Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yellowstone vacation

Our big "summer" vacation for 2009 was a trip to Yellowstone from June 5-12. I write "summer" in quotes for reasons that we become apparent when see some of our photos below. Amy's parents Ron and Dena joined us and brought their pop-up camper, which was a nice ammenity, especially with the kids. We broke up the long drive north with a Friday night stay at Sinks Canyon State Park near Lander, Wyoming. The "sink" refers to a spot where the Popo Agie (pronounced popo zhia), a substantial river, disappears underground and comes up again a quarter mile downstread after meandering through caverns for 2 hours.

Andrew and Grandma Dena at Sinks canyon near Lander, Wyoming

Amy and Elizabeth at the sink

The family on a hanging bridge over the Popo Agie river

Andrew with sparklers at our Sinks Canyon camp site

On Saturday we drove the rest of the way with a fuel stop in beautiful Dubois, Wyoming - home of the giant jackalope! Pure Americana kitsch.

Summer in Yellowstone! We arrived in the park on Saturday and set up camp at the muddy, treeless Bridge Bay campground. We had a white surprise on Sunday morning and spent the day seeing the sights in the Yellowstone valley.

Snowy Sunday morning at the Bridge Bay campground.

Snow covered bison

Brad & Elizabeth watching the bison

Elizabeth hiking with an umbrella in the snow

Steaming mud pot

Bison shedding winter coat

Bison close up

Andrew overlooking the upper falls of the Yellowstone river

Family at the lower falls of the Yellowstone

Lower falls vista

Brad at the brink of the lower falls

Bison Calving season

By Monday morning we'd had enough of the sloppy conditions at Bridge Bay and moved to the lower elevations and slightly warmer conditions at Madison, and saw the sights along the Firehole river.

Ron, Dena, Amy & Andrew at the Firehole falls

Paint Pot at the lower geyser basin

Amy & the kids at a steaming pool in the middle geyser basin

Andrew watches the White Mound geyser

Elizabeth and the steam of Steady Geyser

On Tuesday we enjoyed the nicer weather by watching Old Faithful and hiking a few miles to see a bunch of other geysers nearby.

Andrew & Elizabeth in Granddad's camper

Andrew & the Madison river valley near our 2nd camp site

Andrew watching Old Faithful

Brad and the kids watching the Sawmill geyser

A colorful hot spring

Amy & the kids at the Daisy geyser

Bowl shapedcauldron

Andrew roasting marshmallows at the Madison campground

On Wednesday Ron and I went fishing on the Gibbon river, Obsidian creek, and the Gardner river. We caught fish on each, and kept some Rainbow trout which we ate for breakfast the next day. Amy, Dena and the kids split off and went to see Mammoth hot springs, stopping to watch a bear (a grizzly?) along the way.

Dena & the kids at the upper terrace of Mammoth hot springs

The bear. A grizzly?

Ghostly trees at Mammoth's upper terrace

Mammoth hot springs wasteland

Andrew at the Mammoth terraces

On Thursday we left the park for some canoeing and fishing on Hebgen lake in Montana near West Yellowstone. Andrew and Elizabeth both caught their first fish (Whitefish), and Andrew got full credit for casting, reeling, hooking and landing the fish!

Andrew, Liz, Brad and Ron on the canoe in Lake Hebgen

Elizabeth's first fish

Andrew's third fish

Elizabeth & Granddad fishing

Thursday evening after a restaurant meal in West Yellowstone, Ron and Dena took the kids and Amy and I took advantage of the northern latitudes' late sunlight, and the lack of kids, to go for a 6-mile hike to Fairy Falls and the Imperial Geyser. One advantage of the late day hike is that we had both sites all to ourselves. Priceless!

Amy at Fairy Falls

Brad hikes past a bison hiking near fairy falls

Amy hikes past the steaming creek flowing from the Imperial geyser

The Imperial Geyser

The Grand Prismatic Spring

Middle geyser basin at sunset

Cold, Cold Mt. Evans Ascent

I ran the Mt. Evans Ascent this morning with a cold - in the cold. Fourteen and a half miles uphill, at altitude, with a head cold. I caught a cold more than a week ago at the end of our vacation in Yellowstone, and it's kept my head stuffed and muscles achy since then. I felt just barely better enough early this morning to run the race with the minimalist goal of finishing without making myself more sick. I met my goal with a finish of 2:43:43, which is almost 20 minutes slower than my finish last year.

Did I mention that it was cold, too? Temperatures were in the 40s at the start but it got colder, windier, and foggier as we got up in altitude. The race organizers almost cut the race short at 9 miles due to the dense fog at the summit, but decided to let it go the full length. It was a rather misable experience, actually.