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Yellowstone to Tetons

July 15, 2013

Wyoming – Tuesday, July 9

The beauty of camping right in the park was being able to get going right away while lots of people were still driving in. We started with a short walk around the campground, then I started making my way back to Old Faithful. But there were lots of places to stop and see along the way – the Midway Geyser Basin, Lower Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pot, Spout Geyser, Grand Prismatic Spring, Biscuit Basing and others. I stopped and walked on all the boardwalks, and once again felt like I was on a different planet. There was so much steaming and smoking, bubbling and boiling, eruptions and hissing that I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole place goes ka-boom some day! It makes me wonder about what all’s going on beneath the surface when this is what we see on top! It’s a spectacular place to walk through. One of the geysers was making so much noise it almost sounded like a jet engine getting ready for take-off. And that was a relatively new one – it didn’t exist before the 1950s and then there was a new explosion/eruption and this new, noisy geyser came into being. I overheard a tour guide saying they actually had to move some lodging because of the new geyser, and she stressed how this is a dynamic park, still changing year by year, and things certainly aren’t all predictable.

After all the boardwalks in the different geyser basins, I took a 2 mile walk on a trail by a river. That trail ultimately led to Fairy Falls, but it was a 5 mile round-trip hike, which was too long to leave Tula in the car. And there were so many other things to see anyway – no shortage of places to walk! And then I got to Old Faithful again, and timed it well. I must say Yellowstone knows how to handle crowds. I watched her erupt, then set off for several miles of walking in this geyser basin. It never gets boring – deep colorful steaming pools, orange mud, spouting water, and more hissing and gurgling. I took an extra walk up to Solitary Geyser that a lot of people pass by, and it erupts every 5-7 minutes. It’s not nearly as big as Old Faithful, and the first eruption I saw was just kind of a little dud, then the next one came out in such a torrent I almost got splashed! I stopped for a quick lunch of bison meatloaf (it was really good) in the cafeteria when most people were out watching Old Faithful, so I enjoyed another eruption through the window while eating lunch. I walked back to the van and got Tula out, and we enjoyed walking around the impressive old lodge and inn and visitor center. Lots of people were walking dogs on the sidewalk – at least there’s several good places in the park to get the 4-foots out to stretch!

Then I returned to the visitor center to make my donation-of-the-day. I wanted it to go to Yellowstone, since it’s the oldest park in the national park system. The rangers really liked what I was doing, and suggested the donation go to the Yellowstone Foundation so that it stays within the park, and doesn’t go to the National Park headquarters. They gave me a Yellowstone bag and a stuffed buffalo.

By this time, I had walked 8 1/2 miles and was ready to sit for a while, so I headed through the southern part of the park, and after a while I came to the Grand Teton National Park. Since the 2 parks are connected, one entry fee covers both. The Tetons are not a huge long mountain chain, but they are tall, with dramatic sawtooth peaks, and there was still a lot of snow – and a glacier – up among the top crevices. They’re absolutely impressive, and I was happy to be able to drive for miles alongside of them so I could see them to my heart’s content.

It was time to start thinking about a campground, and I had heard that it’s a little easier to get a space in the Tetons instead of Yellowstone. I passed the first couple of campgrounds, and then I saw one that was near one of the visitor centers. There was a view of the mountains driving in, but the campsite itself was in the woods so we couldn’t see the mountains. They still had openings, so I registered, and was happy to be able to camp in the Tetons. There were still the bear precautions (I couldn’t even leave Tula’s water dish outside the van) but it’s all good to keep everyone aware. Tula and I walked around part of the campground – it’s full of pine trees; I think they’re lodgepole pine. Then we settled in – Tula curled up on the pine needles until I let her on the air mattress, and I got caught up with some record-keeping while the sun went down. The campground was nearly full but it was set up in such a way that it didn’t seem crowded at all. It was pretty to listen to wind in the pine trees while I was catching up with things, and it got cool enough for sweatshirts. It was a very peaceful night!

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