We took a few short days to explore more of the park last week. We wanted to do a little more back country hiking, but weren't sure where to begin. So, we thought a ranger-led hike was a good place to start.
Mystic Falls Hike
We chose the Mystic Falls Hike. We were to meet at Biscuit Basin at 9 AM, so we left home about seven. We had not driven this part of the park in the morning and were happily surprised to see such a steam display on our drive. We weren't sure if this was low cloud cover or an atmospheric reaction to the steam from the springs and geysers. We are guessing it is the basin because the only fog we saw was directly around the geysers and springs. The camera did a poor job of catching the ethereal beauty of the morning.
The steam from these springs traveled miles through the valley.
Oh, here is our obligatory buffalo shot. He just wanted to hang out on the road and get some morning sunshine!
We arrived to the basin early and did a quick stroll around the boardwalk before the hike. We saw more beauty and more color.
We will need to return later in the day to get a picture of some of the pools. Such a wonderful blue could be seen peeking out under the steam.
Just as we decided to return to the parking lot to wait for our group, we spotted two coyotes on a morning hunt.
They crossed the boardwalk where we had been just a few minutes before.
Back at the parking lot, we saw an osprey searching the firehole river for breakfast. It was great to watch the aerobatics of the beautiful bird.
We met up with our group and listened to our knowledgeable ranger talk about the surroundings at various points along the way. One interesting fact we learned was that 90% of the visitors to Yellowstone never enter the back country. We always thought back country was for those who have loaded backpacks and take multi-day treks through the park. But, back country is anything beyond the boardwalk or away from roads and structures. There are 15+ miles of boardwalks (with more being built all the time), but there are 1,000 miles of hiking trails and only 10% ever explore them. (More cool Yellowstone facts here)
The first 1/2 mile of the Mystic Falls hike was along the boardwalk.
After that, we hit the trail! Here is a shot of the falls.
We didn't get many shots of the hike because there were so many people around us. We figured we would take pictures on our walk back. Unfortunately at one of the stops, the camera slid off Susan's lap and into the dirt (more like dust, really) she cleaned it off as best she could, but the camera completely stopped working, so no trail pictures, sorry.
We came face-to-face with a bison on the way home - a little smaller than the one pictured above. She was about 20 yards ahead of us, walking slowly up our side of the road (towards us!) She seemed docile: tail down, steadily walking, no snorting. We were nervous, but not panicked. We stopped on the road (no shoulder) and remained very still until she passed us - less than ten feet away. Cars coming from the opposite direction were stopped also and arms, cameras, and cell phones were hanging out their windows. I wonder how many of them hoped the bison and the scooter would have an altercation. We are glad it was a peaceful passing. Would have been a great photo op for us, but alas, no camera.
Losing the camera was a disappointment, indeed. We've had this camera since 2015 and to replace it would be almost as much as buying the new model. While it is good that our camera has held it's value, we were not prepared for a major purchase. When we got home, Trey got out the ShopVac and did a little fiddling and cleaning. He was able to get it mostly working, but whenever you activated the zoom, it failed. Susan found a little dirt in the lens cover that worked it out. The zoom mechanism worked perfectly after that! A little time, a little teamwork and we saved ourselves hundreds of dollars! Whew! Remember: Wrist-strap at all times!
Note: the camera incident was two weeks ago and while it is still working fine, we can see dust in the lens. We will need to get it cleaned professionally when we return to civilization.
Storm and Pelican Hikes
On another day we combined three very short hikes to create a full day of exploring. We drove out to the lake and walked Storm Point and Pelican Creek. Both were nice walks that took us through a small wood to the lakefront.
Once we got to the end of the Pelican Creek Hike, we discovered how it got it's name.
On the drive home we stopped at Lake Isa again and explored the shore. It is really difficult to pass this little beauty without stopping for a visit.
We parked in the overflow parking lot, across from the main lot. The main lot has the Continental Divide sign and a bigger view of the lake. We kept hearing "One, two, three... great! Next group" and realized the tour bus driver was snapping pictures of couples as they stood in front of the sign. It took ten to fifteen minutes for everyone got get their picture taken. While they were doing that, we got a few pictures of our own.
After Lake Isa, we returned to Kepler Falls, but this time, explored the upper portion of the Falls. It is beautiful from any angle!
Little Gibbon Falls
Sunday, after church, we decided to do a couple of hikes close by. The first hike we planned was a section of a longer hike. We decided to hike partway and return (1.2 miles) rather than doing the 5+ mile hike farther in. The weather was perfect and it was a great hike. The path followed the Gibbon River through woods and meadows.
We stopped at the small waterfall.
We rested on a log for a bit until the skeeters got to annoying and then we hiked back out. For some reason, the mosquitoes were very thick on our return hike, Susan was walking behind Trey and saw dozens of them swarming Trey the entire hike. We spent the hike out swatting these silly creatures. Oh, for a bottle of bug spray! We are still trying not to scratch places on our arms and faces.
Since our next planned hike was to Ice Lake (also by water) we decided forgo that hike, call it a day, and head home.
(BTW, we purchased bug stuff a the first store we saw.)
It had been a month since we had visited Teton, so we returned one day last week. We stopped at our favorite rest stops along the way. Could you get better views that this?
We also passed a waterfall right by the road.
We found an area of Lake Jackson not bothered by winds and got a pretty good reflection photo.
This visit to Teton, we decided to do some walking. We stopped at String Lake and did a quick walk along the shore. It was a little over a mile long.
When there were breaks in the trees, we had some wonderful views.
Distributed along the trail were bear boxes. They were for for folks to store their picnic lunches so that bears were not attracted to the food. It was a reminder of the need to be aware of our surroundings.
We drove along the inner road again and couldn't resist getting some of the same pictures we got last time.
We drove through the Teton Valley (in Idaho) on the way home. From this road, we got a view of the backside of the mountains - still spectacular from the rear! If it wasn't for the mountains rising in the background, you might believe this was a mid-western wheat farm!
The last leg home, we took a short scenic drive to Mesa Falls and stopped a couple of times for some fantastic river views. This is the river that flows from the lake across from our campground.
It is the end of July and wildflowers still bloom in abundance along the way. Here are just a few more shots to show you some of the color we saw this week.
We know we are blessed to be able to live in such a beautiful place - even if only for a short time. Whenever our selfish thoughts pull us from gratitude toward self-centeredness, we only need to open our eyes to see the beauty God has allowed us to be a part of.
We give thanks to You,
O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.