Tuesday, September 04, 2012

August 10, 2012: Geyser Geeks & Buffalo Jams‏

Greetings All,
We are finishing up an impromptu 2 week trip to Wyoming. We started in the Wind River range where we finally made it to the Cirque of the Towers.

We tried to hike to this spectacular place back in 1991 but the weather did not cooperate. This time around we did it as a day hike when the weather was good. We also did a 20 mile horseback ride.

OK, so we rode for 10 miles, hiked for 5 and rode the last 5. Bike shorts really help. After the Wind Rivers we headed north to Grand Teton National Park. We did a long 20 mile hike up Paintbrush Canyon to Paintbrush Divide, down to Solitude Lake and down Cascade Canyon. The views and wildflowers more than made up for my sore feet.

Our 3rd and final destination was Yellowstone National Park. We were last in the Park in 1983 and a lot has changed. There are MANY more people and the parking/traffic is crazy but we learned how to get around it. We started at Old Faithful where we stayed in the historic Old Faithful Inn built in the early 1900's. Our room had a view of Old Faithful and it actually woke me up at night when it erupted. One of our favorite geysers was Grand Geyser. We were introduced to the Geyser Geek, Gazer or Geezer who spent a lot of time watching geyser. He and his wife watch the geysers around the clock and know when they would erupt by watching for indications. Grand would erupt if it's pool filled and held for 20 minutes. After the 3rd cycle it finally erupted and was worth the 2 hours wait.

The Geyser Geezer convinced us to come out at 3:30 AM to watch Castle erupt. Of course we did. It was kind of scary sitting in the moonlight waiting for a geyser to erupt. I scanned with my headlight for eyeshine. I could see some animals, most likely elk bound across the path in the distance. A guy on a bike emerged from the darkness, rode past but did not say a word. We did see Castle erupt.

The GG really had me hooked. I had to see the Giant Fountain Geyser erupt. On our first attempt we arrived about 5:30 PM. It was predicted to go off between 6 and 10 PM. A kid told us it had gone off early but we did not believe him so waited until 8:45 PM. It did not erupt. This geyser goes off every 12 hours. We drove back in the morning arriving at 7:00 AM. We waited until 9:00 AM when the ranger showed up. He showed us the secret location of a thermocouple hidden under some rocks and how to get the data from it. Spikes in temperature showed us that the geyser had gone off early yesterday evening (the kid was right) and had already gone off early this morning. Foiled again. We tried again in the evening and after a 4 hour wait finally saw the geyser erupt.

Marc said my geyser watching addition ends here.

We switched our attention to wildlife viewing. There are two valleys, Hayden and Lamar, that are loaded with buffalo. They cross the road creating buffalo jams a mile long.

We got up early to look for wolves in Lamar Valley. We've seen them on 2 mornings now. This morning we heard them howling before we spotted them.

There was a pack of 7. They were far away but it was still a thrill to see them.

We hope to catch up with friends Jerry and Cilla before leaving Yellowstone on the 13th. We head to Florida on the 14th then home on the 21st.

We hope all is well back home.

Marc and Peggy

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