Moose, bison, elk and lots of rain but no bears

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

After posting last night's blog we went out for dinner and ended up at the Cowboy Bar because we thought we might go in there for a drink. The dining area is downstairs and the trim around the cashier's desk and the booths as well as posts throughout the restaurant are polished nobbly pine. The nobbly bits are caused by some disease and the pieces of wood are apparently quite old. By the time we finished it was past 11pm (I am finding we eat too late but the sun doesn't go down until around 9pm and we are packing our days with stuff) so I still have not been to a bar in the US. I hope to change that sometime.
It was sunny this morning so we decided to go with our original plan and do the Jenny Lake hike. This involves a trek up the mountain to see a waterfall and a look out across the lake called Inspiration Point. Past that is a canyon which we had been told was full of wildflowers and worth the extra walk. 
We did go to the ranger station before we began to check out the weather and bear situation. They said there was a 20% chance of showers so we thought that would be OK and did not bother with getting a rain jacket - how stupid were we?? We caught a boat across the lake to save a 2 mile hike around the lake and as there were masses of people on the trail we did not worry about bears or any other scary wildlife that might appear. About 1/4 of the way in it started to rain and thunder and then there was the lightning. Apparently the Tetons get lots of lightning strikes! We tried sheltering under trees but it was too cold so we decided that we would push on to the canyon since we were already wet and I am so glad we did. There were three moose - two big bull moose and one cow. One of the bulls was blocking the path so after getting a photo we decided to miss out on the wildflowers and more wet weather and get back. 
All I can say is that it was miserable on the way back. It would have been a great hike if it had not been wet. The path is very rocky even though there are steps - in some cases the soil had washed away from between the rocks so the jagged bits were the areas you had to walk on. With the rain it was also very slippery - my biggest problem was that I had to take my glasses off because they were too wet but I found it very difficult to judge distances for the putting of feet without them. I was very slow... It was also quite high - over 7000 ft so I made the fact that I live at sea level my excuse! The other hikers were very helpful, offering me a hand over some particularly nasty bits. 
I can't remember when I last got that soaked by rain. The only part of me that was dry were my feet, despite walking through puddles, as I did bring my hiking boots with me. I could wring the water out of my jacket it was so bad. I changed into a dry top in the car park and wish I had changed trousers as well. I thought that they would dry out in the car but they were wetter than I thought. We drove to Yellowstone Park and at the first chance changed clothes - Irene went to the restrooms but I just sat in the car and changed. I figured that I would never see any of the people again and as it was so wet no one saw. At least I was not arrested for indecent exposure. The temperature has plummeted from over 90F to about 50F in two days and it is a bit of a shock to the system after the heat wave they have been having here. 
Yellowstone Park scenery is every bit as wonderful as you see on the TV. The scenery is so different from that of the Grand Tetons even though they are only 1 hour apart. Its only problem is that it is full of people and cars, however, they are generally polite on the roads so it is not too hard driving. There are 4 way stop signs which can be confusing but you get waved through if it is your turn. Apparently, the first car has the right of way and it seems to work. 
Anyway back to the park - it was the first national park in the US and it has the oldest free ranging herds of bison. I had to stop the car to let one cross the road which was rather exciting. Another one on the other side of the road was just moseying along holding up this very long line of traffic. In another place, a herd had invaded a car park so everyone was stuck until they moved on. There was a great sign as we came into the park - 'Don't feed or molest the animals'; I would be keeping a big distance or at least be in the car around them. We also saw some elk and they are quite impressive animals so we have had our fill of wildlife today. Unfortunately, no bears so I can't try out my bear spray - we saw lots of hikers carrying the spray so obviously it is not such a silly thing to have a can. 
The park has a huge area of geysers - you can see steam rising up all over the place. In some cases, the geysers are very close to the lakes which are quite cold. Tomorrow we hope to visit Old Faithful which, as its name suggests, has been around for a long time and always puts on a good show.
As we had very little breakfast and no lunch (it was hard finding somewhere to eat for some reason and that is very weird in the US) we made a concerted effort to find a restaurant or cafe. We went to the Lake Lodge cos there was a sign that said 'Food ->' and queued up with others to get in at 4:30. I remember queuing to get into dinner at boarding school but I have never queued to get into a restaurant before. This was a cafeteria so perhaps that is OK - we were first though the doors as a couple from Oklahoma we had been chatting to (her best friend lives in Brisbane and was coming for a visit but had to go into hospital to get her hernia fixed!) invited us to go first. Food is so cheap. I had a lovely piece of fish with mixed veggies, mashed potatoes and brown gravy.  One day I am going to try the beef and biscuits.
After that it was definitely time to find our accommodation for tonight but that was another 1 1/2 hours drive because the speed limit is quite low in the park and there are a number of switchbacks. We are now in Montana and I have to do some washing - unfortunately the domestic chores don't stop just cos one is on holiday.
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Lance on

Oh I do love to read Kate's travel log first thing in the morning before work!

kate.ambrose on

Thanks Lance. I enjoy writing it as it reminds me of the fun I have had all day.

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