*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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.