Sunday, February 20, 2011

Western Vacation 2010 Day Eight: September 10th

This is the log of my western vacation in September 2010. Some of my own photographs are included and some from Wikipedia.

Since this was our last day in Yellowstone, I visited the gift shop first thing in the morning for some souvenirs and presents. Danny wanted to get up early and do a mountain hike, so as soon as he was up we left. The weather had turned cooler, and there was quite a bit of snow visible on Bunsen Peak from Mammoth.

We picked Mt. Washburn, which we got to through Norris and Canyon. We stopped at Canyon Village for a few supplies, then went over Dunraven Pass to Chittenden Road to the Mount Washburn trailhead.

The big hubbub in the parking area was a grizzly sighting at the bottom of Chittenden Road. We stuck around the cars for a while to see if it was coming up our way, but after thirty minutes decided to move out.

The Mount Washburn trail is wide enough for a car, and gradual enough for a novice hiker. The trail is about 3 miles from here to the ranger station at the top. We saw a few spruce grouse on the way up, and near the very top a very un-shy coyote. We had quite a bit of snow on the way up (maybe an inch or more), some sleet and a steep wind near the top. Snow squalls were obscuring the valleys to the west on the way up, and kept visibility very low on the top. We could tell though that the snow storm was limited to the peaks we were on, and that there was some measure of sunshine in the lowlands near the rivers.

There's an observation cabin at the top, in which a ranger lives part of the year to watch for fires. He was home when we arrived, but didn't spend any time with us. We ate our lunchs and watched the snow blow around. For all the squalling, we could have been on Everest. Couldn't see much.

We went down the same way, much faster. We finally saw the grizzly we had heard about, as it crossed the highway thousands of feet below. Of course, we saw the traffic jam first, and then Dad was lucky enough to see the bear step out of the woods and across the road.

We made it back to the car around 2:30, then Dad and I gathered up the fishing gear for our last attempt at catching the big one (or anything at all, actually). We stopped at Park's Fly Shop in Gardiner to get some gear (and tips), and then fished on the Lower Gardner below Chinaman's Garden where we had fished previously. This section of the river is VERY fast and steep and hard to work. There were few pools to fish, but the man at the fly shop thought we might have better success in a less-frequented stretch of river. I suppose that was true, as I caught two fingerling rainbows on Wooly Hare's Ear nymphs we got at the shop (about a size 10 monster). Dad didn't catch anything, but did get a couple of small strikes. I saw four antelope come down to the water and ford it. They hardly slowed down in water I could not have walked through.

Then about six, Dad and I left for the Lamar Valley to do some animal watching. We wanted to go back to Hayden but didn't have time. We watched the wolf den we saw earlier in the week with a group of people, and saw two pups through the scope. And we saw bison; hundreds of bison. They're all over the Lamar Valley, more so than any other part of the park.

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