Happy Labor Day to all my US readers and happy Monday to everyone else. We are making our way home from Yellowstone today, and my, has it been a trip to remember!
We arrived at the west entrance to Yellowstone on Friday afternoon after a long day of driving. The weather was beautiful so we hightailed it down to Old Faithful.
It was around 4:30 PM when we got to the Old Faithful parking area. The timing was perfect. It was about 30 minutes until the next eruption. Because it was later in the day, there wasn’t a huge crowd. It’s hard to describe, but awesome and amazing come to mind. After that, we had dinner and then hiked around the geyser basin.
We stumbled upon an Old Faithful overlook trail that was about a half mile of climbing, and we were rewarded with an amazing view of the geyser going off again. It was even better because it was us and one other couple, so it was almost like a private show. We stayed in the area and looked around all the other geysers and geothermal wonders until it got dark.
Day 2- Mount Washburn
I really wanted to hike up to the top of Mt. Washburn. At just over 10,200 feet, it was supposedly some of the best views in the park. We woke up to clouds and a very good chance of rain, but decided to drive up to the trail head. It was overcast and cool, but we though it would be OK. We took lots of warm clothes, hats gloves, and rain gear, thinking it was overkill, but you never know at altitude.
We made it to the top after about an hour and a half of steady climbing. It was really beautiful, even with the cloud cover. We went into the fire tower at the top to have a lunch break and warm up. Before we could finish lunch, we looked up to see heavy rain that turned into hail. Suddenly, there was no view at all because we were socked in by clouds. We decided to beat it back down, but as soon as we started, we were turned around by lightning. Crap!
Now, I am not one to panic in most cases. Whatever I do is on me, but when you have your kid in a somewhat hairy situation, you really start to kick yourself. There were about 10 other people stuck in the fire tower, which, thankfully, was warm and dry. After about an hour, it started to snow. Amazingly, there was a decent cell signal on top, and one of our fellow captives had a radar app that showed stronger weather moving in. Double crap!
Here is why I still have faith in humanity. Five of the hikers, plus us, decided to go down together so we could have safety in numbers. I didn’t even get all the names, but two of them were from Georgia, and three were from Indiana. We took off at a fast pace and, thankfully, made it back down instead of becoming the next Jon Krakauer book. It probably wasn’t even that dangerous, but I was never so happy to see a parking lot!
I have to hand it to our daughter, who kept up a crazy downhill pace for over 3 miles without one whine or complaint. She can be as dramatic as any kid when she wants to be, but she sucked it up big time on this trip. We were cold and soaked, but none the worse for wear, and what a great story we now have to tell!
Day 3- Yellowstone Lake and Tetons
We planned on doing more hiking, but after the drama of the previous day, it sort of lost it’s appeal. For our last day, we went to look at the Lower Falls and then drove around Yellowstone Lake and into Grand Teton. I’m sure the Tetons are beautiful, but I didn’t see a single one due to continued cloud cover. I guess we’ll save them for another day.
We did, almost literally run into this big guy. He didn’t seem bothered by the crappy weather at all!
I am so glad we went to Yellowstone, even if the weather didn’t cooperate on this trip. At least we know the layout and what we want to do when we go back. If it’s cloudy, though, I won’t get out of the car!