Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yellowstone Some More - Part 1

My Mountain Boy, my dog and I took a drive to Yellowstone National Park yesterday and spent a few hours driving from the East Gate to Canyon Village:
It was only a distance of 43 miles once we crossed into the park but when you stop every five minutes 43 park miles takes a long time.
But it was a beautiful day and we greatly wanted to see one more section of the park.
After filling the cooler with Diet Cokes and bottled water, cooked chicken wings and brownies and french bread, and filling the gas tank we happily left the town of Cody and headed west.
We got a late start on the trip and when we left town resolved to not stop until we were through the gates (regardless of animals or wild flowers or raging rivers I would have to resist taking pictures of if we were going to see any of the park at all).
My dog was hyper-excited and after a few loudly intent barking experiences and the resultant "does she or doesn't she have to go" questions we eventually stopped briefly three times within the first 15 miles of the drive until she got everything out of her system and could finally settle into the trip.
Passing through the East Gate I was excited, as I always am, to be in this place.
20 minutes into our drive the traffic ahead of us (sparser than I imagined for Yellowstone Park in the middle of summer) began to slow and then eventually move at a crawl.
Soon we realized why.
A lone and very very large buffalo was lumbering slowly down the road.  Mostly over to the right but sometimes wandering into the middle of the road.  Sometimes even partially wandering into oncoming traffic.
We were in an area of Sylvan Pass - the area that is notorious for rock slides, washed out roads, and (this past winter) the problematic area responsible for keeping the East Gate closed well into June.
There is very little growth in this area. 
Instead it is filled with large mountains and canyons of large rock and loose dirt.
This lone buffalo - very large, apparently healthy and uninjured must have walked a long way on the paved highway to have reached this place because there was just no way he could have traveled over these treacherously unstable hills.
I watched him while he slowly wandered (completely unperturbed by the vehicles and people surrounding him) and wondered what his story was.
Why was he here, on the highway, alone?  Where had he come from?  Where was he going?
No answers and only questions.
After slowly following behind him for a few minutes we pulled the truck into a small parking area so that we could take better pictures of this prehistoric throwback of an animal.
He was big and very beautiful...................
A picture of our buffalo taken outside the side window of the truck as we approached him.
The terrain in these pictures is the terrain for miles in both directions............
I took this picture of a small rock tower that had been made by a park visitor because it reminded me of the many rock towers I had seen while living in Juneau.
I did not realize until we were driving away from the parking lot that there were actually five or six other similar towers that had also been built on top of the bases of other large rocks at this place...........
Neither LC nor I had eaten breakfast and as we passed through the dirt and rock filled Sylvan Pass we eventually found ourselves back into the Yellowstone beauty of pine trees and multiple small lakes and streams.
We stopped for a short period at Sylvan Lake to eat some of the food we had brought with us.
We drove by Sylvan Lake on our last trip to the Yellowstone only a couple of weeks ago.
At that time the lake was still covered with a thin layer of snow and ice, and there was still a lot of snow remaining in the surrounding hills.
In only a few short weeks all of that has disappeared.
Very late, but Summer finally arrived............
We noticed while passing by the Buffalo Bill Reservoir on the way to the park that the water level is higher than we have ever seen it.
The Reservoir is full.
All of the beaches we usually pass by on the way through Wapiti are under water.  
The Shoshone River is high and raging.
The streams on the way to the park are full and fast flowing.
This particular area of the park (close to Sylvan Lake) was both filled with wildflowers and now covered with large pools of water.
It was beautiful and looked very different from only a few weeks ago...........
The large and lovely Yellowstone Lake on the opposite side of the road..............
At the 4-way STOP sign we turned right heading towards Canyon.
Not long after we turned onto this new road we pulled over to this place.
A beautiful slow moving river, grassy areas where picnickers were eating lunch on the grass, fishermen enjoying shady spots to cast their lines, and beautiful mountains off in the distance.
We were really enjoying exploring and finding new and beautiful places...........
We were traveling slowly, taking our time, enjoying everything, and exploring in our own relaxed time.
Continuing further we found our way to LeHardys Rapids.
Walking down this steep wooden staircase.............
A pelican resting on a rock in the middle of a rapid filled and very fast moving section of river.
He was the highlight of this section of our trip and stood there posing for tourists for a very long time.
More pictures to follow.................

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