Monday, August 6, 2012

Leaving Yellowstone

Road elk
So it was with some measure of sadness that we left Yellowstone. One of its surprising features, to me, had been the variety of it all. Every area had a distinct and different look about it. The Lake Hotel was elegant. The small thermal basins of West Thumb and Mud Volcano were entirely different. The Canyon area had a very camper-like feel, despite the seventies chic design of the lodge and cabins. Mammoth and Old Faithful areas were tourist choked. Hayden Valley was full of buffalo. Roosevelt was very cowboy western, and rustic to a fault. Norris was a valley laid to waste whereas the Old Faithful geyser basins were flat plains. In the quiet morning, the entire landscape around Old Faithful smokes and steams. There were beautiful vistas driving along Blacktail Deer Plateau and around Mount Washburn. One was hemmed in by regrown pine across the Central Plateau. The landscape was all tumbled boulders around Golden Gate.

Our little cabin in the Tetons
But that was behind us now. It was time to enter a different park with its own, different look and feel.

We were headed to Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park.

On our way out of the park, an elk did her best to mimic a road buffalo. We had only seen a couple elk in Yellowstone, but would see more in the Tetons. They are more skittish than they were before wolves were reintroduced to the parks. Now that they are hunted, they run at the slightest disturbance.

Signal Mountain Marina
Mountains. A small set of mountains rising almost straight up, without benefit of foothills. When a child thinks of mountains, this is what they picture. Sudden peaks, without reason, a bit of snow on them even in the middle of a hot summer. Gorgeous.

Our little cabin was near the water, across from which loomed Mount Moran.

We opted for an evening float trip down the Snake River. It wasn't a well-received plan by all. My daughter had grown tired of looking at things, hearing about things, etc. She just wanted some quiet, family time. So we hemmed and hawed. But hearing that only we were interested, we decided to go ahead. A private tour for just us.

View from the Snake River
Kids oaring the raft
Stephen enjoys being the guide

Mount Moran
The famous Ansel Adams photograph of the Tetons and the Snake River was taken over a section of river that we rode, so we had a somewhat different vantage of the same spot. Since we were alone, my kids got a chance to oar the raft. Along the way we saw several elk, a bald eagle, and a couple beavers. It was a relaxing way to end the day.

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