{Yellowstone} Storm Point, Canyon and online friends

The second half of summer has been somewhat Yellowstone-centric for us. I usually avoid the park at its busiest time of year, but we’ve had several great reasons to visit this summer. And it’s been really fun every time. We gawked at Old Faithful with the Kei family, I backpacked through the Bechler with Heather, and then we met Michele and her family at Lake.

Michele and I “met” online. It wasn’t quite a dating service, but through a group of outdoor/kids-and-nature/play-outdoors group of folks. She blogs at Fun Orange County Parks Playbook. If you are ever in the O.C., that’s the place to find all the fun places to play. This was our second get together, she (and another blogging friend) showed us around the South Coast Botanical Gardens a year and a half ago. I got to return the favor by showing her and her family around a little part of Yellowstone.

Michele called me when she, her husband and kids, her parents, and her sister’s family were planning their tour of Wonderland. I gave her a few tidbits of information and invited myself down. Let that be a warning–if you tell me you are in the area, I will probably show up in the middle of your family vacation.

We went for a little hike on the Storm Point Trail.

Anders at Yellowstone Lake– the largest alpine (above 7,000 feet) lake in the continental U.S.

Finn, with stick, at Lake.

The kids got in the lake even though the water is snow-melt-cold and it wasn’t that warm outside. (photo by Michele)

You can almost believe that you’re at the ocean. That’s what ex-Californians living in Montana do.

Me and Michele IRL

Hanging out with the buddies at Storm Point.

Back on the trail.

As the “expert” on this hike, they’d ask me questions like, “what’s making that noise?” “A marmot,” I said. A tree dwelling marmot, apparently. (photo by Michele)

Finn and I cross the meadow. (photo by Michele)

After our hike we said our goodbyes, a little envious that they had three more nights in the park before driving to Grand Teton. I did however, make a reservation for us at the Canyon campground, so we had plenty of time to explore. Our first stop was LeHardy Rapids. Geomorphologically, this is where Yellowstone Lake ends and the Yellowstone River begins. Or is the other way around?

According to the Park Service:

“The rapids were named for Paul LeHardy, a civilian topographer with the Jones Expedition in 1873. Jones and a partner started off on a raft with the intent of surveying the river, planning to meet the rest of their party at the Lower Falls. Upon hitting the rapids, the raft capsized, and many of the supplies were lost, including guns, bedding, and food. LeHardy and his partner saved what they could and continued their journey to the falls on foot.” Whoops.

LeHardy Rapids. I have to remember to come back when the cutthroat are spawning. Apparently, they fill the rapids with their undulating bodies.

Up close and personal

Our next stop was the Mud Volcano area. Finn must have been drinking a lot of water because we made two trips to the outhouse and one illegal dash off the boardwalk and into the trees. I love hiking because it’s so easy to send the boys into the woods, but when you are in a crowded hot spring area it’s not so easy. Aren’t you glad I shared that fascinating story? You get the whole truth here at TravelingMel.

The National Park Service says this about Mud Volcano:

When the Washburn Expedition explored the area in 1870, Nathaniel Langford described Mud Volcano as “greatest marvel we have yet met with.” Although the Mud Volcano can no longer be heard from a mile away nor does it throw mud from its massive crater, the area is still eerily intriguing.

Eerily intriguing, indeed.

Learning about hot springs at the Volcano area.

The Dragon’s Mouth. Can you hear it roaring? We did.

We drove on to the campground, set up our tent, ate dinner and headed out again for an evening walk. Fortunately, we weren’t too far from the Brink of the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Upper Yellowstone Falls from the South Rim.

Marmot

The brink of Lower Falls

Downstream from Lower Falls

Then it was off to bed for us. There was more to explore the following morning.

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