This is a part of Yellowstone series. Check out the previous posts:
The 3rd day in Yellowstone started early as we headed on a long hike for about five to six hours. We combined a couple of trails into a larger one. As always, we made sure that the route we did was going in a loop so that we didn't go the same way we came. This time was the same. The general trail was named Fairy Falls Lollipop Loop trail. It is supposed to take you to Fairy Falls and back again, passing the Grand Prismatic area. But, we saw another interesting name on the map - the Imperial Geyser.
The name was too good to pass up on the opportunity to see the Imperial one. The Fairy Falls trail didn't lead up to the geyser, so we added the "small" track to it. In any case, the whole walking distance that day was around 10 miles (16 km) through various terrain. As we started the loop, we took a shart right through another cool-sounding track - Sentinel Meadows trail.
I loved that part, it was a flatlands with surrounding forests that you're not supposed to go in (at least not if you're following the map). It felt like I was at the edge of the Fangorn forest, being called inside. There was an old bathhouse somewhere in the forest next to the trail, but we didn't manage to find it. Also, we didn't expect the Sentinel Meadows to also be a marsh at some points.
Other hikers put up improvised bridges of logs and rocks, but we still got our feet wet. At least it was warm that day, so the wet shoes and socks didn't worry us that much. It is simply inevitable when you're walking on mushy and moist grass. What I really liked about the flatlands we walked through were the chilling bison you'd see every 20-30 minutes. They seem unbothered when you pass them. I wanted to get close to them, but I remembered the signs of folks getting thrown into the air by one of these giants.
What is interesting is the bison itself and the name of the animal. If you remember the warning note I posted about the bison and how they can attack you, Yellowstone park used the wording "buffalo". That is super confusing. Folks in the US called bison "buffalo". The most interesting fact is that bison and buffalo are different animals. They do belong to the family of cows, but bison are stronger and faster than buffalo. Buffalo roams in Asia in Africa, but what wanders Yellowstone is the mighty American bison.
As you noticed, I'm trying to avoid confusion and call the animals by their true name 😂 These, at what first appears, gentle giants can be very brutal. In Yellowstone, more people are hurt by bison than by bears. The males can grow up to nearly a ton and can run as fast as 56 kilometers per hour (35 mph). That's faster than any living human right now. So good luck running away from it (spoiler: you can't).
I have greatly respected and admired these creatures even before I saw them. The feelings grew even larger when I saw them in person. They once covered huge areas worldwide and are almost extinct in Europe (Fruška gora got a couple, yay). In the US, they were hunted down to a couple of hundred bison in the whole continent. But in years, their number grew large again, having more than 300000 bison roaming North America.
Luckily, we weren't hurt by these animals, nor did we provoke them. But we did have a close encounter with them. We returned from the Imperial geyser and ran into a large herd of bison chilling and eating grass. We knew it was not wise to approach them, but after waiting for almost half an hour, we slowly started moving in their direction. Still, they seemed unbothered. I guess they got used to people so much that they don't react unless you want to take a selfie with them or provoke them somehow.
As we saw the Imperial geyser, climbed atop of it, enjoyed the Fairy Falls, and got lost in the Yellowstone prairies, our hike was finished, and it was 2 PM. Instead of looking for the next thing to keep us busy, it was time to phone home and let the loved ones know we didn't get impaled by bison or split open by a bear.
As in other countrysides in the US, Yellowstone didn't have good reception. We sneaked into a restaurant and got to their WiFi, but it was crowded anyway. There was no time to put up Instagram stories or posts. Only simple messaging worked there. We had lunch, and a shower at one of the places about 40 mins drive from our campground. Yes, our camp didn't have showers, unfortunately.
After that, we drove around the park heading north. We saw a couple of more falls and got to see a mama bear with her cubs. The mama bear climbed the tree, high up from the ground, to get her cubs and wake them up. The situation looked the same as with humans - the younglings don't want to wake up, and their mum is making them. It happened on our way to sight when we saw a large group of cars and people gathering and looking at something.
A guy had a Samsung phone and a huge lens that zoomed in on the bear family. That was a sight to see. Also, as we were driving later, one small bear ran in front of us as we were going around 35 mph (50 kph). That was pretty crazy. We ended up at the northmost part of the park, at the border with Montana. There's a small cozy settlement there with a visitor's center for folks coming in from Montana.
The day was slowly ending, and tomorrow we were leaving Yellowstone. For the first time, we are going to steer our rented Jeep fully west, from Wyoming to Idaho, to our next camp spot. Stay tuned 🎥