S: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks -- 25 August - 2 September 2011
FC: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks Vacation 25 August - 2 September 2011
1: Leslie and Joan visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in August 2011. Leslie planned the trip. Joan took most of the photographs and made this book. Perfect weather: warm, sunny days, cold and mostly clear nights. Often greater than 40 degree difference between high and low temperatures in a single day. Lots of driving, lots of hiking, lots of tourists, lots of photos. Some canoeing. Some wildlife: bison, antelope, moose, bear (from a distance), birds, pika, grasshoppers, very friendly chipmunks, and a coyote running along the beach. We spent a whole day watching geysers, including five eruptions of Old Faithful. Ranger tours at Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful Geyser Basin; a native American ranger (Lane) talked about Porcupines and Moose at Colter Bay while the mosquitoes feasted on us. Stayed in Teton Village Hostel at Jackson Hole, a rustic Roosevelt cabin, a luxurious Yellowstone Lake cabin, and an authentic log cabin at Colter Bay in the Grand Tetons. Some sunburn, some blisters, but not enough to change our plans. We spent eight days exploring this beautiful ecosystem, but it really seemed like a whirlwind tour. The crowds could have become annoying, especially while waiting for a parking spot at Lawrence S. Rockefeller Preserve and hiking Cascade Canyon near Jenny Lake, but we decided the other tourists were almost as interesting as the sites. We heard many languages, saw people of all different ages and fitness levels, spoke to people from Belgium and Germany. We even met a woman who attended Washington-Lee (Stephen's High School) at the same time as Warren Beatty. Small world!
3: Thursday 25 August 2011 We woke at 5am after < 3 hours sleep. Flew from DCA --> Denver --> Jackson Hole. Mitsubishi Galant rental car with only 450 miles. $90 groceries from Albertson's. Overview of area and annotated map (that we lost) from Bobby, a friendly heavyset retired volunteer in visitor center. Rode Bridger gondola 2784 ft after picnic dinner below. Wished for time to hike, but settled for viewing and photographing sunset, wildflowers, and Jackson Hole. Slept in Teton Village Hostel.
5: Friday 26 August 2011 Teton Village, Jackson Hole
13: August Hail
15: Friday 26 August 2011 We drove north through Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone. Paid $25 for a 7-day pass. Drove by the pull-offs in Grand Teton and southern Yellowstone since we were returning later. Our first stop was mud pots north of Lake Yellowstone, but it poured as we pulled into the parking lot. I ran out to get a brochure and read it later. The rain soon stopped and so did we--at almost every attraction along the way. Many waterfall views--Artist's Point and several others, but not at Uncle Tom's--the one I picked out when researching the trip. I was unhappy at the time, but it was probably for the best since its steep steps into the canyon would have been a severe test for my fear of heights. I took several photos at every stop, but this isn't my favorite way to explore. Too much driving and crowds. And the amazing natural features almost seem commercial with all of the signs, tourists, and neat walkways. But this is the most efficient way to see Yellowstone. And neither of us want to miss anything even when we start to feel saturated. By time we drove up the gravel Chittenden Road to the base of Mount Washburn, dusk was quickly approaching. I wanted to get out of the car so we hiked partway up the mountain even though we didn't have time for the whole hike; we hoped to return, but never did. Left photo is a view of Mt Washburn from the trail. It was dusk by the time we arrived at our Roosevelt cabin--almost as rustic as camping. Only two wash houses for the entire complex, but one was near our cabin. That was good because I had to attend to nature calls twice the first night. That didn't help me sleep, but it did give me a chance to see the stars, the best view I had during our entire trip. The next night I was dehydrated and slept through the night which is surprising considering the bed was like a hammock, soft and sinking in the middle. We ate a picnic dinner behind our cabin--pea soup from a carton, salad with sunflower seeds, and a $2 locally brewed beer from the General Store. We planned the next day while I loaded photos on my laptop and Leslie drank a beer.
19: Saturday 27 August 2011 Woke early, breakfast at waterfall parking lot. Man asked if I was OK during my yoga. Looked for wildlife in Lamar Valley, hiked Slough Creek trail, drove gravel road at dusk. Dinner at Roosevelt Lodge. We thought they had salmon special, but that was two nights ago. Leslie had pan fried trout. I had veg. chili on taco salad--no shell, with extra guacamole, much better than expected. Rain during dinner and beautiful sunset that I didn't photograph. Needed electric fan to cool cabin early evening, but got very cold at night. Film still sold to slow adapters.
20: Lamar Valley
22: Slough Creek Trail
26: Bison near Slough Creek Trail in Lamar Valley
27: We hiked off-trail to avoid getting too close to this mule deer, trying to stay quiet and unobtrusive. However, we soon heard two teenage hikers approaching from the other direction, conversing rather loudly in German. Their parents and younger siblings soon arrived and we all spoke briefly in English. We came to Lamar Valley to hike because it is known for abundant wildlife. We were a bit disappointed to see mainly insects and tiny frogs in the mud puddles. We were almost back to the parking lot when we saw this deer.
28: Blacktail Plateau Drive at Dusk
29: Petrified Tree
31: Liberty Cap | Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces | Sunday 28 August
32: Sunday 28 August 2011 As we approached Mammoth Hot Springs, Leslie was talking to Allen on his cell phone. Allen remembered his trip to Yellowstone with Louise and Harold. We caught the middle of a ranger tour of the thermal features at Mammoth hot springs plateau. We would have made the beginning of the tour if we hadn't lost each other inside the visitor center. I insisted on soaking in Boiling River. We walked from the parking lot along the river to point where hot springs poured into the river. I could have stayed all afternoon, but Leslie can't stand the heat, so he doesn't appreciate the joy of soaking in hot water. In addition to the soak, I enjoyed meeting two young geologists on a side trip after a conference. I was worried about dropping her Iphone while photographing them, but I watched them cavalierly carrying the Iphone while balancing on slippery rocks in the hot water. They're the red and black haired women soaking near me. | We bought gas and groceries in Gardiner, just north of the park. Next, we toured the Norris Geyser Basin and saw our first geyser erupt: Whirligig. The paint-pot colors were gorgeous. It was dark by the time we checked into the yellow Franklin cabin at Yellowstone Lake. We ate dinner in the room. This cabin seemed luxurious, especially compared to our previous accommodations. New furnishings and carpet, fancy coffee maker (single cup), firmer beds--softer than my own, but a major improvement. They even supplied soap and a bathroom with a hot shower right in the room.
36: Norris Geyser Basin
37: Whirligig--our first geyser sighting
38: Monday 29 August 2011
40: Riverside Geyser | Old Faithful
41: Beehive Geyser
44: Monday 29 Aug 2011 We left the room at 7:15am so we could catch an 8:30 tour of Old Faithful Geyser Basin. I ate breakfast in the parking lot while Leslie found info about the tour. Old Faithful erupted at 8:47, at the beginning of the tour. After the tour, we ran to the top of an overlook to watch it erupt again, at 10:20.
45: Leslie engineered our itinerary to maximize chances of seeing the most geysers erupt. We walked about 10 miles on the boardwalks of Old Faithful basin. We were tired of walking in the sun, but had good seats and minimal waiting time for most eruptions. I got blisters on my heels from walking so far in my new flip-flops.
47: Midway Geyser Basin We spent all day at Old Faithful and didn't hike to Lone Star Geyser. Next time, I want to see this geyser away from the crowds. It was dusk by the time we got to Midway Geyser Basin. The colorful reflections were spectacular! | Geysers are hard to photograph since they are so unpredictable. Thermal pools are more photogenic but less exciting. We ate dinner in the Old Faithful cafeteria. Leslie ate inside and I ate most of my dinner outside watching Old Faithful erupt (approx. 6pm).
48: Tuesday 30 August 2011 Last day in Yellowstone. Our first leisurely morning. Breakfast in the room instead of a parking lot. Leslie drained my blisters and taped my heels. We bought souvenirs in the gift shop. And we still had time for two hikes before driving to Colter Bay.
49: Too late for the ranger-led hike, but Storm Point trail was still beautiful--some woods, some meadow, some sandy lakeside path. Gorgeous views of the lake.
50: At first I was annoyed when Leslie studied his GPS while walking in the woods. Then I realized that I could finally keep up with him. I loved the music of these tall pines swaying in the wind. I tried to keep talking with Leslie to alert bears to our presence.
51: Riddle Lake
52: Checked into Colter Bay cabin. Authentic log cabin. Green linoleum floor with large braided rug in center. Three beds. Lots of space, but not nearly as luxurious as our last accommodations. No coffee in room. Dark inside. Bathroom rustic, but at least it was in our room. A bit disappointing since this room cost significantly more. 7pm Ranger talk in Colter Bay Amphitheater. A native American ranger (Lane) told us about porcupines while mosquitoes feasted on our bare skin. Leslie had a conference call Wednesday morning, so we were glad to have reliable cell coverage again. | As we were leaving Yellowstone, we passed these cyclists. When we stopped at a waterfall for a snack and view, they were in the parking lot. She was biking across the US, starting from Oregon. He is on a shorter trip. They met that day and were planning their route to the next camping area. She was prepared with well-thought-out equipment and training. He was given a bike and panniers and it sounded like his trip was more spontaneous. They seemed glad to have each other's company for a little while. I told them about Babes on Bikes.
53: Leaving Yellowstone National Park
54: Wed 31 Aug Canoeing in Colter Bay 12:10-2:10 pm Windy return trip. Saw coyote running along beach. Leslie took videos while canoeing.
56: Oxbow Bend
58: Lunch in Colter Bay restaurant. Leslie fish and chips. Joan veggie and feta wrap. After lunch, we drove to Oxbow Bend and then up Signal Mountain. 7pm Ranger talk about moose. Late dinner of salad, black beans, yogurt and salsa.
60: Signal Mountain
66: Thursday 1 September 2011 Early morning walk along Colter Bay. Leslie went back to the cabin for his conference call while I bought coffee from the general store.
68: Jenny Lake
78: Thursday 1 September 2011 Hiked Cascade Canyon after ferrying across Jenny Lake. 11:30 on boat. 12-5:45 hiking. Drove to Moose to look for moose, found none Instead, we explored an outdoor museum and talked to a man and his old dog next to the broken down ferry. At Moose General Store, we bought peaches, bananas, canned chili beans, and bread. Saw an elk on the way home. Late dinner at our cabin--lettuce and chili. Then we packed to go home.
81: Friday 2 September 2011 We wanted to spend our last few hours hiking in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve before catching our flight back home, but waited almost an hour for a parking space. The endowment specified that only fifty spaces be allowed so the park would never become overcrowded. Some spaces were reserved for handicapped people and for hybrid cars. The husband and wife parking attendant team was very nice and we learned that the wife attended the same high school as our son Stephen (Washington-Lee). She was there at the same time as Warren Beatty (who graduated in 1955). We wouldn't have learned that if we had just pulled into a parking spot and went hiking. On our way to the preserve, we saw a moose cow in the creek by the side of the road. This caused a huge traffic jam, slowing our progress to the hike. But we joined the other cars in parking alongside the road and getting out to take photos. After leaving the preserve on the way to the airport we saw a baby bear in a tree. Another traffic jam. We stopped very briefly and I wished for a longer lens on my camera. On the flight from Jackson Hole to Denver, I talked to Rachel Carr, a triathlete who was returning home from a conference in Jackson Hole. We discussed biking, tri-events, and Babes on Bikes. I keep hoping to see her on a babes ride. Lightning delayed our takeoff from Denver. We sat on the plane at the gate over 1.5 hours. I was glad to have my SLR camera, especially after they told us to turn off all electronic devices and I realized that most of my reading material was on my Nook.
83: Phelps Lake, Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
90: To say goodbye is always sad, but coming home is never bad.