So Long Yellowstone
After spending a whole day exploring Yellowstone Park, we happily accepted a dinner invitation from our RV friends Jay and Carol. We packed all the beer and wine our bicycles would carry (It's amazing how much you can pack on a bike when motivated!) and pedalled across town to their campsite.
By this time their second couple of friends had docked their own trailer next door, so we got to meet Murray and Nancy. Cam and Susan joined in and the eight of us feasted on BBQ steak and salads at the picnic table, swatting mosquitoes all the while. Apparently it had been raining in Yellowstone for the last three weeks and we brought the warm weather in with us, just so the new crop of bugs could hatch!
After dinner we gathered inside Jay and Carol's spacious coach and chatted over our wine and beers like long lost friends until dark (pretty late since this is the spring solstice). All the guys are great storytellers, but the most notable tale was Murray's recollections of attending the original Woodstock concert weekend at the impressionable age of 16. A truly memorable evening!
You can just imagine this bison challenging the driver of this car: "You think I'm gonna move aside for you? Dream on."
The next day was our last full day in Yellowstone Park so we bit the bullet and got up very early so we could eat, get our morning chores done and be in the park by 7:30 a.m. This worked wonderfully, as we passed the bison shown above with just a few other cars and made it all the way across to the east side of the park in record time, perhaps 40 minutes.
It seems so otherworldly to see steam rising from bare ground in Yellowstone. The morning was cool so the steam really showed up well.
Our first excursion today to the Lower Falls on Yellowstone River was to descend 328 steps down the metal grid stairway of Uncle Tom Richardson's Trail. The stairs took us 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the canyon.
This is the stairway we climbed down to get a view of Lower Falls from below. The climb back up was challenging, since we are at 8,000 ft altitude here and there is less oxygen in the atmosphere. It has nothing to do with being out of shape of course
I got some good photos and a video of the falls but my legs felt like rubber for a few hours after the climb back up to the rim of the gorge. And I thought I was fairly fit...
Lower Falls of Yellowstone River, (308 ft). Notice the rainbow.
Then we drove down the south rim to photograph Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from 'Artist Point' which was beautiful and iconic but quite far away from the falls. So we drove back to the north side of the falls and hiked a steep zigzag down to the brink, using a trail that must have had 20 switchbacks. Can really feel that in our legs now! But the photos and videos were worth it!
View of the brink of Lower Falls. Once I figure out how to get videos linked to my blog I will post some footage of this awesome river roaring over the edge!
By now it was late morning and we were tired so we headed back to our campground in West Yellowstone. Of course there was a bison holding up traffic entering the park from the west side (similar to what we had been caught in yesterday). But from our westbound vantage point we were somewhat amazed to note that the line of traffic stretched for 15 solid miles! The fact that this was the first beautiful weather weekend of the spring probably brought more visitors to the park also.
Fifteen mile long traffic jam in Yellowstone. So glad not to be in that lineup...
There are still many sights to see in the park but after just 48 hours of battling traffic and crowds, not to mention covering lots of ground by foot, we are quite content to leave tomorrow and return to the park another year to see some more.
After lunch we had a well deserved nap and walked to the downtown strip of West Yellowstone to window shop. For dinner we met with Jay, Carol, Cam and Susan for the most excellent gourmet pizza and locally brewed beer at the Wolf Pack Pub and said our farewells. We are so glad to have made such great new friends on this trip and hope to bump into them again when we are in Calgary.
Tomorrow we head northwest to Missoula, Montana.