Summer 2008 Trip: Day 30 – Yellowstone National Park

Well, for the first time since the Badlands at the beginning of my trip I’ve managed to get sunburned. It was entirely my fault today, I went for a hike around 11am and forgot to put sunscreen on first. My arms and legs are a nice rosy shade of red that should fade within a couple days. At least it will keep me warm at night though. Gotta look at the bright side, eh?

I went for a sunrise stroll through the geysers that are near Old Faithful; something on the order of 4 miles or so of trails (though that number includes a good bit of ground I covered twice so I could get back to my car. I managed to get the perfect shot that was in my head when I set out this morning; sunlight streaming through the steam of a geyser silhouetting a tree. With that mission accomplished, I showered for the first time in 3 days. (Don’t worry, I’ve been taking what the army refers to as “field showers.” Think, Wet Naps.)

Looking at my map, I realized I wasn’t too far from Mystic Falls. So, I drove the couple miles to its trailhead at Biscuit Basin and followed the trail, heading for the overlook first. (Of course, my hike involved switchbacks and several hundred feet of elevation gain, but what else is new?) Talk about a waste of time and energy. The overlook is probably at least half a mile away from the falls, and it took me a couple minutes to even figure out where the falls were. Not my idea of an overlook.

So, I humped it back down the hill (bigger than most hills we have in Michigan) and made my way to the falls, where I could take some proper pictures. Of course, by this point, the sun wasn’t cooperating, but I’ve learned to take it as it comes.

When I was hiking through the geyser area this morning, I noticed a sign saying that Riverside Geyser was due to erupt in the early afternoon. I had no idea how big it would be, but the structure of the geyser was interesting and it’s location along the river nearly idyllic, so after grabbing a liter of water (something I forgot on my earlier hike) I walked the mile or so down the trail to the geyser to find a small crowd already formed.

While I waited the hour or so before the geyser actually erupted, I got to talking with another photographer there, a girl who works in a salmon fishery on a remote island in Alaska. (Have I ever mentioned before that almost everyone I meet knows someone who either teaches in Alaska or moved to Alaska.) Her mother was taking her on vacation around the lower 48 in hopes of convincing her to move back. Anyways, she gave me some pointers about places to visit in the park and I hope to check them out tomorrow. Needless to say, the geyser erupted, it was pretty and I have pictures.

Then came what I am convinced most people think I’m a nutter for doing. I pulled into a picnic area, read for half an hour and took a couple hour nap. (I can just see people coming by, seeing me asleep in the front seat of the Jeep and wondering why I’d come all this way just to nap in the early evening. Oh well, I’m willing to bet they’re not up at sunrise.) I’ve done stuff like this before, I love heading out into the woods with a book, that’s part of the reason why I hunt.

I finished the evening off with a trip to Kepler Cascades (a series of short waterfalls) and sunset at the Great Prismatic Spring, where I think I came out with some decent shots.

I also emptied another 4 gigabytes of photos onto my laptop today, bringing the total for Yellowstone to 7.5 gigs of photos. I think somewhere between here and Glacier I’m going to have to hole up in a hotel room as early as they’ll let me check in and spend a whole afternoon and night processing photos…

Travel Distance: ~30 miles, 10 of it on footri

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