Other places and visiting the USGS cam site

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:42:22 04/02/16

In Reply to: You got it right, BP posted by Granite Head

Granite Head,

Over the years, I have occasionally monitored cell signal in Yellowstone, particularly via older technology cell phones (pre-smart phone), that featured high visibility signal monitoring. One somewhat surprising discovery was having signal on the road as I drove down the hill from Round Prairie to the Trout Lake trailhead. I have found signal in there repeatedly. It has to be coming off Mt. Washburn.

I've had lengthy cellular conversations from numerous locations in Hayden Valley, including off-trail areas in the extreme west end. That is likely signal coming from Mt. Washburn as well.

I have also found good signal at Lake Butte, but it has varied considerably over the years. That is likely an indication that the cell site is quite a ways off, and the signal is manipulated by environmental variables.

Cell signal between Canyon and Norris is another on again/off again variable, with a few select areas fairly reliable.

Another variable place is Swan Lake Flat, once you get south of Rustic Falls. Sometimes, you lose signal before you even get to Rustic Falls as you head south. Other times, you still have weak signal as far south as the Swan Lake area.

There are a number of little oddball patches along the Mammoth-Tower Junction road, some only 50 or 100 yards long, where somehow, signal arrives from either Mt. Washburn or the Elk Plaza cell site above Mammoth, even though it doesn't seem like there is line of sight.

A few folks know about the night I called Colette at the Tower Ranger Station to let her know we were going to bivouac in a remote area on the side of Cook Peak. It was around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m., and I expected to just leave a message. Wow, was I surprised when Colette answered the phone! I have no idea where that cell signal was coming from. We were well-shadowed from Mt. Washburn, and it's hard to imagine we could hit the Elk Plaza.

Regarding the USGS web cam, after John got that ermine photo, I decided to hoof it up to that cam site, just to check it out. I think it was a rather nice fall day. I remember calling one of my hiking buddies, either Bison or TimA., who had agreed to check the cam while I was there, and get a capture of my presence. One of our discoveries was that there was a fairly lengthy refresh interval, somewhere around 10 or 15 minutes, if I remember correctly. I was disappointed when they moved the cam over to Biscuit Basin, but now I use it, along with the other cams to check Yellowstone weather.


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