We’re still car-touring today but first we have to get our back-country hiking permits. We’ve hiked in black bear territory many times (La Cloche, New Hampshire, Acadia, Shenandoah, the Adirondacks, etc.) but this is our first time in grizzly country. The rules state that we must watch a 15-minute backcountry awareness video before we’re let loose. Mostly it has to do with bear behavior and responses. For instance, if it charges at you, stand your ground because most first charges are “false” or “bluff” charges and the bear will yield if you don’t. Also, we learn that if a bear attacks your tent, fight back with everything you have. The good news is that more people have been injured by bison in the park than they have by bears. We have bear spray, bought just for this park, and we’re pretty alert on the trail, so we’re not deterred.
Permit in hand, we head to Old Faithful. We park and sort of head in a general direction toward buildings, not exactly sure where the geyser sits. We wander a minute or two until we see a sign for the geyser and follow the herd. There’s a lot of people clustered around the geyser, which surprises me. A sign at the ranger station where we got our permit said there was an eruption at 10:34 and the next one is not expected for another 98 minutes. It’s now 11:22.
We find a spot with a great view of the geyser and at 11:24, it goes off. Walt takes a great video of the eruption. We congratulate ourselves on our lucky timing; it would’ve been a shame if we’d been wandering the parking lot while the geyser was doing its thing behind us.
I very much want Walt to see Old Faithful Lodge, which is hand built with wood from the park. What I remember being told from my previous visit is that all the handrails and details that have natural curves are pieces of wood that were naturally shaped that way; meaning that someone had to find each piece in the wild and then piece them together to make this amazing structure. Then there’s the huge stones that make up the enormous fireplace…
Walt is as impressed as I was/am. We’re also hungry and line up for the restaurant, which opens at noon for lunch. Now we feel like we’ve scored twice today.
We continue on our loop, stopping at various thermals and overlooks before finally heading back to the hotel for a scrumptious dinner – quail for me, wild game ragout for Walt – before packing up our hiking gear, getting set for tomorrow’s backcountry hike.