Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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It took me slightly longer to get up and get going, and I was only ready to leave the campground at around 7:10am. I certainly didn't miss any spectacular sunrise - the sky was overcast, and it was pretty chilly to boot... the thermometer in my car registered 39°F.

An elk crossing Firehole River in Yosemite National Park On my way to Midway Geyser Basin, I spotted a deer on the other side of Firehole River. I stopped, and took my first picture across the road, across the river. The deer seemed intent to cross the river, so I in turn crossed the road and positioned myself so I'd get a good view while not getting too close.

The deer leisurely crossed the river, looking left and right, and stopping to drink. After it got out of the water, it walked up the embankment and crossed the road just a few feet from the closest of the three cars that had stopped. Not wanting to stalk it any more, I got back into my Blazer after this, and headed on.

When I arrived at Midway Geyser Basin, I almost didn't want to get out of the car. The weather was very unpleasant, and the already cold morning air was made still more chilling my a strong wind. The advantage to the cold was the steam rising from the hot water, which was fairly pictureque, but even that didn't really make up for the fact that even though I was wearing what amounted to winter clothing, I was still feeling cold.

When it started to rain, I ran back to the car, and headed on to the next spot, up the road, where it didn't rain yet. In Fountain Paint Pot - home to a number of pots of what is best described as "boiling mud", as well as fumaroles and other geysers, I suffered the same fate as Midway... bad light and cold temperatures that had me retreat to the car quicker than I wanted.

Looking at Roaring Mountain With little choice but to head on and hope for the conditions to improve, I headed north and skipped some of the closer viewpoints in an attempt to leave the worst weather behind me. This worked to the extent that when I got to Roaring Mountain, it didn't rain. The overcast sky and almost-dead vegetation still had everything looking in shades of grey - which didn't detract from the fact that a mountain that has smoke rising out of its flanks still looks impressive.

I arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs before noon, and consoled myself with an early lunch. After this energy intake, I thought I could muster a short walk around Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, but once again, my knees weren't happy. Palette Spring with its thin coating of water running down over multi-coloured stone (or minerals?), creating steam by the contrast of hot water and cold air, was impressive even though the colours were more subdued than they would have been in sunshine. Minerva Terrace, maybe best described as all kinds of grey steps layered in a pretty random pattern over a hill, was also worth the stop, even though I had problems getting pictures of it - holding an umbrella, taking pictures, while fighting the wind and a constant risk of raindrops on the lens was almost too much multi-tasking. Mound Terrace and Cleopatra Terrace was the highest I walked, and they provided more photo opportunities, as well as an overlook of the entire area below.

I went back to the car, and drove the loop through the Upper Terraces Area. The sun managed to break through the clouds for a few brief moments, but I was still surrounded by threatening clouds.

I headed east from Mammoth Hot Springs, fueled up in Tower-Roosevelt, stopped along the Yellowstone River and then Tower Fall, but generally felt like had run out of steam for the day. I decided to head out to Gardiner, and get a burger. The burger gave me a much-needed energy boost, and when I entered Yosemite via the North Entrance again, even the weather seemed to cooperate a little.

On the way south, I briefly shopped at Sheepeater Cliff, then headed further south to my last major stop for the day, at Norris Geyser Basin. There was a lot of steam rising up from the basin, and the sun was in a suitably low position to provide a nice light whenever it managed to get through the clouds. Unfortunately, the best of these occasions didn't yield me any pictures because the batteries in my camera died and I had left the replacements in the car. Still, I walked around on the trails, which were getting empty as most tourists had left already, presumably to have dinner,

By thet time, I had decided that this day would be my last in the park - it didn't seem likely that the weather would improve, and I hoped to escape from the bad weather spell by outrunning it on the road (which would work out more or less).

I drove the Firehole Canyon Drive, stopped at the Firehole Falls, and then headed back to Lewis Lake campground clouse to the South Entrance of the park.

Miles driven: 251mi (404km)

Campground Accommodation: Lewis Lake campground (Yellowstone National Park, WY): $12