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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

22 April 2009 Trip Report

Trip Report ~ by John William Uhler

Raven by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ April 2009 ~

Wednesday - 22 April 2009
Mount Haynes by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

We had another beautiful spring day to be heading back to Parkadise. It was a little cloudy and spritzed on us in the area of Ashton, Idaho, but once we were up the hill it cleared up to be a bright and beautiful day. We were in our spring attire of tee shirts (me) and light sweat shirts or sweaters.

The crew for this trip was my oldest daughter Tamra, and her friend Dawn Garrison (who had never been to Yellowstone), Carlene and myself.. We loaded up and headed north to Parkadise about 8:50 am and had a nice drive through Island Park and on to West Yellowstone. We saw two osprey on their nest in Island Park and that was about all the wildlife until we entered the park. We kept a close eye out for the moose that had been seen in Island Park but had no success. We will keep looking as Carlene loves moose! The roads were clean, clear and dry.

We entered the West Entrance at about 10:15 am and headed towards the Old Faithful area. We saw one bald eagles on the nest, but did not see its mate. Dawn was really excited to see and be in Yellowstone and we were excited to be able to share her first trip. She got real excited when she saw her first bison and we stopped so she could take pictures. They were all over once we came out of the lodge pole pines about three miles east of the entrance.

We saw mallards and Canada geese along the Madison, but no swans. We stopped east of the seven mile bridge at the Mount Haynes pullout. We had bison, elk, geese and ravens. Dawn and I took some pictures and we chatted with a couple from Saint Antony, Idaho who were sharing the park with their grand children. They hadn't seen any bears along the way. We had looked for the winter kill hoping that the bear might be out and about, no luck.

We saw another small herd of buffalo and elk and a small flock of Canada Geese along the way. We stopped at the Madison Information Station (not open) for a restroom break. There was a nice herd of about two dozen bison walking just on the other side of the restrooms. Dawn did not have her camera as she didn't think to take it to the restroom with her. Go figure!

Carlene, Tamra and Dawn at the door of the Old Faithful Inn by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

We arrived at Old Faithful (Upper Geyser Basin) at 11:30 am. I went to the visitor center to check on the next predicted eruption of Old Faithful and checked on Beehive and the other geysers. Old Faithful was predicted to erupt around 1:06 pm so we decided to have our picnic lunch and then we would walk around the area.

After lunch we went to the visitor center and watched a 12 minute video about Yellowstone to help give Dawn a little background. It was a great little video with great photography. We then headed out on our walkabout. We walked down to my favorite building in the park, the Old Faithful Inn. It was not open for the season, but they were in doing some finishing construction on some of the windows and other areas. Just as we walked up, one of the workers came out the front doors. I asked how he was doing and what he was working on, he said that they were just finishing up the windows. He was headed for a lunch break. Since Dawn has never been here, and since the doors were wide open and there was no sign, we walked in a few steps so she could see and enjoy this magnificent log structure. She was awe struck with the little of the lobby that we could see. Beautiful!

We then carefully crossed two small snow fields towards Beehive Geyser to show Dawn the cone and suggested that if she ever came back to check on this geyser for any possible predictions as it has an awesome eruption. I like all the geysers, but Beehive and Grand are my favorites.

By now it was getting close to 1:00 pm so we headed back towards the boardwalk and benches by Old Faithful. There was a small herd of about twelve bison laying a little ways from the geyser. So Carlene and I stayed on the sidewalk so I could take my first HD video of the geyser and I wanted to get the bison and the eruption. Carlene acted as my bipod as I had left the tripod in the van. Old Faithful had a long interval and did many false starts or preplay as the geyser folks call them. Finally about 1:30 pm Old Faithful started to erupt. Just before the eruption, the bison got up and started walking towards the geyser. It was exciting to get a nice eruption with the bison walking through it. I was very happy!

Old Faithful Eruption and Buffalo by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

After filming the bison and eruption, we started to walk over to where Tamra and Dawn had be sitting and watching the action. When we got to the boardwalk, I looked over and saw the indicator for Beehive going off. I called Tamra and Dawn over and we sat at the end of the boardwalk. I told them that we were going to have the opportunity to watch a Beehive Eruption from preplay to end. We all were pretty excited. Tamra sat down and acted as my support for the camera. The indicator erupted for quite some time before Beehive started to go 1:47 pm. It was a fantastic eruption and so great to see Old Faithful and then just a few minutes later to see and enjoy Beehive. Beehive is much much louder and longer than Old Faithful. We really enjoyed it and Dawn was so happy to see both but especially Beehive. Way Cool and Far Out!

We then headed back to the van. We were going to go to Lamar Valley and look for bears and wolves, but it was growing too late. So we decided to head north and east to Canyon to show Dawn the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Upper and Lower Falls, look for otters and maybe drive into Hayden Valley and look for bears and wolves.

Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

We stopped at Gibbon Falls so Dawn could get a close view and take some pictures. It was roaring pretty good with the spring run off from the warm weather. Two ravens posed for me on the rock wall. They are beautiful birds and very smart and it was very kind of them to spend some time with us. We then headed on towards Canyon.

At a little before 4:00 pm we arrived at Canyon and drove the north rim loop. The Upper Falls trail was still snow covered and closed. We stopped at the overlook of the Lower Falls and Dawn was impressed with both the falls and the grand canyon. Another beautiful area. As we were enjoying the view, two osprey that had a nest on a rock cornice did a couple swoops and fly bys. I was able to get a few pictures. We chatted with two couples who were in the park enjoying their honeymoons. Of course as I was talking to them the osprey did their closest fly by. They are beautiful birds of prey.

We stopped and parked by the Chittenden Bridge that is over the Yellowstone River to look for otters. No success but a beautiful view and area. We could not go into Hayden Valley at all as the road was closed just past the Artist Point drive. Major bummer!

Our trip continued west and south. Just after Gibbon Meadow, on the Gibbon River, I saw a Great Blue Heron standing by the side of the river. Carlene turned the van around at the next pullout and we tried to see and film the heron. It had flown to the other side of the river among some dead fall and was hard to find. I got out the binocs and finally found it. It took some fleeting pictures as it headed down river. It was nice to see and enjoy for a brief moment.

We then continued onward towards the west entrance and home. We saw elk and bison along the way and had a nice bison jam just before the seven mile bridge. We had a nice slow drive out of Parkadise. Glad we could spend the day here with Dawn and family and enjoy the great outdoors and the wonders of Yellowstone. What a great memorable trip.

On this trip, we saw two osprey in Island Park. Once in the park we saw a bald eagle, bison, elk, Canada geese, Mallard ducks, osprey and a great blue heron, plus Old Faithful and Beehive geysers erupting. As always, we had a great trip with family and friends.

Until next time my friends, take care and God Bless!

Osprey by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Raven by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

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