Monday, October 12, 2009

Yellowstone October 10, 2009

On Saturday, I needed to run to Bozeman to pick up some things from Costco. It was cold here
in Island Park (7 degrees), but the sun was shining. As I drove across the flats, I thought it might be nice to run over to Livingston and down to Gardiner and go through the park. So, that is what I did. It was freezing cold in the park, also, but I still managed to get out of the car and take some pictures.

My first stop was at Mammoth. Because it was so cold, the steam rose off the Mammoth Terrace and combined with the clouds in the sky. As I was going back to my car after taking a few pictures, a man got out of his truck. He'd been parked in the turnout when I pulled in. He asked me if I had binoculars (which, of course, I didn't) and pointed out where he was watching two black wolves. I looked through my camera lens, and sure enough, I could make out a black wolf. I snapped a picture, even though I knew the wolf would not be clear. It was too far away. In the next picture, the wolf is circled in red.

I got a surprise when I reached the Canyon area. They had changed the way you drive the north rim. It is now exactly opposite. I stopped at the path down to the lower falls and found out that you can now view the upper falls from this stop. The third picture is the upper falls from the brink of the lower falls path. My fingers really froze here, as I stopped a couple of times to look down into the canyon. I didn't bother to grab my coat, which was really stupid of me, but I didn't expect to be out of the car that long. I have no idea what the temperature was, but the wind was icy cold and froze me the minute I stepped out of the car.

Just south of the upper falls, in the deceptively calm water, I spotted two swans. There was not a good place to stop, and the park was suprisingly crowded for how cold it was, so I just grabbed a quick shot of one of the swans before moving on.

When I first entered the park, the ranger at the gate told me that I might not be able to get through to Old Faithful because there was a bad wreck between Fishing Bridge and West Thumb. Sure enough, they were still cleaning up the wreck. I hit the area just right, though, as I only had to slow down to a crawl. I never had to stop completely. BAD wreck. I took this picture of Stephenson Island before coming up on the backed up traffic.

When I got to the Madison I finally saw more elk. I only saw three at Mammoth. Plenty of buffalo along the Hayden Valley, but no elk. This spike was with about seven cows on one side of the river. Not 100 feet away, on the other side of the river was a big bull. He sure was a beauty. I hit the Madison at about 5:30, so the light was fading fast. I actually made it home before dark, so that was pretty good timing. I wanted to see how long it would take because Pamela and I are supposed to be going through the park on the 24th. I hope it warms up a little before then.

Even with how cold it was, the park was still plenty beautiful. I didn't have any problems on the icy patches, even without my snow tires. I'll be getting my snow tires put on this week. Of course, any day is beautiful in the park. I am so lucky to live this close where I can go and enjoy the beauty on a whim. : )

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