31.07.2010 - 31.07.2010
Rise time: 4.45am.
Wow I was up early today! Why so? I had two hours to get up to one of the best campsites in Yellowstone. These campsites are usually fully booked a year in advance, but there are occasionally spaces if you arrive early. I raced past some spectacular scenery as the sun was rising. The bright pink and orange sun rise lit the Tetons and Lake Yellowstone up and I passed them. I was doing an unsociable speed and regretted the photo opportunities I was missing, but it was important I get to the campsite. At one point I came exceptionally close to hitting a gathering of elk on the road, but I quick toot of the horn the glare of my lights soon had them on their way. On the way to Madison campground, in west Yellowstone, I also happened to cross over the continental divide three times. I arrived at Madison campground at 6.50am, ten minutes before the office opened, and still I was not the first one there.
I patiently stood in line and when it was my turn I was relieved to find that there was space, for tonight only, and that via the system I was able to reserve a site at the similarly popular Grant Village campground at the southern entrance, which I had passed about an hour earlier. I couldn't move into my site until 11am so I set about exploring the natural wonders in the area.
Yellowstone National Park is divided into five 'countries'; Geyser, , Lake, Canyon, Roosevelt and Mammoth. I was in Geyser country, home of thermal phenomenon, and it was time to check it out. My first stop was Old Faithful. Old Faithful is perhaps the most famous geyser in the world, so called because it faithfully erupts approximately every ninety minutes. I didn't want to watch it with the crowds so I took a two and-a-half mile hike up a hill to a spot that overlooked the geyser and patiently waited ... and waited ... and waited some more. Old Faithful was eventally faithful and even from the distance I was the eruption was impressive. I was fortunate that at the same time a number of other geysers were erupting and I could see them all from the spot where I was. Instead of heading back to where I had come from I cut right across a two mile long broadwalk that discected the area's hot springs. A hot spring looks like a pond apart from it is brilliantly coloured and differs from a geyser because its pressure can be released, whereas a geyser cannot - hence the eruption. The largest hot spring of them all is Old Prismatic Hot Sping and it really is just incredible. It is about the length of a rugby pitch long and wide and the colours are mind-blowing. I was helpfully advised by some people in Grand Teton that the best spot to view and photograph it would be to avoid going directly to the spring and instead take a hike parallel to it and scramble up a steep slope. It was well worth the dirty clothes.
This evening I had a few drinks at the Old Faithful Inn, caught up on the news and transferred some photos from my camera. I'm expecting this to be the last time I have internet for quite a while.