Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Day 8: Bison Jam

This morning we were breakfasted and out of our cabin by half past eight. We spent the morning taking a leisurely three or four mile hike around the geysers that surround Old Faithful. Our early start meant that we were always well ahead of the crowds and it was only as we approached Hamilton's Store at lunchtime that we saw larger groups of people.

The walk was punctuated at short intervals with geysers and thermal pools and the highlights included seeing The Castle spout which it only does a couple of times each day. The thermal pools are quite mesmerising as the water is crystal clear and the colours and forms of the mineral and algal deposits are truly beautiful.

After lunch we wandered back past Old Faithful and stopped to chat with a couple from Florida. Actually we stopped to stroke their large black Golden Doodle and thought we had better talk to them too out of politeness as it has been a week now with no canine company and we do miss T & M.

We got to talking about the park wildlife and they advised us to drive the 90 mile South Yellowstone loop as there was a 200 head herd of bison on the meadows between Canyon and Fishing Bridge.

So that was our afternoon sorted. The drive was a gentle 45 mph run through forest, open meadows and rolling hills. Yellowstone's volcanic history was never far away and from time to time a geyser or steaming vent came in to view.

Within a few miles we found our first wildlife as a group of four Elk cows sunned themselves by the roadside. Further on we were halted by our first "Elk Jam" as we crawled a mile or more to where a bull Elk was grazing by the roadside. The photos were a more than adequate reward for the wait to see such a fine animal.

Further on 30% excitedly called us to a halt as she had spotted a solitary Bison Bull resting by the road. As we took photos a Biker slowed and shouted that there were 200 just down the road. He hadn't exaggerated. Once we reached the end of the traffic queue were were rewarded with a herd of Bison and they are truly magnificent beasts. We even saw a bull swim across the river directly alongside the car and then shake off the water and dust bathe less than 20 yards away.

The real treat was a mile or so further on where we pulled in to a wooded picnic area where a dozen or more bison were resting in the shade. There were cows with light tan coloured calves and also a fine snorting and grunting bull who was escorting a cow that was obviously about to come in to season.

We arrived back at OF a little after seven and relaxed before dinner at The Old Faithful Lodge.
Quote of the day: Ye Gods TP it smells like privy at Midsummer.

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