We woke up late at Old Faithful Snow Lodge this morning (around 8 AM). We had breakfast as it was very cloudy still and the light was not great.
As the light improved, we started photographing the geyser basin at Old Faithful. The light was not great and we stopped once it got too bright. We decided to go out and scout wildlife. It was a poor day for the wildlife that day. For whatever reason, people seemed especially belligerant towards the other animals.
At 12:30 PM, the highlight of my day occurred. We napped. The sun was high and we had just gotten off near the firehole river. When we awoke, there must have been 50 people simming in the waters there. Nice idea for the next trip.
At about 1:50 PM, 3 miles past Madison Junction (toward Canyon), we saw a group of 10 female elk and 2 relative newborns crossing the River. A little down the road, we saw two bull elk. We sat and watched them for about two hours. The audiences around the elk were a bit irritating and it was hard to do any decent photography with all of the people harassing the elk. We were located across the river from them, away from the rest of the folks who were watching/clapping at the elk. Eventually, they got bored and left. The elk then got up and I got some nice shots (coming).
At 5 PM, we encountered a cow elk and her baby. We sat with them for about 1/2 hour undisturbed until Momma went out to get some food in the creek. There were close to 50 people who then surrounded momma and baby. We melted into the background and got a ranger to help the cow with her baby. She was obviously feeling backed into a corner.
Last, at about 7:30, we sat with two other bulls, which we had initially thought were the same bachelors we saw earlier in the day. They had nicer racks though (pictures coming). Several tourists walked right up to the elk to take their pictures with their 35-105 mm digicams.
I have NEVER seen behavior this borish towards the other animals in the park. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised at how well everyone did considering how packed the park is. Today was just rough. It helped create a lot of stressed animals and I think that it makes photographing the wildlife more difficult. We DID get some nice shots though.
At 8:30 PM, the light in the Hayden Valley (on our way to Grant Village) was spectacular. The grasses all had a beautiful orange green. There were allegedly two grizzly's in the back, but they were so far out that one needed to resort to spotting scopes to see them.
That evening during the sunset, a powerful lightning storm occurred. I have some hand held shots of lightning crossing the river. Nothing really impressive as we were in a hurry to get to Grand Lodge. However, there WAS a double rainbow (well, one and a quarter, anyway) that we took at ISO 1600. Came out much better than I expected. It was a wild experience.
BTW, for folks who are interested, Grant Village Lodge is pretty nice. The restaurant was quite good - the best we had in the park. The next best was in Mammoth. Old Faithful was a disappointment on all counts.
The next day, we would go to Jackson (and my first internet connection in 4 days).