A Weekend in Yellowstone National Park

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The word “Yellowstone” invokes thoughts of millions of tourists- overcrowded campsites with tents on top of one another, small children running around everywhere, long lines to see Old Faithful, people diving head first into hot springs (what is 456 degrees Fahrenheit anyway?).

It is, therefore, WELL understood by myself and the general population that Yellowstone is a tourist trap- an overly traversed path. Obviously, this goes against everything I believe in when I choose a travel destination- because I’m all about being different and making everyone aware of how different I am. Why in the world would I venture to Yellowstone?

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It all started with a dream. In this dream, I was a wolf roaming around Yellowstone looking for food. Naturally, I took that as a sign and planned a trip to the park. A couple decided to partake in this journey with me since I enjoy being a third wheel. No, hear me out. I had my own tent and walked through the mountains behind them contemplating Walden–  completely alone with my thoughts. And get this, if they’re cool (like the ones I went with), they will cook for you, share local pale ale, and provide half-assed companionship. It’s a win win half win!

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One thing I would do before or while you’re there: buy bear spray. Supposedly, there are bears running around Yellowstone and I’ve heard it through the grapevine they are not very friendly. Ah! The enigmatic bear! “Let’s create an image of him in our likeness!” – thoughts on long hikes. Our bear, should we encounter him, was very friendly. He was polite too- he knocked on the tent before entering. And once inside, proceeded to make sure we were comfortable- bringing us blankets, hot tea, and cake. He merely yearned for a social life.

A real bear, unfortunately, is likely more similar to the description heard through the grapevine as opposed to our bear…or the Berenstein Bears. Funny reality and expectations never line up, do they? And speaking of, I’m still not sure my game plan had a bear made it inside my tent. No one discussed this situation until it was time to leave (probably for the best). I imagine my friends knew all along the kind of danger I could have been in, but didn’t want to scare me too much/be held liable should an unforeseen event such as this occur.  “What to do in the off chance you are attacked by a bear in Yellowstone?” is for another time. That is, if there is a next time and if I do make it out alive.

Yellowstone is pristine- it’s somewhere everyone needs to visit. I only spent a weekend here (hence the title of the blog)- which yes, is crazy because well, I’m crazy and different and unlike everyone else. Spend at least a week- go to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole as well. You can find plenty to do.

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If you plan to sleep in a tent, do note it tends to be chilly at night even in early August (30 degrees give or take a few). Make sure you have a thermal sleeping bag and warm clothes. I slept with 3 layers on top and bottom. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a pillow. I had to pile up a lot of clothes under my head because the ground was so hard. Basically, do everything opposite I did and you’ll have a successful camping trip.

In the off chance, you do not want to sleep in a tent there are cabins and tarps. Tarps are very inexpensive, but difficult to book as there are only 10 tarps available at any given time. And what’s more, they are only available if all the dead bodies have been dumped. More or less, this is only to be taken into consideration if you’re planning a last minute trip to Yellowstone and are desperate for something to sleep in, around, or under. I would say making a tarp reservation a day in advance is fine- for example, it’s rare for 9 tarps to be available and 9 bodies to be found in the course of a single day. Yellowstone also has “dump dates” for the tarps. Each body found has a dump date into one of the geysers. Some times dates are moved up in the case of an important event- as tarps with dead bodies are not the best look if say, the president, is staying in Yellowstone.

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A little bit more about our trip: upon arrival, we checked in and proceeded to set up tents at our campsite- Grant Village- and took fun pictures- duh. Adam was a lumberjack for approximately 5 minutes and Andrea was a professional photographer for the whole trip, like usual. Right by our campsite was a nice 1 mile trail.

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Our campsite was also next to Yellowstone Lake- clear and beautiful.

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By the time we returned to camp, it was late- we cooked dinner and got ready for bed. And this is when we were attacked by wild hyenas. Who, unbeknownst to us were really flesh-eating monsters from outer space. I won’t get into the gory details, but we made it out alive.

The next day we hiked Purple Mountain. This is a strenuous hike and the altitude can get to you if you’re not careful. I would only recommend it for people who hike a lot/ are in good physical shape.

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We saw Old Faithful- yay. It spurts scorching hot water every 30 minutes or so.

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And then we walked around to take a look at some geysers- must see(s) as well. The pictures below were taken at Upper Geyser Basin. There are a lot of people in the afternoon, so I would recommend getting an early start to see the geysers.

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I was secretly hoping (disclaimer: not really, but I have to make my blog posts funny so people will read them) someone would fall into one of the geysers to see what the emergency response is like out there. I’m sure it has happened many a time (see article: “This is what happens when you fall into one of Yellowstone’s hot springs”).This isn’t surprising. I saw many tourists who most likely have never stepped foot in a national park before- but what do I know?

Some other thoughts I have on why you should hurry to visit this place: it’s probable over the next several decades- based on the direction we’re headed as a society- Yellowstone will lose its identity as a national park and mass development will ensue, obliterating indigenous species and ruining the ecosystem. Again, just thoughts.

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I would like to end on a funny story, but am experiencing a mild case of writer’s block. The biggest laugh about this whole trip I suppose is that I drove by myself- about a 5-6-hour drive roundtrip- dodging ghosts, snowstorms, coyotes, Krampus, mist, the troll under the bridge, 18 wheeler trucks, the wicked witch of the West, the seemingly nice old woman turned witch from Hansel and Gretel, construction cones, among other mildly and highly evil forces. Besides that, nothing bad happened. Well, except for the hyenas turned flesh eating monsters from outer space. Let’s not go there- we all survived and that’s what matters.

I’ll eventually write a post about something other than Morocco, Wyoming, Idaho, or West Texas. I just don’t know when that will be.


“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”– Henry David Thoreau

 

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