“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Waking up to the
slightly annoying beautiful sounds of nature in the form of a woodpecker, a few of us crept over to the van and began decorating with balloons, hats, and banners for Erin’s birthday, whilst she slept. As it was another long drive day, we wanted the van to turn into a party bus so made a rule that everyone had to wear their party hat at all times!
We made our way to Cody in Wyoming, and stopped by Old Trail Town (an old western town), which was quite eerie but really cool to see all of the things you’ve seen portrayed in films, up close and personal.
After a wander round and a few (failed) attempts to lasso, we headed back to our campsite! Continuing the celebrations, we decked out the campsite with glow-in-the-dark balloons, and kitted ourselves out with glowsticks (much more effective when you’re in a campsite with limited lighting!), and brought out Erin’s cake after dinner!
As the drinks started to flow, we thought it would be a great idea to have a beer pong championship. Although beer pong is something I play at home as well, it was one of those moments when you look around you, and think “this is what Trek America is all about” – laughing and drinking with your travel-buddies, music blaring, and red cups scattered everywhere you turn.
As the beer pong games continued, the night turned a little messy, with us all ending up in a drunken food (mainly cake), fight. Such a great night celebrating Erin’s birthday!
After making our way to the shower block, haphazardly avoiding the splodges of cake smeared into the grass – and all over the bathrooms for that matter… we headed to Yellowstone National Park!
Yellowstone, along with Yosemite have been high on my bucket list for such a long time now, so I was so so excited to finally be on my way to the park! There is an entry fee for all of the National Parks, but Trek America cover your cost for you so you don’t have to pay!
As we pulled up to essentially the ‘border’ of Yellowstone, our guide paid the super-friendly ranger, and we were handed guides, maps, booklets, but most shockingly – bear warnings and guides. Not going to lie, that freaked us all out a little bit.
Upon entering the park itself, you are immediately immersed into indescribably beautiful scenery and all of us were immediately glued to the windows, taking everything in. What we weren’t expecting to see so quickly, and so close – was a HUGE buffalo walking down the middle of the road next to us, completely unphased by the traffic passing it by. This was such an incredible moment for all of us as and something I’ll never forget – Yellowstone had already given us a glimpse of what it had to offer within the first two minutes of entering the park!
We stopped up next to a gorgeous lake and ate our lunch taking in the amazing views, which was so peaceful, and just such a gorgeous spot for us to stop. The only thing slightly disrupting the tranquillity of the moment, was the fact that someone had to be constantly guarding the table with the food – one, because of the oversized crows eyeing up the food, and secondly, there are strict rules within the park to leave no food or packaging unattended, as bears will make a bee-line towards it! So despite taking in the spectacular views, and even wandering around a little of the surrounding forestry, I was always slightly paranoid that a bear was about to poke its head out at any given time!
Managing to eat our lunch bear-free, we headed out to ‘Artist’s Point Trail’, for our first hike in Yellowstone! Our hike took about 2 1/2 hours all in all, but we did take it quite slow, stopping to take lots of photos (make sure to take your best camera for this one, as the views are unreal!).
Quite a few of us found this hike quite strenuous, as there are some seriously steep climbs involved! This is definitely a hike that needs trainers/hiking boots rather than flip flops or sandals as you need that grip to help you make your way up the steep inclines. The hike itself allowed us to see so much of Yellowstone as you are so high up, looking onto rivers, waterfalls, and we even managed to spot a baby deer grazing in a little clearing in the forest – very idyllic.
The end of the trail leads you to Artist’s Point, a summit that really allows you to see what a powerful and diverse landscape Yellowstone has to offer. This spot also allows you to see why Yellowstone gets its name… because of the yellow stone if you hadn’t already guessed…
Hike done, we headed to another part of Yellowstone for our first glimpse of the infamous geysers. A huge chunk of Yellowstone actually sits in the crater of a volcano, and subsequently, heat from the volcanic activity shows itself through heating the water of the park from beneath, which creates the geysers and hot springs that are seen throughout the park. Geysers are basically hot springs that erupt periodically, with the water and terrain immediately surrounding these geysers being so hot that no life can survive the temperatures, which can reach up to 90 degrees celcius. The park has wooden decking around the geysers which lets you get as close as you need to without burning your toes! If you are heading to Yellowstone, it’s hard to miss these geysers as there are so many of them scattered around the park!
After wolfing down our dinner, we headed out at dusk to have a look for bears, as they are typically seen during dusk and dawn, but sadly there were no bears to be seen! We did however see SO many buffalo which was still exciting and really cool! Back at camp, we did our usual and sat around the campfire with drinks and played some drinking games.
One of the most amazing things about this trip was actually being able to camp inside Yellowstone, right in the thick of the forest. As the park sits at an average of 8,000 feet above sea level, and we were at one of the higher points at our campsite, we had an incredible view of a huge part of the park from our tents. As the evening progressed, a storm seemed to surround Yellowstone, and we had the most amazing view of the lightning lighting up the forest and the rest of the park.
As we all started to realise that the storm was starting to make its way towards us, based on the loudness of the thunder, the weirdest thing happened… A noise, nothing like I have EVER heard before, started getting louder and louder. It was a whooshing noise, but it almost seemed like it was coming for us directly, getting louder and louder the longer it went on. It’s honestly a noise that I would associate with a tornado/jumanji stampede.
Whilst this noise consumed us, we all stopped what we were doing, frozen, and stared at eachother.
We had no idea what was going on. Even our guide Peter looked completely bewildered.
All of a sudden the trees around us began to shake, and the storm pretty much landed right inside our campsite. Torrential rain, deafening thunder, the wind was plastering my hair over my eyes so I couldn’t see anything. In a bizarre combination of fear and hysterical laughter, we tried to pack away our things in the middle of this crazy storm – (as I mentioned before, you cannot leave food or packaging out as bears will simply sniff it out, but what I haven’t mentioned yet, is if you are camping in bear-territory, EVERYTHING scented has to be packed into the trailer. That means no toothpaste, no deodorant, no hand sanitizer – literally nothing scented.) So at this point, we were all rummaging through our tents as they were battered by the wind, our head torches on, screaming to eachother to be heard, and throwing anything scented out of the tent, chucking it into the van and sprinting back to the tents for safety.
Absolutely drenched and huddled in the tent, I genuinely thought our tent was about to take off. Pretty much all but one of our tent pegs had come out due to the wind so Joe battled the storm as he hammered them back in to the ground. I was sat inside, trying to not to wet myself laughing as Laura (whose tent was next door), screamed, (terrified of the storm) “SOMEBODY HELP ME! I’M GOING TO BLOW AWAY. I’M GOING TO DIE”. Who couldn’t even hear my laughing because the wind was so unbelievably noisy. (I later found out that she was doing all of this screaming and near-crying whilst sat in her tent in her pants.
Luckily, Joe and a couple of the guys, pegged her tent down her for, so she didn’t blow away and we all managed to survive the hurricane of Yellowstone.
With slightly sodden tents (mainly from our wet clothes), we fell asleep to the soothing noises of thunder and a crazy lightning light show, ready for our next adventure in Yellowstone.