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Old 05-05-2004, 11:51 PM   #71
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
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21st April

I pack the bike and am on the road for 0945, heading East along the I90 towards Livingston. I turn off and join US89, heading South towards Yellowstone National Park…



…the mountains of the Absaroka range line the road to my left…



US89 winds its way along the Yellowstone River…



Past the Devil’s Slide…



This picture sums up Montana to me – soft rolling hills in the foreground, with a velvet like covering of prairie grasses, in sharp contrast to the snow capped mountains in the background…



Eventually I come to the entrance to the park itself. It’s still early in the season and the Ranger on duty cautions me to beware of icy patches on the roads. Many of the roads within the Park are shut, due to bad weather, but I start off heading South towards Old Faithful, a famous old geyser…;)



The scenery is great - I have to keep stopping & taking pictures…



I get to Mammoth, where there are some hot springs.



Geo-thermal venting takes place here, causing a strong smell of sulphur. The water, when it first reaches daylight, is very hot. By the time it has run over some rock, it cools considerably, but all over the Park, geo-thermal vents produce clouds of steam, as if there were some great subterranean factory working here…



Further South, I pass by Bunsen Peak (8564ft) and then ride past the frozen waterfall…



…before the spectacular view, across Gardner’s Hole, comes into view…



Yellowstone teems with wildlife. I come upon the first Buffalo I’ve seen. (I realise these are actually North American Bison, but ‘Bison Bill’ wouldn’t sound right, would it? Sounds like something you’d be presented with by an Australian plumber…).



There are large herds of these animals throughout Yellowstone (where hunting and firearms are banned ).
The story of the North American Bison is quite a remarkable one. In the 16th Century, there are estimated to have been 600 million bison roaming the plains of North America. By the end of the 19th Century, there were less than 450 animals left. The wholesale slaughter of the buffalo – a resource on which the Plains Indians were almost wholly reliant, was a major factor in the defeat and subjugation of native Americans. The recovery of the bison is remarkable, though they’ll never regain their former numbers…



The speed limit in the Park is 45mph – and there’s a good reason for it – as I found out rounding a right hand bend…



…to be confronted by a female Elk, apparently using a hands-free mobile ‘phone . She wanders off into the undergrowth, completely unconcerned. I pass Gibbon Falls…



…before coming across more Elk…



…which are now moving in herds, completely ignoring traffic…



…as are Bison.

I eventually arrive at Old Faithful, which, true to it’s name, performs right on time…



It didn’t make a lot of noise, which was a surprise. It just bubbled a lot and then sent out a huge (at least 75 ft) jet of super-heated steam & water – very impressive…

All rubbish bins in the Park look a little unusual. It’s because…



…they’re bear-proof – apparently Bruin can’t deal with sprung hinges :P.

I start heading back up towards Mammoth Hot Springs. It’s my intention to ride through the Park to the North East exit and get to Cooke City to stop for the night. The weather is intermittently showery and, at this altitude, that means snow…



I come across a male Elk on the ride back up to Mammoth – as well as a pair of Coyotes, eating carrion at the side of the road…



The more I look at these creatures, the more I become convinced that I saw a fox in Big Bend, not a coyote…

I continue riding up to Mammoth, through some pretty unpleasant falling snow – I’m really glad of my heated jacket & gloves. I turn right at Mammoth, towards the Eastern entrance. There have been fires here in the past couple of years and, unlike other parts of the park, where the trees are recovering, the damage here is only too evident…



…and it’s snowing again :P. It clears eventually and I press on through the Lamar Valley…



…past Barronette Peak (10,404ft)…



…and the Thunderer (10,554ft)



…before arriving in Cooke City and a room (& hot shower!) in the Alpine Motel…



I find out that the onward road, the US212, otherwise known as the Beartooth Highway, is open – which is a bonus, as I thought I was going to have to retrace my steps tomorrow – further South & East tomorrow morning then!



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All text & original photos Mike Oughton 2004 - 2014

MikeO screwed with this post 12-11-2010 at 03:39 PM
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