hike

Tetons and Yellowstone Part II

I forgot these photos on the last post…I entered Yellowstone, and got welcomed with sunshine bursting through the trees at a waterfall.

I woke up at 6am to drive over to old faithful before the crowds came. Lucky for me a bison without a care in the world was hanging out right in front of it, and I got to see it erupt after waiting only 10 minutes! I went to the next geysers, sapphire pool. I explored a bit, but at this point, it was 10am and getting swamped with tourists everywhere. This is when I go back to camp and relax until 5, where I head back out for sunset

I head over to the yellowstone falls - “the grand canyon of the north” beautiful, and worth the hike around there.

the next morning I used some tips that people told me there was a grizzly bear in Heyden Valley. So I head out there first thing, and find the spot. It was all socked in with fog. after waiting 1.5hours (mid 30F) for the fog to clear, there was no bear :(. I did see a coyote out hunting though

that night I got treated to another excellent sunset. Also checked out the mud volcano. crazy stuff

the next day I took the drive up to Lamar Valley - “the serengetti of the united states”. I hung around a couple hours as there was a carcass nearby. I ended up saw Wolves in the distance (the black dogs), tons of bison, pronghorn, and more. with the wildfires going on, and I was treated to a sky on fire.

the next morning I headed east of the Lake Yellowstone for a little hike. Saw that marmot, squirrel, sunrise, elk all that morning. the views were beautiful over there, naturally too

later that day, I experienced some thunderstorms that left the coolest orange color in the sky. The sun burst through the clouds afterwards and flooded the valley with sunlight.

that night, i went back to that carcass, and finally saw a grizzly bear! First one I’ve seen in the wild!

My first grizzly bear in the wild!

My first grizzly bear in the wild!

So every night, there was a big bison or elk that came to my tent and would eat the grass around. once I figured out it wasn’t anything to be worried about, II was able to (barely) get some sleep. The last night I was there, my neighbor asked if he could leave his stove in the car. I said yes, no problem (in yosemite the bears rip off doors). So I went to bed, noticing the stove was still out, but he was still awake. Figuring he would put it away, I went to bed.

About 3 in the morning I was awakened by all sorts of critters wanting to taste the stove drippings. Sounded like some crows, squirrels, etc. after listening to them for 15-30 minutes, something spooked them all and everything scurried away. I then hear footsteps past my tent, followed by snorting and deep grunts. I tried to grab my bear spray without making noise, but of course my sleeping pad makes a crunchy sound, and my sleeping bag swooshed. The bear was more interested in the stove, thankfully.

Exhausted, I get up and adventure on my final day:

Bull elk exhaling on the roadside

Bull elk exhaling on the roadside

headed over to Grand Prismatic - one of the coolest stops in the park IMO

more beauty at grand prismatic:

As I’m leaving, I stop for some bison crossing the road, and 15 minutes later, I’m on my way. As I’m leaving, no lie there was thousands of cars held up from the bison. the line of cars was easily 2-3 miles, and probably 3+ hour wait! Allow plenty of time to get around the park.

I got into West Yellowstone, and stopped at the Bear and wolf discovery center. You get to see and learn about the animals here

additionally, they had some birds of pray there as well.

then I made the 14 hour drive home. I made it to twin falls, ID, which was about 6 hours away. including the drive out of the park, I was already at my 8 hour limit and starting to get fatigued. Twin Falls was a beautiful town surrounded by boring farmland. I’m glad I discovered it

The rest of the drive was a boring, uneventful 8 hour drive back.

Thanks for following along! cheers.

Tetons and Yellowstone Part 1

I started my trip off by leaving early on Friday August 31st to get a head start on my drive. It is a 12 hour drive from Portland to Tetons, and My limit is about 8 hours of driving in a day. I got to Dead Man’s Pass in Eastern Oregon (~4.5 hours away) at about 9:45pm. The Stars and Milky Way were already incredible! I pulled over on a feeder road and star gazed for about a half hour. (first milky way shot). I stayed at the rest stop there, which was the first time ever staying overnight at a rest stop. It went well, except I was a little cramped, as my folded seats were not tall enough to stretch out enough, when laid flat.

The rest of the drive to the Tetons was uneventful. Woke up at 6am and headed out, for a great sunrise over the mountains! I was going to find a campsite outside of the Tetons that Saturday night, but I called one of the campgrounds in the park, and they said they had 30 sites still available, but quickly filling, as the other campgrounds were full and sending people there. I was an hour away and booked it over. When I got to the CG, they were full, and sent me 10 miles up the road to another CG (last few miles were potholed and terrible). The people I was following took the last site at that CG, and I was getting ready to find a place to crash in my car again. Luckily the host stopped me and let me (and a few others) stay in the day use area for the night!

My camp neighbors invited me over to their bonfire, and we talked for a while. It was a father and son that were driving from Austin, TX, and on the road for over a month. They were in the Olympics, Yellowstone, Banff, etc!

tetons at sunset (below)

tetons at sunrise

Two Oceans Lake and Oxford Bend

Sunrise at Tetons - It dropped to 30F at night!

I did a hike around Jenny Lake

As soon as I got into YS, I saw tons of Bison. The viewings continued (Part 2)

Day 20-22 Queenstown and Te Anau

After exploring the Tasman Lake, I headed down to Queenstown, where I apparently got caught by speed camera going crazy fast. 

....

108

.....

kph

....

in a

....

100kph zone!!

I don't think I've ever eye-rolled harder in my life. BTW this was also on Christmas Day. WUT

A nice lady that didn't speak any English offered to take my photo. I'm not one for my photo being taken, but this was my favorite part of NZ and didn't have any of me, so I went with it.

A nice lady that didn't speak any English offered to take my photo. I'm not one for my photo being taken, but this was my favorite part of NZ and didn't have any of me, so I went with it.

Above- A pitstop on the way to Queenstown - Roaring Meg

I arrived at 12 mile delta campground, and it was pretty busy but I'm lucky I got there when i did! Apparently everyone in NZ and the rest of the world had the same idea as me as it became filled to the brim later! Oh by the way...Christmas in Queenstown is insane. They estimated 80,000 person surge, in a town that only normally has 15,000! So as you can imagine, traffic was a nightmare, as was parking, and places to stay? HA! Everything was completely booked except for one room that was $750 a night.

I was lucky enough to get approached by a fellow camper Sam to hang out with her boyfriend Ian on Christmas! We had some drinks, I had some quick and easy camp food for dinner and we ended up becoming pretty good friends! They were traveling from the UK. They bought a van, and are hopping around place to place to pick up work here and there. Living the dream!!

Ian and I went for a hike the next day at Bob's cove. The trailhead started at the campground and ended at the cove below. Super scenic!

Even though the rain held off for us, we were treated to a killer rainbow when we got back to camp! 

Even though the rain held off for us, we were treated to a killer rainbow when we got back to camp! 

That night, I took a drive out to Glenorchy. This is the town that Top of the Lake was filmed in. Elizabeth Moss stars in this crime/thriller TV series about a missing girl. Lots of mystery gets unveiled about the girl and locals. Very good watch.

The town was super desolate. Just me and a couple other photographers showed up for sunset. It's also hard to describe just how cold it was here. The wind was howling (enough to make white caps in some spots). It was probably low 50s out there. Crazy for middle of summer! The lake, Lake Wakatipu, is the longest lake and third largest lake. Because of the shape, it actually takes on tide changes!

 

 I said bye to Queenstown for a couple days, and headed down to the wonderful Milford Sound. I forget were the first 2 photos were taken. I wanna say it was an experimental forest or so? It was a good pitstop before I got to my campground in Te Anau. 

This little guy came onto my tent and chilled there for a bit. Side note- the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (my most used lens) does some incredible close focusing! Almost Macro territory.

This little guy came onto my tent and chilled there for a bit. Side note- the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 (my most used lens) does some incredible close focusing! Almost Macro territory.

Sunset from my campground - Henry Creek Campground. Amazing. I hung out here on Te Anau Lake with a few other campers for hours and sipped my favorite NZ cider - harvest cider - scrumpy. I even jumped in. It was cold, but I was long overdue for a shower at this point, so i didn't mind too much, haha. 

Moon and the mountains @ sunset

Moon and the mountains @ sunset

That's all for now! I'll dedicate my next post to Milford Sound, and the Key summit Hike I did nearby. Jaw droppingly beautiful!