Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 7 (Aug 13): Grand Teton

Sunset of Grand Teton

At the start of our hike up Mount Signal

Maybe it's still early. We didn't see any other hikers and the guide book says this is a bear area. So we had to make noise as we turn corners, talk really loud (which is good for learning Polish and Hokkien). Chris has hung a string of harmonizing Indian bells he found in a hippie store back in Lexington to serve as bear bells. I have lots of comments from other hikers later on that they love the bear bells (bells to tell the bears that we are passing through). We also had our hiking stick and bear sprays handy just in case we surprised a bear. We didn't even have sunscreen on because the smell may confuse the bear for the smell of food. But as we get close to the peak, we smell bear, it's a strong smell so it has to come from a big animal. We weren't sure if it is a bear or other animals around the corner so we turn around and walk real fast down the mountain. We were close enough to the peak I guess and had the pictures below along our hike up.

The view of three peaks

After running down half the mountain, we treat ourselves to lunch by the lake. I had elk chili because I've never had it before and it's good! Elk is one of the healthiest meat, healthier than bison, and bison is healthier than beef. After a good meal, we head out on a boat across Jenny Lake for more hiking. Below are the views along the hike to Hidden Galls, Inspiration Point and Canyon Trail.

Us at Hidden Falls

Us at Inspiration Point

Bald Eagle

Moving picture

Waiting for sunset by Jenny Lake

Us at Jenny Lake

Colter Bay

Grand Teton is amazingly beautiful. We were hungry and cold by sunset but Chris put up with me hunting for a good view point for more pictures. These pictures above make it all worth the while.

Roaming elk

Last peek of the sun before it sets behind the mountain

Beautiful curvature

We stayed at Grand Teton Lodge at Colter Bay. This lodge was originally built in the 1930's for Moran south of where this lodge is now. The lodge was moved to its current location in 1956 when Moran was demolished. It rained the second night we stayed there and it sounded like pebbles dropping on the roof. We stayed awake for a while until the rain subsided. The lodge is nice but for many reasons, never stay there. If you want to know more, ask me later on. Long story short, the key broke in the lock, front desk is useless, and we were left waiting outside in the dark for many hours. The good thing is that we get to enjoy the stars. The bad thing is you never know when a coyote or a bear may attack. :)

Foot print left behind by a coyote or some sort of mountain cat on our car. There is another print of the right leg on the other side.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 6 (Aug 12): Yellowstone

Everywhere we have been to on this trip is so unique, especially Yellowstone

Old Faithful

The Obama chopper on the left.  The President is at Yellowstone the same time we were after his healthcare speech nearby in Wyoming.

Next 3 pictures are different shots of Doublet Pool

Many geysers, springs and pools in the Upper Geyser Basin below

Castle Geyser (above and below)

Anemone Geyser
 I find this geyser interesting when it's draining, making a gurgling sound like toilet flush.  I have cut the early and middle part of the video to show the geyser and the end when the water drains back into the vent.  Kids next to us were laughing, joking that this should be named toilet geyser.

Daisy Geyser
A group waiting for this geyser left about 15 minutes before this geyser went off.  We saw the springs around were bubbling and looks like it's going to erupt soon so we decided to wait.  I can't believe the earth just made this great art work of geyser and we are the two of the three around to witness this.  The geyser went on for a good 5 minutes.  I can't tell how high the geyser went but the guidebook says it usually erupts at an angle to a height of 75 feet (23 meters).

Steam everywhere along the river

Morning Glory Pool

Swan crossing

Stand by me

Clouds skirting the tree

Prismatic Spring and Excelsoir Geyser

Chris' art of photography.  Exposure is stopped down to achieve this dreamy look under bright daylight.

Prismatic Spring

Excelsoir Geyser

Day 5 (Aug 11) Devils Tower, Big Horn National Park and Cody

Devils Tower National Monument - first declared national monument in 1906

The Native American legend says...

One day, an Indian tribe was camping beside the river and seven small girls were playing at a distance.  A bear appeared and was chasing the girls.  As the girls were running back toward their village, they jumped on a rock about 3 feet high and began to pray for help.  The rock heard their pleas and elongated upwards pushing them higher and higher out of reach of the bear.  The bear clawed and jumped at the sides of the rock leaving the marks behind.  The girls were pushed up into the sky and stayed there as a group of seven little stars called the Pleiades.

Today, we know it is an igneous intrusion.  Magma welled up into the sedimentary rock, cooled and hardened.  The sedimentary rock has since eroded away in the last hundred million years, leaving the tower behind.  

The tower is 867 feet from its base.  There were a few groups of climbers scaling the grand monolith when we were there.  You can see rock climbers in the picture above!

At the base of Devils Tower

Guess what this is

Wildlife is pretty abundant around Devils Tower.  We saw porcupine marks left on trees, wild flowers, and grasshoppers that flies around like a butterfly making loud clapping sound... 

...and when the wind blows, the trees sway with the wind, making deep wooshing sound similar to subway trains passing by underground a distance away.  First thought in my mind when I hear that was, trains pass by here?  But we were so deep in the wild that there isn't a train track miles and miles away.

After having a buffalo burger each, we had one last look at Devils Tower before heading west again...

To get to Yellowstone, we drove through Big Horn National Park, scaling mountains to almost 9000 feet above sea level.  We drove by granite pass which has granite as old as 3.5 billion years old!

Dinner time!
Irma Restaurant Grill in Irma Hotel

This is a historical landmark built by Buffalo Bill Cody in the 1930s for tourists to Yellowstone

A gentleman was explaining to another lady that when he first came here a long time ago, this bar used to be full, filled with drinks on the shelf.  Drinks were a bigger thing than dining back then. 

I had buffalo prime ribs and Chris had buffalo steak with mushroom sauce.

This fireplace is made with local sandstones, granite and fossil

Retire to the hotel to get some rest before Yellowstone!