Saturday, August 14, 2010

Days 11, 12, 13 and 14– August 9, 10, 11 and 12 From Evanston to Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP

Day 11
From Evanston through Jackson to Grand Teton NP
After a few donuts topped by tons of sugar (as most of the things here), we were off to the parks of northwestern Wyoming. When we first planned our trip, we were not thinking about stopping at Grand Teton NP. Then Googlemaps couldn’t locate Yellowstone on our itinerary and I saw Grand Teton just south of Yellowstone. Then it became part of our itinerary. We were thinking about driving through since it was on our way. Then my family on Nantucket told us how amazing this park is. And they were right.
We drove in the town of Jackson and the valley of Jackson Hole and the Ridge of the Tetons opened in front of us. Heavy rain clouds and rays of light created a wonderful sight of the valley. We knew campgrounds in Grand Teton NP fill pretty early (and you can’t reserve at any) hence we skipped the town of Jackson for the moment and drove to the Visitor’s Center. Some of the campgrounds were already full but the ranger told us to go to Colder Bay - a very nice place right on Jackson Lake.
After planting our tent and putting all food, drinks and toiletries in the trunk of our car (“Be Bear Aware”), we put on our raincoats and went for a small trail on the lakeshore. The sky cleared by the end of the hike and we decided to buy wood a make a fire in the fire pit on our campsite and grill some corn. Bad luck, our wood wasn’t that dry and was very fire-resistant. We finally managed to make enough charcoals to grill our corn. By the time it was ready, I was half asleep and we had put on many layers of clothing (it was 44’F – 7’C). My duvet sleeping bag saved my sleep but Stepan’s wasn’t quite that generous…

Day 12
From Grand Teton NP to Jackson and back
We really liked the place and were worried about the campgrounds occupancy in Yellowstone. We decided to stay one more night and go for a bigger hike and drive back to Jackson to see the town.
We choose a trail around Jenny Lake and to the Hidden Falls. We were ferociously clapping our hands and didn’t see any bear. The trail was wonderful, with a very nice view of Grand Teton (over 13.000 feet – 4300m) and lots of nice flowers around the path. We observed a magnificent osprey on a dead tree; saw a few squirrels, many chipmunks and butterflies and two snakes (one very small and one very big, brrr).
Hidden Falls were really hidden and amazing – over 200 feet, almost 70 meters of falling water and then the rapids, enormous amounts of beautifully roaring water.
After a visit of the town of Jackson, one good portion of strawberry ice-cream and having discovered that cheapest cowboy boots cost almost 300$, we went to the Greater Yellowstone Visitors Center to get info about Yellowstone Campgrounds. About half of them were full by 7.30 am and most of the others were far away. Five of them were private and could be reserved. We decided to call and try our chance. Bad luck, it was 6.05 pm and the reservation center closed at 6 pm. Please, try again at 7 am.
On the way back, we saw part of a moose (his ear) that was hidden next to the road.
At the campground, we bought more wood, more corn and even some meet. This time, we started earlier, our wood was drier and outside temperature was a bit higher than the night before. Our dinner was delicious.

Day 13
From Grand Teton NP to Yellowstone
At 7 am, we were at the pay phone and called the reservation center. There were no more tent sites at Grant Village (our first choice) but we booked an RV site. After a shower, some laundry and a visit to the Indian Arts Museum, we put our top down and drove to Yellowstone.
Upon our arrival at the Grant Village Campground Check-in, we discovered a tent site became available in the meantime. We were happy to be with other tents rather than huge American RVs and trailers.

About RVs and trailers
American RVs and trailers are HUGE. I know, you’d say, everything is bigger in the US since it’s a big country. Yes, that’s true but these RVs and trailers are just enormous. Some are “normal” but many are the size of an average bus. These buses   don’t think it’s enough to have a bus; most of them pull a car behind them.  Small cars can be seen but mostly it’s 4wheelers and vans. Sometimes, this pulled car carries other gear – a canoe, bikes or motorbikes. The whole thing is just HUGE.

Back to our trip
After “securing” our campsite, we drove further into the park to discover the wonders of Yellowstone. This NP is enormous and full of wildlife. You have to drive very carefully.  We met a giant elk on the road just a few minutes after entering the park so we took this notice very seriously.
Our timing couldn’t have been better. We arrived at Old Faithful about 10 minutes before it erupted then went for a walk around the geyser basin. There were geysers and hot springs all around. Which is understandable since 2/3 of all geysers on Earth are located in Yellowstone. The colors and movements were incredible.
After the geysers, we were off to see some wildlife. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the valley where most of the bison, elks and moose are, we got stuck in traffic. Apparently, someone had an accident at the other end of the valley. We spent almost three hours in a very slowly moving line. By the time we got to the place where bison were, sun had set and we could barely distinguish bison a few meters from us.
We got back at 9.45 pm and went basically directly to sleep. It was getting cold. that night, temperature fell really low. In the morning, it was 37’F which is 3’C. Freaking cold!

Day 14
From Yellowstone NP through Montana all the way to Spokane Valley, WA
to be continued...


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