, a storm was rolling in, so we had to wait it out. It was cool to watch a lightning storm from eye level. After an hour and a half wait we headed down. On our way down we saw big horn sheep walking on the cliffs on the side of the mountain. We got lunch and headed for the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. While not quite up to its namesake, it is still impressive. We went to Artists Point for pictures then hiked down Uncle Tom's Trail that takes you down about five hundred steps until you are nearly right in front of the massive waterfall that is in the canyon. It was scary walking down the steps but worth it. We took showers in Canyon (none in our campground) and headed home. I started to think I might have to wait to decide on a best
I'll add days 4-8, and Beth will add the pictures, as soon as we can. Bye for now.
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