We made the hour drive from Grant Village to another campground in Yellowstone in an area called Fishing Bridge. This is the only full hookup campground in Yellowstone. By the time we arrived I had a bad headache and didn’t feel well. Three days earlier I noticed four blister like places on my lower back. It had the appearance of poison ivy or bug bites, and even though we couldn’t imagine how I got poison ivy or bites there, we didn’t pay them any attention. After setting up, since the blisters hadn’t gone away and I was not feeling well, we decided to visit one of three medical clinics located in Yellowstone National Park. Fortunately one of the clinics was a short drive from our campsite. The diagnosis was shingles, certainly not what we wanted to hear and very surprising. The doctor put me on 800 mg of Acyclovir five times a day for seven days. The doctor said she thought it had been caught early but she had no idea whether I would have a full blown outbreak or if the medicine would lessen the severity of the shingles. We were prepared if necessary to abandon our Yellowstone plans if the outbreak was severe and I needed to be in a town with doctors and stores with supplies. As it turned out I was very blessed. One more small blister appeared and that was it. I was uncomfortable but it was tolerable. I cannot imagine the agony someone with a full outbreak must endure.
The next day it rained and we stayed home resting and relaxing. My mind played tricks on me and every time I had an itch I would run to Bill so he could check my back for a new blister. And every time I felt great relief when he said nothing new was there.
This post will focus on the animals we saw during our time in Yellowstone. Since my shingles was under control and I was feeling better, we decided to take a short hike to Natural Bridge. The signs warned of bears and suggested walking in groups. We had our trusty whistle, just in case. Along the way we saw many places where bears had sharpened their claws and marked their territory on trees.
The hike to Natural Bridge was supposed to be short but we took a wrong turn and ended up on a longer trail that took us to the top of the bridge. The trail became very steep with several switchbacks. The trail had small gravel that feels like walking on marbles when descending. I
hate those kinds of
trails! Along the way we met a very nice couple visiting from England and we enjoyed chatting with them while we stopped to catch our breath. An older lady was trying to make her way down the steepest part of the trail with walking sticks. We stopped to wait for her to pass and she apologized for holding us up and commented that her walking sticks were not helping. Since we have walking sticks, Bill asked if she would like him to show her a different way to hold and use them. He showed her the correct way to hold them, and right away she could feel the difference and felt so much more confident walking on the trail. She was so happy and as she walked past me she told me how wonderful my husband was for helping her. Bill is an Eagle Scout and lives by their motto of “Do A Good Deed Every Day”. We reached the top of the bridge and enjoyed the view, snapped some pictures and began the hard descent down. When we reached the bottom we saw the shorter trail that led to the view of Natural Bridge from below. Natural Bridge is a 51 foot cliff of rhyolite rock cut through by Bridge Creek. In the end we were glad we took that harder trail because we met a nice couple from England and helped the lady with her walking sticks. It was all good!
Rangers in the park refer to traffic jams by the animals that cause them. So there are bison jams, bear jams, elk jams, moose jams etc. Whenever you see traffic stopped or slow moving, it is most likely to be from an animal jam.
There are between 2,300 and 5,000 bison living in Yellowstone. We got caught in a huge bison jam one day while heading to Hayden Valley which is known to have a lot of wildlife. We passed through at the time of day a large number of bison were crossing the road to get to the river. Traffic slowed to a halt or slow crawl as bison blocked the road or people gawked at the bison along the side of the road, everyone trying to get that perfect picture. At one point we shut off the car engine and just waited. No worries. We had plenty of time and enjoyed watching all the bison around us. Much later in the day we passed through the area again and most of the bison were gone. One lone bison slowly sauntered down the middle of the road blocking our lane of traffic. There was nothing to do but follow him and wait for him to move. He was headed home after a long hard day entertaining crazy tourists. We had about ten cars in front of us and traffic was piling up behind us. One driver behind us blew his horn. He was too far away for the bison to care and just annoyed others patiently waiting. He is the kind of tourist who should never come to Yellowstone in July. Eventually, when the bison was good and ready he left the road and wandered up the hillside and began grazing and we were once again on our way! We have already posted lots of bison pictures in previous posts so we won’t post too many here.
We stopped at Tower Falls and while we were there a small bear walked across the patio area of the gift shop/general store. A dog barked, scared it and it ran off into a grassy area. The grass was so tall we could barely see him, not close enough to get a picture. Later in the day we came upon a bear jam with a mother bear and her cub digging up and eating grubs along the side of the road.
A smaller pronghorn jam occurred later. Pronghorn are similar to antelope.
We created our own bald eagle jam. Bill spotted a bald eagle perched on a rock. Another eagle circled overhead. As cars noticed us stopped and Bill with his camera, more cars stopped and pulled over. Before long we had an eagle jam!
During our time in Yellowstone we also saw elk, moose and even a beaver!