Friday, August 22, 2014

A Trip To Yellowstone - Finally Part 6

Question: How many pictures can a woman take of one fast, out-and-back, blur-of-a-day trip to Yellowstone National Park?
Answer:  367
I have to shake my head at this point, in mild bemusement that one quick trip to a national park turned into a six part blog.
On the way to the park last week LC and I had a long way to go and were intent and focused on just getting there.
We had someone waiting to meet with us and we needed to get to the bridge and take care of business.
On the way back the way we had come we stopped briefly at so many places.  These pictures in these posts were snapped furiously and with little thought or care.
Point and shoot.
I wish that we had had more time but we didn't, but I think that we made the most of the brief time that we had.
Having said all of that I am not surprised at how much we saw in only a few hours.
That is the way it always is in Yellowstone.
There is always beauty around every curve in the road.  Always adventure around every bend.
After all the times we have been there I have learned to not go into Yellowstone with an agenda.
Agendas can change at any moment and without notice.
How can anyone not stop for hours when they realize that the entire community-in-the-park of Mammoth Hot Springs has been completely and unexpectedly inundated with elk who are now grazing on residents lawns and bushes?
Or when they see a cow elk standing in a freezing cold river and refusing to leave, because she has been chased to the river in a life-or-death-race with a predator?  
Or when they see a huge grizzly lumbering across an open field with three little butterball cubs in tow?
Or a herd of huge, lumbering, unexpectedly animated male bison standing protectively beside the mates of their choice?
It is all just so wonderful.
We had only left Barb at the Fishing Bridge a couple of hours before, but were finally close to the end of our trip to the park.
We had never been to the Brink of the Upper Falls before, and as LC pulled off the road and pulled into the crowded parking lot I could already hear the thunderous sound of rushing water.
A short walk on a paved path and I could see the fast moving river through the trees.
Stepping off the main pathway briefly I snapped these two quick pictures.............
As we approached the retaining wall I could see a set of steps that I assumed would lead down to the water, and where I hoped that we would be able to see the water fall.
I looked doubtfully at the pathway beyond the stairs, realized that it wasn't a good idea to drag Kory down there, and turned to LC.
Did he want to go first while I stayed back with our dog?
Smiling at me LC told me to go ahead and he would wander with Kory.
I headed down the steps, turned left while following the paved walkway, looked to my right and was excited (as I always am) to see the river.
It was very fast and very noisy.............
LC looking down from the main walkway................
Lots more stairs and suddenly I was very glad that we had decided not to bring Kory.
Too many steps, too many narrow pathways, too many loose rocks and drop-offs that could spell potential disaster for a dog...............
At the bottom of the second set of steps I looked to my right again.
The trees had cleared out, and suddenly I was looking at the full beauty and ferocious force of this river.
It was as compelling to me as the bison had been only 20 minutes before and I stood at the bottom of the stairs for a moment completely mesmerized by it..............
Heading towards the final overlook to the river...............
Views of the river and the waterfall from the overlook..............
If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you can see another overlook through the trees...............
A beautiful and powerful place that was worth the stairs, worth the aggravation of too many people and too many vehicles...........
A view of the retaining wall as I climbed up the last flight of stairs before seeking out my guy and my dog............
It's like playing a game of Where's Waldo.
He blends seamlessly with the trees, but if you look closely there is a squirrel looking down at us from one of those trees.
We first noticed him as we began our walk along the paved trail.
As Kory was leading the way she suddenly veered off trail and excitedly began to sniff around a tree.
It took me a few moments to realize that she had caught wind of a squirrel, and immediately after that realization I saw the furry little rodent scurrying in circles around the tree.
It quickly maneuvered itself half way up the trunk of the tree and then suddenly stopped and turned its head to look down directly at our excited pup.
And then it began angrily chattering at Kory from the safety of its elevated perch, very animated and obviously voicing his displeasure.
Throughout this entire brief episode Kory was stretched to the full length of her leash, I was holding her back, and LC and I were looking at each other in surprise at such an animated squirrel.
I finally pulled Kory away from the tree and we all continued on our way, but the squirrel was still chattering in anger at my dog as we disappeared around a bend in the trail.
By the time we arrived at the stairway leading down to the waterfall I had forgotten about the squirrel, but on the way back to the Tahoe I suddenly heard a noise up in the trees.
Looking up I realized that this was the same peeved squirrel that we had met on the way in.
Two elderly ladies were sitting on a bench underneath the trees and when they heard the squirrel they looked up, wondering what all the fuss was about.
LC shared the story of the squirrel with the old ladies, and they both laughingly informed us that the squirrel had not made a sound until we had arrived.
Obviously the furry little guy was still ticked off, and he was still angrily chattering when we continued on to our truck.
Too funny...............
In November of 2012, me, LC, LC's brother Gary and our beloved dog Jamie visited the park.
It was cloudy and (predictably that late in the year) it was also very cold.
The park was almost completely empty of people.
No crowds around the animals.  No cars stopped in the middle of the road.  No vehicles parked haphazardly in the parking areas.
The brilliant greens of the plains and the brilliant blues of the skies were gone, and the park was rapidly preparing to shut itself down and hibernate for the winter.
Gary was preparing to head back to his home in Minnesota although we did not know that at the time, and on this very long day we entered through the East Gate of the park, and drove up and out of the park through the Cooke City entrance to the north, before making the long trek back to Cody.
Of all the trips we have taken, this particular trip filled with animals and wonder and almost total silence, is one of my favorites.
One of the places we stopped during this day-long trip was the Upper Falls and a place known as Painters Point.
A blog post about those places:
The last stop that we made on our Yellowstone voyage last week was to the back end of this same place.
It is not as beautiful.  It does not highlight the colorful landscape as well, nor show the falls and river as well, but I was glad that we stopped to see..............
A few more pictures taken on the move not long before (finally) making our way out of the park...................
By the time we had traveled down off the mountain from West Yellowstone Montana, passed through the beautiful communities of Island Park and Ashton, made our way through the chaotic and unwelcome city of Idaho Falls and finally found our way back to the solitude of the desert highway that would take us home, we were welcomed by endless blue sky and a setting sun.
A good day.
A long day.
A very good day.....................

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.............John Burroughs

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