When we checked in at the front desk we inquired about activities for the week. I thought the kids might have overwhelmed the young gal at the front desk, talking over each other with questions about riding, rafting, s'mores and more, but she seemed totally unfazed and lined us all up with activities.
The days flew by in a whirlwind of activity. We enjoyed rafting, a trip to Cody for some shopping and the nightly rodeo, and a couple of day trips to the main sights of Yellowstone. Mike and the kids spent several mornings reeling in trout on the north fork of the scenic Shoshone River, giving me a chance to sleep in and catch up on some reading on the porch of our cabin. One memorable morning my reading was interrupted by a bison scratching an itch against a picnic table in front of the lodge.
One evening, we signed up for a horseback ride and cookout for a real taste of the Old West. Our wrangler, Buck, entertained us with jokes and his knowledge of the area along the way. As we came up over a ridge we saw a grizzly bear several ridges over digging for grubs. Buck let us stop for photos when we were at a safe distance. We were thrilled and couldn't wait to brag to our friends about the sighting!
Another one of the highlights of our vacation was our hike to Avalanche Peak. The trail was short but steep, gaining more than 2,000 feet of elevation in about 2½ miles. The first part of the trail traversed a thick forest of white pine trees. Knowing this was one of the best places in the park to spot grizzly bears, we carried bear spray and attached jingle bells to Mike’s shoes. He led the way, the kids walked behind him and I followed, last in line.
We caught our breath as we watched a moose and her wobbly-legged calf munching on some leaves on the other side of the stream. After taking a few pictures of the animals, I turned my camera on the kids and captured a few candid shots of all of them together.
As the trail continued to climb, we emerged from the trees and saw a high alpine bowl still holding several patches of snow, dotted with a few tiny wildflowers brave enough to grow at this altitude. I was taking photos when one of the kids threw a snowball, hitting me in the back of my neck—it was on!
We began the final hike to the peak following the trail over large rocks to reach the top. As we approached, the sweeping views of Yellowstone Park left all of us speechless for a moment. One of the kids finally broke the silence asking if the jagged mountains in the distance were the Tetons.
“Yep,” Mike said, "Just think we were hiking there just a few days ago, and there's Yellowstone Lake and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Look how magnificent it all looks from here!"