September 10, 2011 – We spent the night at the cabins near the Canyon Visitor Center, so it made sense to start the day at Yellowstone Canyon. We were still feeling the 4000’+ elevation gain/drop and over 32 miles hiked from the first part of the trip, so thought that the walk down to the brink of the Lower Falls seemed like a good idea. 😉 There was a lot of water this year, more than we’ve seen in the past, and we enjoyed watching the water rush by.
Eventually it was time to continue. We were able to North Canyon rim walk from brink of lower falls (lots of water this year) to Grand View, and then headed back to our car – there were a lot of things we wanted to see!
We stopped at a few of the geyser basins on way to Old Faithful, and saw a few more paint pots. The Old Faithful area was crowded as usual, though not ridiculously so. We started along the Old Faithful geyser walk and were greeted by Grotto Geyser’s post-eruption mini-eruptions. These last for anywhere from 50 minutes to 24 hours after the main eruption, so we weren’t sure exactly when the main event was. We decided not to wait for Grand Geyser, since we were still about 6 hours before the end of the eruption window. We were glad we kept walking since we got to Castle Geyser about 10 minutes before it’s eruption. This was the first time we’ve seen this geyser erupt, and enjoyed watching the water show.
Lunch was enjoyed at the Old Faithful soda fountain. We each ordered the chili with cheese, onions, and crackers, and then tried some more ice cream. After some deliberation today’s selection was vanilla and peach. Vanilla was the clear favorite, followed by mountain berry; the peach was good, but not quite as good as an actual peach. The mountain berry was better able to capture the actual taste of berries. 🙂
Next up was the West Thumb Geyser basin. As usual, we had pretty views of the lake, thermal pools colored brilliant blue, and running sulfurous water. Tony also went over to investigate a steaming, fenced off hole in the parking lot and discovered a mud pot.
Our final hike of the day was Riddle Lake. We did this trail very quickly, partially because it was flat, partially because we needed to make it down to Jackson Hole, and mostly because there were a ton of mosquitoes. It’s also a known bear area, though we didn’t see signs of activity. The trail is very flat, relatively well-maintained, and ends by a large lake with mountains in the distance. It’s a pretty hike in the southern end of the park.
Finally, it was time to drive to the Tetons. Since it was sunset we had a nice extended view of the sun disappearing behind the peaks and coloring the sky. Our destination was the Cowboy Village – one word of warning, they close the office at 11pm, so make sure you arrive before then (which we did). Otherwise you have to call the night team and wait for them to come let you into your cabin. 🙂