I must admit that I lost my cool about it. All I wanted to do was get out of the car and go hiking. I'd been looking forward to it all week. But, the hikes we'd planned were foolishly close to the Old Faithful area which meant we had to drive a good ways through the park to get to them. Foolishly close for July. Back in May it would have been a piece of cake.
Oh, the traffic!!! I was very frustrated by it and had an uncharacteristically hard time shaking my grumpiness. I should have expected it, but alas, I did not. May and September visits fooled me. In May 2013 there were less than 300,000 people to visit the park. That's a pretty significant difference.
But once we got out a good ways out into the woods my mood was much improved. How could it not be on a hike that strolls through trees and flowers, past waterfalls and geysers, hot springs and ponds, and open meadows with mountains on the horizon all around?
The hike was breathtaking. Grand Prismatic Spring, Fairy Falls, Imperial Geyser, Imperial Meadows. It was absolutely gorgeous. We'd been wanting to take it all year, but it is closed until Memorial Day because it is a bear management area.
We started out from the Fairy Falls Trailhead 4.5 miles from the Old Faithful overpass. The first part of the hike is on the historic Fountain Freight Road. Once designed for automobiles this road is now traveled by foot and bicycle. The road follows the Firehole River. One quarter of the flow of this river comes from geothermal features making it a mix of warm and cold water that never completely freezes up in the wintertime. Neat-o.
The Midway Geyser Basin came into view and we were immediately excited as this was the primary reason we chose the Fairy Falls hike. The Midway Geyser Basin is home to the mind blowing, mesmerizing, miraculous Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the largest hot spring in the park and the third largest in the world. Its dazzling blue-green pool is 370 feet across.
|Common WhiteTail Dragonfly|
|Elephant Head. Matt and I both agreed that these looked like elephants. When we looked it up in the guidebook upon our return home lo and behold...they are called elephant heads. I like a simple, easy-to-remember name like that.|
|Orange Mountain Dandelion. The beautiful orange cousin of the more common types. Orange is Matt's favorite color. He was pretty impressed.|
|Rosy Pussy Toes. They were so cute! And they have cute name, too!|
|Penstemon. I am not sure what kind of Penstemon. But, I am sure they were stunning.|
|Lanceleaf Springbeauty. They are such a delicate looking little flower--white with pink veins running through the petals.|
As we watched Imperial Geyser had almost continuous minor eruptions of approximately two to forty feet in height. We used a tree on the far side of the geyser as a scale. I timed some of the eruptions. It seemed there was an average of 18 seconds of pause between eruptions, but each eruption was on average almost five minutes long--except for a short series where it erupted for one minute, paused for 15-18 seconds and the erupted again for another minute several times in a row.
|A view of Fairy Falls from the Imperial Meadows.|
After 2.5 miles the Imperial Meadows Trail rejoins the Fountain Freight Road and we left the meadows and returned to the baby pine forest. The wind was whipping up some serious whitecaps on Goose Lake as we passed by. The sky was growing dark all around us--except directly ahead of us on the trail. That was really the only encouraging sign. It was raining good by the time we made it back to the trailhead. Matt had (oddly enough) found a wide brimmed straw hat along the trail which came in quite handy to keep the rain off his face.
When we got back to the Midway Geyser Basin it was like a whole different place. Gone were the throngs of people on the boardwalks around Grand Prismatic. Gone was the dazzling blue of the waters. Gone was the bright, happy blue sky with puffy white clouds. It was all grey and quite windy.
I was quite a case of contrasts too since I was mean and stormy feeling when I hit the trail and light and jolly, despite the rain, as we finished up. Nature is like a balm for my spirit.