I awoke at 6:00 paralyzed from the cold, and curled up tighter awaiting the sun to take over. When I got back up around 7:00 it was still too cold so I took my computer to the lodge where we had eaten the night before. I wasn't able to get online, so I wrote some stuff and sifted through some photos.
After a while, Paul rolled in. He had been hiding out in the bathroom, which was warm from the showers. He was really roughing it as there is not much on him to protect from the cold. We both hung out there for a while, mouths watering over the buffet that we would soon feast on. We waited until it was warm enough to venture back out and pack all of our bags before we would eat and be on our way.
We returned from the site, armed with appetites… the buffet didn't know what hit it. It eventually recovered upon our departure, but we were on to the next thing by then… Yellowstone, about a 2 mile ride from the lodge
When we arrived at Yellowstone, we saw Mike again (the young biker who had stuck with John) and he was awaiting John at the entrance as he could get him in for free. We figured we might see them if they could catch up (unlikely) and we entered the park.
We had a nice few mile climb as we came into the park, but made frequent stops at all the natural beauty along the way. There had been a fire sometime recently in the park, and there were many areas where all the trees were scorched, or very small from the rebirth after the destruction.
Stopping at the first little village when we got in, we had cell service for the first time since the Hatchet Lodge the day before. We got some food there, and made some calls while we rested after our first trip of the day. The gift shop had these really interestingly patterned Native American blankets that we both wanted really badly, but could not afford. They were made in Oregon, so we figured we'd wait until then, since we'd be there in a few weeks.
Our next stop would be the park's landmark exhibition, Old Faithful. For those who don't know, Old Faithful is a geyser that erupts steaming hot water out of the earth periodically. We had 17 miles to go to Old Faithful that could have doubled for an enjoyable rollercoaster track. Not as fun on the bike though, as we crossed the continental divide two more times! Since I can climb a little faster than Paul, I decided to pull ahead thinking that maybe I'd be able to see Old Faithful erupt twice as it goes off every 90 minutes or so.
Arriving near Old Faithful, I took the car route which unfortunately is about 2 miles more than I had to go to get near the geysers. Damn. I did see the tail end of a blast from Old Faithful which was sort of bittersweet as it meant we'd have to wait about another hour and a half to see it go again since Paul wasn't there yet. I attempted to cut pull off at the same place where I missed the shortcut but I was too late. Eventually, we both met back up and got us some good seats for the next eruption.
It was quite the spectacle, and the crowds had gathered for a while when it finally went off at around 5:10 pm. The eruption lasts for a few minutes, and I do have some video of that, that I will get up on youtube whenever we get a rest day. Pretty neat.
We made our way through the masses to navigate out of the area to head towards Grand Prismatic, a lake that is a few miles down the road and is lined with many different colors from all the mineral deposits built up over time. After a bit of riding, and no signs, I looked at the map. We missed it! Damn! Unfortunately, we were on somewhat of a schedule, so we wouldn't be able to backtrack.
Even though we missed the grand prismatic, there were many other geysers and scenery along the road that were great to ride along.
We arrived at Madison junction which is on the west side of the park for a quick bathroom break where we saw a massive bison. Sweet, our first. These things are huge, and are potentially dangerous as every once in a while they will end up killing someone in the park by way of the gore. They are pretty tame normally however, as they are vegetarians.
From there we headed to Norris junction which had camping that was hopefully not full as we didn't feel like riding much more for the day. After a few miles of riding toward Norris, we were held up by a bison who was meandering the road like a drunkard . If you'll refer back a paragraph, you'll know that we didn't want to take our chances riding by this thing as it could run up to 30 miles per hour. Snap.
It was really quite humorous as he was just sauntering down the road in no hurry to get out of the way of the line of cars he had created. After about 20 minutes, we were able to use cars as blockers and made a break for it around the bison down a downhill stretch of road. Phew, crisis averted.
As we approached the campgrounds, we were forced to do the same thing as there was a bison hanging out near the registration point. There was a scary sign that said campground full, but when we spoke to a worker inside, he told us there was one more hiker/biker spot for $5 left. Score, however it was at the extreme end of the campground. Oh well, at least we had a place.
When we got all the way in to our site, we were fortunate to be placed next to some great neighbors. Jeff and Susan, and Mike, Natalie, and Henry were from Wisconsin. Jeff had done some massive bike riding tours as well as backpacking in South America, so we had plenty to talk about. There were also two other children that were visiting from Scotland Roury and Roana (sp??) who had made friends with our neighbors and were hanging out. Very interesting and well spoken young people I must say. Rona (let's try that one) had to do homework at one point as she was taking Latin at the age of 12. Yeah.
Paul and I had badly wanted a fire lately, but it was getting dark and difficult to make our own, so we joined in on theirs. They just so happened to have tons of delicious s'mores as well, which we obviously devoured. After a bit of just hanging out, Rorry (?) says very calmly to the group "hey look, a bison". This massive 1200 pound beast had walked down the hill and was hanging out about 5 feet away from the table that we were sitting at.
Naturally everyone freaked out, while Roury and I played it smooth. Again, usually nice but powerful enough to respect we sat on the other side of the table and let it sniff around. There was steam coming off its back, and it was breathing so heavily it was really quite funny. I wanted to get a picture of it, but Susan thought the flash might not be such a great idea so we opted against it.
Eventually it made its way on over towards Rorry and Rona's tent, which was about 150 feet away and made a bed for itself. This massive thing was snoring loudly and was feet from their tent. Hilarious… it wasn't our tent.
After a bit, the fire died down and it was getting late. We thanked them for the s'mores and warmth as we all went to bed.
At about 3:00 in the morning we heard howling wolves. Awesome, but please don't eat us. Then we heard the bear box rattling and some huffing and puffing. Oh boy, a bear was right in our site sniffing around. I woke Paul, and we both sat in silence a bit afraid as these things actually do eat meat. Quite the wildlife adventure as promised in Yellowstone. After a while, it seemed to leave so we went back to sleep.
Happy to not have been a bear meal, we rested with smiles on our faces. We'd finish out the park the following day and head into a new state, Montana!
Life was good.