Day 1 - Saturday, May 26, 2001

Tower Falls & Calcite Springs
Saturday was our first "official" day in the park. As the rest of the family wasn't there yet, we decided to check out some of the waterfalls that required a hike (our theory being that once the little kids got there we wouldn't have a chance to do much hiking, we were right!). Our intention was to visit Tower Falls and Fairy Falls which both required a bit of a hike to get to. Tower Falls looked to be a short hike (1/2 mile) so we decided to start there before trying to tackle the 5 mile hike to Fairy Falls.
Tower Falls, from the upper viewing area The view of Tower Falls from the upper viewing area. A short (150 yds) walk from the visitor center. The Falls get their name from the tower-like rock formations to either side.
The view of the falls from the lower level, a 1/2 mile hike downhill, not too bad of a walk, but the climb back up about killed Mom and I, we decided we were definitely not in shape for a 5 mile hike, no matter how pretty Fairy Falls was supposed to be! Tower Falls, lower view
Tower Creek - looking south As we headed back up the trail, the trees opened up enough to get this view of the creek. Very pretty area, lots of evidence left behind of how high the creek got during spring run off.
Tower Creek - I was really intrigued by the log left high and dry on the boulder, evidence of how high the creek must have gotten earlier in the year. Tower Creek
View from Lower Tower Falls area As we climbed back up the trail, the path opened up to a small sitting area where we had a great view of the surrounding hillsides. I was struck by all the burned trees and all the new saplings rising up to replace what was lost.
More of the burned area. At first glance one was struck with the thought of how devastating the fires of '88 were, but then you notice all the new growth coming up and you realize that you're seeing views that were never seen prior to the fires, and you wonder at the marvel of Mother Nature. View from Lower Falls area
Tower Falls burn More of the burn, this area hadn't recovered as much as the others, probably because it wasn't burnt at bad and the sun didn't reach the forest floor as strongly, thus preventing a lot of the new growth seen in other areas.
My mom and step-dad coming down the path...
step-dad's feeling a bit ornery!
Mom and Mike
Opportunists Once we reached the top of the path again, we all decided that we deserved ice cream, as we were enjoying our cones, we were entertained by these two opportunists! The raven was especially entertaining, he was so proud of himself! The little ground squirrel didn't last as long, he just wasn't as brave as the raven. (BTW, I am now officially hooked on Moose Tracks Ice Cream!)
Same Raven, thought this was a nice picture of him... Same Raven
Tower Creek While the rest of the group finished their ice cream, Brittany and I walked over to the road where we got this view of Tower Creek before it hit the falls.
A closer view of the creek. I thought this one might make nice computer wall paper and I was right, it's very nice as wall paper! I'll be creating a Desktop theme with it in the not too distant future. Tower Creek 2
Once we all finished our ice cream, used the potties, and caught our breath from that hellacious climb back up the trail, we piled back into the Explorer and headed back towards camp, planning on taking our time and checking out any of the sights along the way.
One of the first stops we made was the Calcite Springs Overlook, the cliff formations were incredible. They call this type of formation "organ pipes", for obvious reasons. Calcite Springs Cliff Formation
Calcite Springs Looking back West from the Springs overlook at Crystal Creek.
After stopping at Calcite Springs we mosied our way back to camp. Not really expecting to stop again we were nonetheless curious about all the cars parked at the side of the road, much to our delight everyone had stopped to look at a Black Bear sow and her two cubs! Bear Cubs
Mama Bear I believe this is Mama Bear. I was taking pictures with the sun shining directly on me so they didn't turn out all that well. This is actually the best of the lot and even then I had to adjust the contrast and brightness after I scanned it in. Believe me though, just seeing this little family was such a thrill!

After the bears moved off where we could no longer see them, we all piled back in the car and returned to camp to await the arrival of my brother Michael and his family. My youngest brother, Clinton, wasn't expected until late that evening. We had a terrific dinner, and then hung out at the campfire getting caught up with everyone. Clinton finally made it shortly after dark, bringing a whole truckload of firewood! No worries about finding wood for the campfire anymore! We all decided to try and get a good night's sleep as we planned on tackling Old Faithful the next day...
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