Long time no hear, we’re currently staying at the Grand Teton Climber’s Ranch of the American Alpine Club, a really great place to hang out. No wifi here, just a fixed computer you can use for 10 minutes.
We spent the last week up in Wyoming, most of our time in Yellowstone. Many people had been telling me Yellowstone is THE place to visit in the USA if you love nature and apparently it’s been voted most beautiful national park in the USA. Googling pictures and looking at the maps and hiking possibilities, I didn’t get too enthusiastic, but somehow I felt the need to include this park in our itinerary (also because it would get us close to Grand Teton, which I thought would be more “our thing”).
So was I wrong or what? Yellowstone is gorgeous, even despite the 3 million visitors they get each year and the Noro virus that has been going on there. We spend 3 days exploring from sunrise (about 6 am) until sunset (about 9 pm) just hiking around, driving (the park is HUGE) and still didn’t see it all. A good reason to come back!
The most memorable moment of our time there was our first bear encounter. We set out on the Beaver Trail, leading us to a couple of beaver ponds up in the mountains. Of course there are warnings about bears and bear safety (that’s why we got our bear spray in the first place) but somehow I would never have thought we’d actually encounter one. We asked some other hikers we came across if they’d seen any wildlife on the trail (negative) and had been making conversation about lots of things while walking through the woods. Then we went around a corner on the trail and at the same time around the next corner appeared a black bear. Martijn was ahead of me but didn’t see him so I yelled ” bear!” and saw him coming straight for us. Not running, fortunately, but making its way over on the trail, there was less than 25 meters between us and the bear and he kept on coming our way. We then noticed it was a cub (young) and realized the mother was probably around as well so we backed away and tried to get some distance between us and the cub. He kept on following us however for at least a couple of minutes (I like to think he just wanted to play) and eventually we managed to get a 100 meter gap between us and the bear, from where we watched him safely play around and eventually taking off. By then, we could already laugh about it and make jokes again, but I will sure never forget that one moment I saw him coming around the corner and making eye contact 🙂
That same day we saw quite some more wildlife from the car (a sleeping grizzly, another black bear, bison, elk and deer) but the other highlight of Yellowstone definitely was the geothermal activity. Apparently, half of the world’s thermal activity can be found in Yellowstone and we spent hours exploring all the geysers, fumaroles, basins and colorful landscapes. Unfortunately, Grand Prismatic was smoking a lot so we didn’t get to see its colors from close by but we managed to scramble up a hill next to it to get a view from the top, which was gorgeous. Also the eruptions of Old Faithful were gorgeous, especially the evening we got there around sunset time and most tourists had flown off. I think that one week in Yellowstone wouldn’t have been enough to see it all…
By now we have arrived in Grand Teton NP, an awesome place for hiking and climbing. Unfortunately we only had one day here so we spent it hiking up in Cascade Canyon. After a 23 km hike our feet are sore and faces are burnt because of the wind and the sun, so we’ll get the grill on again and go to bed as happy people soon.
Tomorrow we’re heading back to Colorado, where we’ll be spending our last couple of days. We are picking up our backcountry permit and will go hiking, hopefully rafting and trying dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (where Penny from Big Bang Theory works). Once back in Denver, we’ll go shopping, go to a shooting range and enjoy some last time here in the US. Not sure if we’ll update once more before we’re heading back home, so until later!
(once again no pictures, since it’s a public computer… please see our Facebook page for updates and pictures!)