Teton, The Second Day:
I woke up at 6:15 and felt the cold, deciding to stay in my warm nest of a sleeping bag, but 7:30 got me up and packing up my tent. I had gone to a ranger-led photography talk the night before, and had planned to go to another ranger-led activity that morning. On the back deck of Jackson Lodge, the rangers assisted in wildlife viewing. I began with breakfast at the Pioneer Grille, a diner original to the Lodge-- known for the longest continual counter space. Even at 8:15 on a Saturday, it was packed, but I was able to slide into a stool. I chatted with the man next to me who was there with his son. They had been coming to Teton once or twice a year since he was a kid. Outside, I heard people discussing that Grand Teton was their favorite of all national parks, and I thought I might be quickly coming to agreement.
As Teton stretched out before me, I saw a herd of elk. The antlers, giant and velvety of a bull moose popped up above the bushes. It was a great morning, and upon leaving, I felt like I wanted to return, which is always my mark of a great place.
Leaving Teton, it was really just about an hour into Yellowstone. I had been there many years ago (14, to be exact), and was planning on just driving through to Montana. I headed towards Old Faithful and West Yellowstone, stopping to see the geysers. Old Faithful was as its name implies: consistent and true. I walked the boardwalk to some of the other geysers, each of which was cool in its own sulphurous, explosive, venting way. What I really liked though was the pools-- Beauty Pool and Chromatic Pool. My brother had pictures from his recent visit of some that were larger and more stunning, their color more denoted and vivid, but I didn’t want to seek them out. The two I saw were just fine.
There were three elk grazing right by the boardwalk, people moving too close to them. Entering Teton, they give you information about bear safety; at Yellowstone, they give you information about bison, but there are signs everywhere about elk and moose and how far to stay away. Many people reacted like they were in a petting zoo, not like they were out in the wild. Same thing as I drove through Yellowstone-- people stopping smack in the middle of the road to photograph elk. I simply kept moving. I pulled over the eat lunch beside a river, and across the river a fox ran across the scree.