The mosquito situation in camp was no better than the night before so we didn’t linger in camp on our fourth morning. We took just enough time to get our food out of the bear box and for Dan to make his coffee and we got on the road. There are plenty more trails to explore in the Tetons and I hope to make it back there some day. But this was our next stop and we had two days to see as much of it as we could. Not far into the park we saw our first bison. Initially we didn’t stop for much because we needed to find a campsite in one of the non-reservation campgrounds. After we secured a spot we were free to plan the day. There are two main loop roads in Yellowstone and we spent the first day exploring the southern one. This is the Norris Geyser Basin, not far from our campground. That steam on the left was rising out of the ground with the sound of a roaring a furnace. The trail traverses this valley and there are steamy, boiling, gurgling features everywhere.
I took Geology my first quarter of college and decided that I would not be a geologist. I am definitely more of a life sciences type, but I can be awed by these spectacles even if I don’t know the physical science behind them. This landscape is all about color, patterns, bubbles, steam, explosions. Bison footprints. Then there is the wildlife.On the way south towards Upper Geyser Basin (where Old Faithful is) traffic was stopped on the road. Going around a turn we saw the cause. Bison were walking alongside and on the road. Why not? It was certainly the easiest way to get from one meadow area to another, especially where this canyon narrowed. Passengers scurried ahead of their cars (leaving drivers) to get a better look.Eventually it was our turn to pass the three dozen or more bison as they turned from the road and moved into the forest. Osprey over the Upper Geyser Basin. We got to the Visitor Center and Old Faithful just minutes before Old Faithful was due to erupt. After watching we faced a furious wind as we walked a couple of miles along the boardwalks and trails that traverse the Basin, seeing more of this amazing landscape. It was getting later in the day as we completed the loop road to get back to camp. The road crosses the Continental Divide a couple of times in this area. Living on the West Coast we always think of all water ending up in the Pacific, but crossing the Divide twice in a short distance made me think about it. We had been following two major waterways, but they end up in different places, the Snake River flowing westward and the Yellowstone River flowing east. As dusk falls even more animals are visible, although not easy to photograph. It was dark by the time we got back to camp for dinner. I walked up the hill to the bathroom and a woman who was waiting while her cell phone charged pointed out to me what looked like … nothing…well maybe more black than the rest of the dark. There were two bison munching on grass right next to an RV. In the dark it was as though there was a Black Hole. I would never have known they were there. The woman told me that the bison had just walked around the bathroom and stopped to graze there. At that point I decided that the weak batteries in my headlamp were not adequate for the task of walking around Yellowstone at night.
No moths or mosquitoes at this campsite, but it was dark when we got back, we were out of firewood and it was cold. We quickly cooked our spaghetti and some hot chocolate and went to bed.
Stay tuned for Day 6.