Orlando Bingles’ Rocky Mountain High: Day 4

by Bingle on May.22, 2009, under Richard Bingle Family

Girls at Mammoth Hot Springs

Day four was to be devoted to doing things in Yellowstone. We started out with a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs. Even though we were on a boardwalk the entire time (obviously), even this turned into a hike as we climbed and wound our way up the terraces.

Steam vent at Norris Basin

Next was Norris Geyser Basin. We could have turned the basin into yet another long hike, but ended up only doing the smaller loop there as the information kiosk wasn’t to open for the season until the next day and we had no idea if or when anything would be erupting. The two steam vents as you first go down into the basin are pretty impressive, belching out huge plumes of steam.

Wolf tracks in snow

From Norris, we cut across the park over to Canyon Village. Right before arriving at Canyon Village, Rich thought he spotted a wolf running across the road. We stopped and everyone got a glimpse of it just before it disappeared into the brush in the distance. We drove back a ways hoping for a better angle, but never saw it again. We did however find the wolf’s footprints in the snow where it had crossed the road.


Next up was Lower and Upper Yellowstone Falls. To get to the brink of Lower Falls requires a 3/8 mile “walk” each way with an elevation change of 600 feet. Yep, you got it, more hiking. We spent the next couple hours taking pictures at all of the various overlooks of the falls.

Cinnamon colored black bear

By this time it was getting late and we wanted to drive from Canyon Village to Tower Junction as the road had literally just opened for the season. Elk and buffalo sightings were becoming so common now that we would only stop if they were right by the road (or if there were any baby buffalo). We were trying to keep a watchful eye for bears and Rich had just commented minutes earlier that it sure would be nice if we were to see a bear ambling along right near the road when we encountered our second “bear jam”. Karen and the girls piled out of the van and Rich drove a little ways farther down the road to find a place to park. This time it was a reddish colored black bear down the embankment from the road working its way along a creek eating. Technically, we were closer than we really should have been, but the embankment was pretty steep and we stayed pretty close to the park ranger who was trying to manage the situation. Only once did he warn us “if he starts up that hill we give him a big gap to go through”. We stayed there for quite a while watching the bear and slowly following it back up along the road. Eventually we decided that we were getting cold (everyone had jumped out of the van without their jackets) and it was getting even colder with the sun setting, so we reluctantly headed back to the van and on our way again. But that wasn’t to be our last bear of the day afterall. On the road from Tower Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs, we spotted a couple of guys with tripods hiking their way along the road back to their cars. We stopped to ask if they had seen a bear and they told us it was down the road a ways sleeping behind a tree on the other side of a small lake. Sure enough, about a half mile later we spotted a black bear snoozing peacefully 150 yards or so off the road. Amber was so excited that we had surpassed last year’s bear count (we had seen two on our last day in Yosemite last year).

We arrived back in Gardiner around 9:00 p.m. again (seeing a couple hundred elk as we passed through Mammoth) and had buffalo cheeseburgers for dinner, turning in around 11:00.

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