Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Nov 01, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ok Yellowstone, first national park in the world and arguably the most famous...again it wasn't something I was that bothered about. Not that I didn't want to go, just wasn't something that factored in my decision to do the TransAmerica tour...

We had a total of 3 days there, the first thing that strikes you about the park is how alien the whole landscape is, we came in by the East entrance and entire forests of dead trees gave an abrupt introduction to the place (they were killed by a native bug which eats the live bit of the tree between the wood and the bark, had a whole talk from a park ranger about it but I won't bore you with the details!).

So the first stop we made was for geothermal springs and mud pools, the whole thing was just spooky, a black cave mouth with loads of steam coming out, a deep rumbling inside...reminded me of a few bits of plant back at Fawley! There were hundreds of hoof prints through the mud pools as well, apparently since the ground is nice and warm, the older bison love to walk through and lie down it!

After that we went for a hike along the West rim of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon and down past Upper and Lower falls. The views all the way down were spectacular (we stopped for so many pictures we were pretty late!), then when we turned back we looped through almost completely undeveloped hot spring areas (most areas had boardwalks which you were restricted to, here just a few logs kept you on the right path), past some beautiful lakes and onto beautiful open prairie land.

Next day we headed off to the Steamboat Geyser area, the largest geyser in the world! Unfortunately it's only gone off a few times in the last 30 years or so and we were no luckier :( the surrounding area is absolutely beautiful and the hour and half to explore went far too quickly.

Old Faithful was next, this large geyser erupts with amazing regularity and has done for over a hundred years, the surrounding area was, however, even more spectacular including the Morning Glory Pool. The colours are formed by bacteria growing in the pool, different bacteria grow at different temperatures resulting in the beautiful layered effect of colours around the deep spring at the centre (thanks Lenn!). If you're ever in the area, this is one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen! We were also lucky enough to see several other less regular geysers going off in the basin (including the Oblong Geyser, brilliant!).

Scott still wasn't finished with us at this point and we went to his "special spot" in the park, we walked down a path then turned off up a hillside on a small track, when we turned round we had a spectacular view of the Grand Prismatic Spring...thanks Scott! Yet another incredible sight for a day full of uncountable gems.

The day became somewhat more normal on return to camp when I had to cook :-/ thankfully I opted for jacket potatoes so nothing could really go wrong! I set my minions to work (Spam fried in bacon fat...mmmmmmmm) and then played with the potatoes in the fire (thanks to Arthur as always for the fire!). Best jacket potatoes I ever had if I do say so myself ;-)

Final day of Yellowstone, shame because it got really nice not having to take the tents down every morning and make camp again in the evening!! We went for a wildlife spotting tour, one aside should be mentioned here; if some wildlife is spotted in Yellowstone, you pull over by the side of the road to get a good look at it, fine, what's hilarious is that everybody then wants to know what you're looking at and before long you have huge tail backs! On the last evening there was a spectacular encounter between two bull elk with a small herd of female elk, the traffic jam took, quite literally, hours for people to get through! Anyway....we started at Mammoth Springs before walking down to the Boiling River, hot springs emptied into the freezing cold river water, amazing! Didn't see too much wildlife unfortunately and bears and wolves in particular eluded us.

My conclusion is that I'm a numpty, Yellowstone is absolutely, insanely incredible and, while we were lucky to have 3 days there on our tour, 3 months would probably not be enough. Go there! I'm definitely going back.
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