Yellowstone National Park. This place is just amazing. I was up really early on Thursday to get into the park in time, as I would be hiking up Mount Washburn. I had read that the parking would be filling up early so I headed for the gates at 7 in the morning, as I had an hours drive to the trailhead. The park was so peaceful that early, it was just me and the fog basically.
Get there early they said. It will be packed they said.
It was absolutely freezing in the park that morning, just 2 degrees celsius. The clouds were low and heavy but I wore my thick sweater for the very first time since the plane coming here, and my rain jacket so I was fine. Mount Washburn is one of the highest peaks in the park at 10243 ft/3122 m
The trail up was so beautiful, and so quiet. It felt like I was all alone for most of the time, which was nice because I enjoy the silence, but scary because there are signs everywhere not to hike alone because of the bears. Oh well, I lived to tell about it… I did meet a couple from Minnesota on the way up though who I stopped to chat to. They were very nice!
The hike up was beautiful, but so cold. As I got closer to the top the wind really picked up, and for a moment I almost wished I had brought my thicker jacket instead.
At the very top is a fire lookout station, one of three still active in the park today. A ranger is always there, keeping an eye on the park from above to spot wildfires.
After I took this picture I did such a stupid thing. I took another picture where I held myself up with the poles and jumped, and it hurt so much in my hand to put that much pressure on it. It ached for hours that afternoon, and it still feels more sensitive than before I did that. So, so stupid. But that is how I learn my limits, not from someone telling me what they are. I will definitely not be doing that again. And the picture? It was blurry.
Once I got to the top I could take shelter from the wind in the tower luckily, and enjoy a snack break with a few other hikers who had made it there. We had a beautiful view of the entire park, and on a clear day you’re supposedly supposed to be able to see the Tetons more than a 100 miles (160km) away.
I signed the guest book of course. Yes, I write like a small child.
I hiked back down again and by then the trail was getting very crowded. When I made it to the parking lot it was full, and someone was very happy when I left so they could take my spot. It was a 6 mile/10 km hike and including the snack break it took around 3 hours. After Mount Washburn I decided to head south on the road. Yellowstone basically have two circular roads, so you don’t have a lot of options. And as I was driving south I remember that the Transamerica Trail passes through Yellowstone, and yep, as I got to the very south I saw a few of them. I felt SO sorry for them. The road is really small with no shoulders and with lots of cars, the poor cyclists looked so nervous. I was NOT jealous as all, I would definitely not have wanted to ride there! (which I would have, had I not been injured. Lucky me I say!)
My next stop was Old Faithful at the southwest point, which is the most famous geyser in the park. I was lucky and got there just 20 minute before an eruption. It usually erupts every 94 minutes, + – 10 minutes. There were so many people there, but everyone just sat quietly on the benches waiting for an eruption. So funny when everyone went WOW at the same time when it finally happened.
Yes, that is boiling hot water.
After that I drove up the west side of the park, but it was getting late and I was getting pretty tired. After a while my brain just can’t process any more things, so no matter how impressive I just can’t bother to care. That’s when I know it’s time to head home and recharge! But on the way back to the hotel I decided to stop at a place I had heard about first, the Boiling River.
Saw this guy along the way. Another reason why I can’t understand how so many people are speeding through these parks, I’m scared enough as it is driving at the speed limit that one of these will jump out in front of the car, and some idiots are driving even faster.
The boiling river is a place where two rivers meet, one freezing cold and one scalding hot. It makes it the perfect temperature in some places, but also not. It was so weird walking into the water and one half of your body was absolutely freezing, and half felt like it would be getting huge burns. Weird! And painful… let’s just say I didn’t spend too long in that river. I would actually have preferred to swim where it was just cold I think.
Oh well, it was good anyway. Slightly smelly but good.
I was in two places at once on the way home! The park is mostly in Wyoming, but the very top of it is in Montana, which is also where my hotel is. So I stopped and took this photo. Straddling the state line so I was in both Montana and Wyoming at the same time… yeah, I’m such a dork.
Friday morning I slept in for a while, before heading back into the park. I was going to hike up Bunsen Peak, which is the small mountain you can see in the background. It’s too bad that the air isn’t very clear, the mountains in the pictures below would look even more amazing if they were clearer.
It was a fun hike, but pretty steep. Just switchbacks, switchbacks and switchbacks. A small snake slithered across the trail right in front of my feet as I froze right in a step. It was gone so fast that I didn’t even have time to take a picture though. It was dark and had a yellow stripe down its back, I have no idea what type of snake it was. (a quick google search tells me it might have been the non venomous common garter snake.)
I enjoyed a snack at the top, and it wasn’t very windy luckily. And someone else wanted a piece of my snack too…
“I saw you putting a wrapper in the bag somewhere, it smells delicious, can I have it?” Chipmunks are so cute.
But when I got back down, something had happened. I have no idea how or why, but my windshield had a huge crack in it. There was nothing indicating it when I left two hours earlier, so I really have no idea what might have happened and I got a huge shock when I got in the car. So annoying, but everything in my life has been so great recently that I guess something had to give… Oh well, I have called the rental company and reported it, and as I leave the park on Sunday I’ll drive by Idaho Falls and can exchange it there. So long Cherry Bomb…
The crack is right at the drivers side too, so typical.
But I drove around the park for a while anyway, and also did some souvenir shopping and had lunch. I’ve really tried to stay away from souvenirs on this trip but I love Yellowstone so much that I just had to!
These signs are everywhere. I bought a bear bell to hang from my backpack that jingles and will alert the bears of my presence so they can leave before I even see them. A can of bear spray was INSANELY expensive but I carry regular peppar spray at least.
I’m so glad I have another day in paradise, I mean Yellowstone, left. I’m so glad I decided to stay here longer than I originally intended, because it really has been a magical visit. I mean, Grand Canyon was cool, but out of all the parks I’ve visited so far it rates pretty low on my list. Yellowstone is definitely at the very top! This place is just so varied and beautiful, it has big open plains, big mountains, lakes and geysers and thick forests and so many different animals. Simply amazing. I would definitely recommend a visit here.
Next week I’ll be heading towards the coast! Even though I certainly have taken the long road, I will have made it coast to coast. I’m super excited about that, but I need to do some more research about things to see in both southern Oregon and northern California. I will gladly accept any advice!