Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Day at the Lake

Yesterday was one of the best days I've had in the park as five of us employees and a great Yellowstone Association tour guide visited three places I hadn't been before--two of the locations are now among my favorites in the park. We took the Blacktail Plateau Drive, a one way, one lane, six mile dirt road, which goes through a wide variety of habitats from flowery meadows to dark old forests. This would be a fabulous hike when it's closed to cars--there isn't really room for both hikers and cars. I'll be there again Tuesday and maybe get some photos though there are only a couple spots to pull off to the side. The only negative to taking this road, assuming the vehicle is up to it, is that you bypass the main road where Floating Island Lake is, where I saw the moose last week.

From there, it was over Dunraven Pass again, and we took a little break shortly after passing the Pass. It was there that I took this photo of a yellow and green hillside.



And down at the bottom of that hill, I almost got to witness my first goring when a guy ran down the hill (where he'd already been too close) and almost right into an immovable object.



I call that one An Ignorant Animal and a Bison.

When we went kayaking last weekend, our goal was the West Thumb Geyser Basin, but we didn't make it because of the weather. Yesterday we visited it on foot and saw some kayakers who had better weather.




It's pretty cool to see the geothermal features right next to the lake.



Under water and barely visible in the next photo because the lake is still so high from all the winter snow is Fishing Cone. The stories claim that early visitors would catch a fish and flip it into the cone's boiling water to cook it.





From there we started heading back north and found a spot for a quick lunch where we had this view.



And then on to the Storm Point Trail. I'd seen this described in trail guides as one of the most beautiful short hikes in the park, and heard many people agree. I was signed up for a trip there last year which got canceled, and again this year when I canceled because of my foot, and now I unexpectedly had the chance to see it. Our guide said that she would hike it every day if possible and it wasn't long before I agreed with her.

You start out by Indian Pond, and then pass through a meadow.



Before long you're on the edge of an older lodgepole pine forest.





And then to an open area with a marmot colony living among boulders, and a small sand dune which reminded me of my favorite Duluth hike. We saw an eagle fly over here which had the marmots on alert.







Above is Storm Point and its view. We'll zoom in on that mountain on the other side just so you know that we do still have snow in Yellowstone.



From there it's a short walk along the shore and then into the most heavily forested section of the trail where you might find some berries before looping back through the meadow to the trailhead.



Two mostly flat miles of great views, a variety of habitat, and wildlife (bring your bear spray). When we got back to Mammoth, our guide asked if we had any questions--I asked her if we could do it again tomorrow.

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