Yellowstone, Day 9, Sunday, June 11

 

Not many pictures from today as we had over 600 miles to drive to reach home, hence few stops for photos.  By 6:30, we had the trucks loaded and were waiting for the doors to open at the dining room.  The previous day, we had a rather unpleasant wait for breakfast due to half the wait staff failing to report for work.  We agreed that today, we would all get the buffet; and that worked out well.  Exiting the dining room we were greeted by a sight not unknown in Mammoth Hot Springs.  An entire herd of bison had taken up residence in the main part of town including the grassy area in the middle of the boulevard through town.  It was a photographers dream come true as we could drive up one side of the street, turn around and drive back the opposite way affording driver and passengers on both sides of the vehicles ample opportunities for shots.

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This trio is right up against a picnic bench with the red dog snuggled safely between two adults

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Red dog

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If he were standing at alert, I’d think he had pulled “Stupid Human Duty”

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Finally pulling out for our trip home, I snapped one last shot of the steaming hot springs in the distance.

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Katie and Pat enjoying dinner at Ray’s Hamburg in Green River, Utah.

007 Katie and Pat - dinner at Ray's hamburg place

 

We did have one fun thing happen on the way home.  We’d stopped for gas and after filling up Carol hollered, “I’m going in to pay.  Keep an eye on the truck.”  Anita and I had the same thought at the same time, plastering an eye to the side of the truck.

eye on the truck

 

Now, I have tried to decorate these blogs with only pictures of my own, but I will leave my readers with one last photo.  This one was taken by Sandy who had the advantage of a tripod and timer on the camera.  It is all eight of us gals in Jackson, Wyoming with most of us wearing our purple Wild West Adventurers shirts.

group photo 1 Jackson

Fabulous friends!  Fabulous vacation!

 

 

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Yellowstone, Day 8, Saturday, June 10th

 

Although we had expected to wake up to snow on the ground, the valley where the hotel and cabins were located was free of snow.  The peaks surrounding the valley, however, were all covered in a fresh coating of the white stuff.

001 snow on Mts.

 

We began our day at the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces located very close to the village area.  Unlike the geysers we had viewed on previous days, these terraces are built up by mineral-laden waters leaking into pools and slowly cascading down the hillside; and it covers quite a large area.

002 Mammoth overview

 

The boardwalk takes visitors on a fairly rigorous climb to the top of the terraces before looping back down to the bottom.  To get an idea of the scale of these terraces, check out the photo below with the boardwalk and visitors on the left of the picture.

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A closer look at the terraces:

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Mound Spring, below, shows sharp angles at each of the terrace levels.

007 Mound Spring

 

Whereas Cleopatra Springs shows softer angles and more contrast in colors.

008 Cleopatra Springs

 

Continuing on the board walk, I did manage to get a cute snapshot of most of our group.  Left-to-right:  Carol, Toby, Lydia, Sue, Sandy.

009 the crew

 

Returning to the base of the terraces, we stopped at Liberty Cap, a cone geyser built up over centuries as mineral-laden spring water deposited layer after layer of travertine deposits.  According to the web, Liberty Cap is about 45 feet in height, but it seemed much taller to us.  It has been inactive for an unknown amount of time.  When I look at this photo, I see a gnome-like face at the base.

010 Liberty Cap

 

Hopping back into the pick-up trucks, we headed up Upper Terrace Drive where we could look down on the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.  That’s the boardwalk on the lower left.

011 looking down on terraces

 

And Mammoth Village – the cabins we stayed in are in the center left of the picture.

012 Mammoth Village

 

Continuing on, one of the more interesting stops along the way was Orange Spring Mound

013 Orange Spring Mound

014 close-up

 

And I’ve always loved taking pictures of gnarly trees.

015 gnarly tree

 

We had planned our day in advance and had packed a picnic lunch prior to leaving the village.  We found a lovely picnic area by a stream.   Always aware of our surroundings, Sandy had the bear spray handy!

016 bear spray

 

Although there were not any bear to be seen, this elk doe wandered close to us and paused to have her photo taken.

017 elk

 

Not to be outdone, this herd of bison made its presence known clattering loudly down the middle of the road while crossing the bridge that crossed the stream.

018 bison

 

Following lunch, who would have guessed, one more waterfall as scenic as those we saw at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Tower Fall was every bit as picturesque.

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The surrounding river valley also offered some spectacular views.

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And we were fascinated by this rock formation on the far side of the river valley which stretched as far as we could see in either direction.  It reminded me of iron I beams driven into the ground, but this formation is all natural.

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We were also surprised to see this sign warning cross-country skiers of possible unsafe conditions.

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DUH!!!!!  Ya’ think???????

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One last treat before leaving this area was this herd of mountain goats grazing on a very steep hillside in the far side of the valley

025 mountain goats

 

Before heading back to our cabins to freshen up for dinner, we headed east into scenic Lamar Valley where we again spotted large herds of bison.

026 Lamar Valley

 

Since this was our last night, we decided to treat ourselves by heading out of the park for dinner.  Heading into Gardiner, Montana, we first stopped at the north entrance to Yellowstone for a photo op at the stone archway.

027 North Entrance

 

We ended our last evening of the perfect vacation with a rather raucous dinner (lots of wine followed by shots provided compliments of our waiter) at a country saloon where I finally got a decent picture of an antlered elk.

028 elk picture

 

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Yellowstone, Day 7, Friday, June 9th

Several in our group felt that we had not had enough time at the Discovery Center the following evening, and since our tickets were valid for 24 hours, we began our day with a brief return trip to see the grizzlies and wolves.  We had just a few minutes there before heading to the local IMAX theatre for a film on the history and geography of Yellowstone which I found to be surprisingly good.

Heading back into Yellowstone, we returned to viewing geysers and hot springs this time starting at Midway Geyser Basin.  Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the park, stretching 200 feet in diameter.  Today, the air temp was chilly so much of the steam obscured the incredible colors of this pool and several others in this basin.

001 Grand Prismatic Spring

 

Opal Pool

002 Opal pool

 

Turquoise Pool

003 Turquoise pool

 

We drove along Firehole Lake Drive, stopping at each of the pull-outs.  How nice of the local staff!  They’ll often post when the next eruption of a specific geyser is due.  Now if we only had a four-hour window to sit and wait.

004 Great Fountain Geyser

 

We did get a better opportunity with White Dome Geyser.  This tall cone geyser erupts with a frequency that varies from 15 minutes to three hours.  We were pleased we did not have to wait the three hours.

005 white Dome Geyser

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007

 

We got much luckier with Pink Cone Geyser.  According to Wikipedia, this puppy only erupts every 18 to 25 hours with eruptions lasting one and a half to two hours.  We were in the right place at the right time.  Geyser karma!

008 Pink Cone Geyser

 

We had to laugh at this:

009 Young Hopeful

It was just a little hole with an occasional tiny spurt of steam.  Nice to see someone has a sense of humor!

010 Young Hopeful

 

We also had luck with the wildlife today, reaching the end of a boardwalk to be greeted by a family of marmots.

011 marmot 1

012 marmot 2

 

We did have one great laugh for the day.  We’ve mentioned how we brought a picture of Pat mounted on a paint stick to virtually every place we went.  On this day, we made a very brief stop at a souvenir shop we had stopped at the previous day.  As we were leaving, one of the clerks called out, “Oh, I remember you.  You’re the group with the friend on the stick.”  For the remainder of the trip, Pat became “our friend on the stick.”

 

Our next stop took us to an area called Fountain Paintpots.  Look at the stunning color of this pool!

013

 

The story behind one of these geysers gave me pause.  Red Spouter pictured below ceased to exist prior to 1959.  The area where Red Spouter sits was just a grassy knoll.  Shortly before midnight, a major earthquake centered 25 miles away cracked the earth; and Red Spouter was born.  As we walked the boardwalks between the geysers, I realized how easily the earth could open up and we would be erased.

014 Red Spouter

 

 

That feeling was re-enforced when I viewed these scenes of utter desolation left by the activity of the geysers and hot springs.

015

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Leaving the geyser basins, we headed to our evening lodging at Mammoth Hot Springs.  The hotel there was closed for a major reconstruction so we were lucky to get space in the cabins.  No luxury accommodations this time, however.  Four members of our group shared a two-bed cabin with tiny bathroom, and the remaining three of us shared a one-bed cabin where we found room for our inflatable mattress on the floor.  Bathroom facilities were at a community bath and shower which, fortunately, was a very short walk from the cabin.  I was grateful for a purchase I had made early in the day at the gift shop at the IMAX.  I splurged on a waterproof fleece-lined jacket which came in very handy as the weather for the afternoon and evening was very cold and rainy.

We did, however, enjoy an utterly fabulous meal at the Mammoth Inn dining room.  Below:  Anita and Toby with our friend on the stick.

017 Anita, Pat, and Toby

 

 

 

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Yellowstone, Day 6, Thursday, June, 8th

Awake and on the road early once again for what would end up being an utterly awesome day.

Leaving the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, we re-entered Yellowstone National Park and were soon treated to our daily dosage of bison.

001 bison

 

Why was this day to stand out?  We were headed to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  Now I have been to THE “Grand Canyon” in Arizona, and I honestly think The Yellowstone rivals the other “Grand Canyon”.  Our first stop was at The Brink of the Upper Falls.  I’m sure that this might have been less spectacular had it not been for the sheer volume of the river due to the spring melt, but I’m also confident it is fabulous any time of the year.  The river leading to the upper falls:

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At this particular spot you can stand at the very top of the falls and watch as the river pours over the edge.

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Traveling a short ways downriver, we stopped at Artist Point.  We decided it was very aptly named.  From here, we are looking upriver to the upper falls.

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But we were equally impressed with the coloring on the rock face on the canyon walls facing us from across the river.

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Traveling downstream, we next stopped at the Brink of the Lower Falls

The overlook has spectacular views deep into the canyon both upriver and downriver

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We spotted this set of steps on the far side of the canyon allowing people to get up close and personal with the river.

009

 

We had the same opportunity on our side but none of us were up to that strenuous a climb.  Below, you can see the platform near water level for those up for the climb.

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And once again the coloring of the canyon walls was amazing.

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We had one additional treat at this stop.  Below our vantage point was an osprey nest with two chicks.  We were even lucky enough to see an adult feeding the young-uns.  Unfortunately, I do not have a telephoto lens sufficient for a good shot so you may have to use your imagination some on the picture below.

013

 

Before we move on, I’ll leave you with one last picture and our “stupid human” story for the day.  As we were walking along the paths looking at the beautiful canyon views, I overheard one young woman turn to her companion and state emphatically, “Yes, we are at the Grand Canyon.  I read it on the sign back there.”  I couldn’t resist.  I hollered back.  “This is The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  The other Grand Canyon is in Arizona, nearly a thousand miles from here.”  I was tempted to put this in the “stupid humans” category; but, who knows, perhaps they were on one of those bus trips:  Seven National Parks in just seven days; see Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Mt. Rushmore all in the same week!  That would leave anyone in a state of confusion.

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Leaving the river, we visited another geyser area called the Artists’ Paintpots where we saw more colorful steaming pools and geysers.

015

 

Beryl Spring and several nearby neighbors became increasingly active following an earthquake in 1959.

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Blood Geyser, so named because of the staining of the rocks from the rich iron oxide in the water, typically erupts six feet into the air spewing 150 gallons of steaming water each minute.

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But the second big treat of the day was to unfold when we returned to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana.  Our cabins were located next to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

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What an experience!  The Center is a not-for-profit refuge and educational center dedicated to expanding our knowledge of these animals and providing a safe habitat for individual animals who might otherwise have been subjected to euthanasia.  Each of the grizzlies was removed from the wild after establishing a habit of living too close to humans – a situation dangerous to both humans and bears.

Below, Katie and Anita waiting to enter the center.

019

 

The first grizzly we were to meet was Sam.  Although most of the grizzlies at the center frolic in the play area in groups of up to five, Sam is a loaner.  Sam is the largest grizzly at the center and was brought here from Alaska after having been orphaned.  He became adjusted to living off of hand-outs from nearby villagers and never would have developed the ability to survive on his own in the wild.  Sam never did master the kindergarten check list item of “plays well with others”, and so must enjoy the open play area on his own.

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Across from the grizzly area, there is a large open area for the wolf families to play.  There are two wolf packs at the center, and we had the pleasure of meeting the Granite Wolfpack:  Adara and Summit.

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Returning to the grizzly area, we were introduced to a group of five other grizzlies who had all earned their “plays well with others” badge.

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We particularly enjoyed watching one of the bears fish a watermelon from the pond and proceed to devour it.

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This fella, however, was most content digging the fish (hidden by caretakers) out from beneath the rocks.

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Quite the fabulous day!  But before we close for the day, one last snapshot.  Several of the visitor centers had ranger cut-outs (probably meant as a photo-op for KIDS), but Anita and I just had to get in on the fun!

6-08 04 Katie and Anita

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Yellowstone, Day 5, Wednesday, June 7

 

Several of us were up fairly early and off on a photographic journey to Mormon Row as the photography of this area is reported to be best in the early morning sun (unfortunately, we had cloudy, drab skies).  Just north of the town of Jackson, this historic community is now part of the national park and maintained as part of the National Historical Preservation.   Sent from Salt Lake by the Mormon Church, settlers first arrived here from Idaho in 1895.  This particular settlement consisted of the Moulton and Chambers families.  The Chambers family built on the east side of the road.

001 a

001 Mormon Valley

 

The Moulton’s built on the west side of the road.  This iconic view of one of the Moulton’s barn with the Grand Teton’s in the background has been much photographed.

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We also enjoyed the antics of a fairly large colony of ground squirrels who seemed unfazed by the human incursion.

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The Mormon community lasted many years on this site, and later buildings included a two-story stuccoed home.

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Adjacent barn

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We also noted a quite large colony of swallows building their nests under the eaves of the stucco home.

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Following our early-morning photographic journey, our group returned to Jackson to meet up with those who slept in.  We loaded up the trucks, and grabbed a little breakfast at one of the many cafes in town.  Fueled and ready to go, we stopped at the historic George Washington Historic Park, Town Square.

007 park bench

 

Centered in the park is a sculpture of the state symbol of the bucking bronco (or bronco buster, if you prefer).

008 bronco

 

At each of the four corners of the park are arched entrances made of elk antlers.  Can you imagine how many antlers are in each of these???  Then multiply that by four!

009 antler arch

 

We next headed north, back into Grand Teton National Park for more photo ops.  Several in our group are avid at photographing wildflowers, and we found a meadow full of them.  Left-to-right:  Anita, Carol, and Sandy all seeking the perfect shot.

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I took a few shots as well.  Below, a shot of lupine:

011 lupine

 

But I’m not a wildflower expert so we’ll just have to call these “pretty yellow flowers.”

012 pretty yellow flowers

 

While visiting this meadow, we did get to witness quite an endeavor.  Our pick-ups were stopped on the road entering the area, and we were told we were waiting for the helicopter to pass.  Driving in, we passed a field filled with giant boulders.

012a boulders

We questioned a ranger in the parking lot regarding the activity and were told that the helicopter was lifting up each boulder and transporting them to an area where they were dropped to prevent further damage in a spot suffering from erosion from the run-off from the spring melt.  With each helicopter pass, the road was closed to prevent the unlikely event a boulder would slip from the harness and fall on a passing vehicle.  I was able to get a shot of the helicopter but never got a good shot of the boulder dangling from the cable below the helicopter.  If you look very, very carefully at the bottom center of the photo below, you might be able to see the cable holding the boulder.  Sadly, I could not catch a shot of the dangling boulder itself.

013 helicopter

 

In addition to the wildflowers, we also got a grand view of this spectacular waterfall.

014 waterfall

 

Next stop was the overlook at the southern end of Jenny Lake, and the views were amazing!!!

015 Jenny Lake 1

016 Jenny Lake 2

017 Jenny Lake 3

 

Our lunch stop took us to Jackson Lake Lodge in Moran Junction.  Of course upon entering the Lodge we were greeted by a stuffed grizzly (seen in silhouette on the right of the picture below), but the interior and exterior of the lodge were spectacular.

021 Inside lodge

 

As was the food, including my roasted beet salad

019 lunch roasted beet salad

 

Below is a view from the lodge of Jackson Lake with Elk Island in the center.

020 View from Jackson Lake Lodge

 

Did I mention something earlier about my one big goal for the trip was seeing Bison?  I sure got my wish as we drove from Grand Teton back through Yellowstone toward our overnight lodging outside the park in the town of West Yellowstone.  It seemed this herd numbered in the hundreds

022 bison 1

 

And included mature males

023 bison 2

 

And several babies, called red dogs

024 red dog

 

My earlier posts mentioned the warnings by park staff about staying away from the bison, and the ranger talks included videos of bison tossing  stupid humans in the air like kittens playing with toys.  We began to notice that whenever we saw a sizable herd of bison, especially those with red dogs, there always seemed to be large males who positioned themselves between the herd and the hordes of humans snapping photos of them.  This prompted Sue to come up with a monologue to describe the thoughts of the poor guy who got stuck with the task:  “Me??  I’ve got Stupid Human Duty again?  Seems like I had it just last week!  I hate Stupid Human Duty!  Despite all the warning from our friendly park rangers, there’s always one or two idiots who try to get WAY too close to our beloved red dogs.  O.K.  If I have to be stuck with Stupid Human Duty again, maybe I’ll get one of them this time!  That would make it all worthwhile.”

Can’t you just imaging that coming from the guy pictured below?

025 Stupid human duty

 

Arriving in West Yellowstone quite late in the evening, we quickly checked into our lodging at the magnificent Explorer Cabins.

030 Explorer cabins

 

We had two cabins for the seven of us.  Four of us shared a cabin with living/kitchen area, full bath, and two bedrooms – one with a KING bed.  The kitchen had a stove-top, fridge, microwave, and even a dishwasher; but as we hadn’t shopped for food, we opted to eat out.

We arrived at a highly-recommended Tapas restaurant just after 9:00 and noticed the hours posted on the door said they were open until nine.  We were delighted when the kitchen staff agreed to serve us.  It was my first experience with tapas, and I hope it will NOT be my last.

Our group

026 dinner at Tapas, West Yellowstone

 

Appetizers

027 Tapas appetizers

 

Flaming pig!

028 flaming pig

 

And no spectacular dinner would be complete without deserts like crème brulee and a chocolate mousse type of cake with whipped cream.

029 Tapas desert

 

Definitely a fabulous ending to a fabulous day!

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Yellowstone, Day 4. Tuesday, June 6th.

Before we depart from the fabulous historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel, let’s take a moment to savor this historic beauty.

001 Hotel front WEB

 

After loading all our gear into the trucks, we took a moment for a few snapshots of the incredible views in front of this great hotel.  Lake Yellowstone with the Wind River Mountains in the background.

004 lake view WEB

 

Lydia volunteered to pose with Pat just prior to our departure.

002 Lydia and Pat at lakeside

 

Sandy’s  ready for the day!

003 Sandy at lakeside

 

Our first stop was at the historic Fishing Bridge in search of a few geocaches.  This bridge used to be covered with anglers standing shoulder to shoulder until the Park Service realized the popularity was threatening the survival of the lake’s trout.   Now closed to fishing, we used it as a photo op.  Anita and Toby posing:

005 Anita and Toby at Fishing Bridge

 

Sue with camera ready:

006 Sue on Fishing Bridge

 

Leaving Lake Yellowstone, we headed south into Grand Teton National Park.  Toby had finally relaxed enough at the mention of wildlife to pose with Carol at this sign warning us not to feed the local critters.  Not that it would happen with our group—we are way too fond of eating to share our food with the locals!

007 Toby and Carol

 

I could not believe how many great photo ops we experienced.  The Grand Teton range is, by far, the most beautiful I have ever seen.  Below, Grand Teton Mountain on the far left, Mt. Moran on the far right.  Mt. Moran was made famous by Ansel Adams’ sunrise photos.

008 Grand Teton left Mt. Moran right

 

Grand Teton Mountain

009 Grand Teton

 
Below, a picture of Mt. Moran with Lake Jackson in the foreground

010 Mt. Moran Jackson Lake in foreground

 

Our next stop involved a very steep climb up a very tall mountain.  Called Signal Mountain, it is named for all the WiFi and Satellite towers on top; and it peaks up in the middle of the river valley with fabulous views from all sides.

View of the Snake River valley to the east.

011 Snake River from Signal Mt.

 

Below if you peek through the trees, you can see the Teton Range and Jackson Lake to the west of Signal Mountain.

012 Tetons from Signal Mt.

 

Our next stop had been reported to be a “must stop” in Grand Teton National Park.  Jenny Lake is just south of Jackson Lake.  It has some great hiking trails, but we were limited in our hike as much of the trail we took was closed due to the spring flooding.  Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed a mile hike from the trailhead, along the river to the northern tip of the lake.  The mountains appeared much closer here.

013 Teton Range from Jenny Lake trail

 

The river was rapid and very cold from the on-going snow melt.

014 River

 

Which didn’t seem to faze this angler wading without waders!

015 darned cold legs

 

And we DID reach the northern tip of Jenny Lake which proved to be as beautiful as purported.

016 Jenny Lake

 

Our hardy treckers

017 treckers

 

Our evening plans took us to the town of Jackson, Wyoming.  Not surprisingly, it lived up to its reputation as a touristy cowboy town.  Almost every business was a hotel, a restaurant, a bar, or a souvenir shop.  Our tour guides (Carol and Sandy) once again outdid themselves with the evening accommodations.  We headed into the town of Jackson and had luxurious lodging at the historic Wort Hotel

018 Wort Hotel

 

View of the grand staircase with an elk head mounted on the wall.

019 Wort Hotel interior

 

We dined at the fabled Silver Dollar Saloon and Eatery famed for its long bar with embedded silver dollars, and we even got to enjoy some good old cowboy music and dancing.  That’s Toby and Sandy at the center of the picture.

020 Toby and Sandy

 

After dinner, we did do a bit of shopping; and I was pleased to see several art shops with some very fine quality merchandise including some superior wildlife photography.  I made one purchase – a tee shirt with a picture of a snarling grizzly bear and the text, “Be Alert!  Out here, not all organ donations are voluntary.”

Finally, we enjoyed a pretty sunset behind The Cowboy Bar located just to the left of The Local bar.

021 sunset over the Cowboy Bar

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Yellowstone, Day 3. Monday, June 5th

Yellowstone, Day 3 Monday, June 5th

Up and packed early, trucks loaded with all of our gear, and the seven Wild West Adventurers ready to tackle another day of experiencing the earth’s wonders.  We bid farewell to Old Faithful Inn and headed east to Yellowstone Lake, arriving at the area known as West Thumb.  As we approached the lake, we were greeted with an awesome view of the lake with the Wind River Mountains in the distance.

001 Yellowstone Lake at West Thumb

A view of the lakeshore

001A lakeshore

 

First stop was a boardwalk stroll around several geysers and mudpots leading down to the lake’s edge.  Shown below, the Thumb Paint Pots differ from the geysers we had seen near Old Faithful.  Geysers spew hot water and steam into the air.  Mud pots, on the other hand, are bubbling mud and can vary in viscosity from thin and runny mud in the wet spring months to very thick in the dryer fall months.  At the bottom center of the second picture you can see a cone shaped by mud outflow which built up over years of activity.

002 Thumb paint pots

002A Thumb pots cone

 

Along with the mud posts, West Thumb has its share of colorful hot pools such as this one called Bluebell Pool

003 Bluebell pool

 

Sandy had mentioned a particular feature named Fishing Cone which she had seen on previous trips to Yellowstone.  Fishing Cone is a steaming geyser which grew up out of the lake bottom near the shore.  Early explorers would catch fish in the lake them drop them, still attached to the fishing line, into the bubbling hot water of Fishing Cone to cook them.  This practice went on for some time until it was discovered that the minerals and acid in the geyser water made the fish toxic to the diners.  Sandy was shocked to see that Fishing Cone (pictured to the right rear in the picture below) is now underwater whereas a few years ago, it was above the lake level.  Such is the on-going seismic activity of the area that the lake bed and lake surface had changed that much in the few short years since Sandy’s last visit.

004 Fishing Cone right rear

 

Big Cone, pictured below, is located near Fishing Cone, and its rim is still above water.

005 Big Cone

 

Before we leave the West Thumb Geyser Basin, let me just pop in a few more colorful pools.

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Heading North from Yellowstone Lake, we made a stop at a tributary of the Yellowstone River called LeHardys Rapids.  In mid-July, this stretch of river is teaming with cutthroat trout heading upstream to spawn.

008 LeHardys Rapids

 

It seems the flowers are not the only tenacious species that can be found here.  We were fascinated to watch this pair of harlequin ducks swimming upstream against the raging current.  I could not, however, figure out why the heck they didn’t just fly upstream instead of fighting the torrent on the surface of the river.

009 Harlequin duck

 

My attempt at artistic photography with pussy willows in the foreground and the river blurred behind.

010 pussy willows

 

Anita admiring the pussy willows.

011 Anita

 

Continuing to head north, we stopped in Hayden Valley which is typically home to abundant wildlife.  Although the Yellowstone River now scenically flows through the valley, this was once an arm of the Yellowstone Lake which has now receded to the south.  In the photo below, the ridgeline of trees seen in the upper right of the picture was once the shoreline of the lake.

012 Hayden Valley

 

 

Heading into the valley, we spotted our first large herd of bison.  This image is rather fuzzy as they are a good distance away, and I did not have a big telephoto lens.

013 bison herd

 

Sandy, however, got some great pictures with her long lens.

016 Sandy

 

Heading back south, we were not disappointed to see this old fella approaching the roadway.  It broke our heats to see him struggle to put one foot in front of another as he made his way across the road, his hips apparently crippled with arthritis.

014 Grandpa bison

 

Shortly after spotting Old Granddad, we spotted a sizeable herd of elk grazing.  They appeared to be mostly females, and we did not spot any of the larger males nor any young.

015 elk

 

Our final stop of the day was at a rather spectacular hot spring location called Mud Volcano Area.  It is one of the most active areas within the greater caldera, and it is STINKY!  Our first stop was at Sulphur Caldron, its sulphur-rich gasses rising to the surface and emerging as a bubbling mix of sulphuric acid – the source of the stink.   EW!  Rotten eggs!

017 Sulphur Caldron

 

The boardwalk climbs a steep hill where a 1948 violent eruption of thick steaming mud, now named Black Dragon’s Caldron, uprooted and leveled all the trees on the hillside.

018 leveled trees

 

The walk also took us past the aptly-named Churning Caldron

019 Churning Caldron

 

And on to Black Dragon’s Cauldron.  This bubbling mud hole was the source of the tree-kill shown in earlier photos but is now only moderately active.  If you look closely, you can see that the entire pool is active with bubbling goo.  I must admit that as we were walking the boardwalks adjacent to these boiling hot springs, I was a tad apprehensive.  I realized how quickly the landscape had been violently changed in the recent past, and I realized a similar event could occur right under our feet as we passed.

020 Black Dragon's Caldron

 

From there we passed Mud Volcano for which the area was named

021 Mud Volcano

 

And made a final stop at Dragon’s Mouth Spring.  This one was fascinating!  It belched steam every few seconds, and I’m not kidding when I say belch.  With each burst of steam, this hole in the ground makes a sound that sounds very much like a belch.

022 Dragon's Mouth Spring

 

Of course, the day would not be complete if Pat were not with us for the journey.  Anita carried her much of the way

024 Anita with Pat at Dragon

 

But Sue took a turn as well.  I took a photo of Anita taking a photo of Sue holding Pat with the tree-strewn hill behind Pat.

023 Sue with Pat

 

After a short drive, we arrived at our evening destination.  Lake Yellowstone Hotel is located in Lake Village at the Northwest corner of the lake.  It is another historic building with a high-ceiling lobby, and we had a fabulous dining experience where we celebrated Anita’s birthday.

025 Lake Yellowstone hotel

 

 

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