I had half of the tour alone with Ranger Ellen, and the other half with one other person. Let me tell you, having a private guide to Yellowstone is not usual, and I learned so much. Thermophiles, geyser plumbing, volcanoes, and earthquakes, oh my! Probably my favorite part was learning so much history that wasn't on the boardwalk placards.
In the picture above, Ranger Ellen was telling us about Fishing Cone, which you can see in the background, and how people used to catch fish, and then fling it into the cone. She had a picture of people in the 20's doing this, standing on the cone itself, which was amazing to think about. The heat of the geyser would cook the fish in a few short minutes. (But think of how it would taste - yuck!) Ranger Ellen also told us about an elk calf carcass in on of the pools, decomposing, and we talked about the dangers to wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. Finally, I learned that the clearest water was the hottest, like this pool here:
Overall, the whole experience at West Thumb was just fantastic. Here are a few more of my favorite photos from this part of the park.
The view of the lake, with the geyser steam... Amazing.
Also amazing to me was the contrast of rich green life, and the sulfurous spots devoid of life next to it.
Here at Yellowstone, I actually ran into the couple of couples that I had met the day before in Grand Teton National Park. We were all astonished that in these huge parks we would meet twice. As they were also headed to Glacier National Park, they invited me to meet them for dinner there. Although it didn't work out, the kindness of these people to someone they just met will stay with me for a long time. They talked about how I was brave for going on this journey alone, and I talked about how I didn't want to regret not taking this trip. My favorite comment was when I was called a "modern woman." I guaranteed them I would be safe, and hoped to meet them again. Again, it didn't happen, but I hope to run into them again somewhere else in my life. Another perk to traveling alone, is the kindness of strangers and the new friends you meet. =)
With the intent of making the most of every inch of daylight that I could, I headed to Fishing Village and mud volcano. Here are a few of my favorite nature shots, as I saw elk, bison, pelicans, ducks, swans, and a fox.
From the shores at Fishing Village.
I went on another Ranger led hike in the afternoon with Ranger Mike. Storm Point trail would take 2 and a half hours, and was time well spent. I learned a lot, but by far my favorite memory of this time was how Ranger Mike started out his talk/walk by telling us what to expect. He went on to say everyone fears a bear, but that the creature he most feared in Yellowstone was the bison. He said bison were unpredictable, stubborn, and unstoppable. (If you spray a bear with bear spray or make human noises they will most likely take off. If you spray a bison, he will be angrier when he tramples you.) He let us know that bison can jump a six foot fence, standing still, and can gore you faster than you can run away.
Ranger Mike talking about how bison roll around in their own funk and mud.
Then we started our hike, and not five minutes in, a bison approached us.
This is not a joke. It really happened. Ranger Mike had us stand still, but the bison kept coming our way. My heart was pounding as he seemed to be heading directly for me. Ranger Mike put himself between me and the bison, and the bison eventually got interested in a snack and we were able to continue our hike. In the meantime, before he was too close and I almost died of fear, I snapped this picture. ;)
I love how his body glistens in the sunlight. :)
We had storms move in all around us, meaning cool temps, but no rain. I also met another couple on this hike who befriended me. You can check out their adventure here. We passed by a crop of rocks where marmots live, but as it was downright chilly, they were safe and warm inside. I'm going to end with these last pictures I took while on the hike in the woods. I have such great memories of this trip, I hope you're enjoying the recap!
Lodge Pole Pines
Just a deer, but I love the reflection on the water.
Part II to come soon!