If you think that -20° is cold, get on a snowmobile. Brrrr! With the windchill factor, driving 40mph the temperature quickly becomes -57°. I was wearing a thermal bottom, snowboard pants, snow boots, two pairs of socks, a base layer, a top thermal, a fleece, a snowboard hoodie, snowboard jacket, a baklava, headband, beanie, scarf, glove liners, mittens, and seven warmers... and I was still cold. Regardless of the temperature we had such an amazing time. Riding snowmobiles in Yellowstone is a unique and spectacular experience. Today Josh is our guide.
The Steeles are taking over Yellowstone.
There are over 4,600 bison that live within the park. Males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and females 1,000 pounds. Death by bison is not uncommon in Yellowstone. They can be aggressive, agile, and can run up to 35 mph (this is faster than the fastest human). Although having them closer would be great for pictures, was not excited about driving past them on a snowmobile.
Hey look... its Raya! She was pulling out of Madison Junction (where the warming huts are located) right after we pulled up. (Josh and Raya have an interesting life.) We stopped at the warming huts yesterday with Raya on snowcoach, but this was mostly for coffee and a bathroom break, not necessity. The warming hut has two wood burning stoves. My bright red legs became pink; an improvement.
Josh is hardcore. I had no idea how difficult snowmobile guiding is. After 7 years, no wonder Raya switched over. It is almost not fun. Almost. It is right on the border of no fun and the most fun you have ever had. (I am sure the extreme temperatures are influencing my opinion.)
This is me driving.
This is me after I went off the road. It wasn't (/was) my fault!
Josh punched it and I was right behind him with a frozen face mask and almost no view, until the snowmobile started going at an angle from Josh and Fred. (Josh thinks I hit a rut.) As I was about to go off the road I tried to stop, and almost did, sitting on the edge of the road, until gravity took over. When it started to slide and tip over I rolled off, trying to avoid being crushed. My heart was racing. I thought we were going to have to wait for a tow truck. Except there are no tow trucks in winter time. With Josh's know-how, a rope, and lots of manpower we were able to free the snowmobile. I got right back on, but only to prove how tough I am. The rest of the time I couldn't wait to give the snowmobile back to Fred and sit safely and toughly on the back of Josh's snowmobile. Whatever, I wanted to take pictures anyway...
This was by far my favorite part of the drive. Hayden Valley covered with snow is unbelievable.
Yellowstone Lake is 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, and frozen.
Old Faithful round 2.
There are 3 million people that visit Yellowstone each year, the majority visiting during July and August. Throughout the entire winter (December through March) only 150,000 people visit.
Yep, Yellowstone in winter is like a different world.
130 miles of breathtaking views; life is good.