DAY 79: Cody, Wyoming
Miles traveled: 10,524
States visited: 25
Weather: 71, sunny
Last night I slept in a campground in Yellowstone, and it was frigid. The elevation here is more than 6000 feet, and the temperature got down to around 40 degrees. It was the coldest night in the van since that first night in West Virginia. Despite that, I slept pretty well, all bundled up under the covers.
Today I drove back and forth between Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley, two areas where bear sightings are frequent. While heading towards Hayden, I got stuck behind a line of cars. Everybody had stopped to look over and watch a black bear near a creek along the road. I saw it for only a few seconds, then it ran out of sight. I managed to snap a quick photo, which I present as evidence that I finally saw a bear, for the first time in my life. The bear would be that dark thing right in the middle.
I’m pretty sure I was the last one to see this bear, because I noticed people in the cars behind me raising their arms as if to say, What are people looking at? I don’t see anything!
After that, I was driving past Mount Washburn, where I did my hike yesterday, and got stuck behind another long line of cars. By the time I got to the front, all I saw was a brief glimpse of the upper part of a brown torso, which quickly disappeared behind a ridge. I was hoping it was a bighorn sheep, but I overheard some of the people who’d been parked there for a while say it was a grizzly bear.
I only saw a small portion of its body, but that still counts. A black bear and a grizzly within 30 minutes of each other – dreams do come true at Yellowstone!
The funny thing is that when I hiked Washburn yesterday, I remember thinking, At least I don’t have to worry about bears up here. They wouldn’t live at elevations this high! How wrong I was!
Once again there were lots of bison walking around near my van. Ho-hum.
A squirrel tried to run away from me and found itself stranded on a ledge, allowing me to approach it and get super-close photos. Then, I threw rocks at it until it fell off the ledge and died. (Not really.)
I spent the rest of the day exploring the park’s east side. The main feature here is a giant lake, which creates some picturesque scenery. I didn’t like this side of the park, though. When I think of Yellowstone, I think of mountains and forests, not boating and beaches.
Here’s a random deer… or is it an antler-less elk?
My Yellowstone visit has been thoroughly satisfying already. Whatever I see tomorrow will just be a bonus.