From Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Mel and I pack up and leave our motel to savour the final $5.99 all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast at the Teton Steakhouse. Today will be a travel and sightseeing day as we make our way north and west to new accommodation in West Yellowstone. North on 89 through Grand Teton National Park, we pass familiar views of the Teton Range, in early morning sun, on our way to Jackson Lake Junction. At Oxbow Bend we enjoy magnificent views of the mountains reflecting in a pond where herons and a moose are feeding.
Mel and I enter Yellowstone National Park, pass Lewis Falls and Lewis Lake, and exit into the West Thumb thermal area on the south end of large, shallow Yellowstone Lake. We do a short hike along the oval boardwalk past hot springs and geysers with names like Lakeshore Geyser, Fishing Cone, Ephedra Spring, Perforated Pool and Thumb Geyser. This area is mesmerizing, fascinating and artistically beautiful.
We try to limit ourselves to sights not seen on the 2003 Grand Canyon expedition. The hot, heavily mineralized water, flowing from springs and geysers into the lake, creates tapestries of richly coloured bacterial mats interlaced with limestone deposits and algae. They are like works of art in perpetual progress.
We leave West Thumb and make a brief stop for a short canyon-edge hike to Kepler Cascades to view the waterfall and lengthy rapids about 500 feet below. The next stop is at the Old Faithful Visitor Centre to explore fascinating geysers and basins behind Old Faithful. Some of the geysers are very active and erupt often. Certainly Old Faithful is the largest and creates a 200 foot eruption approximately every 94 minutes. Mel and I hike into the backcountry for a couple of hours and tour many lesser-seen geyser and hot spring locations.
The day is hot and there is a slight but welcome breeze. Passing one geyser is quite challenging. I try my best to time it perfectly but miss and get caught in the geysers eruption. I am really steamed.
Continuing north, Mel and I detour off the main road and drive the Firehole Canyon Drive loop where we have excellent views of Firehole Falls from roadside.
At Madison Junction a left turn heads us toward the 25 KM drive to West Yellowstone. A herd of deer along Madison River is worthy of a photo.
A map of Yellowstone National Park is included to assist finding locations in this and subsequent missions. On this two-week trip we will hike more than 200 KM (125 miles) and experience a broad range of incredible sights and sounds.