Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Been A Great Week

Monday, we arrived at Star Valley Ranch Resort in Thayne, Wyoming.  It's a great Coast to Coast Park snuggled in between the mountains.  We are about 60 miles from Grand Teton National Park, but the drive in is beautiful.  We have caught up on regular chores and Jim has even been able to play golf and pickle ball here.

On Wednesday, we made our first trip in to Grand Teton National Park.

There is a lot of smoke in the air from the wildfires, but it is not as heavy in the morning as it is later in the afternoon.

This is a picture of the range with the glacier in the upper middle part of the picture.

Grand Teton is much smaller than Yellowstone, it is only 56 miles from one end of the park to the other.  We stopped at the visitor center in Jackson, Wyoming and got a map with the best route to see the major sights.

Here we are at Jenny Lake, pictures just can't show the real beauty of the place, even with the smoke!

We drove on, stopping at Lake Jackson to look at the reflections of the mountains in the lake.

We made the loop around and saw cars stopped at an outlook.  It was a cow moose with her calf.  They were too far apart to get them together.  There were also two kayaks coming around to get a closer look.  Mama Moose was not too sure about them.

On Friday, we drove over to Afton to take a look at the largest elk arch in the world.  It was massive crossing the entire highway in the middle of town.

We then drove over to Intermittent Springs in Swift Creek Canyon outside of town.  The view in was beautiful and then, the hike to it was magnificent.

There was even a little falls running down the mountain.

The Intermittent Springs is one of only three periodic springs in the world.  The spring flows for 18 minutes, then stops for 18 minutes, then starts again.  Here's a picture of it when the spring is not flowing.  We were the only two people there for a long time before two other guys came who were from New Braunfels, a small town only 30 miles from San Antonio.  It's a small world!

Here it is flowing.

Saturday, we made another trip to Grand Teton National Park.  We left at 7:00 with the sun just beginning to come over the mountains.

It was 32 degrees and there was frost on the ground from the irrigation sprinklers in the fields.

We were driving into the Grand Teton NP when we saw a herd of elk cross in front of us.  We stopped to watch, there were no other cars on the road.  They ran across leaving a cloud of dust as they ran towards the trees.

It warmed up quickly, but we still had our jackets on when we crossed Jenny Lake on the boat.  You can take a boat over Jenny Lake to take the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point hike.

It was not very crowded and we did not have to wait in a line to ride over on the boat.

 We arrived on the other side and got started.

It was a pretty much uphill walk to the falls following a stream all the way up.  We arrived at the falls, stopped to admire the beauty and continued on to Inspiration Point.

It was also uphill all the way, but we were rewarded with this sight.  This is looking out at the lake.

Then you turn around and see this!

We decided to go on.  The hike was pretty much an uphill incline the whole time.  We would use the mountain peaks as a guide to see how far we had gone up the mountain.

As we climbed, we would come across meadows and streams.

We weren't sure how much farther we would go until we stopped someone coming back from inside the canyon.  They told us to go a little further to the river and then to not feel guilty about turning back.

We got to the lake and visited with two other families there.  After talking, we all decided we would turn around here.  We had only brought water and nothing to eat thinking we would only be here a couple of hours.  One of the couples gave us a bag of trail mix which was a lifesaver for us.  We are really lucky to be able to meet so many nice people.

We took the trail downward getting back to the boat.  We had not taken our GPS, but we figured it was about a 6 mile hike that took us 4 1/2 hours with all our stops.

By now, there was so much smoke, you couldn't see the mountains.

We made one last stop at a pond that we hoped to see a moose at and met a couple from Corpus Christi.  They told us where they had just seen a moose, so we made a beeline there.  We saw a lot of cars and knew it still must be there.

We parked and walked over.  Just as we got there, we saw him sit down.  We got this picture, it wasn't him in the water, but you take what you can get.  He was a magnificent looking creature!

We've had a great time here, but our time here has come to an end. Tomorrow, we will be moving on to Utah.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Final Days in Yellowstone

We thought spending two weeks in Yellowstone would allow us time to see everything.  We saw a lot, but definitely not everything.  We can't believe how quickly the time went by.

 We drove over to Harriman State Park on Wednesday to look around.  This was originally a ranch purchased by the Harriman (railroad fame) family for summer outings.  It was also a working ranch.  It was later given to the state of Idaho for a state park and wildlife refuge.

 The first thing we saw was a family of sandhill cranes.  We watched them for awhile and then continued on in the park.

 A lot of the original buildings are left in the park, unfortunately, they are only open on the weekends.  We walked around the beautiful setting.

We also visited the Yellowstone Museum in West Yellowstone.  We didn't realize how extensive it was, we really learned a lot about the area.  There were videos about the 1957 earthquake and the 1988 Yellowstone fire.

We made more trips back to Yellowstone, seeing another buffalo up close and personal.

Another highlight for us was seeing this wolf by a pond.

We visited the Midway Geyser Basin

and the West Thumb Geyser Basin  on Lake Yellowstone.

This is the Fishing Hole that early visitors said they could catch a fish in Lake Yellowstone and then cook it at the same time in the Fishing Hole.

We also saw more waterfalls, Lewis Falls

and Moose Falls.

Saturday was one of the most beautiful days we have had since we arrived.  The skies were crystal blue and the mountains were clearly visible.

We had made reservations to take a scenic cruise on Lake Yellowstone.

The views were absolutely breathtaking.

After our cruise on the lake, we had lunch at Lake Yellowstone Hotel, another gorgeous spot.

Our last day in Yellowstone we spent the morning at the Old Faithful Geyser Basin and also took a tour of the Old Faithful Inn.

We left the park about noon so we could drive over to Hebgen Lake, the site of the 1959 earthquake.  This is where the campground that was buried in the avalanche was located.  For some reason, we thought the earthquake occurred in Yellowstone, but after visiting the Yellowstone Museum, we learned it was actually about 30 miles west of Yellowstone in Idaho.

There is a Visitor's Center there, but it was closed for remodeling.  There was a parking lot across the street from where the avalanche took place.  We both remembered seeing pictures of this when we were kids and things did not seem to have changed much.  

This is the Memorial Boulder with a sign indicating it was a 3,000 ton boulder that rode the crest of the slide across the canyon.  Undisturbed lichens on its sides indicated it did not roll or tumble while crossing.

The avalanche dammed the Madison River flooding the campsites that had not been buried.  Earthquake Lake formed as a result of the earthquake.  You can see the dead trees on the left protruding from the water.  This was part of the campground that was submerged under water.

It is beautiful and eerily quiet there now, but you can get a sense of the magnitude of the destruction while looking at it.

We returned home to begin our departure preparations.  We leave tomorrow for Thayne, Wyoming where we will be exploring Grand Teton National Park.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Yellowstone And A Lazy Day

Tuesday morning, all of the smoke in the sky made the sun look different.

We started out a little later arriving at Yellowstone about 10.  We were still able to get through the gate pretty quickly.

We headed toward the Old Faithful Geyser Basin to see some of the places we had not been to yet.  We first took the Firehole Canyon Drive.

We drove through the canyon following Firehole River until we came to Firehole Falls.  We stopped for awhile watching the falls

 and the river from the other direction.

 We headed over the Black Sand Geyser Basin walking along the boardwalk there to see the geysers and pools.

We spied another elk while we were at the basin.

We continued on past the Old Faithful Inn stopping at the Kepler Cascades.

This was the view right below us on the viewing platform.  That's the river in the middle.

We continued on a little further crossing the Continental Divide.  It was so smokey, everything was hazy.

We decided to turn around and head home.  On our way, we saw more elk.  We couldn't resist these pictures of these beautiful animals in the wild.

 This morning, the wind was blowing so hard that the little lake we are staying by looked like an ocean with all the whitecaps on the water.  It was in the fifties all morning and we decided it was just a good day to stay home.  The highest temperature here was 64 and with the wind blowing from the north, it really felt cold.  Tomorrow, it should be warmer, we're not sure what we will be doing next.