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Monday, July 2, 2012

Adventures in Yellowstone

After our adventures in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, we decided to stop off at Yellowstone National Park on our way back to Iowa.  We had never been to Yellowstone before and are very glad we went!!

We arrived in the park on Tuesday, got situated in our cabin at Mammoth Hot Springs (north entrance) and went to the local restaurant for a wonderful smoked trout spinach salad.  When leaving the restaurant, there were wild bison grazing and resting right next to the hotel.  It is amazing to see how tame these "wild" animals truly are!!

Our cabin in Mammoth Hot Springs

Bison sleeping next to the hotel
On Wednesday morning, we took a tour of the park.  We woke up at 4 am mountain time, ate some breakfast and drove to the south end of the park where Old Faithful was.  We wanted to see the "eruption" before the rest of the tourists started to infiltrate the area.  We arrived shortly before 6 am and must have just missed the previous "eruption," because there was water running away from the geyser location.  We walked around Old Faithful and toured Old Faithful Lodge (BEAUTIFUL architecture) waiting for the next eruption.  At about 7:46, Old Faithful "erupted" and we had some gorgeous views!!

The hubby and me at Old Faithful

After visiting Old Faithful, we took a hike to Morning Glory Pool and passed some beautiful views along the way.  Morning Glory Pool used to be a brilliant sapphire blue color.  Over the years, people have thrown pennies and trash into it blocking its vent causing the pool to change colors.

Flowing stream through Yellowstone
Morning Glory Pool

Once we finished our hike, we got back in the car and continued circling the park.  We stopped off at Lake Yellowstone next.  We put our hand in the lake to compare temperatures to that of Lake Coeur d'Alene...there is no comparison...Lake Yellowstone had to be around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit and Lake Coeur d'Alene was about 59 degrees on race morning.  Good thing that the swim was not in Lake Yellowstone!!

Lake Yellowstone
After visiting Lake Yellowstone, we got back in the car and drove to the Mud Volcanoes.  These were rather unique.  Instead of water bubbling up from the ground, there were pockets of mud bubbling up from the ground.  I've never seen anything like it!!

Mud Volcanoes
Next we went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone with spectacular views of the canyon and beautiful water falls.

We ended up stopping at Tower Falls on our way back to the cabin, but it was so crowded I didn't take any pictures.  It was great to get back to the cabin as we had been gone for nearly 10 hours and were exhausted from the sight seeing and tourists at all the stops we made.

On Thursday, we got up and ran about 4 miles around Mammoth Hot Springs.  It was just over 2 miles straight up the mountain and then came straight back down.  This was a challenge at nearly 7000 feet elevation!!  After our run, we decided to give the bikes a go...

The start of our climb back up the mountain

We rode down a gravel road 4 miles into Gardiner, MT with a descent of 1500 feet over that 4 mile trip.  The descent wasn't the problem...I knew we were going to have to climb back up to our cabin after eating lunch in town.  And climb we did...Oh boy was this tough!!  I have done Ironman, but this 4 mile climb seemed to be much more challenging...maybe it was because it was a steep climb (1500 feet over 4 miles)...maybe it was because it was on gravel...or maybe it was because it was at almost 7000 feet elevation!!  Somewhere in the first 2 miles I wiped out on my bike when my back tire got caught on some loose gravel and went out from under me.  Nothing major, but I do have a scraped up leg and a bruise the size and shape of my saddle on my inner thigh :)

Right after my wipe out...looks much worse now.
At about the halfway point, I stopped to take a picture looking back down to the road and stream from where we is a long way down. You need to really zoom in to see the road and stream...I knew I wouldn't be able to get a view from the top of the mountain down since Mammoth Hot Springs and our cabin are on the opposite side of the mountain. 

At about mile 2 of the climb looking back down to the road and stream where we started from.
There were a lot of switch backs and curves to get us to the top of the mountain, but with a few stops here and there (mostly to catch our breath and let the heart rate come back down), we finally made it to the top!!  Who's idea was that ride anyway?!?!?!?!?  What a trip...both the bike ride and Yellowstone itself!!  We had a great trip with lots of new adventures!!

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