Friday, June 08, 2007

Yellowstone- Geothermal regions

After making my way through bison-jams, I took the Firehole canyon scenic drive, which takes you through an extensive geothermal area, by cascades and waterfalls. A very nice drive :). The bison just take over the roadway, aren't going to move for anybody or anything, and move along at their own slow and deliberate pace. They tease you by starting to move off the roadway, changing their mind and coming back out before you have a chance to get by. With calves in the group, I gave the males who were taking up the rear plenty of room, lest they felt threatened. I saw a couple of them cross the river this morning, and would see this a couple of more times in my visit. I'm sure they would use a bridge if one were available :)
After a stop at Fountain Paint Pot and seeing Fountain Geyser erupt, I made it back to Old Faithful just in time to see it go off again. I did the loop trail through all of the geothermals here, and was lucky enough on my drive out to see Beehive geyser go off. There is so much more here than just geysers. The pools are spectacular in the coloration or hues of the water and the Thermophiles (microorganisms) add sharp contrasts to the pools and surrounding terrain. This would be evident in all the basins that I visited.
In backtracking towards Madison, I walked the boardwalks at Biscuit (mystic falls trail closed to bear management) and Midway geyser basins. Midway features Excelsior Geyser pouring thousands of gallons of steaming water into the firehole river, and Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest within the park. There were a couple of eagles flying at midway which added to the thrill. To top things off, there was a sandhill crane at work out on Whiskey Flats.
Intentionally making camp early, I took a walk along the river and explored the general area. Back at camp, the day went sour :( I will not go into all the details of the evening here, mainly because I am embarrassed by my actions in response to... a women walking her dog smack dab through the middle of my camp, and allowing it to pee on my firewood. Good grief! Gotta love developed camping...Anyways, by far my worst experience since being out on the road.

As I made my way up to Mammoth Hot Springs the next day, I had to deal with iffy weather all day. Still, I managed to take in Gibbons Falls and then to Norris Geyser Basin. I have read accounts that this is the most interesting geothermal area of the park. Rain forced me to cut short my walk, and I will probably do the whole thing when I come back through. Roaring Mountain is a steaming hillside just off the road that had erupted in the past. I looked hard for the significance of Obsidian Cliff, but, sorry, I was just not impressed. Now Sheepeater Cliffs struck me as far more interesting. Columns of basalt have sheared from the cliffs, and it is similiar in appearance to Devils Postpile (at least from the pics I have seen). The Golden Gate is a narrow canyon that the road follows and features Rustic Falls. Both the pioneers and modern road buiders had to be creative in creating the route through the gate :).

Once into the mammoth area, I explored but the upper and lower terraces. Fascinating, but I could not duplicate the photo quality that you usually see of the terraces...

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