After my big birthday weekend I knew my time in Lander was winding down. When my house-sitting responsibilities ended I was planning to drive up to Yellowstone to meet a friend from Durham who was also traveling out west. When I learned that my stint in Lander would end Thursday night rather than Wednesday night I knew I would then only have one day in Yellowstone with my friend so I decided to drive up on Monday and try to check off the two things I hadn’t been able to see while I was there on previous trips and get those out of the way. It was a long drive for a relatively short time there but I knew I’d be kicking myself later if I didn’t do it so I headed out bright and early.
It started out cloudy but soon became a beautiful day for a road trip. I had already covered some of this territory when I drove up through Jackson and back home through Dubois earlier in this trip but I learned later that I had driven right past one spot where I should have stopped – the Tie Hack Memorial:
This monument is a tribute to the men who used to cut railroad ties from tree trunks, by hand, long before the process was mechanized. They made them for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. The work was normally done in the winter. The ties were then sent down a series of water flumes to the Wind River where, with the elevated water levels from the snowmelt in the Spring, the ties were then floated downstream in a process called Tie Drives. It was a dangerous undertaking and always ran the risk of inadvertently damming the river and causing a flood.
I continued driving towards Yellowstone and these were some of the things I saw along the way:
I finally reached an overlook where I could see the Grand Tetons in the distance:
If some of these photos look familiar it may be because I posted some of them in my earlier “Hurry Up and Wait” post. A handful of friends also received photos via text throughout the day while I was traveling. That process will probably not continue as I later learned what effect it had on my cellphone data useage!!
This view of the Tetons, with the Snake River in the foreground, taken from the Oxbow Overlook never gets old….
And this is a shot of the Tetons “in profile” from a little further up the road:
Now the body of water in front of the mountains is Jackson Lake.
I continued driving north up to the entrance to Yellowstone. For a while after entering the Park the road runs alongside the Snake River, then the Lewis River. This is a deep gorge down to the Lewis River located just off the highway:
I finally reached an area called West Thumb, which is a thumb-shaped extension of Yellowstone Lake. At Grant Village I turned right and drove north along the west shore of the lake.
The “smoke” you see is actually from gases released by the Thumb Geyser, one of many in the area. This is a panoramic photo of Yellowstone Lake, without the geyser:
I continued north on Route 20 and could soon see Avalanche Peak, and possibly Silvertip Peak, across the lake:
My goal was to continue north to Canyon Village and, from there, hike the short distance to a magnificent waterfall which I had been too lazy to hike to before. Unfortunately my plan was soon thwarted by traffic coming to a halt behind a seemingly miles long line of vehicles. This had happened to me in this same area before, 4 years ago, when a huge herd of bison crossed Route 20 bringing traffic to a standstill. Rangers were there to ensure than tourists didn’t get too close or harass the bison in any way. They basically let the bison do whatever the bison want to do (since this is their domain, after all) so there was no telling how long this stoppage might last. I only had a limited time so I finally decided to turn around and retreat. As I was driving south on Route 20 I saw some vehicles stopped and people out walking around so I figured it must be an animal sighting. Sure enough, this young bull elk was resting in the shade just off the road:
I drove to Old Faithful to access the status of a bridge construction project there, and to determine the effect it might have on our visit to the Park later in the week. I ended up meeting my friend, Max, there on Friday and so I was able to give him specific instructions on how to get there and where to park. When I saw how many people were at Old Faithful I decided against driving further northwest to get to the Grand Prismatic Spring, my other “short list” project, and headed back to Lander. – both daily goals unfulfilled. It was still a lovely day and I was glad I did it.
I did stop in Dubois at the “Cowboy Cafe,” a very popular restaurant known for their homemade pies. It did not disappoint, and if I hadn’t known that I had a yummy teriyaki-marinated tuna steak dinner with all the fixin’s (and it really was yummy!) waiting for me in Lander I would have eaten dinner there too, as I was there at 5pm and what everyone else was having looked really good.
Oh, and one more thing about Yellowstone Lake – in researching this post I discovered that there is a “shipwreck” in the lake! That’s actually not an accurate term given the circumstances, but back in the early 1900’s a man started a “ferryboat” operation on the lake, carrying tourists around to see the sights from the water. He built an even larger vessel, the E.C. Waters, which could carry 500 passengers, much to the dismay of Park authorities. They wouldn’t license it as a passenger ferry so he abandoned it at Stevenson Island. Years later it was driven aground and some wreckage can still be found there.