Yellowstone Bound
Yellowstone: Norris Geyser Basin

September 30th, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: A new day dawns, to which we are awake, and we have 2.5lbs of bacon burning a hole in our bags! Woohoo! I quickly set to making a dee-luxe bacon and egg breakfast, while Amanda took care of the tent. After breakfast, Amanda headed up to the Visitor’s Centre and I finished packing up before joining her. We are still a little unclear as to where we are going, what we are doing, what there is to see, and how we’re going to see it.

Here’s the deal…all but 3 campgrounds in Yellowstone Park are closed right now since it is the “end of the season”. The only ones left open are all on the west side of the park, and are spaced out horribly. This means that anything on the NE/E/SE parts of the park are essentially inaccessible to us unless we stealth camp. We talked about trying to sneak into the closed Tower Campground, on the east side, about 20 miles down the road, and from there we would ride south up and over Dunraven Pass, before heading back west towards the Norris Geyser Basin. A quick visit to the “Backcountry Office” at the Visitor’s Centre and we had booked a “backcountry” campsite at Ice Lake, which is the nearest we can get to Norris, where of course, the campground is closed. We have heard that the campground is walking distance from the highway so it shouldn’t be too bad. Then we’re going to ride towards the SW corner of the park near where Old Faithful is. We booked two more nights at a backcountry site near Fairy Falls. Total cost for backcountry campsites at this time of year is $0…normally $3/pp per night. So, score!

With that business out of the way, we cycled up to the Mammoth Hot Springs. This includes the Lower Terraces, and then there are the Upper Terraces which are accessible via car/bike about 3 miles further up the road. I’ll say right now, cyclists, do NOT bother with the upper terraces by bike. It’s a lot of uphill, for not a lot of anything really. If you can get up there in a car or bus, then have at’er. Meanwhile, we spent about two hours walking around in the Lower Terraces. Oval, New Blue, Jupiter, Cupid, Minerva it all blurs after awhile. Park Management must have turned off a lot of the hot springs since it’s the end of the year, there was just a lot of dry, white or grey ground to stare at (actually, the springs turn themselves on/off at random intervals every century). The springs that are still bubbling away are nice to look at. Maybe I just had hot spring overload today, but it made me feel a little bit like being back in Jasper again, “Oh, another glacier? Great.”.

I joked to Amanda that the hot springs were about 500 shades of grey, or white. Without the flowing water, some of the features just aren’t that impressive. Amanda replied that it looked like a moonscape to her. I suppose that could be true, if the moon had water. Maybe it does? Certainly some of the terraces were very interesting to look at, but perhaps it’s a case of this is a tourist destination, and this is a tourist thing to do, look at these hot springs, so we just take it with a grain of sand.

We had some lunch and then cycled up to the higher springs. There was one bubbling away. Meanwhile, we shared the very narrow roadway with multitudes of vehicles, as we wound our way past dried up spring after dried up spring. So, in case you missed it above, don’t bother unless you’re really into geology and sadomasochism.

As we stopped in at the General Store for some supplies (which, by the way, not everything is overpriced despite what you might be told), we ended up deciding to not cycle east as originally planned. Instead, we’ll camp out here again tonight, and then in the morning just cycle south the either Ice Lake, or Madison Campgrounds. Along the way we’ll pass the Norris Geyser Basin and more hot springs. These ones better impress me, or else.

Upon arriving back down (did I mention everything we did today was uphill from the Mammoth campground!??) at the campground, we found another pair of cycle-tourists checked in at the hiker/biker ghetto. I wonder what their story is??

It turns out that Jen and Michel started in Prince George, Canada about a month ago and are cycling south until their money runs out. They hope to reach Patagonia. We enjoyed cooking dinner together and talking until it got dark. It’s so nice to not only meet another couple of cyclists, but to meet ones that are going to the same place.

Amanda writes:
The terraced area of Mammoth Hot Springs was beautiful. I enjoyed taking our time walking around, even if it was with many other tourists. The landscape is not like anything I’ve ever seen. It is incredibly unique. As we were walking along after an hour or two Andrew suggested we stay another night. I was already thinking it so it was an easy decision.

While Andrew was getting a couple of things at the general store I chatted with some other tourists. I met a very nice group travelling from Minnesota. We chatted for some time and they confessed that they had cheered us on yesterday as we climbed up from the entry gates. I recalled hearing someone hollering from the campground but didn’t know who it was.

After we got back to the campsite and started to set up, the crew from Minnesota rolled by and said they were going back to swim in the springs near the entrance. They asked if we wanted to join them. I jumped at the opportunity! I enjoy hot springs immensely and have been yearning to play in one since Jasper so it was an easy decision. Andrew was eagerly waiting for the other cyclists so he stayed behind. It was so nice to hang out with the three ladies from Minnesota; Kelly, Connie and Fran. Super fun, easy to talk to and pickle ball players. They reminded me a lot of my friends from my hockey team … good peeps.

Today’s Photographs

Yellowstone Bound
Yellowstone: Norris Geyser Basin