September 7, 2004 Wyoming

We spent a couple of more days in Yellowstone, but weather was still cloudy & rainy. I'm a "wuss" when it comes to hiking in this kind of weather so we stuck to the boardwalks and the roads, missing the back country hiking that is available. It is sad to see the largest hot springs at Mammoth dead--no water, but new ones have started and are quite pretty. One called Hymen Terrace near Liberty Cap was quite impressive, and Blue Spring and Canary Terrace, which we had seen before, are still active. I can walk around looking at hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles all day, but Riley gets saturated fairly fast. We also hiked to Upper Yellowstone Falls where we heard a ranger talk about the geology of the Yellowstone Canyon. Evidently it was initially formed in a couple of days when an ice dam on Yellowstone Lake broke open and let millions of tons of water roar through the hot-water-softened rocks carving the canyon as it flowed--one single catastrophic event!

Hymen Terrace

Mammoth Hot Springs

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Grand Prismatic Spring

We drove through the Grand Tetons in clouds so dense you couldn't even see the mountains, and headed back into eastern Idaho to give the weather a chance to pass. There we toured on the motorcycle to see Upper and Lower Mesa Falls and Cave and Bechler Falls in the southwest corner of Yellowstone. Cave Falls was particularly impressive and, naturally, had a small cave on one side. Getting to Bechler Falls was a short hike up the Bechler River, which is quite wide and shallow and so has lots of rapids and small falls--very beautiful. We also went to Heise Hot Springs and soaked in the hot mineral springs there. At 105 degrees, we couldn't stay in long and would go to the pool at 92 degrees to cool off. It was fun and felt good on aching back muscles.

Cave Falls, Yellowstone Park

Riley at Cave Falls

Columnar basalt cliff, Idaho

Margie at Upper Mesa Falls, Idaho

After a few days in Idaho we headed back to the Grand Tetons where we had one really great day before the rains began again. On that day we took the motorcycle and toured the park. We took a hike up a fairly steep trail (about 1.8 miles roundtrip) to Phelps Lake Overlook--a very beautiful view of the lake and surrounding area. There was a 2.6 mile trail down to the lake but we decided we weren't up for that long a round trip or the steep climb back up from the lake. After the hike we went up to Jenny Lake and checked out the times for the boat, planning to take it across the lake the next day to do the hike to Inspiration Point and into Cascade Canyon. We then went up to the top of Signal Mountain for the great view of Jackson Hole. Riley and I are always looking for moose in marshy lake areas and along river banks and most of the time we don't see them (they're shy). As we were leaving our campground this day, we found there were 4 moose--3 bulls and 1 female--at a campsite close to ours. We have never seen them so close and Riley got a good picture to prove it before we moved on. We learned an interesting thing about moose from one of the papers; moose will dive quite deep (15-20 feet) to eat grasses on the bottom of lakes. Now that's a sight I'd like to see--a diving moose!

Moose in Gros Ventre campground, Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

We got up the next morning after this great day to rain and were stuck inside all day. When we got up the next day it was still raining, so we decided to leave and didn't get to make the Cascade Canyon hike, but have something to look forward to the next time we are here. We drove back up through the southeastern part of Yellowstone and as we went through Sylvan Pass (8530 feet) to exit it was not only snowing hard, but there was also road construction. We felt sorry for those poor guys trying to work in that weather. Dunraven Pass (northeast Yellowstone) had been closed due to construction, so I guess we were lucky Sylvan Pass was open. This road out of Yellowstone to the east is quite beautiful, passing first through canyons then through painted-desert-like badlands, and eventually through Ten Sleep canyon.

Our next big stop was Devil's Tower. If there had been a dump station and we had been able to find a Sprint PCS signal there, I would have voted to stay there a good while. I really enjoy that area. There is a black-tailed prairie dog town as you first come into the park and I have never seen so many fat prairie dogs out running around--cute. We took a hike along the Belle Fourche River that took us through the town and the prairie dogs were giving the alarm as we passed through--a high-pitched chittering sound. We also did the hike around the base of the tower--very impressive views. Of course, watching the crazy climbers (at least 18) scale the vertical walls was as entertaining as the walk. While, in general, I believe that we should respect the Indians' viewpoint and stay off it, it is fun to watch the climbers.

Devil's Tower

We are now in South Dakota staying at an RV park that has a WiFi base station--yea! It also has a heated swimming pool and hot tub that we intend to try out. While we've seen WiFi advertised at other places, this is the first park we've stayed in that had one. So that is why you are getting this latest travelogue from me. The weather is nice--cool nights and sunny days so we plan to tour on the motorcycle again and stop traveling for a time.

Hope you are all having as much fun as we are.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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