Yellowstone Adventure Journal: Tower Falls

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The second day of the trip was definitely more active and adventurous. I’m writing here at the end of it, despite that. I just didn’t feel like taking out my laptop while we were on the run. It’s hard now going back over everything in my head. Here’s what my memory says was important:

Breakfast was fantastic. It was McMuffins, which always reminds me of Christmas thanks to my family’s traditions. We were out and about in Yellowstone by eight or so. We started immediately on a quest for the various animals and plants from our list. Some of the geological features, too.

Closeup of an Antelope

Closeup of an Antelope


Sugarbowl

Sugarbowl

Some pretty birds flying.

Some pretty birds flying. Let me know if you can identify them!

Woodland Strawberry

Woodland Strawberry

A natural obelisk.

A natural obelisk.

A group of antelope.

A group of antelope.

Balsamroot

Balsamroot

Closeup of a coyote.

Closeup of a coyote.

I even got some video footage of that coyote. It was fewer than 30 yards away.

Of course, the most common animal we saw was the bison (as promised). They were amazing at first, but we were so swarmed by them by the end of the day that it no longer seemed worthwhile to take pictures of them. They were in herds, giant ones, with several dozen—maybe over a hundred—in some.

Closeup of a bison.

Closeup of a bison.

A bison herd.

A bison herd.

The mountains and rocks and hills scrawled, most in their sage color (many covered by sage, hardly an inch left without that clothing), some in darker greens or pines or naked rock.

One of the first major geological features we got to was Soda Butte. This rock formation was once a humble hot spring, but the calcium deposits built up over centuries—over millenia—and formed the stone hill we saw. There are places where the rock is still broken open and hot, sulfuric water bleeds out. Along the side of the butte, swallows have made nests.

Soda Butte

Soda Butte

Swallow nests at soda butte.

Swallow nests at soda butte.

After winding through the park for a while, we made it to Tower Falls. Less than a brief walk later we got to a bit of a store, and a brief walk from there we got to the lookout.

Tower Falls

Tower Falls

The waterfall was lovely, though it didn’t strike me in any significant way except for by being another beautiful part of a contiguous beauty. Bill (a member of our group) said that there had been a boulder at the top of the falls until about 8 years ago. They called it Tower Rock, and it had been there since at least when the first paintings of Yellowstone were drawn in the late 1800s. People were allowed to go up to it, sit under it and everything. It fell in the winter, so no one was crushed.

I told my first tall tale there. It was, apparently, one of Jim Bridger’s favorite stories to tell greener trappers when he met them. My rendition of it goes like this:

I was wandering these steep slopes a few years back when I caught sight of a Crow brave. Now, if you don’t know of Crow braves, let me tell you: They’re faster than antelope, stronger than bears—the sort of adversary that’ll chase the “brave” right out of you. Now, I saw him from a distance, and I figured I’d keep ambling on in a different direction, hoping he wouldn’t take any offense at my presence.

Well, he started following, and I figured he was none too happy about a white man being there with a white man’s rifle in land that the Crows called their own. So I hurried my pace, only to find another Crow brave approaching me from the other direction. I went faster down the slopes, but caught sight of a third Crow coming down after me. Then a fourth and a fifth. By then I was sprinting headlong away from them, trying to navigate these treacherous place as best I could.

Then, poor luck being what it is, I wound up right against a waterfall with no less than twenty Crow braves coming in on me. If I jumped, I would fall to my death. If I stayed, there was no way I could hope to prove a match for the enclosing braves….

[Here Bridger would stop his story and wait for one of the listeners to ask, "What happened then?"]

What happened? Why, they killed me!

Nice to feel I can entertain people a bit like that. Sometimes I forget that I really do enjoy performance.

As a note, I don’t have my medications here. Took my last half of a pill this morning, and I’ve no idea where the rest are. Maybe I just forgot to load up the ADD meds before leaving. It’s not a tough day for me, not really, but it will be tough this week.

In any case, exhaustion is likely to be the main bit tonight. Partial withdrawal’s going to get going tomorrow evening. Full withdrawal the morning after. I’m choosing to use this as an opportunity to use my lessons, my recent discoveries, my meditation—to see how well I can counteract the withdrawal with it. I’ll use coffee and energy drinks as I must to keep myself afloat. And this week was meant to have no mental stress, no need to focus hard and push through, so the consequences won’t be so bad. Maybe I’ll even discover something worthwhile.

 Next up: Mammoth Hot Springs