Elk Jam

Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
Trip End Aug 16, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

After our nine hour driving marathon yesterday, we thought today would be a simple "drive in the park." Not so. The objective for today's travel was to see the sights of Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park (which share a common border) and comprise an area greater than Delaware.

We began the day getting our adventure supplies—2 massive and descent breakfast sandwiches, 2 massively underwhelming lunch sandwiches, and 2 diet sodas (that outdoorsman’s constant companion)-- in Jackson, Wyoming before heading north. Jackson itself is, on the surface, a quaint little town, yet underneath the veneer is a vigorous debate about what the town should be: Playground for the rich? Home base for the ski bum? Disneyfied family friendly western town caricature of itself? Since we didn’t have more than a short time in the city, I’ll leave it at that but say that I’d like to return and explore further.

Off to the Tetons (French for breasts, but I think those original French trappers who leant them that name must have really been starved for companionship). Impressive? Yes. Massive in their grandeur? Yes. Beautiful? Yes. Resembling the chest of a woman? No way.

Yellowstone was also extraordinarily impressive. After battling the worst traffic of the trip in the Old Faithful Parking Lot, we took a short hike to the geyser basin behind Old Faithful as we waited for its explosion. We walked though an alien landscape on a wooden plank bridge to protect ourselves from the scalding ground and water below. Past gurgling vents spitting crystal clear water, over pools of impossibly blue water ringed on the edge with electric orange mud, and around giant cones spewing rotten-egg steam. Then, the show started: Old Faithful was quiet for a moment, and began vomiting water a hundred feet in the air for over 2 minutes. Pretty impressive, even for a sight for which expectations have been set high.

We spent the rest of the day exploring other areas of the park and its geothermal wonders (I’ll let the pictures do the talking). On the long – three hour—drive home, with the sun lower in the sky causing the colors of the park to intensify like those that children pick when coloring with crayons, we passed though some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. Think National Geographic documentary stuff, complete with wildlife. We actually got stuck in both a buffalo and elk traffic jam, as these animals slowly ambled across the road. Back south, past Yellowstone lake, and into the valley created by the Tetons, the last light of the day streaming past their peaks creating a cool “rays of God” effect, and on to our Mountain Lodge.

Tomorrow: Jumping off a mountain
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