So this is almost 4 months after when we were actually there…But that happens. Again Day 4 was full of amazing views and breathtaking in every way, but there are a few funny stories to go along with the photos.
First off, our journeys on this day took us Canyon, home of the Upper and Lower falls and the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”. We pulled into the Uncle Tom’s Trail parking lot early that Wednesday morning. The littlest guy declared that he needed to “go potty”, but unfortunately the only bathrooms were being cleaned at the time. Luckily the cleaning truck finished up quickly and Clint and Caedmon headed to the outhouse while Leighton and I stayed in the van. No sooner had they entered the outhouse when the dark clouds opened up and dropped a ton of hail. So much so, that within just a matter of minutes there was 3-5 inches of hail in the parking lot. Then just as quickly the storm moved on. And since toddlers seem to have their own sense of time in terms of bathroom issues, they missed the whole thing, however the look on both of their faces when they walked out to see the sun shining but the parking lot filled with hail was priceless.
We quickly loaded up and headed over to an overlook to see the upper falls. It was astonishing. We had hoped on taking Uncle Tom’s Trail down to get a different view of the falls, but it was closed. And after reading a little more about it, it is probably a good thing that we didn’t attempt it with two little guys, its 328 steep metal steps downwards. In fact later in the day when we saw the steps from the other side of the canyon Clint told me he was glad that they were closed because he’s not sure we would have made it.
We then headed on a little hike to Clear Lake. It was a little over 3 miles round trip and we saw maybe 5 people on the whole trail. It was wet and soggy from the recent rain but also from snow that was still melting along the trail. There was no way around it and all of us had soaked feet by the end. But the hike was worth it, and just past the lake there were some steam holes and small geysers. In fact along the lake there were little areas of bubbling that the boys thought were so much fun and made them giggle.
We drove up to Artist’s Point which had awesome views of the whole canyon and the lower falls. The colors of the canyon were so vivid and it was a cloudy/stormy day, I can only imagine what they are like in the sunlight or even during sunset/sunrise.
From there we headed over to the Brink of the Upper Falls parking area and ate our lunches and then hiked down. It was kind of rainy and so we had our ponchos on and just enjoyed the walk. It was so amazing to stand on the top of and watch the water thunder over the falls right in front of us.
We then journeyed to the Brink of the Lower Falls trail. Caedmon was kind of unimpressed at this point and sound asleep in his car seat. He actually transferred into the backpack without even stirring. We started hiking down. Leighton and I were in front and we were just talking and hiking down not really paying attention. We rounded one of the switchbacks when right behind us Clint started to desperately say “Bear…Bear…BEAR!!!”. We looked up and sure enough about 25 yards right in front of us meandering his way up the trail straight at us was a HUGE black bear. I quickly moved Leighton behind me and we started walking VERY quickly backwards up the trail. We moved fairly fast without trying to look like lunch. I probably would have moved a little faster but I was trying to get the camera out to take a photo. To which Clint whispered “NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO GET A PHOTO…JUST BACK UP QUICKLY”. So the photo I got isn’t all that great and its blurry and doesn’t at all give a good respresentation of how close or how big the bear was…but its all I got. The bear followed us up the trail a good 200 yards or so, Clint and another hiker got in front of Leighton and I and had their bear spray out and ready. The bear however decided that walking the trail was not for him (or her) and wandered off and up into the bush, and as we learned later showed up and walked right through the middle of the parking lot to the surprise of everyone that was up there. Leighton’s little heart was beating super fast, but we praised him for doing such a good job, being brave and walking fast backwards and doing just what mommy and daddy told him to do. Caedmon continued to sleep through the entire thing. And the only thing Clint had to say was “that’s the best photo you got?” Oh well, we lived and weren’t the bears lunch and once we all settled down, hiked the rest of the way down and enjoyed the view from the top of the Lower Falls.
By this point we were all very wet, tired and chilled. We drove into Canyon Village and got some hot chocolate. We started to head back to our cabin but stopped and took some photos of the Yellowstone River valley along the way. We also stopped and walked around the Mud Volcano area. It didn’t smell the best, but was a great way to end our day watching the mud bubble and spew and churn.
And the day finished off with Caedmon and Leighton picking me some “flowers” back at the cabin while I got dinner made. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.