Yellowstone May 25-26: Instameet and Hellroaring Creek

The spring is off to a slow start photo/camping-wise, but we are off for the first campsite of the season.

May 25

I left work in Jackson a smidge before 5 in an attempt to make it to Old Faithful by 7. This evening there is an instameet. If you are ever in the area during one of these, it’s a great chance to meetup with park rangers and other photo enthusiasts. We met at the Yellowstone Art & Photography Center and then headed down the boardwalks.

We decided that the eruption window of Grand Geyser could possibility time with a nice sunset. Grand Geyser is larger than Old Faithful, and the observation area is about twice as close. The downside is that the eruption window is 2 hours.

So we wait…and wait. The sun disappears and still no eruption. I was sort of watching the clock because I had to haul over to Bridge Bay for the night, but I decided to wait anyway. It’s nice conversion with other photographers and there is always plenty to talk about.

The eruption happened at dusk when it has cooled off quite a bit. It was the best geyser eruption I’ve seen yet, and the time of day made it such a unique experience. The quantity of water runoff flowed under us and created this 360 degree steam transition in the landscape.

We started to head out after the eruption. Fast-forward to the drive to Bridge Bay and setting up camp, I was in bed by midnight.

May 26

I got up at 6:30, which is pretty late by my standard, but given the late night, it was justified. Activity at Hayden Valley that morning was a bit low. There was word of some passing wolves, but that was about it. I decided to continue on to Canyon for breakfast and then kept on pushing north.

There were bear jams at Tower, but I was itching for a hike, so I pressed on to Hellroaring Creak Trailhead.

This is a favorite springtime hike. It’s usually pretty green this time of year and dry.

I’ll take the trail to the confluence of Hellroaring Creak and Yellowstone River. The 150-600 lens will be in my pack for any interesting wildlife. This time it was just a marmot.

At the confluence, levels were predictably high.

The hike back was uneventful. Then it was time to work my way back home. Many times I will wait out bear jams and try to find grizzlies that were known to be out near Lake Butte Overlook, but I had to make it home by tonight. So it’s time to blow past the bear jams and make a break for it…maybe stopping to capture a storm rolling across Yellowstone Lake.

After crossing into GTNP, the usual bear jams will ongoing near Pacific Creek. I assumed it was 399, but after looking at the photos, I realize that this one doesn’t have a collar.

Now almost home, the sun is setting, and the variable weather is making for some nice color behind Mt Moran.

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