Day two started out with both of us getting up early to try and catch the sunrise. The Water on Jackson Lake was smooth as glass and only broken by a few ducks swimming in formation. The views of Mt Moran across the lake were absolutely staggering and we took a nice walk along the lake shore looking for that perfect photo spot.
The grumble in our bellies cut our quiet morning on the lake short and we headed back to Signal Mountain Lodge for a quick breakfast and back on the road, destination Canyon Village in Yellowstone with a short detour to Old Faithful and other surrounding areas.
We didn’t get too far without numerous stops for photos. The Early morning light on the Tetons was amazing and with hardly a cloud in the sky, it was hard to not stop every time a pull out presented itself. As we left Grand Teton National Park and entered the Rockefeller Preserve we ran smack dab into the first road block. It gave us a chance to get off the bike, stretch a little and chat with a nice lady from Tennessee about where we were going and where we came from. After waiting the full 30 minutes we were back on the road. This turned out to be the most technical riding of the trip. Most of this 8 miles or so was hard dirt, but one stretch had not been compacted as well and the water truck had just turned it into mud. While I focused on keeping the bike upright and moving forward, Kari sat back and relaxed oblivious to my stress level and enjoying the amazing place we were traveling through.
We arrived in the park and were greeted with the standard signage, and one that gave me a chuckle, it may be hard to read, but I just cant imagine molesting a bear, maybe a rabbit or a squirrel, but a bear? I guess the choice of words struck me as odd. Due to a closed section of road, Old Faithful would be an out and back trip, we decided to take a chance on the weather and go there first, then double back to the campground later that night. It was the first of a few chances we took on the weather that paid off in our favor. The road to OF is a blast on a bike. Up and down, twisty roads lined with beautiful Lodge Pole forests and the occasional vista across the caldera. We crossed the continental divide a few times, and finally rolled down the hill into the open plains surrounding OF. As we pulled into the lot we could see a geyser erupting beyond the lodge and feared we had missed the show, turns out it was just another minor geyser and we had timed it perfectly.
We only waited about 10 minutes after we had parked and found a spot on the boardwalk with the masses before the show began. As with my other visits, it still blows my mind each time I witness this. We snapped off dozens of your standard issue tourist shots and then decided to get a move on and try to avoid the traffic jam. Kari had carefully planned all of the places she wanted to see, so we turned right and headed north towards the closed road and the geyser basins. On a whim, we drove past our planned destination just to see what might be at the end of the road. One thing that was startling was the lack of any wildlife here. On previous trips through the park, these areas had been covered in Bison and the occasional Elk, not today, I guess the park moved them to another part of the park
As we left geyser basin behind us and started to wind along the Firehole river, the change of scenery was intense and we finally saw some big critters. A few elk grazing and hanging out in the river had drawn the standard tourist traffic jam, we decided to keep moving but they were still there posing on the return trip. Just before the end of the road, we turned onto the one way road that would follow the Firehole back the way we came and past the Firehole falls and swimming hole. This turned out to be one of my favorite stretches of road, quiet, one way and visually stunning. The falls are amazing as is the entire canyon.
Next destination was Lower Geyser Basin. Once again the masses had assembled to watch the elk and we zipped on by to the basin. We found a nice spot in the corner of the parking lot and went for a little hike. The geysers, mud pots, and thermal pools are dazzling and they all cooperated in putting on the proper show. Upon return something didn’t seem right as we approached where we left the Tiger to nap – it wasn’t there!! I started running and realized by biggest fear, not only was it on it’s side, it was off the edge of the lot and laying on the small slope below. In hindsight I wish I had taken a picture, but my slight bit of anger caused me to think of other things first. Kari found someone to give me a hand getting the bike up (although the young guy wasn’t much help) and we assessed the damage, mostly cosmetic, but a broken signal may cause issues down the road. The guy who helped told us, that he thought a tourist in a blue mini van had hit my bike and taken off, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!!! After taking a few deep breaths and riding the bike around the parking lot to ensure no other damage, we decided to head for camp before the encroaching clouds made the day worse.
We made it to the campground, checked in and got the tent set up only a few minutes before the first rain drops hit. After dinner in the Canyon Lodge and a beer we took a side trip to Yellowstone Falls to watch whatever sunset may peak between the clouds. The falls are amazing, i had never been, and we got a glimpse or two of some awesome orange and red skies between holes in the clouds. BAck to camp and early to bed, hoping to get on the road early and catch a glimpse of a wolf or bear in the Lamar Valley. Tomorrows destination was Red Lodge, MT and a journey over the Bear Tooth Highway!!