Orlando Bingles’ Rocky Mountain High: Day 17

by Bingle on Jun.04, 2009, under Richard Bingle Family

Buffalo Bill Dam

Day seventeen was to see us return to Jackson, WY via Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. As the girls had enjoyed visiting Hoover Dam during last year’s trip the day started out with a stop along our route at Buffalo Bill Dam which is located near Cody in Buffalo Bill State Park. Rich remembered visiting the dam back in 1970 on a trip out west with the folks, but things had changed since then. In 1993 a project was completed that added 25 feet to the height of the dam. This redesign meant that Rich didn’t have to have a death grip on the girls like his mother had on him back in 1970.

Yellowstone Lake

After our stop at the dam, we continued on our way into Yellowstone. In the ten days we’d been gone, Yellowstone Lake had finished thawing out and appeared to be ice free. At one overlook we met a couple who had locked their keys in their truck and were waiting for OnStar to unlock it for them. They were very jealous of the number of bears that we had seen as that was to be their last day in the park and they had yet to see any (although they had seen four coyotes earlier in the day).

We decided to head north past the falls and cut across the center of the park between Canyon and Norris since we’d only driven across that section once during our earlier visits. Unfortunately we didn’t see any more bears.

Getting hailed on at Artist's Paint Pots

Ashley wanted to stop at Artist’s Paint Pots and hike up to see the one that looked like it was spitting wet drywall mud. It was threatening to rain when we parked, so we threw on our jackets and hurried up the path. Turned out it was a good thing we hurried as the valley was soon filled with the sound of rolling thunder and it started to rain. With the weather turning worse, we didn’t tarry and were soon on our way back down to the van. We were less than ¼ of a mile from the parking lot when it started to hail – fortunately lightly and less than pea-sized. A few minutes later we were back in the van and on our way again through the rain. Then the heavy, but thankfully pea-sized, hail started. With the temperature around 48F, the hail didn’t melt right away and the road soon looked like it was snowing. The hailstorm was short and soon we were back to just driving in the rain.

The rain followed us throughout the rest of our trip through the park and was probably the reason we saw so few animals as compared to previous days. We were very thankful for the good weather we had experienced earlier in the trip.

Family at Taggart Lake redux

As it had been several days since we had truly “hiked”. Ashley wanted to stop at the Taggart Lake trailhead in Grand Teton National Park and hike the other trail leading to the lake that we hadn’t taken before. As the weather had cleared considerably after leaving Yellowstone, we decided to give it a try. As it was 5:45 p.m., the trail was 2.6 miles, and our average speed was a little over 1 mph, Rich decided we’d go as far as we could by 7:00 p.m. and if we hadn’t reached the lake by then we’d turn around and head back. Ashley led the way at a fast pace! The landscape along the trail was much greener than it had been two weeks prior and that coupled with all of the bear sightings during the trip had Rich a little nervous about stumbling upon a bear as we hurried along so he had the girls sing songs, and even occasionally had everyone “Sound Off” with a loud “One! Two! Three! Four! Five!” along the line. With Ashley determined to get to the lake before having to turn around, we reached the lake in about an hour, probably doubling our normal pace. As the path we had taken on our first hike was shorter, had considerably less elevation changes, and according to some folks we passed going the other way no longer had snow on it, we decided to take that way back. The hike to the lake definitely had taken its toll as the 1.8 miles back also took an hour.

Moose near Taggart Lake trailhead

There were a few people across the road from the parking lot when we got back to the van so walked over to take a look. It was a good thing we did as there was a moose cow down by a beaver dam. We spent about twenty minutes watching her before heading back to the van and heading on our way.

We knew we were going to have to get up early to get to the airport in the morning and the girls wanted to try out the small lap pool before going to bed, so we opted for fast food before a quick swim.

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