July 2, 2004

Yellowstone National Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:44 pm by diandy2004

Comparing Grand Teton to Yellowstone… I would have to say that Grand Teton’s primary highlight is the mountain ranges.  Because from almost every point in the valley, you can see the mountains. And Yellowstone is more about animal close-ups, the rivers, the lakes, and (of course) geysers. Even though they are so close geographically, the two parks are very different. Yellowstone is much larger at 2.2 million acres (GT has just under 310,000), therefore requiring a lot of driving to see the different sections of the park. We tackled several areas within the 6 days we were there even with one road being closed for construction and another had delays for repairs.

We saw several geysers spout: Echinus was early; Castle was about 5 hours late (no we weren’t waiting for five hours, we just got lucky); and Old Faithful was right on time. Castle was our favorite though with water spouting and a good steam show lasting over 40 minutes.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser

The steamy fumaroles and steam vents made belching, hissing, groaning, or crackling sounds.

Doublet Pool

Doublet Pool

Riverside Geyser

Riverside Geyser

Several of the springs were so colorful with different bacteria or minerals they looked like emerald pools surrounded by green, orange, or bright-white rivers.

Imperial Geyser's Bacteria Adds Color

Imperial Geyser's Bacteria Adds Color

One of the rangers who has been there for 33 summers, explained some of the changes that he has seen over the years. Because of tectonic plates shifting, earthquakes, human intervention, etc these geysers and other thermal features die off, are born anew, or move several feet over time. He even joked that someday Yellowstone will be in South Dakota because of how things are shifting.

Another attraction at Yellowstone is the Canyon in the northeast section of the park. We took a hike in the area south of the Canyon. We started through meadows, then woods, then past some thermal features, before we came upon the Canyon just east of Artist Point. Wow. At that moment, I wished I could paint. Pinks, oranges, and a variety of other colors all splashed on yellow stone. Then I got it – “Yellowstone”. Never thought about why they called this park “Yellowstone” until I saw this yellow canyon. Ah, you learn something new everyday. Finishing the hike along the South Rim Trail we passed by both waterfalls along the way. Andy had thought we could kayak Yellowstone River until he saw these powerful falls. Lower Falls is 308 ft high, and Upper Falls is 109 ft high.

Yellstone Canyon

Yellowstone Canyon

Canyon

Yellowstone Canyon

Lower Falls

Lower Falls of Yellowstone

Over the week, we visited several different geyser basins; Tower/Roosevelt area for a hike; Canyon for the hike described above; and then we got sick of driving. The day before we left, we agreed to stay local to our campground at Fishing Bridge and do some different hikes in that area. One trail was closed for dangerous bear activity (we later found out that there was a carcass on the trail that a bear was feeding on) and another trail nearby had a bear warning. We’ve been practicing the bear-country hiking tactics: talking loudly, clapping, snapping fingers, and carrying bear-spray, so we’ve felt rather comfortable during our hikes, but it is still unnerving. We’ve only seen two bears so far – one in Teton, one in Yellowstone – both from the car. We love seeing wildlife – but a bear is best when seen at a distance! The wildlife viewing was exceptional here in Yellowstone – more bison and bison babies than you can count; elks of all shapes and sizes, two bald eagles, many White American Pelicans, marmots, one badger with a kill, and more. Bison and elk had a tendency to come close to the road, so they were easy photo-ops. No moose though. The fires from 1988 destroyed most of their habitat, so the moose have moved out of Yellowstone. Only about 800 of them are left there.

Bison by the Boardwalk

Bison by the Boardwalk

Bison Grazing Roadside

Bison Grazing Roadside

Elk Grazing

Elk Grazing

Effects of 1988 Fire - Nature's Pick-Up Stix

Effects of 1988 Fire - Nature's Pick-Up Stix

I would like to try and re-visit Yellowstone someday when there is snow on the ground.  What a contrast that would be to see the geysers with snow.  Also, it was pretty crowded during this trip (not unexpected), which caused us to miss many overlooks on the scenic drive along the north rim of the canyon and other areas because the parking lots were full.  Some areas supposedly had you hiking on the roads, too, but we wouldn’t dare do that with the amount of traffic.  Too dangerous since most tourists are too busy looking around then at the road.

Side notes:    On any future visits, I’d consider moving our campsite periodically instead of doing so many long distance daytrips.  It was the driving back and forth that wore us out after a week.  FYI:  it rained almost every day during our week-long visit.

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June 27, 2004

Jackson, WY – Grand Tetons

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:42 pm by diandy2004

The drive from Manila, UT (Flaming Gorge) to Grand Teton National Park was another long travel day. It was about 285 miles and took about 6 hours. I finally got to show Andy how hard it is to be a passenger during these long rides.

Grand Teton is a beautiful park. The Teton Range lines the west side of the park with its black, jagged, snow-capped mountains. The valley is mostly sagebrush, but there are the Snake River and lodgepole pine forests as well. The animals that you can see in this park are incredible. Most are distant observations (so bring the binos), but occasionally you’ll see one up-close. We’ve seen lots of elk, mule deer, bison, moose, and pronghorn antelope. Then there are the squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, pikas, birds, hawks, and more. We’ve even gotten to see some babies.

View of the Tetons

View of the Tetons

Evidence of the Drought

Evidence of the Drought - Colter Bay

The Grand Tetons

The Grand Tetons

Mist Blankets the Valley

Mist Blankets the Valley

We were lucky enough to spot this bear from our car!

Black Bear in Woods

Black Bear in Woods - Near Signal Mtn

One day we took a long hike, 11 ½ miles up Cascade Canyon and into the South Fork. On this hike we ‘ran into’ one moose that preferred using the trail. When the legs of the animal are as tall as you, you give that animal the right-of-way. This hike took us to the western side of Grand Teton. We looked for climbers since this is supposed to be a popular route, but we couldn’t see them. Even though this mountain is “only” 13,770 ft high, it appears to be a formidable mountain. Can’t explain why. Perhaps it was the jagged peaks, or the black rock, or the clouds that settled on its point, or the snow and scree slopes, or a combination of all of these. We took a break at our turnaround point and just admired the mountains around us. One waterfall was fascinating because you could see it where it melts away the snow in pockets. So it would be visible, then disappear under the snow, then reappear, etc.

Baby Moose on the Trail

Baby Moose on the Trail

Hiking Cascade Trail

Hiking Cascade Trail

Hiking South Cascade Fork

Hiking South Cascade Fork

On another day we went biking. We rode our mountain bikes in the morning on a jeep road to Two Oceans Lake.  A nice rolling terrain through woods and past meadows to the lake for some birdwatching.  Then in the afternoon we went to Jackson, WY and rode our road-bikes on a paved pathway they have through town. The town of Jackson (a.k.a. Jackson Hole) is a neat town with lots of touristy shops, a microbrewery, and an elk refuge. We’re lucky to be here in June because the wildflowers are blooming. The wildflowers are so beautiful with all the colors in the rainbow. The bike path was lined with wildflowers. Unfortunately, it did hail on us that day we rode our bikes. The storms here are powerful. Thunder, lightning, hail, rain, winds, fast-moving…we thought Florida was bad in the summer. During one of these storms a little bird was trying to fly across the road. He was flapping his wings so hard, but he wasn’t moving an inch. Andy had to cross into the other lane to avoid hitting the poor thing! When we passed by, the bird stopped flapping and was blown backwards several yards. (Andy thought that scene reminded him of me kayaking in that terrible storm a couple years ago.)

Checking out the Wildflowers

Checking out the Wildflowers

We also went kayaking on String Lake one day. Actually we put-in at String Lake and then paddled north to a portage point that crosses over to Leigh Lake. The portage was about a quarter-mile in length – we felt sorry for those who were canoe-camping and had tons of gear and several trips to make. It’s amazing to us Floridians to be paddling next to snow-covered mountains. The water was cold, the air was chilly, but the sun was incredibly hot. So as long as the sun wasn’t behind clouds we were comfortable with the temperature. It was very peaceful paddling since no motorboats are permitted on these lakes.

Kayaking

Kayaking Leigh Lake

We’re almost sad to leave Grand Teton, but we were able to see a lot of the park.  We’ll definitely re-visit this park.  Loved it.