Saturday, October 25, 2014

Yellowstone and Geezer VII - Yellowstone Day 3

September 30

Once again we awoke to heavily overcast skies and temperatures in the low 40's.  The plan for today is to spend the morning hiking around the Old Faithful Area and then spend the rest of the day exploring the area between the Old Faithful Inn and Madison Junction to the north.

The area we planned to explore today highlighted in yellow. 
As you can see, we didn't do much driving today.

After a quick breakfast we walked over to the Visitors Center where we looked at the displays and then went outside to catch the end of Old Faithful erupting.  It erupts about every 90 minutes and we weren’t going to stick around and wait for the next one as we planned to hike the Geyser Hill Trail that starts at Old Faithful.  By this time a light rain had started to fall, but we were wearing our rain jackets and decided to start the hike anyway.  It was a great hike with many small geysers and pools.  

Geyser Hill near Old Faithful.
The Firehole River.

We reached a point where another trail split off and went to other geysers and pools and ended up at Morning Glory Pool, which was supposed to be very colorful.  Val decided she didn’t want to do that and continued on the loop and I headed off to Morning Glory Pool.  It was a great hike with many geysers, pools and other thermal activity. It was a long hike though, and by the time I got back to the Old Faithful Inn I was tired.

Grotto Geyser.

Morning Glory Pool.
The Firehole River. You can see where it got its name.
The Old Faithful Inn was a welcome sight after my long hike.
The front entrance to the Old Faithful Inn.
After we had taken a short rest it was time for lunch so we decided to go over to the Old Faithful Lodge (different from the Inn) and eat at the grill, which turned out to be pretty much a fast food place.  After lunch we decided to drive down and take the Firehole Lake Scenic Drive which was great.  Our first stop was at Firehole Spring, a thermal pool. Off in the distance we saw some buffalo and started to take some pictures as they came closer and closer.  Before we knew it we were surrounded by buffalo, which was a wonderful and scary experience.  This is the rutting season and the males were acting pretty aggressive.  They are so big and were making grunting and growling noises. it was just frightening when you think of the damage they could do.  We stayed right next to the car in case we had to make a quick getaway.  The buffalo were crossing the road and had us pretty much surrounded, but they didn’t pay any attention to us at all, and we certainly didn’t want to find out what would happen if we got in there way.  Soon the herd had wandered off and we continued on our drive.

There were many geysers and pools on this loop, but the cold temperatures and wind created a lot of steam so some things were hard to see.  At times when you were hiking, the wind would change and you would be engulfed by this foul smelling steam, it was like being in a steam bath.  The only good thing was that it was warm as the temperatures were in the low 40's.  

More buffalo.

When they decide to cross the road they don't care if a car is coming or not
and sometimes they just stand there in the middle of the road. 
All the traffic has to stop, creating "buffalo jams".

Val emerging from the steam.

We finished the drive and turned back towards the Old Faithful Inn, but before we called it a day we wanted to visit the Midway Geyser Basin.  It was interesting, but a little disappointing as there was a pool called Grand Prismatic Spring, which you see a lot in pictures. It has very deep, rich bands of colors, but because the weather was so cold, it was pretty much covered in steam so all you could see were the edges.  Still it was a interesting hike and there were many colorful streams flowing away from the steam-covered pools.

The Firehole River.

You can just see the edge of Grand Prismatic Spring under the steam,
and you can see the colorful mineral-rich runoff.

It was pretty late in the afternoon when we finished at Midway Basin so we decided we would head back the Old Faithful Inn and since it started to rain that seemed like the wisest thing to do.  We spent early evening looking at our pictures for the day (and there were a lot of them) and then we went down to the dining room for dinner.  We had a very good dinner tonight and didn’t get back to our room until around 9:00.  After looking at the pictures we took that day we were tired and went to bed.  Tomorrow is our last full day in Yellowstone and we intend to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  It would be nice if the weather improves, but the forecast hasn’t been very promising.  Oh well, we have made the best of it so far so we’ll just have to continue be flexible.

A cell phone picture of the grand old dining room at the Old Faithful Inn.

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