Friday, October 27, 2023

A hike to remember in Yellowstone National Park

Reflections in the geyser pool at West Thummb
The weather was sunny when we started the hike to Storm Point in Yellowstone National Park. It was our first day in the park, and we had already driven from Jackson Hole, through Grand Teton National Park, so we were ready for a little exercise.

Earlier in the day, clouds had covered the Teton Mountains, but the haze lifted and the sun came out. On entering Yellowstone we drove through Grant Village and then on to West Thumb Geyser Basin for our first look at the geysers and boiling steam pools that discharge into Yellowstone Lake. Bright colors and reflections of clouds in the pools provided positive first impressions of interesting geology for which the park is known.

Bacteria in the water make brilliant colors in the geyser pools.

Storm Point is at the top 
of this map.
I had two possible hikes on my itinerary list, but when we missed the first one, we decided that Storm Point would be a good place to stop. The trail started at Indian Pond and proceeded on a two and a half mile loop to a point high on a cliff at the edge of the lake.

One of the attractions of this hike was a colony of marmots just past the point. It would be fun to take a break and watch these cute creatures scampering around before starting the return part of the loop.

Larry walks in the woods.

It was a pleasant hike through the woods. We saw a variety of wild flowers, crossed a pond, and trekked through tall, shady pine trees. As the trail neared the beach, large pieces of driftwood and unusual geologic formations caught our attention.
Beverly found driftwood on the beach.

But soon, warnings of possible rain that we had previously ignored, loomed in the darkening sky. Since we were almost at the peak of the hike, there really was no advantage to turning back. 

The wind began to blow; we quickened our pace. I tightened the grip on to my visor and then removed it altogether, zipped up my jacket and placed the visor inside.

Just as we reached the actual Storm Point, the wind began howling and pelting both rain and sand against our skin. Jagged grains of sand stung from the force of the wind. We got soaked from the driving rain. That colony of marmots? They had taken refuge from the storm. Only one was still around, looking quite forlorn.

The sky, water, and beach turned dark in the storm.
So we trudged on, shielding our eyes and bodies as best we could until we rounded the point which gave the hike its name.
We got a full dose of nature in multiple forms.

Following the other side of the loop trail, we eventually were back in the forest, which offered protection from the stormy elements. The rain subsided, the sun returned, and we even saw a deer before finishing the hike.

This buck was a bright spot on our return hike.

Lessons learned: Pay attention to weather forecasts, and pay attention to the name of the hike.

Storm Point was exactly that.

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