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Yellowstone National Park- road trip
We were driving north along the Jackson River, with the Grand Teton mountain range which was to our left. There were rocky outcrops of jagged pinnacles, reaching out into the blue-bird sky, with a river which nestles itself along the road, and gently rolls northward. We pass miles and miles of golden valleys, green meadows and forests, encased by rugged ridges to all sides. Then every few miles you pass streams or rivers that forge together, to form more massive, raging torrents, intersecting like major freeways in the city.
We finally arrive in the Yellowstone National Park through the south entrance. There is immediately a great deal to take in. Each clearing through the trees reveals another canyon, river, lake or waterfall. Then the task of deciding in which direction to proceed, within the Grand Loop road, that runs throughout the park's many attractions. We decide to head west to Old Faithful, the world-famous geyser which we wanted to see.
Aside from her steaming cauldron, there are also many others scattered throughout mostly western regions of the park. They can produce wondrous colours with hypnotic mosaic-like designs. From a distance the steam that billows out of the ground resembles ancient smoke signals sent out by the Red Indians which we saw in comic books.
Suddenly, you feel the ground rumble beneath you. Then, you notice a once bubbling but calm spring will shoot out a great spurt of steam and fumes, recoil back, taking the water in it's pool down into the bowels of the earth with it—only to shoot out again more violently and with greater ferocity. Then, a few of the surrounding pools begin imitating it, each with their own powerful release of energy. It is a surprising, violent and spontaneous show and we watch fascinated.
Slowly we head east through the middle road that cuts through the park, arriving back at the canyon that is carved by the Yellowstone River. The canyon, is more affectionately than appropriately named the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, has its share of steep waterfalls that bring out the photographer in both of us. Gradually we make our way up to the north-east area, where the map says are a few park-run campgrounds that would hopefully be less populated to camp for the night.
We finally settle for the night at Tower Fall Creek. This is a large area of the park, where a creek sharply cuts through castle-like pillars, into the Yellowstone River, to create a majestic falls. In the early morning, practically at sunrise, we took a quick hike down the trail to the river. This was the most memorable view in the park that we would experience for the three nights we stayed there. The fog clouds that hovered above the river, snaking through the canyon and slowly burning off with the arrival of the sun over the eastern ridge, captivated us for hours.
The two following nights we camped at Indian Creek, on the north-west side of the park. We are told that this is where the howl of the wolves can be heard at night—but unfortunately, we are not so lucky.
The area near our camp was full of merging rivers and creeks, big valleys and plateaus that lifted gradually out to the horizons and were flanked by mountains that arose and fell suddenly, thousands of feet. We hiked up partially on Mt. Bunson, which rises to just over 9,000 feet and the trail continued down the back to the cliffs above the Gardner River. These are the "Sheepeater" cliffs, named for the Shoshone natives that inhabited the area, who referred to themselves as "Tuku-deka" or mountain-sheep eaters. The hike was about 7 miles in loop, and provided a panoramic and unique perspective of much of the park.
We were a bit nervous, especially for the first hike, bordering the Yellowstone River, and then Elk Creek, after having been advised more than once not to go alone. We tried to sign up for Ranger-led hikes, but was either too late or they were already done for the season. We were scared,but we braved the wild, faced our fears, and were ultimately surprised at the lack of scary wildlife anywhere. Aside from a couple of buffalo, and a far-off herd of mountain goats, we encountered more humans than anything else,which was okay by us. Aside from the threat of both Grizzlies and Black Bears, it was Elk mating season and those bulls, could easily run you down and leave you for the vultures,we were told.
Take a romantic getaway to any national park across the world. They connect us to the land and every other living thing we share them with. For three nights, we shared Yellowstone with the wildlife that inhabits it all the year round. In this sense, we were the guests, and they the hosts. We had come to satisfy our life-long curiosity of camping and to conquer our fears of the wilderness and happily had achieved both.
Try it sometime. It’s a journey you are not likely to forget.
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