It was yet another sunrise walk. This one along the banks of the Madison River. It was a balmy 28 degrees and the frozen grass beneath our feet made crunching noises as we hiked along the path. Cali didn’t seem to mind. I’m amazed at how well she handles the cold.
There’s a small park just inside of Idaho where the natural springs that bubble up from the earth form the source of the Snake River, Idaho’s most famous water way. At the outlet of the stream, they hatch trout that go down and populate the rivers below. There is no fishing allowed until several miles downstream so the trout at the upper pool are large and unafraid. We drove through mountain forest and open range through a sliver of Montana and into Idaho. Lots of bison and even a few elk along the road.
The water at the spring was so clear it was like looking through glass at the bottom. The ducks looked as if they were suspended in air and the fish, although distorted by the wind ruffled surface, were clearly visible swimming below. We watched the ducks diving beneath the surface for fish their feet kicking away.
We were told once again that there was a good chance to see moose along the trail that follows the river leaving the upper pool. We hiked maybe a mile and a half until we reached some cabins. We saw some beautiful birds but not hide nor hair of a moose.
Johnny Sacks Cabin
The closest we’ve gotten to seeing a moose
We returned to camp to let Cali out stopping in West Yellowstone, Montana to pick up some bear spray. We figure if we’re going to be out hiking around, it would be better to be safe than sorry. We ate some lunch and had a nap before heading out to see some of the geothermal areas nearest the campground. We started at the Mid Way Geyser Basin where a boardwalk took us out over a plain with boiling blue pools, burbling mud pots and a set of geysers that were going non stop.
Bison everywhere you turn
I am still surprised at the volume of people wandering the park for such cold weather and being so late in the season. Granted, although chilly, today was beautiful and sunny. We pulled into the grand prismatic pool with a heap of other tourists. We had to troll the parking lot like we were at college with a nine o’clock class. On our second loop around, we finally beat one of the other dozen or so cars playing musical chairs and got a space. This area was gorgeous. We first crossed the river where hot water ran down steaming into the cold water.
Some bison even like it hot
We followed a long boardwalk past some steaming multi-colored hot pools where at times the steam would engulf us hiding us from the world. Then we joined the onlookers at the prismatic pool with its different colored rings leading to its translucent blue pool in the center. It is so large it is hard to get the full view from ground level. One day, we’ll have to hike up the mountain to see it from above.
Next up was the most famous hydrothermic feature of Yellowstone, Old Faithful. We arrived with 50 minutes to spare before the next cycle. We hiked along the south side on the trail checking out smaller boiling pools until we came upon a large bull buffalo grazing next to the path. He was a little too close for comfortably walking by so we retreated and headed back to the bleacher like benches lined up around the geyser. Sure enough, it erupted right on time and put on a dazzling display for about ten minutes. It was definitely something to see.
Some visitors got so excited they couldn’t contain themselves
On the drive home, we ran into yet another buffalo jam on the road as the mighty beasts were claiming a bit of highway as their own. Another full day of exploring. We put a few logs in the fire pit and ate our salads beneath the stars keeping the fire stoked to keep us warm. Just another day in the snowy mountains of Yellowstone National Park.