Black Sand walkway

Ride~About: Winter Gray on Gray

How exciting to be traveling into Yellowstone via snowcoach on this winter day, although a very gray winter day. Our trip has been planned for about a month. It is totally overcast, snowing occasionally, but not too cold–in the mid 20’s. Since we are all photographers, we hope the weather will improve, but ya pay for ya ride and take ya chances!

We left West Yellowstone traveling through the West Entrance. We will be driving to Madison Junction then to Old Faithful, with stops all along the way at the various thermal basins. As we drive along the Madison River, we are hoping to see a bobcat or the pair that have been hunting in the river over the last few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed. We’ll also hope for some sun as the day progresses, then again, there is never a bad day in Yellowstone!

snowcoach gray view

 

Here we go!

Black Sand walkway

SNAP*Shots: Winter’s Sunrise

Sunrise is a good news/bad news scenario in wintry Yellowstone. The bad news is that it is extra cold before the sun comes up and winters in Yellowstone can be colder than -40° although -25° might be more usual. Still, that is pretty cold! So the good news? Well, the sun doesn’t come up until about 7:40am unlike summer when it rises at 5am! OK, later start time, colder weather–not a bad trade off since we can add layers. Let’s bundle up and head out. We’ll have breakfast when we get back.

Thirty minutes before sunrise, as the sky begins to brighten, we have gorgeous muted colors all along the western horizon. Be sure to keep your skin covered, it’s cold out here!


No slouching, let’s get out there . . .

Black Sand walkway

Rose Creek in Winter White

Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley is  a sparkling winter wonderland, and the Lamar Buffalo Ranch is an ideal mid-valley location with a bit of civilized warmth from the frigid winter surrounds. The ranch was instrumental in saving bison from extinction in this country in the early 1900’s. Today, although not open to the public,  the ranch hosts educational opportunities through the Yellowstone Forever Institute and the National Park Service’s Expedition Yellowstone.

Let’s walk up to where Rose Creek splits into three separate creeks as it races down into the valley to join the Lamar River. The trail is hard packed, but let’s put ice-traction cleats on our boots for safety. It is a little after 10am and about 8 degrees, but with no wind, it feels much warmer.  What a beautiful day! Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Let’s go . . .

Black Sand walkway

Roundabout Ramble in Henry Coe

I’m sitting here at home, watching the snow fall and the temperature drop. Currently the snow is almost 10 inches deep registering a balmy 1° and forecast to hit -24° overnight. Taking a rest from shoveling, which is best done in 3-4 inch increments, let’s reminisce about a delightful day hike in California’s beautiful Henry Coe State Park this past November. With the unusually high, and desperately needed, rainfall levels in October, the greens have sprung back to springtime shades. Henry Coe is California’s second largest state park (largest in Northern CA) encompassing 89,164 acres. It is a sprawling wilderness of ridges and steep canyons in the Diablo Range. Today we will wander a bit and see what we can see, so grab your gear and let’s go.

Come along into the woods . . .

Black Sand walkway

Winter Wayfaring at -12 Degrees

It dropped to -22° last night, but with the crystal-clear blue sky this morning, the sun is warming up the landscape. At -12° and not a breath of wind, it’s time for a winter wayfaring experience near home. It is just so beautiful. The sparkling snow clings to everything it fell on over the last 24 hours. Be sure to dress warm though, it is still very cold outside and we don’t want any frostbite on fingers, toes, or nose. It is so nice to still have farmland within our city limits. Wintertime aspens, long piles of hay, and the Bridger Mountains that define our eastern edge, all covered in sparkling white.

Bridgers frame aspens

Wayfaring with me . . .

Black Sand walkway

Mummy Mountain Meander

There is one thing I can always count on when I make my biannual visit to California, and that’s another great hike with my good friend. This time we head to Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch, a 4,595-acre regional recreation area off U.S. Highway 101 in the hills east of Gilroy. We are at the southern end of the park entering through the Mendoza Ranch Entrance. It is early afternoon on an overcast day, but the Bay Area has had so much rain in the last month the bright green grasses look more like spring rather than mid-November. Let’s see what other surprises await us as we climb Mummy Mountain.

1-parking-lot

Continue to the trailhead . . .

Black Sand walkway

Five-Geyser Day

What an absolutely gorgeous day in the Old Faithful area. The sky is so blue it looks like God Photoshopped it! There is no wind making 50° feel much warmer. Most everything except the Visitor’s Center is closed for the season which translates into very few people and bring your own lunch. I want to check if the rangers are still noting eruption times for the most predictable geysers at the Information Desk in the VC. I’ve yet to see Castle Geyser erupt and I’m hoping today is the day. WOW, we are in luck. Old Faithful is due to erupt in two minutes. Well, that’s give or take ten minutes, but Castle Geyser is expected to erupt 45 minutes later. A beautiful day and very few people making for a quiet, relaxing stroll around Upper Geyser Basin. Thar she blows!

old-faithful-9166

Continue our geyser walk . . .

Black Sand walkway

Firehole Sunrise

The three-mile loop road known as Firehole Lake Drive is amazing in the autumn. At sunrise we see the warmth of the sun battling the cold air, low clouds, massive amounts of thermal steam, and fog. It can take hours for the sun to finally break through. During that process, we meander through an eerie, cloaked landscape that envelops us. Welcome to a Firehole sunrise.

pre-sunrise

Making our way to the lake . . .

Black Sand walkway

Artist Paintpots Sojourn

Along the Gibbon River, between Norris and Madison Junctions in Yellowstone, is the often ignored Gibbon Geyser Basin. Unless there are bison, elk, other ungulates (hoofed animals), or the occasional coyote feeding in Gibbon Meadows, people pass by this area on the way to Old Faithful or Norris Geyser Basin. The most popular and most beautiful collection of thermal features in the Gibbon Geyser Basin are found along the 1.1 mile loop trail called Artist Paintpots. We walk about 1/3 of a mile through a young lodgepole pine forest which is reestablishing itself after the 1988 fires. So let’s head out and take our time in this colorful collection of thermal features.

trailhead

Onward to beautiful colors . . .

Black Sand walkway

The Journey is the Adventure

It seemed like a pleasant, simple task. Drive through Yellowstone, spend some time enjoying the thermal features and great views on the road from Madison to West Thumb, then head to Jackson, Wyoming, to spend a few days in the autumn splendor of Grand Teton National Park. Its about a four-hour trip, but with stops it will be a bit longer. The weather is a bit iffy today. We have some snow falling, rain, even sleet, but the roads are clear. We’ll hope for the best as we begin our journey driving through the Gallatin River Canyon to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Besides, you never know, so many times the journey is the adventure!

Along 191 Gallatin River

Come on along . . .

Black Sand walkway

Schwabacher Landing Beckons

Schwabacher Landing is an area along the Snake River that lets us wander through the Snake’s floodplain and along the braided meanderings of the river. This area can change dramatically depending on the time of year primarily due to the amount of precipitation and snow melt. Sagebrush dominates the view along the dirt road that leads us down to the Landing, but once there, the landscape is a wonder of plant and animal life, marshes and wetlands, all indicative of a rich floodplain. Best of all, it is autumn. Today we are walking below the Teton Range not long after sunrise on a sparkling blue-sky day (I have not modified that blue sky, in case you were wondering). The beauty just takes my breath away! Let’s explore.

Swabacher Landing

Continue exploring . . .

Black Sand walkway

Glorious Bowman Lake and Surrounds

The remote northwest corner of Glacier National Park is a seldom visited, sparsely populated area with beautiful vistas and finger lakes that take your breath away. Today we are driving to Bowman Lake, the third largest lake in Glacier behind Lake McDonald and
St. Mary Lake respectively. We’ll be taking a walk along the northern shore. I have found, however, that the journey to the hike can be just as marvelous as the hike itself. I think you’ll agree today.

aspen-road-5690tiff

Continue to the lake . . .