Hiking the South Rim
Friday, July 15, 2005: The South Rim Trail was first on today's activity list. Following the suggestion in the day hike book, I started at Wapiti Lake Trailhead. It's a short walk to the Chittenden Bridge. From there, I took the South Rim Trail. I ran across several fledging birds, mostly Robins and Juncos. It reminds me that the first time I saw young Juncos was on the east rim of the gorge in New York's Letchworth State Park. That time, I didn't know what to make of them until one of the parents showed up. This time, I knew. I also picked up my first Townsend's Solitaire of the trip, and then my second, which was a fledgling. I took a side trip down Uncle Tom's Trail (328 steps) for a waterfall view from well inside the canyon. Climbing back up, I returned to the South Rim Trail, following it past Artist Point for a half mile to the Lily Pond Lake junction. I did not continue the additional half mile to Point Sublime.
|Uncle Tom's Trail||Lower Falls||Yellowstone Gorge|
|Brink of the Lower Falls||Lower Falls|
|Lower Falls||Canyon and Washburn||Yellowstone Gorge|
Lily Pond Lake/Clear Lake Trail
As might be expected, Lily Pond Lake has many water lilies. The trail past Lily Pond ends at the Ribbon Lake/Clear Lake Trail, which I took to Clear Lake. On the way, it goes through a thermal area. It's a different experience to visit such an area without the security of boardwalks. Clear Lake is an acid lake, and the book warns not to try to swim there. When you exit the forest, you cross a meadow to a view of the Hayden Valley, then a sagebrush field to the Wapiti Trailhead. There was one little problem: a buffalo was rolling around right next to the trail. Fortunately, he moved off before I had to find a detour.
|Lily Pond Lake||Thermal Features|
Pelican Creek & Lake Butte
After 5 1/2 miles on the rim, it was time to do a little driving. I visited Pelican Creek where a Virginia Rail flew over the marsh. I made several stops along the lake as I headed for Lake Butte. What a surprise when I got there! I didn't know the area had burned in 2003. Last time, I found Western Tanager and Steller's Jay. This time I found many Flickers. But wait, is that really a Flicker tapping? No. It's a female Three-toed Woodpecker! I'd only seen this species once before, in Alaska.
|Pelican Creek||Yellowstone Lake||Wildflowers|
Corvids at Gull Point Drive
Then I reversed course, stopping for lunch at at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Afterwards, I continued southwest to Gull Point Drive. On impulse I drove into the picnic area where I found Gray Jay and Clark's Nutcrackers (with youngsters being fed).
|Gray Jay||Clark's Nutcracker|
After a rest at Canyon, I went to the north rim. I again parked at the Wapiti Lake Trailhead, but this time I crossed the Chittenden Bridge and followed the North Rim Trail to the Brink of Lower Falls Trail. I'd previously walked the segment from there to Lookout Point. Next, I went to Otter Creek where I found a River Otter, my 25th mammal species of the trip. After dinner, I tried unsuccessfully for Great Gray Owl at Cascade Meadows.
Birds: 149. Mammals: 25.