Monday, June 22, 2009

Yellowstone: Day Three (Wednesday)

At some point during the night, I wake up to Shawn pulling my sleeping bag toward him, and then reaching under me to my sleeping pad and doing the same, so I figure that it must be raining, and I somehow slid to the side of the tent. So I, in my sleep stupor, try my best to assist. Then he kinda laughs a little. I ask what he's laughing about and he says "Oh, there was a mouse under your sleeping bag. But I think he ran out. He was just looking for a dry place out of the rain probably." And my retort back is "whatever, it's a mouse. I can handle a mouse." and then I go back to sleep.

The next morning it's bright and sunny, but it looks like some rain clouds are moving in again so we get out of the tent and go have a breakfast of more Nutrigrain bars and hot tea. We head back to the tent and start wiping it down again (as mentioned before, tents, when packed wet, end up smelling like vomit). We pack up all our gear, don our packs and head out.

After hiking for about 30 minutes we start to shed our clothes (I was wearing the long john bottoms, the long john top, pants, a long sleeved shirt, a wool sweater, my rain coat, and my winter hat). We stop to take a picture of one of the mostly whole elk bones that we passed on our way in and I notice that it's kinda spread out (which is to be expected), and postulate that the head back at our camp possibly came from this animal, as well as the leg we found on our day hike. We keep hiking. Shawn stops and stares at the ground. I come around and he points out a footprint in the wet mud. It's a large canid or feline paw print. Probably about 3" all the way around. And we know these prints weren't here when we came by two days earlier. So, um, yay, we weren't eaten by the Wolf or Cougar? There are a few more bear prints (black bear), and more deer/elk prints, with a smaller set (probably a baby).

We make it to the point where we turn onto the main trail (by 2H6), and pause to look at the scenery, eat some food, and look at the lake. I notice there's an antelope, so I get out my camera to take a few shots. It was a good thing I did because the antelope goes from grazing to trotting away from something like it's being harassed, but not actually chased. So I zoom in on whatever was chasing it. And it looks like another marmot...only gray...with a black and white face. HOLY SHIT, IT'S A BADGER!!! We take pictures of it until it runs off over the hill toward the river.

As we enter the forest area again, Shawn's trudging along talking back to me when I tell him to stop, and he's like "We just took a break, we should keep moving." and I retort "We can't go on. Not unless you want to get gored by the three deer over there." And then he's all like "okay, very slowly turn around so I can get your camera..." and then he takes some photos of the deer. And when they move off, but not far enough from the trail for us to continue on without passing within 30 yards of them, he turns his attention to the chipmunks...and takes like 50 bazillion fuzzy photos of them. Finally the deer go over the ridge and you'd never know they were there (which makes me a little worried about what other animals were that close to us that we never knew about...).
Non-Fuzzy picture of Chipmunk.

We get back to our car at about 230 or so and head back towards Mammoth Springs. We get there and decide that since we haven't had real food in a while, that perhaps we should eat at the diner. While eating our food we watch the dumb idiots of the human race go and box in an elk that was close to the general store. Yes, that elk is running at you and acting crazy because you've gone and cornered him. If you want him to act normal, you need to give him an out. Idiots. It's no wonder more people are gored by the vegetarian animals than by the predators every year. We go look at the hot springs (I seem to remember them actually flowing when I went as a kid...).

And then we head down toward Norris to the campground for the night. And of course have to pull over when we see 20 people on the side of the road, all with binoculars. Mostly because when there are a bunch of people, and all of them have binoculars, it means "Bear." And sure enough, there was a bear. Of course I never even saw it through the lens, but there is a picture so that means Shawn at least saw it.

We got in before sunset and went to the "walk in" sites which really mean "park your car here, walk 30 yards to your campsite there." We set up the tent and and I headed down to the river to take some pictures, plus there was a buffalo in camp that was very entrancing.

We made dinner and oogled the ginormous tent that was set up in the site next to ours (the sites, by the way were very close together--it really was 'pad' (aka 12' x 12' sanded area for your tents), picnic table, 'pad', etc. so you could hear the neighbors talking). We also thought the lady on the other side was crazy setting her tent up in front of the bear locker. And then there were the kids who went down to the buffalo and started throwing pine cones at him. Then the tent-people came back and they brought an entire grocery store with them. They had so much food that they ended up keeping some of it sitting outside their tent because they ran out of space in the bear locker that was meant for them to share with the other camp site (admittedly no one stayed in the other camp site, but still, the point is that the bear locker can hold 2 large coolers plus have space left over and they had that thing totally packed). Besides, I don't know if it did much good to put most of their stuff in the bear locker when they obviously ended up keeping a couple bags of food just outside their tent (like open cans of soda, and bread).

And then the girl who set up her tent in front of the locker decided to keep food in the locker. Which would mean that in order for the bear to get to the locker, it would have to go through her tent.

And then we noticed one of the campers pulling branches laden with green pine needles off a tree close by and we asked what he was doing. "Gathering firewood" was the answer.

Additionally, the group of people (the ones that set up one of their tents in front of the bear locker), had bought a fire starter kit that the general stores all sold--it had pieces of wood (maybe about 1x1x8 and smaller), a lighter, some paper, and the cardboard box it came in. They tried to light it but failed miserably, mostly because they laid all the pieces of wood flat, laid the paper and cardboard pieces on top, and lit the paper.

And that's about the time that I started questioning what would happen if we had a world-wide catastrophe that made it so everyone had to live like it was 1770 again...well, it would probably thin out the gene pool...


The Spiteful Chef said...

Did you ever see the reindeer near the Royal Gorge when you were little? I have a "boxing in" story about them that I'll tell you sometime.

katina said...

hmm, I don't believe so...unless you're talking about 'The North Pole'...but I thought that was by Manitou Springs...