August 20 – Visiting Yellowstone Canyon and Canyon Village
We got up early, but not because of Martha, and headed east 60 miles to Yellowstone Canyon to join a ranger on a 1.5-hour-long hike along the Canyon South Rim. (Martha seems much improved.)
Again, we were joined by thongs of tourists but the ranger took us further along the rim where there were fewer folks.
We learned that the 1,000’- deep canyon consisting of granular rock was probably formed in 100 years – very short in geologic times. The Yellowstone River at the base of the canyon is now flowing on much harder rock so the depth of the canyon is stable. From the South Rim Trail, we could view the Lower Falls, but not the Upper Falls, which are the result of the existence of steps in the much harder rock layer.
The trail was lined with Lodgepole coniferous pines. How can one tell if the pine is a Lodgepole pine, you ask? The needles form in sets of two and form a vee, or an L, and L is for Lodgepole. And, then there are friendly Firs that are soft when you shake their hand and the Spruce that are sticky/prickly.
And, the Lodgepole pine creates two kinds of pine cones – one that sheds is seeds when it dries out and one, incendiary-type with thick pitch, that sheds its seeds only when it gets hot from a fire. There are large areas of the park that have bright green, relatively small sized pines where fires burned in 1988.
There was no railing along some parts of the trail so some of us walked on the trail away from the edge which was sloped and approximately marked the start of a 1,000’ drop to the canyon floor.
After our trail walk, we went to the Canyon Visitor’s Center where we purchased a canister of bear repellent spray. Included with the purchase was a very detailed description of what we are to do if and when we confront a bear on the trail.
First, do not run away, you cannot out run a 40 MPH bear. Talk in a soft voice and walk backwards slowly. If the bear approaches in three steps and paws the ground and is within 10 yards, pop the canister safety latch and lay a protective cloud of protectant at the bear’s feet. Now, you want to hope that there is no head wind to blow the cloud your way and away from the bear. If the latter happens and the bear comes closer, aim the spray at the bear’s face.
If this facial application is useless maybe due to too shaky hands, and the bear keeps coming, now get this, lie on the ground, face down with your fingers intertwined, your elbows dug in the ground and your legs spread wide.
According to our bear attack expert, the attackee is to pretend to be dead. The bear will try to roll the attackee over to gain access to the belly but this is to be resisted at all costs. The details of what happens if the bear is successful in the rolling over maneuver were not clear. We did not ask.
Oh, and always hike in a group of three. So there is the attackee, the first aide giver and the lucky one who gets to seek help.
Not mentioned was Plan B when running away is the chosen option and that is to make sure that in your group of three that you are not the slowest. This was Kathleen’s suggested option and protocol.
This evening after a KOA dinner of buffalo burgers, we are heading east again to sit beside the Madison River at the base of one of the adjacent mountains to enjoy the park with our visual, auditory and olfactory senses and look for photo opportunities.