From the first moment, we knew this was no ordinary park. The air was different. Putrid. Disgustingly foul, yet inviting investigation. The smell of sulphur from the countless geysers is Yellowstone Park.
We would need the extra blanket tonight. But first we had some exploring to do.
The park is huge, with a couple of main loops that each take an hour or so to drive, if you do not stop. We did a lot of stopping. Each geyser has a name and there are a multitude of geysers. At times the whole mountainside was steaming.
I decided to go on a short hike myself in the afternoon while John rested. I was a bit nervous when the sign at the trailhead warned of bears frequenting the trail, but not nervous enough to cancel the hike. I grabbed a stick (some help that would be) and off I went. I really enjoyed the sound of my feet crunching the gravel, listening to the birds and feeling the warmth of the sun. The trail took me beside a small lake with some geysers on the far side. The reflections were great.
As I walked along, I became immersed in the wonder of nature and the feel of the forest. I forgot all about the danger of bears. I am happy to report I did not encounter a bear, although I did find myself face to face with an elk. She was eating on the side of the path and did not seem to care that I was taking her picture.
After dinner, we went for another small hike and then to see Old Faithful. The most famous geyser of all was about to entertain the masses. People lined the perimeter of her enclosure waiting anxiously. Steam from nearby geysers ignored.
She gurgled and let off some steam.
Finally, on cue, the performance began. A loud whooshing sound and water and steam shot up high in the air. On and on, higher and louder.
She released the pent-up energy for a couple of minutes then just as suddenly it was over.
We travelled back to our campsite, a thirty minute drive. It was so cold we decided to forgo the campfire and had an early night.
We woke up before the sun. it was about 4:30 am. We quickly ate breakfast and drove quietly into the dawn. We were on safari. We were in search of bear. Grizzly bear.
We heard from a fellow traveller that a dirt road, in a certain valley, was a great viewing place. We headed there. It was so early the elk were still resting.
We were fortunate to see a lot of animals. Lots of pronghorn, and buffalo by the hundreds.
Then it happened. A black bear came up the rise right beside our car and crossed the road behind us on its way to the watering hole.
The cutest was the prairie dog. (not a typical forest animal)
We came across a few cars gathered and lots of cameras clicking towards the hillside. The safari sign that something interesting has been sighted.
My GRIZZLY was in the woods! Waaaay in the distance, but I could see her and managed to get a good picture before she trundled out of sight.
This was a great morning. I was feeling satisfied and ready to head back to the campsite for a nap. Relaxed and happy we drove slowly around a few more corners in the road.
We could hear it before we could see it. The howl of a wolf is unmistakable. Deep and hollow. The sound pierced the canyon. A lonesome wail, she continued to howl. We spotted her sitting in the sage brush. A crowd gathered. Everyone silent except the lone wolf. A truly unforgettable morning.