Wow Yellowstone is big! I feel like I’m riding forever, and I’m still not getting anywhere. Lol! It’s cool though, despite the amount of roads and “villages” there are in the park, it all still comprises about 3% of the park, the rest of the 97% is wilderness. Cool!
I rode through the Northern Range of the park today. Beautiful sweeping plains area. I saw lots more bison. The north side of the park is the drier side, it’s about 2,000′ lower in elevation than the rest of the park, and much drier (average rainfall 15″ a year). This would explain why I didn’t get rained on til I rode up the pass.
Yellowstone, in it’s much earlier years, used to be a very different climate. It is also a huge volcanic area. Yay! I like volcanic areas, I find them fascinating. Anyhow, a clue to its past is the remains of a redwood tree, which has been petrified by volcanic ash and is now rock.
Because I started at a lower elevation, that meant this entire day was pretty much a gigantic climb. Ugh. Plus there was no shoulder. Double ugh!! Despite the terrifying aspect of road riding on a 2 lane highway, I did find vehicles to be mostly respectful of my presence. They would generally give me a lot of room when passing. Still, when a gigantic RV rolls by me, and I feel the whoosh of its side mirror, it’s pretty damn scary. As I was doing the longass climb, a couple vehicles would root for me and cheer me on. Lol! That was cool. Plus, the scenery was absolutely incredible. That always makes everything better 🙂
In 1988, a gigantic wildfire devastated much of Yellowstone. Throughout all my riding, I could see the aftermath of that: younger, lighter color patches of trees next to darker older trees which survived the fires. As well as burned trees. It made for an interesting calico-like patchwork of color on the hillsides. 🙂
I finally got to the top of the pass and it was COLD. I’ve been getting rained on the whole time towards the top. Good thing I have a lot of layers 🙂 I think Dunraven Pass is the highest elevation I’ve been in, thus far.
One of the main things I was really excited to see today was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I absolutely looooooove rocks, and canyons are so awesomely beautiful. I only had time to check it out briefly though, because I got there pretty late in the day and I still had a ways to go to get to my campground. The canyon definitely did not disappoint. The colors were spectacular! It always amazes me how trees are still able to grow on near vertical hillsides.
I also got a glimpse of Lower falls. It was just wonderful. 🙂
Oh! I finally saw a grizzly bear! Now I’m almost through the complete spectrum of major Yellowstone wildlife. The only thing I have yet to see is a wolf. 🙂 I was riding down the road and suddenly there were a crapload of cars stopped, with people all over the place taking pictures. In Yellowstone, this means “wildlife sighting!” Haha. Leslie and Keith (my Banff trail angels) call it a G-bear jam. Grizzly bear jam. Indeed it was! I didn’t stop to watch the bear because I needed to keep moving, as I was running out of daylight and I *needed* to get to my campsite. However I did turn around briefly to see it slowly meandering through the field. I did take a pic, the bear was so far away I’m not sure if you can even see it in the photo. In the middle of the pic there’s a small pool of water way in the back, the bear is on top of the ridge directly above where the water is.
Well, I didn’t get into camp til about 10pm. Doh!! That’s ok. I saw a lot of really awesome things today. Damn it is cold!! I’m not even going to bother boiling water for dinner. I’m just going to make a roll with tortillas, cream cheese, and cotto salami. It’s actually really yummy 🙂 A nice change from my tortilla/peanut butter/honey. 🙂