June 8, 2013: Geyser Pools, Old Faithful, Mt. Washburn

Waking up at about 3 a.m., the connection was working, so I got my e-mail. Good to go, at home. I did more surfing, and knew the soda machine was empty or not working. Everything doesn’t open for some time, so I played with my tablet, and then took off for the day’s activities. The sunrise saw me at a roadside, with more elk as viewing op. Other photo buffs were active.

With a stop at Gibbon Falls, I was bound for breakfast in West Yellowstone. I headed for the fast food where I had been a few years before. Nice and not real busy as in summer, there are too many tourist traps to take pictures of. I had my food and drink, now fully awake, and feeling better. Great to have some free Wi-Fi. I motored back into the park, flashing my pass and quickly going through. At another stop, there were buffalo. I was able to get quite close in with my telephoto, in my car or behind it, and I will have excellent video. Cars streamed by, and one animal walked by, within inches.

I just sought to see a few sights again, and later hike Mt. Washburn (10,223’) if it was right. Passing by Madison, I’d drive the circle of the Central Plateau. I took the side road by the Firehole River and Falls, an old sight that I had already seen but was good for a second visit. Safe though with crowds, I stopped at a few hot spots with geysers going. I could use a restroom without much waiting, as there weren’t too many people yet. I took photos and video, trying not to get too much audio of people yakking away, and waited for people to move out of the way so I could get my own photos. Tourists will be tourists, and most people were considerate enough, and I managed to do it all without too much difficulty.

Coming to the Old Faithful area, I wished to get some video of the most viewed sight in the park. I parked at the big lot, and walked over to the lodge. The time of the next eruption was given, as an estimate, and I knew they are pretty close. I had some coffee and sat comfortably indoors with my device, doing some Net information getting. Then the crowds began to gather on the long line of benches, and I figured to go out and get my shots. I found a spot, and some kids immediately came up to me to ask if they could sit right next to me and my cameras, even though there was plenty of room and better views elsewhere. I said that I’m doing video, so they left, unhappy. I had my mini tripod, and adjusted it for a level shot and good framing.

The geyser began to get active, and then it started to gush. I had started my video, and it recorded well. People behind me were yakking away, though in some foreign language, and I can mute it all, but there goes the sounds of nature, then. No one as obnoxious as the old hiking club, thankfully, and I had a clear field of view of the sight, unblocked, so good. It gushed somewhat, and water blew over the area where I sat, but drops only. Disappointing. It ended, and the crowd got up and left. Maybe hundreds of people, all accommodated nicely. I had seen better in 1999, and went back to the lodge. Somebody said that it is that way, sometimes good, and sometimes not. So, I figured to stay about for the next one. I had more coffee and then some pasta at the cafeteria. Nice, to sit on a comfortable couch, and with such majestic settings.

The time rolled around without too much waiting, so I found a spot in the second row, and set up my tripod and camera. I used zoom to avoid the people in front of me, and waited for the shot. Starting the camera, it went weakly, and then the wind blew a larger amount of spray over where we were. People yelled and moved out of the way. I grabbed my camera, which was getting wet, and moved away, too. I used my bandanna to wipe it off, and it still worked O.K. I had lens cleaner and paper to wipe the residue off the lens, so this is a good, resistant camera. So, not any great show, but it’s free, and I’ve seen it better. There was some concern about geo development that might affect the geyser, but I don’t know if they did that.

I went back to my car, and drove off, with a freeway-like on ramp and other touches to impress tourists. There is another falls, then I made stops at the two crossings of the Continental Divide, and then I was driving though the old 1988 burn area which seemed to have come back nicely. Doing a few photos, I stopped at a view of Yellowstone Lake ahead, then made a photo stop along the shore somewhere.

Circling northward, I passed by the Mud Volcano, and didn’t stop for more photos of the buffalo. People were seeing something at the wildlife viewing point, but I didn’t stop again. I had seen the canyon falls twice already, and didn’t wish to see them again. I had to climb the peak.

Coming then to Dunraven Pass, I parked with hardly a spot left. Plenty were off hiking the southern approach to the top. I surmised that it was O.K. to do it, so prepared my pack, and took off. I should have applied sunscreen, the dirt road to the top was perhaps 30% covered with snow, but I figured to do this quick. Some guy with no pack and in sandals asked about the hiking, and I chatted with him. I’d have paid him to join me for the numbers then regarding grizzlies, but he wouldn’t make the top, and could injure himself, then sue, or at least blame it all on me, in the style of the local hikers. I went on solo, feeling safe enough but wary of the risk.

Hikers were coming down, with smiles. I came to the snow, with a boot pack to follow, and there was a slope which made me wish that I had my ice ax. I traversed it easily enough, and the dirt road climbed up with switchbacks. The top was further than it looked. I had time, but most people were heading down, and I might be the last one on the peak. So, I had to be extra careful. As the hike gets higher, there is undulating snow, and then some sections to have to kick steps. Beginner hikers could get injured or have to turn back. I continued on, determined to make the top in good time. Finally, I had to step down a section, which I took care to do, where footsteps had been wiped out by some hiker sliding down. To a junction, it was now a short way to the summit. Some more hikers coming down, one girl solo.

Topping out at the intricate lookout after about 2 hours, I started with photos and video. There was a restroom, but I entered the lookout building and climbed the stairs inside. There is an indoor view, and a flight higher, an outdoor platform. I did my photos, panoramas, and telephotos, then self video. Two other hikers had come and left. I had to do some dance, and made sure that I had some proof that I was here. Used to be that I did a summit twirl, with the lens pointed at my face, with the view spinning behind me for the 360. The building blocked the 360, and though CGI is so good, most people, aside from hiking club brass, would simply accept that these weren’t fakes, being that it was me, on an easy peak.

I then gave myself plenty of time to do my return. You never know what problems there might be. Indeed the last one on top, no other hikers were coming up. I hiked the snowfields, and caught up with some other hikers, me snapping photos as I was enjoying this. Later, some had said that this was one of the best hikes to do, and I liked it. So mellow in the late afternoon, and with bright sun and clear vistas! I trudged down the snow, watching for my steps, and being cautious. It was a slight relief to be back to bare ground, and the parking lot wasn’t too far away. I had my photos which I would have liked to share, but no one is interested. Problem still about memory card failure. Back by about 7 p.m., I used the restroom, and drove on off.

Getting back to the Canyon Village, I sought to celebrate with some good beer and food. The dining hall was busy, so they said that the cafeteria was better. I went into the line, with Asian tourists about, and was jostled by some strange women even though there was nobody behind them, and plenty of room to be waited on. I had my turkey dinner, though I would have spent three times more for fine dining, to savor my peak and travel victory.

Back to the campground, kids played frisbee in my spot. I waited, but they refused to move. After ten minutes, I honked, and flashed my lights. They finally moved. I determined that I needed gas, so went over to the service station before they closed, and got some drink as well. Nobody to speak with about lawless camper kids or parents. My tablet read “No Service,” so I went to sleep.

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