2007 06 16 – Big Trip – Day 47 – Yellowstone National Park

Madison Campground, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Tachometer – 4745 miles

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Mamoth Hot Springs Terrace, Yellowstone National Park

Stars over Madison Campground, Yellowstone National Park

Today was a long day. A great day. Ron had a bad dream and woke us up at 4:30am. I was planning to wake up at 5, so no big deal. I spent an hour with Ron trying to get him to fall asleep but his eyes were wide open. Finally I explained to him that daddy has to go on a hike. He took it like a champ.

I walked a mile and a half from the campground to the starting point of Seven Mile Hole hike. It is an 11 mile hike that starts along the north rim of the Yellowstone Canyon, then through some forest, and finally descends to the river where at 7 miles from the canyon start it ends in a hot spring adjacent to the flowing water.

There was nobody on the trail at this early hour. Normally I enjoy the solitude of hiking alone, but this time the thought of encountering a bear had me a bit uneasy. I had the pepper spray on me, just in case. I didn’t see any bears though. The hike itself was very pretty. Half way down to the canyon, there was a whole bunch of geothermal activity that was nice to see without having to walk on a boardwalk. The views at the bottom of the canyon were awesome. The sloping canyon walls were colored white yellow orange red and brown, dotted with pine trees and a beautifully clear blue sky.

The climb up was a good workout and I saw a female elk halfway back to the starting point. All in all, a good hike, but going back the mile and a half to the campground was a bummer.

When I got back to the campground it was 10:30 and we had to check out. Paola was out with the kids playing around in the campsite. We got everyone back into the RV and headed to a final viewpoint of the canyon, Lookout Point. It is a great point that let us look both downstream and upstream to the lower falls of the Yellowstone River. We also saw an osprey (kind of bird) nesting on a rock pillar protruding from the canyon.

We then drove north to another region of the park called Tower-Roosevelt. We parked near Tower Falls, where the girls napped. When they woke up we walked to the viewpoint and saw another nice fall.

We continued to another beautiful area of the park called Mammoth Hot Springs. On the way there was a slight traffic delay, people stopped to see a bear somewhere on a hill far away. At Mammoth we had an early dinner of Japanese Noodles which Ron liked very much.

The big deal at Mammoth is Mammoth Terraces, a network of beautiful geothermal activity that can be accessed by walking on boardwalks and stairs. We left the stroller in the RV and the girls enjoyed climbing up and down all the stairs. It started to rain as we were examining some colorful formations, and we ran back to the RV. Just as we got there, the sun came out again. So we went back out to another part of the terraces for some more amazing photo ops.

In the late afternoon we drove south to tonight’s campground in another area of the park called Madison. In a meadow just 100 meters from us, a small herd of bison was munching away at the grass, totally unaware of the campers watching them. We took the kids out to see them, but they were more engrossed by the ground squirrels that kept popping up out of the ground.

At night, after the children went to sleep, I went out to the amphitheatre in the campground where there was a program about astronomy. At 10:30pm, behind the amphitheatre, a group of students from Montana State University were waiting for the campers with telescopes aimed at various heavenly bodies.

I got a chance to look at Jupiter, see Saturn and its rings, Venus, and other stars. I took some nice long exposure photos where you see a swirl effect as the stars rotate around the earth as the night progresses.

It’s late. Good night.


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