Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yellowstone–take one


MT - route 89 panoramaps

WY - Steff in yellowstone HDR

So there are 2 distinct seasons in Yellowstone. There’s the summer and there’s the winter and there’s a slack time between the 2 when summer stuff ceases and the operators, hoteliers and other resources switch over.  That time is now

So, our hopes of hiring skis, snowshoes and/or snowmobiles will have to wait as, whilst there is no shortage of snow on the ground, the official start of all that motorised good stuff is not until December 15th. That’s ok, we’ll come back.


A hot spring showing plants that had blown in and are being covered with… something.


IMG_8432This time we caught it just a day after a pretty heavy winter storm which slowed our progress across Montana and Wyoming. We got into the park safely after spending a night in Livingston, MT.

Getting around was made a lot easier by 4WD. Everyone has it with chunky tyres and chains.



We had a stroll around the small areas of the park that are still accessible on foot or in the car and I learned the value of snowshoes, by not wearing any.

There was a lot of wildlife on display and the snow made the animals more conspicuous. We saw Bison, Elk, a cheeky Magpie and what i think was  a Coyote.

The poor bison have to spend their time over the winter digging grass out from under the snow by pushing their heads from side to side to part the stuff and pulling up whatever grass they can find.



This herd of Bison were in the road we very carefully crept past. I figured they had the right of way.














Camping was going to be interesting. The campsite was ploughed, but the spaces you park the car or tent and the tables were not clear, and not easy to see with 20 odd inches of snow piled around.




We camped in the car as usual and we saw one hardy couple pull up in their little car and start pitching a tent! That’s hard-core!

They were gone pretty early in the morning and i don’t blame them.  I reckon our car is warmer than the tent due to the heater we had on, the cardboard blinds and blankets we’d hung up to trap some heat. Despite that it was still 14F (-10C) inside the car this morning. Outside, according the ranger on the gate, it was –3F (-19C) in the park. I can’t think what the inside of a tent must feel like.

This was proper cold. Whilst we were cooking the temperature was falling fast enough to start to freeze my beer whilst i drank it. It was basically a slushy by the time i was half way through!

Another chilly realisation we made in the night was that the moisture in your breath, if directed for long enough at a pillow or bed sheet whilst you sleep, will not just disappear as it might at home, rather it condenses on the shockingly cold linen and freezes into ice. Ice on the sheets!  It also froze the sheets to the back door of the car…

Time to head south, but not just yet.

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