Be Bear Aware

I’m happy that we got an early start yesterday morning. We arrived in Yellowstone by Noon and were in the campground set up by 2pm. After what has become a traditional arrival snack of PB&J sandwiches, we set up our tents and made plans to spend as little time in the next 24 hours not in a car.
We were met at the Canyon Campground registration by two very nice gentlemen, who took it upon themselves to realize that we were only three people with two tens, and that with the sites available upon our arrival, we had a choice to pick D85 or D83 because they thought that D85 would be big enough to hold both of our tents. This portion of the loops (A-L) doesn’t have assigned tent spaces. There are thin pine trees cut into loops with paved roads. We drove up to D85, decided it was awesome, and Jessica and I went back to fully register. The registrar, Lenny, even credited the $30 I spent on the other site to the stay at D85, so I only had to pay the other 2 nights. He explained how many people he saw come into Yellowstone with no reservations. I find it shocking that people will drive for hours and hours (or days in our case) to come someplace just to get turned away. I was glad he didn’t charge us a cancellation or anything, but he explained that it wasn’t going to be hard at all to sell the campsite to another camper. We bought two boxes of wood for the time being. It’s park policy that it is acceptable to gather fallen dead wood for campfires. I like it, but you definitely need to go out of the campground to find some because the area around the sites is picked clean.
Our site is nice and wide. There is a family of four at D86 and two men at D83 (our discarded site). We rarely hear them, and the kids are generally well behaved, though they have unfortunate looking matching girl and boy pajama bottoms that the little boy is growing out of too quickly. I’ve seen him pick at his wedgie multiple times. This morning in the cool air being warmed by the sun, he’s wearing shorts. I hope his parents get the idea that he’s a growing boy and that “clothes to grow into” might be better for him.
The loop we’re in has two separate bathrooms. The stalls are nice with old fashioned Standard toilets. Reading the campground website and the online reviews, I didn’t comprehend the “dish washing stations” that people mentioned. I understand that bears are a huge problem here, and that any preventative measure they can take to make the bears less likely to wander in is money well spent. Each bathroom has a separate room in between the restrooms that has stainless steel counters, trash and recycling receptacles, and big porcelain sinks. We were able to do dishes in about half the time it normally takes. I’m only slightly disappointed that we won’t be using our new double washbasin we got from Coleman, but the time and effort the dishwashing room saves us is worth it. Our washing room even has cute green and white checkered tile on the backsplash. Doing the dishes while camping is fun for a change!
IMG_2195After our camp setup and general naptime for Dale, we walked down to Canyon Village. Our campground is the most centrally located, but the amount of people we saw didn’t shock us. There are cabins and little lodges at Canyon Village, in addition to a cafeteria, a soda fountain, a general store, a sporting goods store, and an information center with lots of exhibits. We browsed the general store for possible future trips and went to the information center on how to maybe get down to the canyon to see the waterfalls. The woman ranger behind the counter at the information desk said there was a trail that started behind cabin P26 in the loops behind Canyon Village. We got a little lost behind the big general store building, but we found the trailhead  and walked a half mile down to the edge of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We arrived at the rims edge, where the trees suddenly stopped and the walls of the canyon shone bright in the sun.
IMG_2186The Yellowstone rivers cuts through the trees about a mile up the river and drops down in a stunning fall to then travel a short distance and drop again. We walked from Grand View where the trail empties you out at, to Lookout Point. Along the way there were a few other outcroppings with parking spots for people who arrive in cars. At the short 200 feet trailhead to the Lookout Point which gives you a good view of the Upper Falls for the first time (Grand View, not so grand, but you can hear the roaring of the falls) there is an auxilliary trail called Red Rock (?) that goes down a couple hundred feet of stairs that take you down the canyon walls to a lower view of the Falls. There is also another view point at the top of the falls looking right at the water, which I think we’ll do some morning when I take my camera down to shoot from Artist Point.
We walked back to the campground via the road, which was definitely not made for pedestrians. There was a bike lane, which gave us a better buffer than just walking in the dirt beside the road. We got back to camp and started dinner preparations. We cooked what will be our longest meal of the trip, lentils with instant mashed potatoes. The instant mashed potatoes are a revelation for me. Lentils are something that Dale and I make occasionally, and I just love putting them over real mashed potatoes. But for camping, the instant bags do just the trick. Just add water and they’re ready to go.
IMG_2191While Jessica and I washed up the dishes, Dale made the campfire for the evening. We had a good 2-3 hours of fire with one box of wood. Dale, after years of cub scouts and coming from a long history of scouts, makes some of the best fires ever. It’s nice knowing that I don’t have to worry about fucking up the fire, and Dale takes pleasure in making and playing with the fire. Jessica set up her hammock near the fire and we sat around enjoying the light fade to night. It must have been somewhere around 11 we went to bed.
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