Day 6

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    Posted by Paula ( on August 24, 2005 at 21:52:39:

    In Reply to: Day 5 posted by Paula on August 24, 2005 at 21:50:55:

    FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2005

    I woke up early and was happy to see it had stopped raining. I washed my hair and cleaned up with the cold water in the restrooms before having coffee and cereal. I repacked the van somewhat to prepare to move campsites. Soon everyone else was up and having cereal & granola bars. We just stuffed the wet tents into large garbage bags and threw the sleeping gear into the van and left at 9am CST. Rick remembered that he wanted to see White Dome Geyser, plus we wanted to see Great Fountain Geyser’s formations in the daylight. The basin of Great Fountain was completely empty, no water at all, but the circling rims were neat. We continued on and looked at White Dome, which was steaming. Then we came to Pink Cone which was erupting and watched it for quite a while. It reminded me of a miniature Beehive Geyser. We left Firehole Lake Drive at 9:30 CST and drove south to the Tetons. We drove into Colter Bay and asked about sites with views and were given three to look out. But all three were small, cozy sites surrounded by pines with no views at all. We decided to take a chance and try for Signal Mountain since the Colter Bay rangers had said they were having a slow day and we hoped it would be the same at Signal Mountain. We still had the site a Yellowstone to fall back on if we had to. After the turn at the junction we came upon a bear jam and saw another black bear eating berries by the road.
    We turned into Signal Mountain and met the ranger who told us there were still sites open. We asked about ones with a view and he highlighted some possibilities but warned that they might have already been occupied but not paid for. So we started around the loop and came to #15 which he said might be open. We pulled in to take a look and a lady at the next campsite said the people had already left and that it was a great site. It was a walk-in, tent only site located on a small cliff above the lake. We walked back to it and it had a fabulous view of Mt. Moran and some of the other mountains. We quickly filled out the card to reserve the site for the next two nights and occupied the sites, putting up the tents and getting out all our sleeping gear again.
    Rick and I drove right down the road to pay for our campsite. The ranger was still there so we handed him the envelope and he remarked, “You got #15, that’s my favorite site in the whole campground.” I told him I could see why because the view was beautiful and it was back behind the other sites and secluded. Then we went to the store to get fresh bread and call Yellowstone to release our reserved site there for someone else to use. It turned out to be a long distance call - $4.50 to start with – to Yellowstone. The cashier suggested we try the front desk at the Lodge so we went over there. She told us they didn’t have a local line for them, either, and to prepare for a long wait because Xanterra didn’t have very many lines. I already knew that from my experience making our initial reservations and we decided that we didn’t want to spend lots of money on hold. It is a shame that the site will go unused, it is a case of poor management by the government not overseeing Xanterra and requiring them to have an 800 number for customers. The restrooms here don’t have paper towels, but do have electric hand dryers, trash cans, electric outlets and sinks to wash your dishes.
    We went back to the campsite and had lunch. Afterwards the guys fished while Rick & I went back to the store to buy ice and repack the coolers since our initial gallons of ice from the deep freeze were thawed. We decided to drive up Signal Mountain Road and look for bears more bears since an employee at the store at Lake had told us that was where people had been seeing a lot of them and we’d seen the bear near there on our drive down. We didn’t see any bears, but the views were great. We drove back to camp and walked down to the lake shore to look for the boys and found them climbing up the cliff. We followed in an easier spot – but it was steep! I think I’ll walk around through the picnic area from now on, but the view from the lakeshore is spectacular!
    We decided to drive down the Teton Park Road and take a hike. We could see rainy weather over Yellowstone again, but the skies were clear here. We drove to the South Jenny Lake Junction to take the Cascade Canyon hike, but the parking lots were full and the thought of crowds put us off so we left and kept driving. We went to the String Lake parking lot and found quite a few people there, too, but at least there were open parking spots. The lake is really pretty and there were people there swimming, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, playing in the sand and enjoying the sunny afternoon. They were spread out at small areas along the lakeshore so it didn’t seem so crowded even though there were a lot of people there and lots of children. I walked along the trail while Rick, Preston & Daniel played football down the trail.
    We returned to camp and I took my crazy creek chair, a book, an icy drink & my journal down to the shore to relax. The view was so amazing I never read or made any notes. All I could do was sit there watching the mountains, water & birds. After an hour or so I noticed a small dust storm up the beach which was Daniel & Preston “dirt skiing” down the small cliff. Of course, it was fun – if dangerous – so the climbed back up and repeated the maneuver several times. It looked pretty dangerous to me, but Rick had
    appeared and said it looked like they were having fun.
    We had chicken quesadillas & grilled stuffed burritos for dinner (everyone made their own concoctions out of the ingredients). While we were cooking, a family from Italy walked by on the path along the top of the cliff and stopped to visit – which was difficult because they didn’t speak English and none of us speak Italian. We were able to communicate in very broken Spanish on my part and fluent Spanish on theirs. After dinner we drove to Colter Bay to take showers which were the most reasonable of the trip since they were only $2.50 each for four or more people. They weren’t timed, either and were clean. We made a wrong turn at the junction on the way back and before we could find a place to turn around found ourselves at a Moose Jam. It was a big bull moose and you could see him clearly through the binoculars.
    We returned to camp for a fire before bed. It was pretty windy on the cliff and we now understood why the fire ring was sheltered behind trees and bushes instead of being out on the edge of the cliff. We could hear some of the program going on in the amphitheater down below our campsite and found out later it was about bison.

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