There are way too many details of the Yellowstone trip to ever post them here. Besides, it's been so long I can't remember everything anyway! All I know for sure is that we had a lot of fun! I'll try to mention a few highlights that stand out to me.
When we were in Yellowstone, driving through the beautiful Hayden Valley, our car got blocked on the road several times by a herd of Bison. This is fairly common, so we weren't surprised, but it's still just as exciting for me now as it was when I was a kid. These animals are so HUGE! It's incredible to see them up close. A few more close encounters with Yellowstone animals include two ginormous bull elk right next to the road, a wily coyote in a parking lot at night, a young buck right in our campsite, and some kind of weasel-like animal that ran across the road in front of us at Lake. Most of our more exciting animal encounters occurred in Grand Teton National Park. We saw a bull and cow moose on our hike up Cascade Canyon, a little black bear on our hike up Garnet Canyon, and some over-zealous chipmunks on our hike up to Inspiration Point. Seeing the animals up close and personal has always been one of my favorite aspects to visiting this area.
Something that often gets overlooked when people talk about Yellowstone is the amazing amount of spectacular waterfalls. The Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is particularly stunning. We spent two very long but fun-filled days driving the upper and lower loops through the park. Thank goodness for all of the ice cream stops! We all piled into the Excursion and stopped at almost every point of interest. We definitely saw our fill of bubbling pools, geysers, steam vents, and pots of mud. After a while, they all start to look the same, but it's amazing to think about the vast underground system that connects them all. One thing I would definitely not recommend before a Yellowstone trip is watching the mini-series "Supervolcano." That might put a bit more stress into your trip than you'd like... (but it's a pretty good movie!)
My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Tetons. I've been going there for family reunions since I was 4 years old, so naturally, I love it! It truly does feel like home to me. We did most of the important things - hike, hike, hike. There's no better way to get a feel for these mountains than to just get up there in them! We rode the ferry across Jenny Lake and hiked to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon. I have yet to make it to the forks in Cascade, but I'll get there someday! There just never seems to be enough time! But, luckily for us, tradition held - we saw moose. I don't think I've ever been up Cascade and not seen a moose!
The next day we hiked up Garnet Canyon to the meadow at the base of the Middle Teton. I'd only done this hike twice before and for some reason, this last time seemed the easiest. I was thoroughly surprised at this! I thought for sure I would be huffing and puffing all the way up the mountain, but to my great satisfaction, I made it up easier than I did when I was 12! Believe me, no one could have been more surprised than myself.
While there are plenty of spectacular hikes in the Tetons, this is one of my favorites because of the amazing vistas from the top. The jagged peaks and rocks are stunning and you can see out across the whole valley. It truly feels like you're on top of the world. The meadow is so pretty too! Full of wildflowers, streams, and huge boulders left by glaciers (they're called erratics - thank you 9th grade physical science), this meadow is like a little piece of alpine paradise. It's where I first saw a pica, slid down a glacier on my behind, and had filtered water from a mountain stream. We relived all three of these memories while we were up there, though Jen West and I were the only two to venture over to a small glacier and slide down. I love this hike!
Another highlight was going to the Bar J Ranch outside of Jackson for the dinner and show. It's worth absolutely every penny to visit the Bar J! The food is good, and the entertainment is gooder! I just love the Bar J Wranglers! They're extremely talented, folksy, and hilarious. This is definitely a must for anyone in the Jackson area. (No, I don't get paid to advertise for them...but I should...)
The last highlight I'll mention was our white-water rafting trip. Now, I'm the kind of person who is very careful of my surroundings, and if anything has the potential to cause me pain, I generally try to avoid it. So whenever anyone mentioned white-water rafting, I usually demurred. This time though, I really didn't have a choice. Everyone else wanted to go, so I was just along for the ride. I don't think I was the only one who was nervous, but I was definitely apprehensive about this. Knowing what I know now, I can only think how much I've been missing out on! It was completely awesome and fun in just about every way! We even saw a beaver! Good times...
I'm currently compiling these highlights into a movie version of our trip, but who knows when I'll finish that! Hopefully I'll get some photos up soon also, but this will have to do for now.
Teaser: Next up - weddings and New Kids...
I'm a Tree Too
1 day ago