Jellystone

July 20-21

Miles: 190

Wildlife:  Bison, Elk, Grizzly Bear, Badger, Tundra (?) Swan, Longhorn Sheep, Hawks of some ilk

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We spent three nights at the Rocky Mountain campground in Gardiner, a good basecamp for exploring Yellowstone Park, especially the Mammoth Hot Springs area.

FLS_6505The Mammoth Hot Springs are really big.  Which one would assume given the name “Mammoth,” unless one were reading “Alaska” by James Michener, in which case one might come away with the impression that the woolly mammoth wasn’t reallly all that big.

After walking through the Mammoth basin, we drove down the road a few miles to the trailhead to Bunsen Peak.  We hiked the trail to the peak, an ascent of about 1200 feet.  It was a significant hike since it was Rebecca’s first real hike since the accident.  She succeeded with flying (not literally) colors.  At the top of the mountain, we encountered a fellow Georgian, Andy from Thomasville, who was spending the summer working at the park.

We also saw a beautiful aerial ballet performed by three hawks who, at the beginning, were below us.FLS_6565

The next day we drove the whole double-loop of the park.  We saw spectacular vistas (no photos available), geysers, boiling mud pots, and a grizzly.  The grizzly had stopped traffic, but we got moving and had a perfect view of it.  Unfortunately, when it was our turn in the traffic line, I had not turned on the camera when I handed it to Rebecca, so we got no photo.

Later we went to Old Faithful, which we saw erupt twice, since it takes about 90  minutes to walk the geyser basin in Old Faithful’s neighborhood.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

That night we dined at the iron Horse in Gardiner.  We had elk nachos, which were probably the best nachos I’ve ever had.

Incidentally, elk line the parking lot at the Mammoth visitor center, in case you’ve been failing to bag any elk on hunts in eldk country over the past decade or so.

The park was rife with wildflowers, among them astors, Indian paintbrush, lupine, yarrow, some pretty little blue bells, and a bunch of yellow flowers.

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Tower Falls

Tower Falls

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