Monday, September 20, 2010

Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

I left Dillon early last week and headed into Yellowstone. And, let's just say that Yellowstone and I didn't get off to a great start. I arrived sometime around noon, which is usually plenty of time to get a lay of the land and find a place to camp. But that didn't happen and I ended up driving an additional 2 hours to the other side of the park to find a campsite in Shoshone National Forest. Not a good way to welcome a wayfaring traveler. I spent a total of 4 days in Yellowstone and then 2 days in the Tetons before making my way down to the other Jackson, where I am currently plugged in at Jackson Hole Roasters.

Okay, so Yellowstone is pretty iconic, so it had to be on my route. But I am not in any rush to return for several reasons:
  • The whole place smells like rotten eggs, thanks to the crazy geological mystery that are sulphur geysers.
  • Traffic is comparable to Boston (not quite like Vietnam, thank god), except composed almost entirely of RVs and oversized SUVs. And this is mid-week after Labor Day. God help you if you go there in July or August.
  • A word on RVs: They are all named something. Some are quite pleasant (The Chalet, Sightseer), some almost depressing (Sunsetter), and some prophetic (The Clipper almost ran me off the road while I was biking the other day).
  • You can wake up to the sound of male elk bugling, which in theory sounds like it'd be rather nice. However, as a good friend put it, "I don't understand who decided it was 'bugling.' It sounds more like those headless ghost things in that movie about Hobbits and Elves" (she was referencing Lord of the Rings). It's a rather creepy sound and it's hard to believe that is their mating call. But then again, I don't know what Marvin Gaye sounds like to elk...
  • Bison in Yellowstone are how I imagine cows are in India - everywhere and always given the right-of-way, which means they constantly cause traffic jams. I never knew I would come to dislike a species of wildlife so quickly.
On this entire trip I have been lucky enough to see plenty of wildlife (although, I am sure to Captain Saftey's pleasure, no grizzly bears). The wildlife includes the following: pika on Mount Elbert, a few dozen dolphins off the coast of Santa Monica beach, harbor seals on the northern coast of California, a black bear on Mt. Hood, Roosevelt Elk in the Redwoods, 2 black bear in the Olympics, 2 yellow-bellied marmots in Olympics, mountain goats in Glacier, a mamma and her 2 black bear cubs in Glacier, pronghorn antelope in Montana, bison, elk, mule deer in Yellowstone, a coyote that literally snuggled with my wool hat that I accidentally dropped on the trail in Yellowstone, and two moose along the Cascade Canyon in the Tetons.

Despite not getting along well with Yellowstone, I LOVED the Tetons. I camped at Jenny Lake, which is for tents only and as soon as I arrived I let out a sigh of relief. Finally, I was surrounded by my kind of people - the ones who come to the woods to actually be outside. The first day I took an 8 mile hike and a 18ish mile bike ride on a paved trail. The second day I took an 18 mile hike followed by a 8ish mile bike ride. Talk about a marriage of my favorite things...

I am, sadly, done with the woods for at least a week. I am in Jackson until Wednesday, when I drive to Denver. From there it's either Maine, North Carolina, or Mississippi. Yes, I know - none of those destinations is remotely close to Colorado, nor to each other. I am buckling down on planning the next international trip, so if you (or someone you know) has info on Central or South America, please let me know!

Hiked up Mount Washburn in Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artist Point


Sunrise over Yellowstone Lake. I had to wake up this early to snag camping spots.

The Tetons

Biking in the Tetons. My kind of place.

Cascade Canyon

Lake Solitude

1 comment:

  1. did you take that photo WHILE biking? and the other - clearly at the wheel. and you think grizzlies are dangerous. pshhh.