Yellowstone & Glacier are well known as two of the greatest National Parks. While heading north we spent time in both and are glad we did.
Yellowstone, the oldest U.S. National Park, is expansive and busy, for good reason, with RVs, tourists and well established buildings throughout. A collection of forests new and old, spouting geysers, boiling streams, mud volcanoes, wildlife strewn meadows, snowy peaks, green valleys, winding rivers, reflective lakes, postcard waterfalls, and more than a simple “etc.” can fully encompass. It’s the type of place that makes me wish for a time machine as I can’t imagine what it must have been like to discover such an incredible potpourri of nature in its raw form. Yellowstone draws crowds from around the globe and envokes the type of selfishness that says “I wish everyone didn’t know about this place.” Then again, we’re just another vehicle in the parking lot, and another set of footprints that will ultimately add to the need for more asphalt and hand rails. I wish I could say we wholly took in the sights without snapping away at every picturesque opportunity, but I’d be lying 🙂 Proof below:
Glacier is smaller and less accessible (especially in winter) but equally beautiful. We paired up with our new friend Joe to snag a couple different camping locations and took full advantage of some of the best hiking in the U.S. About 25 miles of left-right-left took us through some amazing scenery. A geologists dream and a hikers delight, we were lucky to not have fallen off a cliff while rubber necking at all the sights. Rocks of every color, waterfalls, glacial lakes, fields of flowers, friendly deer, incredible overlooks, and of course…glaciers!
At the end of our first hike we reached Grinnel glacier. Glacial melt created a waterfall feeding the glacial lake below, with mini iceburgs from the aging glacier floating in the blue reflective pool. Gatorade’s coloring for their “Frost Glacial Freeze” flavor is quite accurate don’t ya think?
It was too much to resist getting our feet wet in the numbing water and after lunch Joe and I decided it had to be done. These frozen pieces of the past are disappearing rapidly and will be nothing more than pictures and the park’s namesake down the road….so in we went.
I can’t blame Jenna for not joining us…cold doesn’t begin to describe that water.
If it hadn’t been for an FYI from some passing hikers on our second hike, we may not have even noticed the momma Grizzly and her two cubs. Luckily she stayed on the hillside about 150 yards above us and was distracted by a group of big horn sheep. (Sorry for the far away pic..we only use a point-n-shoot camera so no real zoom.)
Bear spray in hand we set out to finish the last half of our hike until the wind kicked up big time. Other than some dirt in the teeth, it wouldn’t have bothered us except we were in a burnt forest. Charred by a previous fire, every tree was dead and either criss-crossed like a pile of pickup sticks, leaning against one of its brothers, or creaking and waving with each gust. Each time we heard one of the widowmakers crack and hit the ground we’d pick up the pace; all the while keeping an eye to the sky in case a deadwood near us decided it was time to go. If you’ve ever heard the sound of ghouls in a horror movie, I can assure you it is the recorded audio of a storm passing through a dead forest. Good news is we didn’t die. Instead we finished our hike, started our camp fire, drank beer and ate s’mores…ain’t life swell?
I guess we should mention that we also had our first mechanical hiccup of the trip…it’s not all donuts and beer ya know. While climbing a steep and deep-rutted trail outside of the Grand Tetons, we may or may not have had one wheel off the ground 🙂 Luckily I decided to do a quick once-over on the truck and found CV grease had flung out the end of one of our boots due to over extension/stretch. We knew this might happen due to the taller Bilstein struts we had installed. Oh well, it was worth reaching that perfect camping spot.
After having a local mechanic install stronger boot clamps we headed into Yellowstone. Little did we know I’d spend our first two days in the park scavenging for hose clamps and on my back since two of the four new clamps busted off completely! If you’re really lucky there will be a post about me attempting to replace these axles somewhere south of the border 😉
I was in glacier national park 30 years ago…our audit team had to go to kalispell Montana and we each took a day off to spend at the park. It was awesome back then and now I feel old as I can’t believe it was 1985. Keep on trucking kids. We miss you but love the posts:). Julie