Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yellowstone 2009 Day 4

Jun 17, 2009
*From The Archives

Yellowstone 2009 – Day 4

Ah, day four. Day four was the last day in our fancy hotel room. We woke up bright and early ran to the bank to get some cash to pay for our part of the hotel room. Then we said our goodbyes to the family as they went home and we went back into the park. We love Mammoth Hot Springs so we decided to head back up that a ways.

DSC_0441This is the Southern edge of the lower terraces. This, like a few more pics to come doesn’t quite capture what I saw. More on that later.

Mammoth Stitch2 Panoramic of the mound

This is Liberty Cap it is an extinct spring. I wonder what it must have looked like when it was active. There is a certain angle you can catch where there appears to be an old Indians face on this, I never seem to capture it the way I have seen it, but either way it is cool. (if you look real close you can kind of see it on the right hand side. My watermark is over where the eyes would be.)

DSC_0465 DSC_0466 DSC_0470 DSC_0472
DSC_0476DSC_0478 All of the above are at a location on the Northern tip of Mammoth called Palette Spring, I think.

DSC_0481 Not terribly pretty but interesting to me is this newly, or re-active area. Water is coming down this hillside and was not the past few years. Give it a while and it will be fairly pretty as well.

DSC_0485 This is the currently not active Minerva Terrace. I imagine it must’ve been beautiful when active, but it still has a wonderful beauty dormant.

Mammoth Stitch
Close-up Panoramic… can it still be referred to as a panoramic when it is vertical?

DSC_0489 From a little higher up.

After hiking around part of the lower terraces we decided to grab a bite to eat. While eating lunch in the car we saw a heard of elk make their way down the mountain side and through the parking lot we were eating in.

DSC_0506 DSC_0510 DSC_0512 It was thoroughly amusing watching the throngs of people rush out to chase them, and the ranger getting mad trying to remind people to stay 25 yards away. People seriously are stupid, and got wayyyy to close.

From there we worked our way up to the upper terraces.

DSC_0515 This is above Canary Springs

DSC_0517 Here is my new formed spring, barely 3 years old and its getting so big. I wonder if they have named it yet, as I have not seen anything. I just call it my new spring. I have been watching this slowly grow over the years, and I will say it again, not only will they need to move the boardwalks, but in 10 years or so, this will be the thing to see at Mammoth.

DSC_0518 Again above Canary Springs. There is quite a bit of water this year.

DSC_0528 Canary Springs. I believe that little blue hole in the center is the source spring.

DSC_0543 This is the same spot I took a picture at last year and the spring was fully active here around these trees. I am both Intrigued, and traumatized by the extreme shift of water here. It moved a good 10 feet and parts that were dried up before are flowing, and flowing parts are now dried up and dead. Its fascinating.

DSC_0538 Like I said none of the pictures I took quite captured what I saw, but with the obvious switch of water, there appears to be a new, HUGE active spring in the side of the mountain. It is just GUSHING out of the side, faster than anything I had ever previously seen here at mammoth.

DSC_0562 DSC_0565 Piddy Colors

Field Guide Note: After the last few years of Yellowstone, and LOVING the Mammoth area here is what I have decided to be the best guide for this area. Depending on where you come from, lets say You came from Tower, start on the lower terrace near Liberty Cap and walk up to Palette Spring. Then, come back the way you came and up the trail to Minerva Terrace. Then, return to your car. Now go back up around the Mound to the Upper Terrace Drive. Stop at the first Lower Terrace lookout and take the trail south towards Canary Springs. Walk all the way down to the end of Canary Springs (its not far, quarter mile at most) and then back. Get back in your car and complete the upper terrace loop. (if coming from the other direction, or from Norris, follow in reverse) Currently, this is all there is to see at Mammoth. This should save wasted time walking the maze of boardwalks around dead terraces that aren’t really worth seeing. (trust me, I saved you at LEAST an hour if not 3*(Please keep in mind that Mammoth Hot Spring, like all the other geothermal areas in Yellowstone is a dynamically changing area, and that by fully exploring you may see something I have not, this is just my guide by what I have already experienced.)) and by the way, EAT HERE. Last place to get real food before Tower Junction or West Yellowstone, and its one of the cheapest places to eat.

DSC_0582 On the way back from mammoth I kept seeing these fields of this unknown bush. I finally made Landis pull over and this is what I caught, not as great as what I saw driving by, but still pretty.

DSC_0584 Again, on the way back we decided to drop by Norris real fast to see if Steam Boat decided to be active for us. This… has a name and I can’t remember it right now.

DSC_0585 And here is Steam Boat Geyser. Still as active as it was last year, but no major eruption.

DSC_0591 I had to get at least one Forest Through The Trees image.

DSC_0594 Baby Buffalo being cute

DSC_0597 A herd of buffalo stops traffic. One of the cool, yet annoying things about Yellowstone is that the Buffalo are not as stupid as they appear. The know the road is the easiest way to get from point a to b, and they use it quite frequently, whether alone, or to move the entire herd. And I tell you, you have no choice but to either wait for them to move to one side, or slowly follow them down the road.

DSC_0602 It is rather interesting the way mommy and daddy will keep the youngins between them as they pass the cars. Lucky for us the herd was mostly traveling on the other side of the road and we only had to wait a few minutes for people to snap pictures… the people on the other side however were not so fortunate and it was obvious this herd had taken up the road for a while now. I was rather annoyed when I heard some jerk screaming noises at them. Go back to Arkansas you yahoo!

DSC_0606 Throughout the entire trip I kept seeing flooded meadows reflecting the surrounding mountains and of course this triggered the photographer in me. By the time I finally decided to make Landis pull over this was the best I caught. Its still pretty, but not what I saw. It’s absolutely interesting to me, that even though it rained a lot this trip, what was flooded the first time I passed, was not the next day. I remember a place near mammoth that was so flooded I wondered what this random bridge was doing in a pond, the next day it was a tiny creek beneath it.

Meh. Overall this was not my favorite trip to Yellowstone probably due to several factors. Been there every year for a few years, too many people, the issues but I still love it here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yellowstone 2009 Day 3

Jun 12, 2009
From The Archives:

Yellowstone 2009 day 3.

Considering we were less 1 car of the caravan, day 2 was an even worse nightmare caravan wise. After breakfast, and a weird moment of my dad WATCHING me smoking… Ok, side note, so I am not so delusional that I think I am hiding my smoking habit from my folks. I know they know I smoke. I just choose not to do it in front of them. But I go out for my morning smoke with my coffee, and Calvyn (my nephew) is playing with the door again, so my dad goes out on the porch, without my knowledge. SO here I am, in the parking lot, smoking, when I realize my dad is on the porch, basically watching me. Grrr.

Anyway, side note aside; we had decided to hit Firehole drive and then Old Faithful today. I remember specifically attempting to clarify with my mom. Firehole Lake drive? Or the Fire Hole River? (These are 2 completely different similarly named drives) And I don’t recall exactly if she said Firehole River Drive, and I inferred, or she clarified Firehole Lake Drive… either way I assumed we would meet up at Firehole Lake drive.

After getting in to the park and hitting real speeds we heard and thumpittythump and saw something bounce off the back of the car. After some deliberation I realized that I, after breaking one of my cardinal rules, had left my shades on the car. I have a rule of NEVER EVER setting anything on the roof of the car because you will forget it. I broke it today, and lost my shades. Poo!

After that we arrive to Firehole Lake Drive.

DSC_0300 Really cool coloring near a hot spring that the name is currently escaping me.

DSC_0302 Aforementioned spring.

Great Fountain Geyser

DSC_0318 Close-up of the actual geyser opening.

GFC Stitch Panoramic of Great Fountain Geyser.

This geyser is freaking huge.I have some new software that allows me to more easily put together panoramic photos that I have been playing with. I love some of the end results.

DSC_0326 White Dome Geyser – I actually got to see it erupt this year!

Copy of DSC_0327 Yellow Monkey Flower.

Before leaving Landis had read something in one of the various guides the park or hotel gave us about this Yellow Monkey Flower and set out to find one. Known to grow near hot springs, this one was near white dome. I cropped a close up to show the detail. It is supposed to resemble a monkey’s face… I’m not seeing it. Its pretty and all, and now that we knew what we were looking for they are like… EVERYWHERE in Yellowstone, but yea.

DSC_0331 Unnamed spring.

I wanted to include this one because I am just fascinated by the geothermal plumbing. As you can see the upper spring is draining into the lower one… which isn’t draining anywhere, so it must be doing so underground into the big cave to the right I imagine.

DSC_0342 Hot Rapids

DSC_0347 Lotsa Yellow Monkey Flowers

From there we moved on to Fountain Paint Pots. When we got there I desperately needed to pee so I went to the scary outhouse thingies they had here. There was a line for the 2 toilettes. A father let her girl into the right side, and a woman went into the left side I was next. A couple seconds later the woman rushed out screaming about a mouse in there. I made sure the father wasn’t waiting to go then went in. I’m fine peeing in the same room as a mouse.. However I never did see this mouse, but I did over hear the crazy woman warning everybody else who came to the line about it… LOL.

DSC_0350 Fountain Paint Pots itself.

You can just make out a sloop of mud I caught plooping up. It’s kind of cool.

DSC_0355 This is the geyser we passed the year before to see Clepsydra. I believe it is called Jelly Geyser but am not 100% on that.

DSC_0361 Clepsydra Geyser.

I still really like clepsydra. It’s hard to photograph, but it’s pretty. I was starting to get irritated with all the people. Last year, the park was fine. This year, crowded as hell. I was getting anxious with the mossiers, and the fact that we still hadn’t met up with the rest of the group and started passing people as opportunities presented themselves. Landis got mad and said he wasn’t willing to attempt to keep up with me if I was going to run around like a mad man. Valid point, but I do have to say later in the day he ate those words. Hehe.

After that we moved on to the Upper Geyser Basin. (FYI Folks This is one of the few places in within the park where you will have a good cell signal so we called Jay to find out where they were, and believe it or not they were here!) We parked and decided we needed to eat so we went to the Geyser Grill (ladies and gentlemen I present the 2nd most affordable places to eat in the park) had some food and worked our drama out. Combination of too many people, irritation on missing the caravan, and low blood sugars.

Then we went to see when the predictable Geysers would erupt. I again took the opportunity to ask a ranger about Lonestar Geyser which I had planned on hiking down to this year. Apparently the trail was still snowed out I was informed people were still skiing down to it. Okay, that’s out. So we walked out of the ranger station just in time for Old Faithful to start its eruption.

DSC_0371 Other than the peoples heads, this is a great picture of Old Faithful.

This picture kind of helps illustrate just how many people were here. For hells sake. I was entertained by the cheering and clapping afterwards, like it was a planned fireworks show or something. Hehe. But then again, how many other acts of nature are cheered and applauded for? Good Show. After it erupted we started walking against the crowd to the lodge and ran into my parents.

DSC_0375 I believe this is Beehive Geyser erupting in the distance.

If it’s not Beehive its one very close by. As I talked with my folks I called Jay again to see where they were. They were sitting and waiting for Grand Geyser to erupt. I informed them it may go off right now, or it make take an hour or two and they should come back. Exactly one minute later we see this:

DSC_0377 Grand Geyser erupts in the distance.

I tried to call my brother back to tell him to turn around, he didn’t answer. From there my parents, Landis and I decided to walk down to Grand Geyser and meet up with Jayson and Hitomi. Coming up to a split in the path my parents told us to run ahead and find them as they were slowing us down. So we did. We finally met up with Jay and Hitomi just as we got to Grand which had stopped erupting at that point. Of Course. I found out that they did turn around and watch it which was good because I was feeling guilty.

DSC_0384 This is one of the Lioness geysers and the Old Faithful Lodge in the background.

DSC_0389 Beehive Geyser

DSC_0390 DSC_0393 Geyser that is named but is escaping me right now. Above image is it going off, below is when we got closer and it was drained.

DSC_0397 Pretty blue spring shaped like a crow.

DSC_0399 Pretty Runoff

DSC_0401 Inside the Old Faithful Lodge. It is so difficult to capture the grandiosity of this lodge. It’s huge and beautiful.

After that we all grabbed some food and ice cream as with different interests parted ways again. Landis and I decided to follow the lower loop east towards Yellowstone Lake.

Keplar Cascades

DSC_0408 Isa Lake – Not as pretty when it’s still frozen solid. This is a cool, tiny lake that has the unusual distinction of draining into both sides of the continental divide, i.e. draining into both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. Due to this being frozen and the amount of snow we decided to head back the way we came from here and possibly hit Midway before the weather completely turned on us.

Midway Stitch Panoramic shot of a random pull out near Midway Geyser Basic.

DSC_0415 This is a lower view of Grand Prismatic Spring. With the people walking next to it and the steam you can get a general idea of just how big this thing is.

DSC_0418 Excelsior Geyser Crater

DSC_0426 Grand Prismatic Spring – Steamy

DSC_0429 DSC_0430 Cool runoff patterns from Grand Prismatic

DSC_0431 Excelsior’s Crater from afar.

Again to give a sense of size. This area is probably the only board walked path that makes me super nervous. Only because the boardwalk has one way in and out that goes right next to Excelsior’s crater, which blew out in the 1800’s, and has been dormant for a very long time, and had a small active period in the 80’s. But it is the world’s tallest geyser when it is active. Also, the boardwalk is obviously going over a very big hot spot with several of the worlds biggest hot springs all condensed right here. If something were to go wrong the natural instinct would be to run the way you came in, but again only trail out is next to the biggest geyser, AND has a bridge over a swift moving river. The mountains towards the other end are probably the safer bet, but how much thin crust is between there and the mountains?

Run off from Excelsior

After this the rain really picked up and chased us and hundreds of other visitors that apparently were also staying in West Yellowstone out of the park as during a pounding storm we dealt with a huge traffic jam out of the park.
When we got back to our cabin, beating the rest of the family, I had a weird hankering for soup. So we went to the local grocery store and picked up some soup and rolls. Did some minor window shopping in the rain and saw the family come back into town. So we headed back to the cabin, and find out they want to do dinner and ask us to join. Sure… we can eat this soup later.

Here comes again another communication issue. My mom tells us we are going to eat at the Short Line Restaurant, but she wants to stop by this gift shop first. The one we happened to be at when we saw them come in. Great, meet ya there. We get there, spend 10 minutes waiting, they don’t show. So we walk around the block a few times and don’t find them. We finally get in the car and have a smoke waiting for them to call, no call. We decide screw it and start heading back so I call and they say they are at the nearby book store. So we go back and we park and we head to the bookstore, they aren’t there. Then I remember there is another book store so we walk down further and finally run into my dad. Apparently it was not a miscommunication, we had the right store, they just decided to make a few pit stops on the way. Oi.

So we all meet up again, hang out in the gift shop for what seems like forever then finally go to dinner. We were worried about getting lost and separated again so we asked exactly where to go, and it came up that my dad, with his bad knee probably shouldn’t walk back all the way to where they parked and we were right there, so he rides with us. I apologize in advance because I know my car smells of stale cigarette smoke. He says its fine he doesn’t care, but it does smell like cigarette smoke. Thanks dad. Hehe.

We arrive to the restaurant which has a fully furnished old school train inside. It was like a living snapshot of the past, and I wish I brought my camera because it was really cool walking through the old train cars. Although, it moved, a lot with us walking through and I am unsure if it was motion sickness, claustrophobia, or a combination of the two but I started getting very dizzy in it. So we sit down to dinner, and I tell you what this was an expensive restaurant. So I just get a burger, and OH MY GAWD this was absolutely the best burger I have ever had in my entire life.

After dinner we head back to the hotel. During dinner I had called the shower as we had discovered hot water was in short supply here, but mom beat me to a bath. So Jayson, Hitomi, my Dad Landis and I stayed up and played a card game. Burnt out, and over “hiding” drinking beer from my dad I just drink it, rather than pour it into a glass. He knows I drink beer, I know he knows, maybe I am a terrible son, I just didn’t care about hiding it, or insulting his intelligence anymore. He never did say anything. So he finally goes to bed, and Jayson and Hitomi decide to join me in the beer drinking and we bond for a bit.