Let me finish up writing about the hike at Yellowstone to Fairy Falls, Imperial and Spray Geysers, and Sentinel Meadows. This was on June 22nd.
By the way, I don’t usually break up hike descriptions into separate posts, but on a trip like this, some of the hikes generate so many pictures it makes sense to do so.
At the end of the last post, we were just departing Fairy Falls on our way across a small valley towards Imperial and Spray Geysers.
Again, here’s the topo map of our hike.
You can see Fairy Falls in the lower left of that map.
The first geyser one meets on the other side of Fairy Creek is Spray Geyser.
It was almost more of a bubbling hot pot, except that it wasn’t continuous.
You can see it in the distance, and I am standing in front of the small stream that leads from Imperial Geyser.
Does the color intrigue you?
Here’s my son as we headed upstream along it.
All that reddish-orange is made of some sort of algal mat that really, really likes the warm water.
As we headed up the stream, Imperial Geyser went off.
Darn, we only saw it from a distance (or so we thought at the time).
Except we didn’t have to feel we missed it. Imperial Geyser kept going off as we ate lunch there.
The official description says that the interval between eruptions can be between seconds and a couple of hours. For us, it was about every two minutes.
You might enjoy this animated gif I put together of one of the eruptions.
By the way, let me blow up one of those pictures.
There are two things to notice here. First are the bandages on the tops of my feet. Yup, my sandals did that to me–rubbed the skin raw. I never get blisters or have that problem when I go barefoot. (But as you know, when i overdo it, I can get footsore, particularly from long stretches of gravely terrain.)
The other thing you might notice is my T-shirt, with the huge bear head on the front. You can also (kind-of) see it in the picture of me at Spray Geyser, but it is somewhat obscured by my camera bag. Everybody at Yellowstone loved that shirt. I got a lot of really nice comments about it.
When we finished eating lunch at Imperial Geyser, we headed back downstream. We’d talked a bit with a couple from New Zealand while we were eating. But then when we started going again and I was hiking barefoot, that really caught their attention. (After all, New Zealanders are pretty well-known for going barefoot a lot.) There’s really nothing like getting a “Good on ya'” for going barefoot from some Kiwis.
From Imperial Geyser we headed north along a trail through a large flat area. This was an area that bison must have really frequented. There were signs of them everywhere.
Also, if you look closely, you can see that the grassy area is heavily trampled by bison hooves. In fact, it is so rough there they put a boardwalk over it.
I walked on the grass, though. Sure, there were large hoof-holes everywhere, but when you walk barefoot you can feel them in advance of putting your weight down, and you also have strong ankles for dealing with the hole.
Continuing along, we kept crossing hot spring areas.
In this picture, the water was bubbling up from the left. By the time it reached me, though, it had cooled down quite a bit.
My (shod) son had to go downstream a ways to find a narrow enough crossing. Of course, when barefoot, one can just walk right through it.
Here’s another of the hot springs that we passed by.
These hot springs didn’t come with warnings like all the popular ones do, so you have a fair bit of freedom on how close to get. On the other hand, stupidity is its own reward.
You might notice a splash of yellow in the picture. Here’s a close up of the flower.
That is a lanceleaf stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum).
When we got the chance, we turned west towards Sentinel Meadows.
Those bison were pretty darn close to the trail, so we left the trail in order to skirt them by a reasonable distance.
This is a good idea. Shortly before we got there, a bison gored a girl at Yellowstone. And then, after we’d left, there were more incidents (in early July). Here’s that description, from the Park Service:
The last two incidents included women who weren’t provoking the animals. According to the NPS, a 68-year-old Georgia woman encountered a bison while hiking on Storm Point Trail Wednesday, July 1st. As she passed the bison, it charged and gored her. She remained hospitalized a day later.
The other incident happened on June 23, when a 19-year-old Georgia woman and three friends were walking to their car after a late-night swim at the Firehole River. A bison lying about 10 feet away charged the teen and “tossed her in the air. She was released from the hospital with minor injuries later that day.
Like I said, we gave them a wide berth.
Here’s my son as we circled around Sentinel Meadows. I think those are Flat Cone and Steep Cone in the distance.
This was a fairly long hike, maybe 10-11 miles. Again, I loved getting (mostly) away from the standard touristy spots and finding the lesser-traveled parts.
This was our last day at Yellowstone. Next time . . . somewhere else!