Seriously the lack of posts doesn't mean we had a lack of things going on; actually, quite the opposite. It has been "peak of the peak" season around here, and we've been up to our ears in cleaning. I noticed the other day I seem to be developing calluses on my knees...how wrong is that?? As many readers our age can identify with, we've had many many phone calls between here and Florida as we deal with my mom's health issues and try to get her squared away. Slow progress has been made, and she appears to be doing better. I thank our lucky stars that we have supportive family, specifically Al's sister Ginny and our BFF Patti helping us out by doing the legwork and visiting, giving us first hand reports of how she is doing.
One of our day off adventures involved our blogger friends John and Carol, along with Pat and Diana Brown, and John's nephew Ben and his girlfriend. We had decided another day trip to Yellowstone National Park was in order, and selected the Canyon area for this excursion. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is another unique geological area, and we decided that hiking both the North Rim and the South Rim was in order. The two hikes would extend just over 6 miles one way, so we decided to pool our resources and do a "shuttle hike"...leave cars at both ends of the trails.
Looking at the map above, we met at the picnic area in the lower left hand side of the map, just over the Chittendon bridge, left two cars there and shuttled in the other two cars up to Artist Point, the end of the South Rim Trail. After walking back to the parking area, we then had lunch, retrieved the two cars from Artist Point, then went up to Inspiration Point, again leaving two cars at the picnic area. We walked the entire North Rim Trail back to the cars, logging about 6.2 miles and an elevation gain and loss of over 1200 feet for the day. So, what did we see during all this walking??
You can click on any picture to see it better :-)
The Lower Falls as seen from Artist Point. This was our first view of the canyon and it was superb. Unfortunately due to the curves of the Yellowstone River you are unable to see both the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls in the same picture...but never fear, we did see both :-). We had planned our arrival for between 9:30AM and 10AM in the morning, hoping to see the famed rainbow at the bottom of the falls. It was very faint, but we did see it!
"....As I took in the scene, I realized my own littleness, my helplessness, my dread exposure to destruction, my inability to cope with or even comprehend the mighty architecture of nature....." Nathaniel P. Langford, 1870, one of the first explorers to record his impressions of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The Lower Falls have a drop of 308 feet. The canyon itself is 20 miles long, and more than 1000 feet deep. The canyon formed after a huge volcanic eruption about 640,000 years ago, emptying a large underground chamber of magma. The roof of the chamber collapsed, forming a giant caldera 30 miles across, 45 miles long and several thousand feet deep. Eventually the caldera filled with lava of rhyolite, approximately 484,000 years ago. Hydrothermal activity altered and weakened the rhyolite making the rocks softer. The Falls may have formed because it flows over volcanic rock more resistant to erosion than the downstream rocks, which are hydrothermally altered.
The multi-hued rocks of the canyon result from the hydrothermally altered rhyolite and sediments.
Depending upon where you stood and the direction of the sun, the canyon held many different colors and shadings. It was very busy at the observation point here at Artist Point, but after seeing the rainbow in the mist, we headed out on the South Rim Trail. Soon we felt like the only group out there. This was to hold true for all the overlook areas...so many people just drive the road and stop at overlooks...I wonder if they know what they are missing?
Pat and Diana...this was our last visit with them this summer, but we'll meet again at Green River Lake State Park this October....working at Amazon!
As we got closer to the Lower Falls you could start to really see the "yellow stone" the park is named for.
John, Al and Carol showing off their hiking finery :-)
The trail curled around away from the brink of the Lower Falls and we approached the Upper Falls....no slouch either at a 109 foot drop.
Our awesome group poses at an overview...aren't they just the happy troop of hikers?
We had a bonus rainbow in the mist of the Upper Falls :-).
From the overlook the trail headed down to the brink of the Upper Falls. I really wish a picture could covey the power of the water flowing, it is mesmerizing.
Ben standing on the river's edge. The Yellowstone River is funneling down to the head of the falls, the line of white water you see just above the center of the picture.
This is looking up river from the falls.
These large rocks in the river upstream of the Falls are remnants of a lava flow that is resistant to erosion. They do have trees growing on them though!
As we reached the picnic area, the river starts smoothing out.
I wish I could say I have pictures of the fun picnic we had here, but sorry, food and drink took precedence over pictures and there wasn't anything much left to take pictures of when we were done :-). After lunch, pit stops, rest and lots of laughs...oh, and a mule deer that sauntered through the picnic area), it was time to fetch the cars from Artist Point and shuttle our group up to Inspiration Point on the North Rim for the second half of our hike.
Yep, pretty inspiring :-). Inspiration Point is a handicap-accessible overlook where many people stop for the view. There is another overlook down a set of 50 steps, where you can catch a glimpse of the Lower Falls from this side of the canyon. We also caught whiffs of sulfur from the hydrothermal features far below.
Ben poses on the edge to give us some size perspective...leave it to the young folk to be brave :-).
From Inspiration Point to Grand View Point the trail wound through tree cover, with wild flowers alongside, and breaking out into views of the canyon below.
Each side shows a different perspective of the canyon and the Yellowstone River, 1000 feet below us. The rocks here are reddish on our side, black pinnacles on the other.
Further up the trail we have a myriad range of colors, stark white on our side.
We even found an arch! It was at least 3 feet long, so it qualifies as an arch :-).
Every second, an average of 37,417 gallons of water plunges over Lower Falls. Can you imagine? On the right hand side of the brink you can see tiny figures...these are people who braved the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, a short but very steep trail down from the canyon rim. We chose not to do this :-).
We continued walking, catching this side view of the Upper Falls...
crossing over a bridge and reaching the overlook for dainty Crystal Falls...
heading back upriver towards the picnic area...
and seeing a different view of those lava rocks in the river. 6.2 miles under our belts, we loaded up the cars and headed to Canyon Village for some much deserved dinner!
It was a very long day, over 14 hours in total from when we left the ranch till our return...of course, we also stopped for ice cream on the way home at our favorite pizza place, Leek's Marina. I know the pictures don't possibly convey the beautiful scenery we had, and how special it was seeing it for the first time with such good friends. So far, Yellowstone is holding a very special place in our hearts.
But....were we done for the weekend?? NO!
Monday we had a morning fishing trip planned on Jackson Lake out of Colter Bay. We had booked it as a surprise for our friend Jim Walker who was coming to visit, but sadly due to health issues was unable to come out here. Sorry, Jim, I had to go with Al myself :-).
It was a beautiful morning on the lake, and I took this picture of the marina at Colter Bay as we waited for our boat.
Mount Moran from the water. We were fishing pretty close to the base of the mountain.
How's this for some scenery while reeling in a fish?
They made sure I did my fair share of fishing as well and we came away after 3 hours with 6 nice sized lake trout :-).
Upon returning to the ranch, we asked everyone if they'd like to have a fish dinner that night, and a quick potluck buffet was thrown together. Our boss Brad took charge of the fish, and from everyone's reactions at dinner, it was quite delicious :-).
So, it was quite a busy weekend! And yes, we've been doing more than just working :-). We also did a fantastic hike last weekend to a couple of lakes in Tetons, but I still have to go through all those pictures and will have that post up next....so stay tuned and thanks for hanging in there for this long post.