Yellowstone National Park, Day 1 & 2

We are actually on our way home right now – stopped for the night in Wells, NV. Our 10 days in Yellowstone are over, but the blog got neglected because we were so busy with activities around the park it didn’t leave much time for both of us to post. So I’m going to post about those days as we drive home and finish after we arrive.48403-Yellowstone1May 28
We didn’t have that long a drive from Cody to Yellowstone, but it did involve driving over another snowy pass. Mary loves being the passenger on these rides because she gets to photograph from the rig, while I tensely negotiate the roadways. It was fine really – there was little traffic and while the weather turned from rain to sleet to wet snow, the road was never slippery. Just a little jealous of not picture taking the lovely snow over the pass.48400-Yellowstone1Once off the mountain and into the park, we stopped for lunch at Sedge Bay and photographed the rising fog and changing light over the marshes there. We had a wonderful drive past Yellowstone Lake, through Canyon Village to Norris. Along the way, of course, we stopped from time to time for wildlife and views.48405-Yellowstone1 48399-Yellowstone1We needed to get in to Norris campground as early as possible to be sure to get a good space. First come, first serve can be iffy in such a popular park, but coming in on Thursday worked out well. We didn’t get the primo sites along the lovely meadow, but we did find a good sunny quiet site elsewhere. We had thoughts of going out for an afternoon walk or drive, but got our first lesson on weather in the park – it rains in the afternoon. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. This afternoon it was a lot. It washed out any plans for sunset. We’ll get going tomorrow.

May 2948412-Yellowstone1We were out by 7 AM and headed to the Midway Geyser Basin for a hike around the hot pools, geysers, fumaroles and the like. But first, I wanted to take the short 1-way Firehole Canyon Drive side trip along the Firehole River. It is an amazing mix of water action and color. It churns down a narrow canyon in cataracts and tumbling rapids. Making motion images of the water can be very surprising in cascades like this.48433-Yellowstone148419-Yellowstone1There are several waterfalls along the way, but I had a little trouble finding a favorite spot from an earlier trip. Also, the morning mist and fog had mostly burned off making it too bright for long exposures I need to do for the effect. I found a few good vantage points for a few good images. I’ll come back even earlier another morning to get what I want – I hope.48439-Yellowstone1A little further on, we detoured again for Firehole Lake Drive. It’s all about the fireholes around here. First was Surprise Pool and next Great Fountain Geyser.48459-Yellowstone148456-Yellowstone148465-Yellowstone1We lingered at these spots a while. You never know when one of these things might go off. There is often a timeframe posted as to when a geyser might erupt, but it usually involves a long wait. It’s pretty fun when you get to witness one though. 48450-Yellowstone1
48446-Yellowstone148505-Yellowstone1 48507-Yellowstone1Later, at White Dome Geyser, we did get to witness our first eruption. There were maybe just about 4 people there at the time. 48471-Yellowstone1 48475-Yellowstone1We finished the drive, then continued on towards Midway.48480-Yellowstone1Of course all along the way were more bison. 48484-Yellowstone1Another lesson in “Popular National Park Certainties” – I will be mobbed. It was. Well really, not that bad, but even on a Friday morning, we had to wait a while to park. I think the NPS does this by design. Make the lots small enough and only so many people can be on the paths at any one time.48517-Yellowstone1 It only breaks down a bit when the busses arrive. Then you run into human log jams on the narrow boardwalks. But it works pretty well otherwise. While there were lots of people, it wasn’t so crowded we couldn’t enjoy the sights.48521-Yellowstone1 48523-Yellowstone1We got to Midway Geyser Basin in the early afternoon for our walk. Here of course the main attraction for me is Grand Prismatic Spring. You know, it’s the formation that, from the air looks like a giant fiery eye. That’s the image we always see for this place. In reality all you get is a teasing impression of what is under the steam.48588-Yellowstone1 48575-Yellowstone1 48554-Yellowstone1Even so, what you can see of the formation from the ground is pretty cool anyway. I have a great time making abstracts of the mineral flows and trying to capture features through the steam. It’s also a challenge.48573-Yellowstone1 48569-Yellowstone1 48559-Yellowstone1At a certain point though, I find so many people around me distracting. As I set up compositions, I do enjoy hearing from behind as they pass by, japanese and german and chinese and french and italian and many more. All these people come to look at these wondrous things.48566-Yellowstone1 And what do they photograph?48530-Yellowstone1 Selfies!! Can’t blame them really. It’s great to see them having such a good time. Watching people is fascinating, but as I said, distracting.48599-Yellowstone1Another spot along the way was Turquoise Pool. Of what I photographed today, I like this one best.48540-Yellowstone148614-Yellowstone1Not done yet folks. We decided to go on to Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful. Well, it’s the walk in the basin we are really here for. The fact that we arrived just in time for it’s eruption was just coincidence. We hung around the huge spectator area until after it finished, but then realized we were both pretty tired.48625-Yellowstone148627-Yellowstone1We decided to just walk a portion of the boardwalk trail and finish it another time, from another direction. Along the portion we did were more lovely hot pools, geysers, springs and odd plants growing within.48637-Yellowstone1 48666-Yellowstone1We walked probably another mile or two before beginning our trek back to camp. Still, we stopped a couple more times, but at some point, one mud pot begins to look like another.48649-Yellowstone1 48675-Yellowstone1 48655-Yellowstone1 48677-Yellowstone1

Tomorrow we hike the Storm Point trail along Yellowstone Lake.

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