The hiking adventure continues at West Thumb and Old Faithful Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA.
From Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the next phase of the hiking adventure requires packing up and leaving the motel to savor the final $5.99 all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast at the Teton Steakhouse.
Today will be a travel and sightseeing day as the drive north and west transitions to new accommodation in West Yellowstone. Travelling North on Highway 89 through Grand Teton National Park, the dramatic profile of the Teton Range commands the western horizon in early morning sun on the drive to Jackson Lake Junction. At Oxbow Bend there are magnificent views of the mountains reflecting in a pond where herons and a moose are feeding.
Grand Teton National Park borders the entry to Yellowstone National Park and northerly passes Lewis Falls and Lewis Lake, prior to arrival at the West Thumb thermal area on the south end of large and shallow Yellowstone Lake.
A short and incredibly scenic hike along the oval boardwalk passes colorful hot springs and geysers with names like Lakeshore Geyser, Fishing Cone, Ephedra Spring, Perforated Pool and Thumb Geyser. Refreshing breezes from Yellowstone Lake filter the unique odors from the fascinating hot springs. This area is mesmerizing and artistically overwhelming.
An attempt is underway to limit this days observations to sights other than those seen on the 2003 Grand Canyon expedition. The hot mineral water flowing from springs and geysers into the lake creates tapestries of richly-colored bacterial mats interlaced with limestone deposits and algae. They are like works of art in perpetual progress.
Departure from West Thumb continues north for a brief stop and a short canyon-edge hike above Kepler Cascades to view the waterfall and lengthy rapids about 500 feet (150 m) below.
The next stop on this days itinerary occurs at the Old Faithful Visitor Center 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 (61 m) eruption approximately every 94 minutes. The hike into the back country behind the primary tourist area consumes a couple of hours and provides the opportunity to experience the unique characteristics of many lesser-seen geyser and hot spring locations.
Kepler Cascades in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
The day is very hot and and occasionally tempered by a slight but welcome breeze. Passing one geyser is quite challenging. Planning time is allocated to perfectly gauge the dash on boardwalk past the geyser during a dormant moment. The project fails and in full flight the geysers eruption provides a good soaking. I am really steamed.
Driving north along the highway leads to a detour off the main road onto the Firehole Canyon Drive Loop where there are excellent views of Firehole Falls from roadside.
Firehole Falls along Firehole Canyon Drive in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA.
At the main intersection of Madison Junction a left turn heads toward the 25 KM drive to the village of West Yellowstone outside the west border of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. A herd of deer along Madison River provides a photographic opportunity. A large and stately bald eagle perches above the road in an old dead tree.
A map of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA is included to assist in finding locations for this and subsequent missions. On this two-week mission, hiking will consume more than 200 KM (125 miles) of trail and experience a broad range of incredible sights and sounds.