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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back from a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park - Day 5 & 6

Yellowstone - Canyon Village (elevation 8000 feet). We did a loop hike, which took us most of the day with all the stops. We took our time, we enjoyed the different landscapes the trail goes through. Uncle Tom's Point, Clear lake (an hydrothermal area), Lili Pad Lake, Point Sublime, Artist Point, down to Uncle Tom's Trail and back to Uncle Tom's Point. Approximately 6 miles.
Starting in a meadow, then entering a forested area. At the crossing with Ribbon Lake Trail we saw this sign: the area was closed due to bear activity. We felt a little bit alone there - we haven't seen anyone on the trail yet.

Lily Pad Lake was very quiet. Only a few mosquitoes came out of the shade when we arrived. We talked to a ranger who was hiking with a group and asked her about the closed area due to bear activity, she said it was also because they just discovered a wolf's den and they did not want the animals to be disturbed.

Then the trail arrives on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon Yellowstone River and we started seeing more people. The rim along the trail is a sheer cliff and the landscape totally breathtaking, and my mind was battling between worries and awe..

We saw lots of these signs.

View of the massive Lower Falls from the South Rim trail, going to Uncle Tom's Point.

And from the end of the Uncle Tom's trail: 300 steps down (500 feet) from the rim trail.

Getting back up the 300 steps, strenuous at 8000 feet! 

Norris Geyser Basin, a few miles West of Canyon Village. This really feels like we - humans - do not belong there but it is amazing to have the possibility to watch it.

The surprise of the geysers. Some are predictable: the rangers in some places even post possible "eruption windows" for the day "may erupt between 10 am and 2 pm", which seems pretty unreal. A prediction is based on the time of the previous eruption. Some are not predictable, some stop erupting all together, some new ones appear.
I felt like I was walking on the lid of a giant boiling pot and that it could explode anytime. At the same time the fascination and the sight were so powerful, that it was almost impossible to leave the place.

The thermal activity can kill the trees around and the chemicals make them look like they wear white socks.

The following day, a more familiar type of landscape! Sweet hike to - and around - Trout Lake in Lamar Valley. We had lunch watching a happy otter.

Lamar Valley - Pebble Creek (close to the North East entrance of the park). Another traffic jam. Cars stopped, ranger on duty: something is going on. We have the time to see... the back of a bear above the high grass. We park the car and our neighbor tells us that a grizzly has been seen in the meadow for two days now. Which explains the presence of the ranger: a ranger comes if a grizzly is close to a road, mostly to tell people to stay away. The bears look fuzzy, round and nice, people forget they are wild animals and they want to get close.
The grizzly showed up again, walking slowly and eating plants. When it got 40 yards away from the car, the ranger asked us to get back inside.

The grizzly (an adult male according to the ranger), was magnificent and seemed to enjoy very much the plants he found around there.
There are approximately 150 grizzlies in the vast Yellowstone Park and I wonder how it is even possible to see a grizzly given the odds...

We drove West to Mammoth Hot Springs that evening, via Tower Roosevelt and saw quite a lot of these sights: the "new forest" and the dead trees still standing in the middle of it. It may be the 1988 fire, may be a more recent one. But where the forest burnt, it is regrowing strong and thick.


Lori said...

It seems like another life, my trip to Yellowstone. Your pictures are fantastic. I hope some day I can get back there. Thanks for sharing!

Michele Guieu said...

It's difficult to be back, my mind is still there, all we've seen is overwhelming.
I wish I could have stayed more.
Yes, you should definitely get back there.
I'll post more photos -
Good to hear from you Lori -