The yellowstone experience

Here at last is my weeks experience I wanted to share with all of you in Yellowstone. It's a story well deserving to be told and heard and for Yellowstone to be appreciated for the gem it is. For those of you that get the chance to go I totally recommend it.

My first impressions of Yellowstone were of being stunned by the breathtaking scenery, where you want to pause and reflect as you soak in the awesome views. From vast open plains to countless snowy mountain peaks in every direction, my first thoughts were this is just like Middle Earth. I felt like Bilbo Baggins traversing through Gondor and Rivendell. I held the view that I've seen many parks by now and this once is certainly one of the most scenic. But I was missing the point, big time. This is not just a park with mountains and valleys, rivers and forests, there was something unique that I was becoming slowly aware of. The majority of the park is one huge volcano, but you don't see the typical volcano mountain or lava. I was becoming aware that the park is extremely thermally active, with countless geysers, hot springs, steam vents, boiling mud.

The first day in Yellowstone was snowing and chilly temperatures just above freezing. I took my first chance to go to Old Faithful geyser, and witnessed at least 20 different geysers. Old faithful erupted twice, just like clockwork around 75 minutes apart. Grotto geyser also erupted when I was there (it erupts every 8 hours approx). Walking around all the geysers a the old faithful site, I was joined bya very unshy bison on the walkways, as if he was also checking out the geysers. Leaving the old faithful site, I found a wolf lurking on the edge of the Old Faithful carpark.

Driving through yellowstone you have to be prepared for slow traffic. I mean if you see scenes like this, its almost mandatory to stop and snap a photo.

I was lucky enough to see a mother black bear with two cubs, and another time caught a black bear strolling along the lake after sunset.

Even the scenic views deserved a stopping break to snap photo's and view.

The Yellowstone National Park also has some spectacular waterfalls (video is yellowtone river lower falls).:

My highlight of the trip was probably climbing Mt. Washburn to the summit (over 10,000 ft), from where you can see the enntire yellowstone park in its full glory, yes you can drive up the mountain but I climbed it from the car park (8,500ft). Another huge highlight was the day out in Teton Park. This park is directly south of Yellowstone National park, also majestic but less active as it is outside the caldera zone. I spent the first half of the day enjoying a scneic boat trip on the Snake river, at a perfect pace with a raft filled with two young families. The second half of the day was white water rafting the rapids on the Snake river further downstream, with class 4 rapids nearing class 5, where wave after wave we were almost vertical at one point climbing the last wave (noone fell out). The water in the gorge was 120ft deep with snowmelt, breaking trends over the last few years.

 

What I haven't mentiond yet is what happened on the way to yellowstone from Reno. After driving the long road nearing yellowstone, I hit an elk. It was well dark after sunset, right here. I didn't see any signposts for deer doing a comfortable 65mph. Well I managed to swerve and was sideswiped by the elk, so my windshield and side mirror got destroyed. Sorry but the deer didn't make it. I had to get a rental car for a few days until mechanic repaired it. Police report and insurance all sorted.

 Finally it wouln't be complete a story without mentioning my return journey home. My path homebound through Idaho went on par with the Snake River. I witnessed the same river I had trafted on now meander and spread wide over the next few hundred miles of my journey up as far as Twin Falls, where you find the Shoshone Falls of the Snake River. Even after all the irrigated fields I passed through Idaho, the Snake river still showed emense power, known as the Niagara Falls of the west. This is the falls near its maximum spring snowmelt flow.

And what follows after the falls is just as breathtaking. The gorge has a 150m high bridge that is a hotspot for basejumpers.

 

And there it is, journeys end, and Bilbo Baggins has returned to his Shire, without report of mythical spirits or creatures, but with reports of a magical land of earth and fire. I hope you get to experience Yellowstone, and I hope I've done the place justice in telling the story it deserves to be told.