Be prepared to stop often and take a chill-pill on the horn. Thankfully Evelyn hasnt a bone of anger in her and the horn died with any negative vibes a Ford Escort might pocess long prior to our ownership. Deck chair bandits with ignorance shuffle there fat behinds out the side of thier vehicle windows to snap a Bison walking alonside there mechanical chariots. The thrill seems to cause there brains to turn to mush and forget the long traffic of cars waiting miles behind. A common acurance in Yellowstone, traffic proving to be there biggest problem. And the fame of being Americas first National Park only seems to bring an increasing transportation whoopsie as the years go on. The land size is super vast and without alternative solutions be prepared to guzzle gas as you work your way through Americas Safari. Be prepared for glarey alien landscapes unlike that of anywhere else inside or outside planet earth. Slip on hat, wrap on shades and prepare to be amused by not only gysers, glaciers, steam pools, water falls, canyons like crayola crayons, sulphuric wofts and semi domesticated animals, but binocular wielded tourists as wild as the four legged beasts they came to admire.
Was our first stop entering from the north. With my shades stolen and some thief now styling a peek through my world, the starch white iodised cut-away hillside steaming with simmering miniature waterfalls, would surely be progressing blindness faster than I can eat carrots. The feeling of home can be smelt in the air, the first nose splitting smells of a vaguely Rotorua NZ sneaks its way up my nostrials and tingling nose hairs stimulating brain waves. My first reaction to squeeze the holes shut and look rookie, but sulphur is a smell I accustomed myself too as a young child after the mixture of a long backseat punch up trip with my brother would result in a stomach churned chunder feast at the first sign of the smell as we drove into Rotorua. But the minerals omitted from sulfur dioxide gas is known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, so suck it up bitches.
Popping rocks with names like Sulphur Cauldren, Grizzly Fumarole, Sizzling Basin and Dragon Mouth Spring, spark my “fire wizard” trail name alter ego. But the boardwalk ratatat-tat of shuffling feet, shuttering photos and shouting kids bring me back down to muggledom. Alas the sun was teetering on the horizon, hungering stomachs emptied the area out and I rather enjoyed the boardwalk-kingdom. The location of Mud Volcano made for many drives past the area, we often witnessed bison on strict grass diets, taking five to bask in the cholesterol lowering steam, the natural wonders obviously offering some primitive therapy.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
A day strolling the Rim, admiring the vast drops of yellow stone, plummits 1200ft the spectacular erosion of glacier deposits from a lifetime ago, volcanic activity melts the glacier and leaves you with a canyon that’ll take your breathe away. A short walk on either rim can draw you away from the crowds and well up the zen from within as you take a picnic at the clutchs of the cliff edges. Hikes I didnt have time to embark can be viewed here:
Avalanche Peak – 7.4km / 4.6mi https://www.hikingproject.com/trail
Our first little hike in some time. A sweet trail leads through the skeletal trees, a deathly existence dwelling on rock. Rubble and silt soon making itself known as we slip 2 steps forward, 1 back. Friendly faces made themselves known, like idiocy is weened from exsistence by only leaving the touristic roadside by a mile or so. Ozarks, California, Wisconsin all good people, all new adds on facebook. Homo-sapiens like macadamias, only nuts, other friends include our first Pika. A furry fellow, cute as can be, grass kept in his mouth to suck its moisture long through the hot months. The summit, with its Teton arctic breeze had me spitting the last of grain farm flem from my throat, the views of Yellowstone lake, made the mountains behind like casual holidaymakers dipping there toes on its shores, table top mountains a rock climbers haven, lunch atop of the world.
Just outside Wyoming and Idaho sitting snug under a cresant Montana moon. I lay warm in my sleeping bag. The sound of wolves drowned out tonight by a rumble of fighter planes and thunder in the distance. As far from human civilisation all alone, just Charlotte and I. The late afternoon stroll following Dailey Creek was one of absolute beauty, the sun low and on our backs. The sound of the trickling waters in sync with that of even bird song. The 4km was an absolute delight of the senses. Low dark electric clouds swept in quick, but like a magnetic forcefield they kept at bay long enough to setup camp, turn kindle into flames and wolf down 12inchs of Chicken Bacon Ranch.
I awoke bladder full at dawn, at its most crippling cold. An owl too couldnt sleep and brought a low hoot. I trickled outside the tent and tried a conversation, without hesitation he took off into the darkness. Breakfast was fast an easy oats, we went plain and simple, which was a mistake, the gluggy sop swallowed like glue. But stuck us firm to a good mornings accent to start the skyrim trail.
Along mountain rooftops like peter pan. My wendy not far behind. Like an unknown neverland of desolate jagged cliff the path wound its peaks. The mid day sun burns like fire, higher altitudes, higher state of mind. On top of the world, Dragon flys the only alien creatures to feature and make friends. There ticking and clicking an endless wave. The odd breeze sent them drifting, a heavenly sent gifting to cool the sweat on my brow.
A lunchtime nap after annies mac and cheese. The final accent up big horn peak. Again a foreign environment of grassy knolls. Soft on the feet, the trail now un-defined. A which ever way slug up a steep grassy grind. We choose tree to tree to sip im the shade. A rounded green peak, throw your hands in the air! The top, a victorious feat, a run, roll, jump with glee moment. Though be careful, a deceiving deathly faggered rock cliff drops on the horizon. Like the mountain once a mellow-puff (a New Zealand domed shaped cookie with biscuit bottom, marshmellow and smoothered in Griffen’s chocolate) soft and fluffy and God-like giants took a bite and now the crumbling cliffs drop kilometres to a sea of white toped trees.
Bear sign on the way down had us quivering like slitheren in our boots. Bark scratched from the tree, yeah thats common, but the bark still curled on the trail next to dodo, no whowho! But a few “hey bears” delivered us down on our embark to a stunning 4 star (yeah yellowstone grades there campsites!!) campsite, A roaring fire on a bed of pinecones, made for quite the coal miners face blackened camp pot. Bathing naked in a freezing stream never felt so good after a splash of the pots char fuelled liquid blue. Slept like a baby, you bet!
Beautiful valley meadows sparkle lit by morning dew and sunrise, 2 deer feast on the long grass, so intent like searching for pokemon on pokedex. All kinds of animal sign, but the predators lay low and let prey roam the creek shores. Life would be complete if a grey alpha wolf emerges from the trees kissing the rim of the meadow. Its full pack invested in the same prize. Instead human life emerges and wild fantasies are brought back into an orderly spectrum. Sunday.
A sulpheric water swirl of copper meets teal distorted by steam and entranced in a mystical whirl. A mesmerising assurance Gods hands at work.
A faithful throng of buildings, cars, humans poised with cameras and phones, Old faithful moans of sun kissed deck chair warriors! Waiting like worriers that the geyser wont be faithful, an old faithful parting emerges in the crowd for a faithful spectator, I squeeze in faithfully, to a faithful hater with personal space issues, old faithful zane offers him tissues, I wait like the old faithful tourist I band. Poised with my faithless camera and phone in hand. Old faithful treated me right, mere minutes and the old geezer blew its top!
Union falls 26.7km / 16.5mi (Overnight)
A dusty rocky trail leads to a utopian valley of lush greens, blooming wild flowers and berries. Small creeks a fickle to cross yet criss cross in a trickle in every direction. Logs cut like bridges to avoid feet like fridges. A haze of mist rises off a river lightly warmed by volcanic sulphuric activity. We lay down our tent alongside the shores, light noise pollution as waters push stones, Charlotte reassures me its a lullaby worthy to keep.
A sandy trail with horse manure endures down a little further only to be split at a stable. No more dodging dodo we pushed through. Not so far to meet a beautiful bride awaiting her groom, tears stream down behind a veil of white for a husband who doesn’t arrive, she is set in stone and her waters forever flow. A union fallen, a bond lost or so I construct the story in my mind. The falls a charging flow from above, but magesticaly spreads wide across a complex geometry of rock. The view point sits proud for a pretty picture. A cool blast of air, so refreshing after the small climb. Union falls did not disappoint.
Back track to the split and follow the left trail. Its a contrast of climates, the cool arctic snow melts of union now a suffocating clog of geothermal air. This the upstream river of where our tent now resides. A smaller less attractive falls, low and charging, steam rising off its waters. North fork, the trail ends at the feet of a pool. A park sign reads “Stay on the trail! An instant $50 fine” I contemplate, don’t meditate and find my clothing off my fate. All cheeks out for the world I re-wild myself by wadding in the luke warm pools of the falls, a sandy bottom my tippy toes can reach makes for a perfect spot for a dip!
Of all the sulphuric resin, yellow dust and sharp gravel now lodged in the soles if my boats. Its the love from the folks we met that will engrain themselves in our hearts. Amy and Ben, our couch surf hosts are uber explorers of the globe, adventurers in the great wilderness of planet earth and kindness. There home, small and dark, but the memories created together through a couch and a shared meal are enormous and throb with light in my life. We experienced instant friendships that left us feeling empty on leaving. I always encourage readers to try couchsurfing, but not just as a free sleeping space and to save a few bucks. But read the profiles of those you request, search for your people, or take a walk on the wild side and stay with someone who will challenge you. You wont be disappointed, or maybe you will?!
Quick Few Essentials for Yellowstone:
(Click the links in the names to hlep support Zane)
Bear Spray – Were in grizzly territory and lacking the spray is a rookie move, so is paying park prices, get yours NOW!!! And save your bacon and some spondolies.
Sunnies – Gotta have those Ray Bans! Polorized lens are essential to appreciating whats above ground whilst avoiding glare and whats below (there are thousands maybe millions of trout in Yellowstones rivers).
Buff – The wind is pretty crappy from time to time, so is eating sulphuric sand. Cover up in true dessert swag! Bonus, after summer you got a ski buff too.