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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

My Three Yellowstone Wishes‏

August 21st, 2009 · 3 Comments

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Late last night after a 14-hour drive I returned home from Yellowstone National Park, which I had never experienced before. The world’s first national park, Yellowstone is in the northwest corner of Wyoming and a couple of strips of Montana and Idaho.

My month-long trip took me 3,600 miles to experience three wilderness areas and three national parks. On my way back from my High Sierra trek I stopped once in each of the four states en route, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

My stop in Wyoming was the greatest en route back from California. It fulfilled the three wishes for experiences I hoped to have in Yellowstone.

The easiest wish to fulfill was to be able to stay and eat at Old Faithful Inn, a historic rustic-style lodge right next to the world famous Old Faithful Geyser. Completed in 1904, the Inn is either the largest or second largest log building in the world and uses lodgepole pine and rhyolite stone. Architect Robert Reamer designed the hotel asymmetrically to reflect the chaos of nature.

Main Entrance to Old Faithful Inn

Main Entrance to Old Faithful Inn

Ever since I saw the 2002 PBS series on the “Great Lodges of the National Parks” and bought the companion book of the same name, I wanted to experience the Inn. The book shows Old Faithful Inn on its cover and opens with an extensive description of it.

Inside the Inn the scale is huge. This is just a small part of the lobby:

The Lobby of Old Faithful Inn

The Lobby of Old Faithful Inn

Part of Old Faithful Inn's Dining Room, Where I Ate Breakfast and then Dinner (Rainbow Trout)

Part of Old Faithful Inn's Dining Room, Where I Ate Breakfast and then Dinner (Rainbow Trout)

Capturing the famous eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser was a bit harder. I just missed it the first time and caught only the tail end the second time. It spews steam 180 feet high about every 92 minutes, but I relied on some bad information:

Tail End of Old Faithful Eruption

Tail End of Old Faithful Eruption

Finally, just at sunset on at my third visit to Old Faithful I succeeded:

Tail End of Old Faithful Eruption

I knew that my third wish to experience in Yellowstone National Park would be the hardest. But I very much wanted to see and photograph for the first time a bear in the wild. I especially wanted a photograph of a grizzly.

A ranger told me that my best chance of seeing a bear would be in the Hayden Valley, so one morning I left Old Faithful at 8 a.m. on what I expected would be a short drive. But the park is immense. Yellowstone is the heart of the largest remaining continuous stretch of mostly undeveloped pristine land in the continental United States, and I didn’t arrive back at the Inn until 6 p.m.

Actually, I had given up hope of seeing a bear until I encountered a huge traffic jam. I thought it was an accident, but I pulled over and got out with my camera anyway. And there down from the road a young grizzly was grazing.

The Grizzly Starts to Climb Up to the Road

The Grizzly Starts to Climb Up to the Road

We were too close. Rangers were all around, saying that we had to stay back 250 yards for our own safety.

As the Range Held Us Back, the Grizzly Crossed the Park Road

As the Range Held Us Back, the Grizzly Crossed the Park Road

Without Killing Anyone, the Bear Calmly Climbed the Slope

Without Killing Anyone, the Bear Calmly Climbed the Slope

With this sighting of the young grizzly bear I fulfilled all my wishes for my expedition to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way I experienced still more, the subject of the next photo essay.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Derek Paice // Aug 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Hello David:
    I doubt that I’ll ever follow your paths along the 3,600 mile trail, but by sharing your stories I have the sense and appreciationof being there. And thanks too for sharing the wonderful pictures.

  • 2 David Mendosa // Aug 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Dear Derek,

    You’ve caught the spirit of why I send my stories and photographs. Thanks for your message.

    Best regards,

    David

  • 3 Sarah Nicely // Jun 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I live in Wyoming, and think its WONDERFUL, that you were able to visit, and that you appretiated our state so much. Thanks!

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