Posted by: TheAuthor | 06/11/2011

Day 48 – Yellowstone’s Old Faithful

Sleeping in the car was far better than in the tent, our feet were still blocks of ice though. A very unpleasant experience that Shell and me were definitely not prepared for as we had shipped home our warm clothing. As we found out, the overnight temperature dropped to minus 10 degrees Celsius – Kevin had also frozen overnight. The dangers of hypothermia had now passed, the new days sun was busy cascading its rays over the ground warming us all up once again. For the second time on this trip, the other being in Thunder Bay, I scraped the ice off of the windshield.

Due to the cold of the night, we opted to leave Yellowstone by late afternoon rather than camp a second night and suffer the same fate. So we broke camp for what was the last time on the road trip and said our farewells to Tony next door. It was a shame we couldn’t camp again, we enjoyed the experience under the stars. We simply were not prepared for what climate we were in.

We drove south this time, from Mammoth down to Old Faithful, a distance of 49 miles but would take all day. We again stopped at every location we wanted to on the drive down. Numerous hot springs that had formed terraces or simple bubbling and hissing pools. Whole mountainsides that rumbled as gases escaped from within the rock face into the outside world. The only way to see Yellowstone is to drive, it is simply too vast an area to go and walk around in a week let alone the two days we now had.

Everything in Yellowstone is subject to natural change. With volcanic activity ever-changing the landscape through erosion, underground caverns collapsing or low gas pressures new hot springs or geysers can open up causing old ones to have a reduction in activity. Anything can happen, some say no two visits are alike in Yellowstone.

Wildlife is abundant in the park, particularly Bison and Elk both of whom we were now used to seeing fairly frequently. We were still hunting the elusive Moose, an animal which we have been told is common in most parks we have visited on our travels. Shell is starting to believe that the animal doesn’t exist.

As we approached Old Faithful mid afternoon we had planned to leave the park by the South entrance. However Magellan wanted us to go out via the West entrance, back the way we had just driven. We ended up leaving by the west because it did indeed look like the better option on paper, but before then we still had to watch the Old Faithful geyser.

This geyser was still very active, unlike a large proportion of the others within the park, and as such the ‘next showing’ could be estimated to within twenty minutes. The next one for us was at 3:44 P.M. (plus or minus 10 minutes) so we sat for a warming coffee in the restaurant across the road. At 3:25 P.M. we started across to watch the geyser only to find out it was just finishing its performance. Frustrated we waited around for the next one estimated at 4:55 P.M. and made sure we wouldn’t miss it by standing around at 4:30 P.M. The geyser did go off earlier than predicted; but unlike the previous eruption this was only 2 minutes early.

It was amazing to see, initially puffing smoke all the time before spurting water a few feet into the air. Finally for around 40 seconds the water was being thrown 70 feet into the air before us amidst the smoke. Worth waiting around for, but I hope it is not the last time I see it or Yellowstone as a whole.

We now drove a few hours southwest to the town of Pocatello and stayed in a drive-in motel for a warmer nights sleep and a shower. It is a shame that we couldn’t camp again but it is the right decision. In a positive light it does mean that we get to see more on our way to San Francisco.

Trip Statistics:

Tim Horton’s Stops – 16

Alternate Coffee Stops – 7

States Driven Through – Wyoming, Idaho

Kilometres driven – 410km

Total Canadian Kilometres driven – 11,499km

Total distance driven – 17,476km

Car faults – Found out Speedometer is inaccurate by 10kph

– Speakers starting to refuse to operate

– Tail Light Casing Broken

– Console Handbrake light always ‘on’

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