After ten days in Yellowstone three words describe the essence of our countries oldest national park - wildlife, massive, & weather.
We split our time in the park between the classic tourist attractions and camping in the remote backcountry. The big attractions offered spectacular geothermal shows while the backcountry offered solitude and quiet.
I have never experienced such diversity and vigor in the weather. At Lower Falls we transitioned from sun to pouring rain, to hail, and back to a bluebird sunny day 15 minutes.
Packing and double checking my gear before heading out. I planned my first trek along the parks Southern border. My pack weighed in at 30 pounds for the four day trip, mostly thanks to the 8 pounds of camera gear.
Like any good adventure, we had our fair share of issues and surprises. Anthony played the protagonist during our first ordeal.
We camped along the Snake River, so water and wildlife were close at hand the entire trip. Several bears, eagles, deer, & ducks to name a few. Also, more misquotes than we ever cared to meet - they actually outweigh all the elk in the park combined!
Surprisingly, you have the greatest chance of running into wildlife when driving through the park. Constant pitstops and pull-offs were a frequent part of our trip.
Throughout our trip we met every type of person you could imagine. From friendly park ranges to other campers who were a bit eccentric. The nicest group we met was a couple from Canada - they shared their dinner and campsite with us.
The rangers from Yellowstones' Backcountry officers were wonderful to work with, I can't thank them enough for their assistance and advice. They were a huge help planning our treks, and they had some great stories to share too. I asked a few rangers about the funniest questions they get asked from tourists:
We heard a rumor that snow might be in the forecast. Hard to believe after a week of 90° heat and intense sunshine, but in Yellowstone anything is possible. We got an early start and hiked to the summit of Mt. Washburn. At 10,243' we hoped of climb through the weather and catching the sunrise from the fire tower.
We never broke through the storm, but we did reach the summit. The climb was cold, windy, and lonely - we were the only hikers on the entire mountain. At the summit fire-tower we stopped long enough to make a hot breakfast and see the ranger who lives there. Anthony and I reflected on the way back down, being out in conditions like these offers a different kind of beauty.
Our last day in the park surprised us with a close encounter to a black bear mother and cub. This was a good time to stay far away and let the 900 mm lens I rented do the hard work.