Monday, July 18, 2011

Great American Road Trip - Part 6

Norris/Tower-Roosevelt/Old Faithful

When planning excursions within our vacation I knew there was one which was a must, just for the joy it would bring one family member. Ava is a lover of animals like no other. She was given a summer of horse riding lessons as a birthday gift last year and was over the moon with glee. Horseback rides were offered in a couple of different locations on our route and we took advantage of the Roosevelt Corrals in the northern part of YNP.

Our first attempt at a ride was thwarted by heavy winds. When we were told the ride was being cancelled, this child, who ran ahead of us from the van to the corral, was a bit disappointed. I was glad we had time to reschedule it the next day. We were a part of a group of 20 riders and we were asked if we had ever been on a horse before and how experienced we were with horses. I was among the most experienced (Most had not even been on a horse before, lest you be too impressed.) and I felt utterly confident that I would be able to handle anything a ride for city dwellers would offer. However, this country girl was humbled by a belligerent horse who stopped to graze every time he lost interest in the trail, which was often. I nearly popped a blood vessel trying to wrestle him into submission throughout the ride.

These rock formations are called "hoodoos." Often hoodoos look like faces. These hoodoos aren't the best example of that characteristic, but they distinguished themselves be being very different from the surrounding smooth cliffside. The kids admired them from the comfort of the van, but Mike and I climbed around together for fifteen minutes or so.

Later Brooks and I had our own climbing adventure. The girls had been working toward getting their Junior Ranger badges and needed to attend a ranger-led lecture or activity. While they went to their lecture Brooks and I headed to the trails to get a great view of the Lower Falls, via "Uncle Tom's Trail." The original trail was forged by Tom Richardson in 1898 and now involves a few paved trails at the top and then a series of 300+ steel grate stairs which loses you more than 500 feet of altitude.

The trip down is easy and the trip up is difficult, for obvious reasons. I think I read somewhere that it was 350 steps down and 1025 steps up - when you factor in the extra effort at 8000 feet altitude. All I know is that, whatever direction we were headed, Brooks charged ahead and sighed mightily when I had to stop to rest.

We noticed a rainbow in the spray of the waterfall when we neared the bottom of the steps.

We had a beautiful view of the whole falls and some great bonding time for me and my boy. It was hard to climb back up, but the whole hike was done for us in about 45 minutes. It's manageable for people in reasonably good health and we recommend it to anyone planning to visit the park.

When we got back from our hike, the girls had completed their ranger lecture and thereby finshed all of the requirements to get their Junior Ranger badge. I was so glad that they did this activity. I knew Ava would enjoy the process, but I was pleased to see Sophie dig into it with the gusto she showed.

Here they are being solemn and taking the oath, promising to follow the rules of the park and to do what they could to preserve the parks throughout their lives.

Our friendly old ranger found a proper chapeau to preserve the moment in our photos.

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