A Travellerspoint blog

Cloudy Skies

semi-overcast 24 °C

Rise time 5.40am.

The first job this morning was to get to the Artist Point canyon overlook on the canyon's south rim. This is probably the most spectacular spot in the park. From the overlook looking west you can see directly down the canyon to the magnificant lower falls. It promised to be absolutely stunning as the rising sun would crash along the canyon and light up the falls. Unfortunately, the clouds were so heavy and set that the sun could just not penetrate them and it wasn't quite the moment is could have been. It just means I'l be back tomorrow, life could be worse!

I remained in the canyon area for most of today and hiked around, up and down the upper and lower falls. I went to the 'brink' of both falls, which were epic. At the brink you stand just metres away from the the powerful water as it crashes over the waterfall's edge. By now the sun had broken through the cloud and the rising mist was turned into a magnificent rainbow.

After spending time at the falls I went back to Hayden Valley to spot more wildlife. It isn't hard to find bison here in the valley, as in the summer it's where the freshest vegetation is to be found. The bison had gathered in large numbers in the valley on one side of the road so I jumped up on the roof of my car to get a better view of them. It wasn't quite what I wanted to I jumped off the roof and made my way down into the valley. I could see some people giving me odd looks, but i new if I was careful there would be no problem. I would just have to be very aware of my surroundings, constantly looking around to see where the bison were; to make sure none were heading my way or that I wasn't being cut off from an escae route if one was needed. I ended up predicting them very well and got out of the valley just before several more bison moved down the area I was just in.

In the evening I came back to the brink of the lower falls (the falls I had been watching for sun rise this morning) and watch the setting sun sparkle in the water and turn the yellow rhyolite canyon walls shades of orange and gold.


Posted by MattOGrady 07:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

I Suggest You Phone 911

28 °C

Rise time: 5.20am.

You'll remember that the other day I raced up to Yellowstone from Grand Teton and missed some fantastic morning sunrise opportunities. This morning I put myself at a brilliant Lake Yellowstone overlook that directly faced the sun rise. As the sun broke the cool morning the sky changed from dark blue to a brilliant warm orange. I dutifully photographed the scene and before too long was ready to jump back in my car to warm up. As I was packing my tripod up I turned to open the boot and stood about 10m away from the on the opposite side of the road was a bull elk grazing on the low shrubs. His incredible antlers were spotlit by the rising sun and it was a great moment.

From my spot photographing the lake I drove the hour or so up to Canyon campground, the most popular site in the Park. The road to Canyon Country cuts across Hayden Valley, renouned for being a popular location for wildlife, and it was no differnet of the time I was there. There were a number of occasions when I had to stop driving because one or two bison decided to straddle the road and prevent an onward journey. That was obviously incredible, but it left me totally unprepared for what was to come. At one stage I, in my car, got separated from the cars in front and behind me because of one or two bison blocking the road ahead and behind. I thought they would soon move on. Then out of nowhere I could see, at least 75-100 bison emerged from one side of the valley to cross the road to the other side. All of these bison passed within metres of me in my car. My window was down (it was hot) and I didn't dear raise it incase the animals were spooked. This left me eyeballing a hundred bison and the walked around me, with nothing between me and them and, even with the protection of my car, I was left feeling very small and powerless.

I later got up to Canyon Village. After checking into my campsite I went over to the Canyon Vistor Center to get advice on what to do whilst here, and to transfer some photos from my SD card onto my external hard drive. I was in the Visitor Center for roughly ten minutes when a sour faced woman approached me and instructed me to take my power cable out of the socket. I was surprised by this request, mostly because I had had no issues anywhere else. I asked her why I needed to do it, believe it or not more because I was curious as opposed to wishing to cause any trouble. Well of course, I did also know that Americans don't like being asked why. Deference is a state of mind habitually found amongst the population here. But, I'm not American, so I'm not so inclined. She then, in a tone as agressive as her face was haggered by the passage of time, told me to take it out. Well now as well as my question not being answered she was being rude to me, and as a paying member of the public, let along just a member of the public, this wasn't OK. I asked her again why. She responded by saying that it was probited to plug a laptop in since 9/11. "What?!" I found this an utter insult of my intelligence, let alone the an offensive use of that tragic occasion, as I was confident that no such prohibition existed. She then repeated her demand and I now wanted to know what law prohibited the conduct in a Federal building. She had no answer, so I said I wanted to speak with her supervisor, mostly because of the astonising way she was speaking to me, simply because I dared to question what I was being demanded of me. Conveniently, her supervisor wasn't available. I said to her that I was sure she was mistake in her demand, this based on my experience in the Parks so far and simple common sense, so declined her persistence. We came to the conclusion that a US Park Ranger would be required. Rangers are Federal Agents and the police officers of the National Parks. So, off she went around the corner, dialed 911 and within a minute or two a police car with ligts flashing and siren blaring turned up. I was not shaken by this as I was resolute that, even if I was wrong, I was not mistaken in wanting to question what was being asked and it wasn't unfair of me to want more information. Once the Ranger pulled up she swiftly trotted outside, even before he was out the car, to talk to him. This reassured me - if she was confident in what she was saying why could she not simply rely on that rather than need to get a word in first? A few minutes later I went outside to introduce myself, explain what had happened and reasserted my understanding that there was no such prohibition in Federal law that she was insisting. He had been looking through his book of regulations and confirmed that I was right. However, he said that whilst I wasn't breaking any law, he would appreciate if I went to a different location because otherwise there would be a proliferation of people using power sockets and blocking the center. Well this sounded about right and sounded like common sense. "Not a problem then." He had spoken to me politely, explained why I was being asked to do something (even though it wasn't against the law) and gave me an alternative. This was not a demand, as I had had before. I explained to him that if 'Ellen' had just done the same, he wouldn't need to be here now. He gave me a Ranger complaint form to report Ellen's conduct and let me know where I could deliver it to the Park's Superintendent.

Later in the afternnon I went to the north rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - a scarred golden ryolite canyon, which has breathetakingly inspiring waterfalls. I spent the sunset at Inspiration Point on the north rim until the sun was down. After watching the sunset it was back to the campsite for today's highlight - a shower! Canyon campsite had pay showers and after many days without properly washing I wasn't going to miss the opportunity. The water was utterly refreshing and I felt completey new and rejuventated to have showered. I was certainly glad to have picked up complimentary soap and shampoo at some of the place's I've been staying.


Posted by MattOGrady 23:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Back Tracking


I gave myself a lie in this morning. Lying in isn't so easy when you're sleeping on a mat in a tent, but getting up at 7am was progress on 4.45am!

I looked through my photos of Geyser country, yesterday, and there were a few problems with them becuase of the setting I had left the camera on. Yesterday I saw some pretty incredible sights and so I was determined to take an hour or two this morning to re-photograph the geysers and hot springs.

I spent the afternoon at Yellowstone Lake (I'm staying in Grant Village in Lake Country) and I took a short hike to a lake overlook this evening to watch the sunset. The hike took me a mile or two from the road through flower filled meadows. I had my hand on my pepper spray, not because of the cayotes howling at the setting sun, but because this just seemed like the place you'd find a bear roaming around.

You deserve to know what I'm surviving on out here in the wilder. Well my diet these days consists of; soup, bread, sweetcorn, rice or chlli. Thrilling variety there, I think not, but it's keeping me going.


Posted by MattOGrady 22:54 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Dash to Yellowstone

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.


Posted by MattOGrady 19:48 Comments (1)

The Early Bird

sunny 32 °C

Rise time: 5.20am

I got up early this morning to race down to the lakeside to watch the sun come up and illuminate the Tetons and to get photos of their salmon pink reflections in the water. I did another Lake hike today. A little shorter in distance, but higher altitude that really challenged me and made me pretty relieved to get the lake over look for lunch.

I stayed up to watch the sunset again over the Tetons. Something about these Tetons I keep talking about - they are absolutely deadly. They are so magnificent in their beauty that driving the road that run parallel to them is a risk. It is very difficult to avoid being mesmerised and totally transfixed by them.

My two days in the Tetons are now over and tomorrow morning I will be getting up to Yellowstone National Park, approximately two hours north of where I am at the moment.


Posted by MattOGrady 19:32 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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