Thursday, September 23, 2010
We woke with pretty much the same weather as yesterday. Looking out the motel window I could only just see across the road as mist swirled by. We withheld our departure as late as possible and by that time things were looking a bit brighter. You could see the outline of the hills behind the house across the road, maybe ½ mile away. With the thermometer still reading 0C we put all our clothes on and headed up the 212 towards Beartooth pass. We had been told that this was the way to enter Yellowstone but weather conditions at 10,947 feet can be very variable even during the summer and the pass closes if there has been snow. As we started to climb the sun came out and the temperature rose until, at about 8000 ft, we had to stop and take some clothes off and admire the view. we crossed over into Wyoming just further up stopped to look back into Montana. We thought this was the top but the road when down only to climb and about 2 miles later we reached the summit. Over the top and different world unfolded. On the way down we stopped at the 'top of the world stores' where Jill saw this sign which tickled her so she took a photo and met Roy who was travelling with his brother in a truck that usually pulled a 5th wheeler. He had a great moustache and hanging from his belt was a revolver. Nice guy but we made sure we called him 'Sir' a lot. Went back into Montana for a short ways through Cooke City that only had sweets in the general store as it was about to close for the winter. Back into Wyoming and through the Silver Gate where we had to show our park pass. At $80 for us both for a year this has proved to be excellent value, ait allows us to come and go into any National site at any time, without having to pay $20 a day. We travelled on to Tower Junction, and then turned south over the Dunraven Pass at a paltry 8350 ft where a fire was raging started by lightning. The Rangers were on hand giving out information on this 'Managed Fire' all being part of the ecosystem, but more of this later. We then came across the first of many 'Bear Jams'. When people come across anything that moves animate or otherwise, they stop in the middle of the road and withdraw a camera with a telephoto lens that they can hardly lift, and stop anybody else that is travelling behind them from seeing what they are so excited about. You get Buffalo Jams; Elk Jams; Moose Jams, Deer Jams, Geyser Jams, Waterfall Jams etc. which can slow your progress down quite a bit. We had booked ourselves into Madison Junction camp site, set up our tent and we were both intently reading about the wildlife we were likely to see whilst in Yellowstone, when we looked up and saw Elkie just by our picnic table. (Sorry not a very good picture as it was dusk).