Yellowstone — Day 3

Uh-oh! Here it is 2012 already, and I haven’t finished posting about my summer 2011 roadtrip! I resolve to post more often and in a more timely manner. . . Haha! It looks like I’ve already found a resolution that I probably won’t keep. Nevertheless, you will get the third installment from our Yellowstone trip today. Woo-hoo!

Day 3 was our longest biking day. We biked approximately 51 miles and crossed the continental divide twice. Before we got started so many people gasped at our plan to bike this section of the park that I was a bit nervous about the ride. “You know you’ll have to cross the continental divide, don’t you? That’s a lot of climbing!” “The traffic is so dangerous near Old Faithful, and there’s absolutely no shoulder. . .” In the end, those people turned out to be exaggerating quite a bit. The initial 600 ft. increase in elevation was truly a cake walk as it was nicely graded and the drivers were courteous. I was a bit dismayed with how much we dropped in elevation before having to bike back up to the continental divide again, but it really wasn’t that bad. Neither was the traffic or the small shoulder. We managed just fine, and it was a very pleasant day for biking.

Classic!

A gorgeous view of Yellowstone Lake

It seems like Yellowstone is just as full of dead trees as it is of live ones. Between forest fires and strange geological conditions they don't seem to fare too well.

We met this little guy at a picnic stop. He had lots of personality.

The higher continental divide. The other one is just 8262 ft.

After the second continental divide, there is a lake: Isa Lake. It's full of lily pads.

After our harrowing bike ride up and over the continental divide(s), we made it to the most popular of Yellowstone destinations: Old Faithful. It is certainly pretty cool to watch thousands of gallons of steaming-hot water erupt from the earth (3700-8400 gallons erupt each time, depending on the length of the eruption; the water is 204 degrees; and the steam is 350 degrees). While I was in the park, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like to be the first people exploring the area. The landscape is just so surreal. Old Faithful, of course, is only a small part of that, but can you imagine walking along and suddenly seeing a 140 ft. geyser rising from the ground? (The spray ranges from 100-180 ft.) It’s quite impressive even now with all the buildings and hoopla, so I’m sure it was awe-inspiring as a part of the once-pristine wilderness.

Pre-eruption

The crowd gathers, camera-ready

Gurgle, gurgle

Pa-pow!

Ye Olde Faithful

And . . . it's done.

We still had 16 miles to bike after seeing Old Faithful, so we hit the road after grabbing some tasty ice cream. There were still some good things to see, so here are the highlights:

Pretty landscapes . . .

. . . and pretty landscapes crisscrossed with boiling hot streams.

Steaming pools . . .

. . . full of the ghost-white bones of hapless animals . . .

. . . and tourists?

Peaceful rivers . . .

. . . and not so peaceful ones.

Pretty purple thistles . . .

. . . and dead trees.

A stellar view of the park . . .

. . . an almost-as-stellar view of my ass (and my loaded bike).

A lone pine tree . . .

. . . shrouded in steam.

Majestic elk . . .

. . . watched by less-than-majestic humans.

Photographed by one . . .

. . . but usually more.

Well, that’s all for now. There’s still one more day of Yellowstone pics, then we’ll move into Grand Teton National Park. If my New Year’s resolution holds up, I should be posting again soon. Happy 2012, everyone!

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