We woke up extra early to head across the park to the Canyon area to join a ranger lead hike through a part of the Hayden Valley. Gemma decided to stay back at the Inn and enjoy a relaxed day, so Z, D, and I were ready for our own adventure. We made good time getting the Canyon area, so we were able to take a few minutes to get some pictures at one of the lookouts of the lower waterfalls of the canyon.
We joined the ranger and about 25 other people to listen to the rules and the warning about bears, which were pretty common in the area, then set off for what was supposed to be a three hour, three mile hike (bad sign already, right?). It was pretty chilly that morning, and even all bundled up in our warmest gear, we were a little cold. We would walk for a few minutes, then listen to the ranger for a few minutes as he talked about the history of the area, different flora and fauna, and geological features. As a nerd, I loved learning about different aspects of the park. We walked for quite a while, then came to Clear Lake, a hot spring lake that smelled strongly of sulfur. D was not interested in listening to the ranger at this point, so he had fun trying to throw rocks and sticks into the lake with Z. As we got ready to leave the lake, D started crying (he had been whining a little the past 20 minutes or so). Snacks, water, toys, being carried, walking, being the in carrier- nothing worked, and pretty soon D was screaming. It was impossible to hear the ranger, and D was not having any of it. I was upset that D was upset and that we were ruining this beautiful hike for 25 other people, and we were out in bear country. Z and I debated if we should leave, and after several more minutes of screaming, we decided to go. I was trying not to panic, so I kept asking questions like “Do you think we should do this?” and “What about bears?” when Z correctly pointed out that no bear was going to mess with an almost 7 foot tall thing that was screaming. He was right. With Z carrying D either on his shoulders or in his arms as D continued to scream, it was pretty unlikely that we would sneak up on any bears. D continued to scream for many more minutes as we hiked a little over a mile back to the parking lot. He quit a minute or two away from the parking lot, and recovered completely. Oh, those toddler years. We decided to take a few more pictures, this time of the upper waterfalls of the canyon, and then wearily got into the car.
Since we only survived half of the hike, we were done earlier than we expected, and decided to stop at a visitor center to see if Dunraven Pass, the road to the northeast corner of the park, was open. It has been closed the previous two days thanks to the snow at higher elevations. We found out it was open, and we headed towards Lamar Valley, an area known for seeing wildlife, and an area that Z really wanted to see, but we thought we were going to have to skip for the sake of time and distance. We loaded up on gas station lunch food (a huge sandwich, combos, and a lunchable for D), and drove to the Lamar Valley. It was another beautiful drive, and we were pretty well rewarded when we got there. Not long after entering the valley, we saw people standing by the side of the road and looking out across the plain before the hills. We pulled over, and got to watch pronghorns (think like antelope) as they grazed and ran across the grassland. We then watched as two male pronghorns fought (presumably over the female(s) standing off to the side) by locking horns and ramming each other repeatedly. It was awesome. We also found out that the people who were looking through their fancy cameras and giant telephoto lenses were actually watching some wolves and bison way up the hill, and they were hoping to see the wolves attack the bison. It was too far away to see without equipment, but it was pretty cool to know that there were wolves nearby.
We continued to explore the valley for a little while, and saw huge herds of bison from a distance, and enjoyed some time on our own in the valley. We eventually headed back to the Inn, and made it just in time for the free tour of the inn at 3:30pm. We listened to the history of the Inn and learned about a few cool details about it’s creation. D enjoyed some time with Gemma, so there was no screaming and early exit from this tour. Z’s favorite part was that the curved tree trunks that were used in a lot of the decorating and construction were called “Freaks of the Forest” by the architect (or maybe just the tour guides, since it was a catchy term).
We enjoyed the buffet dinner at the Inn’s dining room again, then Z and D took an after dinner hike around the Old Faithful area to enjoy some of the other nearby geysers, and returned just as the sun went down. Another full day in the books.