We woke up to bright sunshine which was nice after a night in cabins and we gathered everything up before getting back in the van. Before we got on the road properly we stopped off at another area of...

Cody, Wyoming:
We stopped at the Old Trail Town which is a collection of buildings and artefacts from the late 1800s showing the wild west of America. 

Cody and this area was founded by Buffalo Bill and others during this time. We went into the buildings that showed the Wyoming frontier. We also saw the graves of some of the founders and the Cody family. This felt a lot more authentic frontier America than 1880 Town in South Dakota. It took you back to the real wild west.
Whilst here we could see the Rocky Mountains in the distance, I did not realise we would see these on this trek so that was very exciting!

After getting back in the van and driving for a while with great green and sunny scenery we arrived in...

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming:
As we drove into yellowstone you could see blackened trees covering large areas and Jake explained how they had lots of wildfires. It is amazing to see the natural landscape blackened and in some places as ash. It was at this point I released how small we are, yellowstone seemed huge as we drove into it, you could see for miles.

As we drove further  there seemed to be a traffic jam and as we got closer we passed bison just casually walking down the road slowly, we were in their territory now. This encounter made us all realise we were in the animals area and not the other way around, knowing we needed to respect the national park as we explored it. There are reminders everywhere about not leaving litter and other ways to respect nature which everyone who visited was following.
We were all looking forward to yellowstone as we would encounter lots of animals in the wild you just wouldn't see in the UK. We were all hoping for bear sightings, we were in Yogi Bear country after all!

We pulled into a area by a Yellowstone Lake, and hopped out the van to take in our first views of yellowstone not through a window. The Lake was huge and you could see snow capped mountains in the distance, and this was just one small area of yellowstone. As far as you could see was all part of yellowstone, yellowstone crosses the boundaries of three states, it is huge.

After getting our first experience of off the beaten track toilets involving a toilet just over a hole in the ground and an alcohol gel soap I really felt like we were properly in the wilderness of America!
We got back in the van and drove on further passing more bison. Every time we saw a group of animals Jake would stop the van so we could hop out and get a better look, it felt like being in a David Attenborough documentary and I was loving it already.

We got to a large parking area at Uncle Tom's Point and Jake explained a bit more about yellowstone. We were going to go on our first hike of the trek but, we were warned about packing away all food so nothing was visible and it was all wrapped up as bears had been known to come up to vans and cars and break windows to get at food. Jake warned that if this happened whoever's food it was would be responsible for the cost of the rangers and park staff that would have to shoot the bear to make the area safe! A dire warning and causing paranoia to ensue about this every time we stopped.
We all got a newspaper with info about the park and a park map which the rangers had given Jake on the way into the park. This was great as we could see exactly how big the park was and the area we were in. Park seems like the wrong word for this place though, this National Park seemed bigger than the south of England.

We all got organised with raincoats, and our bags with cameras and snacks for lunch that we would eat on our hike and made sure we had water.
Although it didn't seem hot after we started walking you could feel the muggy heat and the altitude started playing into how hot it was.
A couple of the group decided to turn back to the van after a while. I knew the hike would be a bit tough for me but I kept on going. We walked for miles, passing Clear Lake and it got really tough for me when it got steeper. 

I was at the back for most of the hike but I was happy to take it more at my own pace and could see the group further up, another trekker kept me company even though she could walk at a quicker pace so it was nice to have a hiking buddy. By going a bit slower we got to really take in the scenery and boy was the hike worth it. When we came out of a clearing in the trees the views were amazing. We were in an area known as the Gand Canyon of Yellowstone. We were very high up and had an amazing view of the yellow rock and yellowstone river at the bottom of the valley. 

With trees and mountains in the distance this landscape was like something i'd only seen in films before. We stopped for a while to regroup and take in the views and then walked further along the edge towards an area where you could see an amazing waterfall in between the yellow rock. We stopped in at Artists Point, a viewing area for the waterfall, and saw the camping trek group, they had hiked in the other direction and we had all met up!

We ate some of our lunches and had a while here then made our way onwards to the van. Jake drove the trekkers that had turned back up to an area to get a view of the waterfall, the rest of us sat at the edge of the car park and ate the rest of our lunch.
Photo: Matt Nattrass

TOP TIP: If you've never really hiked like me, make sure you take enough water and a few snacks for the hike. As it was cloudy none of us took enough water and I think this is what made me struggle with this hike in places. You will get warm walking and with the altitude keeping hydrated is essential.

We all got back in the van and Jake drove us to another area of Yellowstone.

We arrived in a geyser area, Norris Geyser Basin. It is a geothermal area which is one of the oldest and hottest in yellowstone.
We walked on the boardwalk around the Porcelain Basin Trail first, while the rest of the group went ahead, me and my hiking buddy took our time to look at some areas in more detail. It was 1/2 a mile loop.

By now it was very cloudy so the colours of the springs weren't as vibrant as they would be in the sun which was a bit of a let down but there were still some vivid blues and greens that looked amazing and mysterious within the cloudy landscape.

After loosing the rest of the group we went over to the Back Basin Trail and followed the longest loop distance that was 1 1/2 miles.

By now the sun had poked through the clouds a bit so we got to see some brighter colours, although the smell of sulphur and the noises the sloshing mud and water made were very interesting. The steam coming from some of the hot springs also meant we didn't get a great view of some. We saw the rest of the group half way round as they had walked in the opposite direction to us. 

We took our time taking a slow walk, it was nice to explore without being rushed, as the hike earlier had felt more rushed trying to keep up with the group. We had realised we both preferred a slower pace for hikes and walks to most of the group, partly due to my numerous photo taking so decided we would stick together in other National Parks and not rush to keep up with everyone else to get a better experience. Theres nothing wrong with walking faster, if you can take it all in, but if I was trying to keep up with the others' pace I would be focusing on my feet and not the surroundings, it was nice to have someone else who wanted to hike in this way.

We got back to van and were all tired from the walking. Jake started the fairly long drive out of the park to where we would be staying for the next two nights...

West Yellowstone, Montana:
We had arrived in the tenth state of our trip even though we were only just over the state line it was still exciting to be staying in Montana. It was a shame not to be staying in Yellowstone itself, but that the nature of the Budget Lodging Tour trek, and hey, it meant we had added another state to our trek. We got checked into our rooms for the night at Yellowstone Cabins & RV, there were lots of large houses which had been split into guest rooms two at the bottom with entrances at either side of the building on the same on the top floor.

These rooms were really nice, they were large, had a large flatscreen tv two big double beds, a wardrobe and a wooden cladded ensuite with toilet sink and shower. It was nice to get our suitcases opened up properly and hang some bits up because we didn't have to vacate the next day.
We all had some time to ourselves and got freshened up and then headed out for dinner as a group.
We walked for a while along the main road and some of the group went elsewhere for dinner but the rest of us went into a small local restaurant, Gusher Pizza and Sandwich Shoppe. Most of the group shared pizzas, but I got a lovely, if not a little bit spicy bowl of chilli. After a chilled dinner we took a slow walk in smaller groups back to the cabins and it was nice to be walking in our flip flops in the sunshine, it was the perfect summer evening.

I reorganised my suitcase a bit better to fit in all the little souvenirs I had bought along the way. Which it was in desperate need of as it was so heavy and full to bursting, especially as I had bought some warmer clothes for the colder days and nights. I got showered and relaxed a bit, before getting an early night as we were having an early start tomorrow because the drive back into the areas of yellowstone we were going to would take a couple of hours and to be refreshed for an early morning hike...

ITINERARY (LISTED):                           Yellowstone NP - Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
ACCOMMODATION:                            Yellowstone Cabins & RV - West Yellowstone, Montana

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