Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yellowstone Part 3: A Day in the Park

(To get caught up, read Part 1 and Part 2)

Monday: This was our first real day in the park. Me, being the tour guide, had decided that since we were staying in the north end of the park it would be smart to see the north end first.

See that brown thing sticking up that all the people are walking towards? That's a petrified tree. I know, you're speechless...

This is pretty much what the north end of the park looks like. Some nice vistas... and a lot of dead trees from the fires of 1998.

Tower Falls

There was a really cool hike to the bottom of the falls (and I was hoping to get some good pictures this time since last time (on my old manual camera) I didn't have the settings right and overexposed them all) but the trail was washed out. Bummer.

But we did hike down at least to the Yellowstone River that this falls/creek dumps into. The river really is that gorgeous green color!

Lunch time took us to another overlook where Cory found lots of dirt to play in...

If you can, notice the expressions on both Brian's and Cory's faces match in each of these pictures.
And yes, we do have our son on a leash. You would too if you were going to a place with huge drop offs and boiling ground!

Mama went across the street to take pictures of the fields of yellow daisies...

This is from the hillside of daisies, you can see the cars parked in our lunch spot and if you click on the picture and look below the arrow you will see a flat topped mountain (squint really hard ;). That is called Avalanche Peak. It's on the eastern edge of the park and has a gorgeous view out over Lake Yellowstone. It's also a 2 mile hike almost straight up to get there. I did it... once!

This parking area is also a really great spot to watch a sunrise!

And in case you were wondering, yes, it was very windy.

This photo is looking north and you can see all the burned dead trees behind me.

Yellowstone River at the Calcite Springs overlook. That hillside to the left of the river is steaming with vents letting out sulfurous fumes!

Three bumps on a log? Kidding!

The very crazy rock formations just across the river canyon. Those are full grown trees so you can tell how tall that rock wall thing is. (it looks better if you click on the picture to see it big)

Last "stop" was a drive out the northeast part to see what wildlife could be found. There is a herd of bison in this picture (trust me, there is!). They were all just kind of chillin' out in the field.

This was the sum total of wildlife we saw on day 1. Well, other than the lone antelope in the morning and the antelope that the other car saw just after the bison. We missed it somehow and then couldn't find a turn around to go back and see it.

On the ride back to Mammoth, Brian had given Cory a long piece of grass with the fuzzy bit on the end that looks like wheat. He was trying to get him to tickle Grandpa's ear from the back seat. Instead Cory ended up tickling Grandma's nose and at her reaction laughing and giggling hysterically. Tickle nose, watch for reaction, laugh. Repeat. For about 10 minutes! At least he's happy giddy when he's tired and it made all the rest of us laugh, too!

After dinner we had a short time to walk around the terraces at Mammoth. This is where the Mammoth Hot Springs are. The hot water forms these terraces by leaving the minerals in the water behind. I believe it's mostly forms of calcium.

This white terrace is because there is no more water running over this part. If there were water it would be colored (like the picture 2 below). Interestingly enough the terraces were really pretty colorless. I was surprised at how much they had changed since I had been there 6 years ago. Back then there was a LOT more color everywhere.
Just goes to show how the park is always changing. One water system gets plugged up and the water comes out somewhere else and forms a new terrace (one part of the path was closed from overflow that hadn't been there before either).
Every day there are hundreds of tiny earthquakes in the park - it is the caldera and slopes of a giant volcano, which is where all the thermal features come from. These earthquakes are always moving things around so you really never know where the next hole in the ground will be!

Moon over a "dead" terrace

Here's what the terraces look like with water flowing over them. The water is HOT and microbacteria live in it. They are colored and that is what makes the colors on the rock. When the water is gone the bacteria die (or flow with the water) so then the terraces are white.

Thus ended our first day in the park. Some people were thinking we had done too much and weren't really thrilled about seeing more "scenery". They didn't realize there was a lot more interesting stuff in the rest of the park, inside the actual caldera (crater) of the volcano!

1 comment:

  1. love the pics! awsome trip. I really like your narration on this one.


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