Some of you older folks may remember a song from 1966 about the morning sun rising like a red rubber ball? This morning’s sunrise was just like that, accompanied by the acrid smell and taste of smoke from forest fires. I took my coffee down to the rock where I can sit and look at the lake, except you can’t even see much of the lake this morning. The cold front that came through yesterday, about 2 pm, blew lawn furniture around the campsites and took down some dead lodge poles — one came down across our access road — but didn’t seem to do much about the smoke except perhaps fan more of it in.
Since a hike was out yesterday, due to the smoke, I had to do something else so as not to waste a day of break in Yellowstone. The dogs begged me for a ride in the truck, and Old Blue need to be let out a bit after two weeks of <25 mph. We headed toward the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
There are two drives at the Canyon, one for the south rim and one for the north, with several short trails leading to amazing overlooks. The one at Artist Point, overlooking Lower Falls, was especially inspiring, even in a crowd. In spite of the smoky haze, the colors and shapes of canyon walls are compelling. Reds splashing down the sides of chalky white crags, capped by deep greens. Lower Falls is over 300 feet and was flowing mightily. I promised myself a trip back before I leave to hike Uncle Tom’s Trail when the smoke isn’t so heavy in the air. The trail is described as a series of paved inclines and more than 300 steps [which] lead you about 500 feet…down into the canyon. Your destination is a platform from which you can see, hear, and feel the power of Lower Falls. The trail is not recommended for people with heart, lung, or other health conditions. And, of course, no dogs allowed.
Another trail, to Red Rock Point, on the Northern Rim takes the hardy visitor close enough to feel the spray. Again, an adventure for another day. Since the dogs were in the truck, I did the shorter walks to the viewpoints and overlooks. I’ll spend more time here in the coming weeks.
The drive alone is worth the trip. I love the drive past West Thumb Geysers and along the lakeside. There is a part of the forest, north of West Thumb, that burned so hotly that it is taking more time for life to return. I always feel like I’m passing a cemetery when I drive by the spot. Dead gray lodge poles like giant tombstones in the tall grass for miles overlooking the lake. It makes me want to whisper. From there back into healthy forest and past the mud volcanoes and sulphur caldrons, through the Hayden Valley with its herds of bison and an occasional bear for the delight of the tourists, who stop their vehicles where ever they are and pull out without looking anywhere but at the animals. This is why my friend, John, never comes here during the summer season. I actually had to use my horn yesterday as one fella tried to drive right into my driver side door from one of the lookout points on the other side of the road!
Back to work this afternoon. Woo! Hoo! Right now, I have four swings and a daywatch, but who knows? Last week’s schedule had four versions before the week was over. It’s a good thing I’m so flexible, or at least somewhat so.
The most excellent news is that the hours for the showers/laundry will be changing in a couple of days. We will close one hour earlier and open one hour later. That means that my coffee break between Tuesday’s swing and Wednesday’s daywatch gets extended by two hours! That’s almost a full night’s sleep!
Critters. One of the things I haven’t told you about is the bats. They are all around, and very often in, our laundry building. Little brown bats. They don’t harass anyone, but some people get freaked out about little brown bats flying over their heads and then attaching to and creeping along the rafters above them. I personally love bats. They eat mosquitos by the thousands.
Dennis used to rescue the bats by netting them inside the building and then taking them outside to release them behind the building. One day he discovered that the loud gathering of ravens outside was a group of the raucous black demons calling each other for dinner. He was devastated to discover that he’d been unwittingly feeding the ravens with rescued bats. You might be interested to know that a group of ravens is called an unkindness.