August 29, 2010

Observation Point, Yellowstone NP

After watching Old Faithful erupt we decided to continue on to Observation Point Trail. From the Upper Geyser Basin area we crossed the bridge behind Old Faithful and made our way to the trailhead for Observation Point. We had read in the past that it was a nice short trail that with good views of the Old Faithful Area Upper Geyser Basin. The trail can be done as an out and back or can be combined with other short trails in the basin to make a loop of varying distances. The trailhead was easily marked. We headed up the dirt trail and since it was a warm afternoon we could really feel the sun in the exposed areas of the trail. We hadn't been on the trail long when we came across bison. We intially thought it was just one but after watching for several minutes we were able to see a group of about five or six a little further down. This was the first wildlife sighting we had on our trip so we took the time to watch and take pictures. We continued on the trail and came across a marmot sitting on a rock. We soon reached Observation Point, which lived up to our expectation. We were able to see the Old Faithful area and geysers in Upper Geyser Basin. There were a few other hikers along the trail and at Observation Point but it was not crowded by any means. We decided to take a different trail back to the basin and passed Solitary Geyser. This geyser erupts every 4-8 minutes. We were there just a couple of minutes when it erupted a few feet, lasting only a few seconds. We headed back down the trail and made our way back to the boardwalk in the basin. The entire hike was just over a mile in distance with about 200 feet elevation change. Observation Trail is a good short hike very close to the Upper Geyser Basin area that provides different views of Old Faithful and the other geysers.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

We spent seven days visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Since we were entering via Jackson, Wyoming we entered Yellowstone via the South Entrance. We stopped at Lewis Falls before heading to Grant Village. After a quick look at the visitor center we headed up the road to West Thumb where we looked at the geysers in the basin. The boardwalk to view the geysers was popular that day. We then made our way up to Old Faithful area where we checked out the brand new visitor center, the stores and of course Old Faithful Geyser. After watching the most popular geyser erupt we walked along the boardwalk in Upper Geyser Basin and took a quick hike to Observation Point. We saw bison and a marmot. With some time to spare Black Sand Basin was our last stop of the day. On day two we headed up towards Madison and stopped at Fountain Paint Pot, which is the biggest bowl of plopping goop in the park. It's much more interesting than it sounds. After passing a group of elk we made our way into West Yellowstone.

We made a quick stop at the IMAX theater to look around before going next door to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Here we were able to observe five grizzly bears and four wolves in captivity. It was a safe, sure way to view these animals up close. Heading back into the park we went to the Norris area to view the Museum of the National Park Ranger. We stopped at Artists Paintpots and the Norris Geyser Basin as well. We took a short detour to view the Virginia Cascades which were flowing but not too impressive. As we made our way back to Old Faithful we were lucky enough to see a grizzly bear not too far from the road. It was exciting and scary at the same time. Even though we only saw it for a few minutes it was a nice end to our day. On the third day we traveled through Madison and Norris again up to Mammoth Hot Springs. Along the way we stopped at Roaring Mountain and Sheepeater Cliff, both which were not as exciting as we had hoped. We did spend a good amount of time at Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, walking along the Lower and driving through the Upper. Here we saw several thermal features and had some views of the Mammoth Hot Springs.  We had lunch in this area and admired the large group of elk before continuing on down the road to Tower-Roosevelt. We stopped at Tower Fall which was probably the best fall in the park. It was a popular site but unfortunately the trail that used to lead to the base of the falls was in need of repair so you couldn't really get any closer to it than the view from the top. We drove through Dunraven Pass and checking out Canyon Village, where we stayed that night. Day four we drove by Sulphur Caldron and stopped at Mud Volcano on the way to Fishing Bridge and Lake Village. On the drive we saw many bison and a few male deer.
 After quick stops to the visitor centers we made our way to the Elephant Back Mountain trail. We saw more deer on our hike and thankfully we had no bear encounters. We drove back to Canyon Village and visited the South Rim of the canyon. We saw views of the upper and lower falls and did the steep 300 plus step climb down and back up Uncle Tom's Trail. We visited Artist Point on the South Rim and then Inspiration Point on the North Rim., both with great views of the canyon. The next day we headed out to Dunraven Pass to hike up to the peak of Mt. Washburn where we saw marmots, pikas and bighorn sheep. After the great hike we went back to the North Rim of the Canyon and did the Brink of Upper Falls Trail for another great view and drove the rest of North Rim Drive. We had planned to head out of Yellowstone early the next day to spend as much time as possible at Grand Teton National Park. We were able to leave Canyon Village early but were delayed getting out of the park by the grizzly bear with her three cubs in Hayden Valley and the bison walking on the road. We did manage to get a few shots of Yellowstone Lake before heading out of the park. Once in Grand Teton National Park we visited the Indian Arts Museum at the Colter Bay Visitor Center, there is no admission fee. We stopped at Jackson Lake Lodge to get a good view of the Teton Range and to see the lobby in the lodge that has huge glass windows allowing for the same great view. We made a brief detour to Oxbow Bend Turnout in hopes of seeing wildlife but were unsuccessful. We drove on Signal Mountain Road up to the top of Signal Mountain for more views of the range. We took the one way Jenny Lake Scenic Drive and made a stop at the visitor center at Jenny Lake and inquired about the shuttle across the lake that we would need to take the next day. After a few scenic turnouts and a visit to Menors Ferry Historic District we ended our day in Grand Teton at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. It is fairly new and still under construction. Day seven we were up early to drive into Grand Teton to take the shuttle across Jenny Lake to hike Cascade Canyon. We stopped at Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point before continuing our hike on Cascade Canyon Trail. We spent the last day of the trip driving into Salt Lake City, stopping at the Hill Aerospace Museum and the LDS Temple. We had a great trip and plan on visiting Grand Teton National Park again for some more hiking

August 5, 2010

August Events

Here are a few things going on in August

8/14 and 8/15 Fee Free Weekend for National Parks
8/15 Race thru the Redwoods 10k trail race at Henry Cowell State Park
8/21 Summer Breeze 5k, 10k and Half Marathon races at San Leandro Marina
8/21 Family Day At Calaveras Big Trees State Park
8/22 Sunday Streets Bike Event at Golden Gate Park
8/22 Time is On Your Side 5k and 10k races at Lake Merritt
8/28 Midnight Half Marathon race in Modesto
8/28 Cycling Festival at REI Fremont
8/29 Dirt Inspires Women's Trail Half Marathon in Aptos

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
   Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda
     8/10 Berkeley
   Local Day Hikes
     8/17 Stockton
   Pack Your Pack
     8/26 Stockton
   Bicycle Class
     8/10 Fremont
     8/15 Berkeley
   Yosemite Day Hikes and Backpacking
     8/17 Berkeley