2013 Trip Four, Out West, June 4

Tuesday, June 4

We took a morning walk along Yellowstone Lake before breakfast. The day holds promise of not being as cold as Monday although one would certainly not call it warm.

Chris and I visited Yellowstone in January of 2009. It was a great trip with beautiful scenery but limited in its scope of viewing the whole park. That trip focused on the west and central part of the park.

This time we came in from the south and we have been viewing portions of the park not visited (or not remembered) from the previous trip. We never made it to West Thumb or the Lake Village area in 2009 so this is a new experience. It has been eye opening to realize that thermal features are not even present in numerous areas of the park, except underground.

Yellowstone has the world’s largest collection of thermal hotspots-geysers, mud pots, fumeroles (steam vents) and thermal springs. There are over 10,000. It sits on top of a volcano and magma is less than two miles beneath the surface here. Part of the park is within an ancient caldera, yes another caldera for us. We slept in a volcano last night! Earthquakes, of a minor nature, occur daily.

Bison on storm point walk

Bison on storm point walk

Storm point on Yellowstone Lake

Storm point on Yellowstone Lake

Our first ranger hike was to Storm Point on Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in the U.S. Yellowstone River is the longest free flowing river in the U.S. We are going to have to make a list of the longest, oldest, highest whatevers we have experienced during this trip.

The walk to Storm Point was more pleasant and an adventure in varying terrains. We came across bison and marmots but not much other wildlife. The day tried to warm up but was not very successful.

Lodgepole pines  in the forest

Lodgepole pines in the forest

We had a quick lunch at one of the park’s grills and met a couple from Buffalo, NY. He had been to many, many car shows at Carlisle and we exchanged remembrances. He also mentioned that Massey’s Ice Cream had been sold to Dickinson College and closed (site of the girls’ first summer job). The abandoned Masland Carpet plant burnt down also.
She had volunteered for numerous years at the Chautauqua in New York State, the inspiration of the program Chris initiated at St. Kates.

Our second ranger hike was to the Mud Volcano area. There were many non-geyser features here. One was called the Cooking Hillside. In the 1950s, a placid field suddenly had the temperature of the ground increase and the increased ground temperature started killing the trees. Soon after, a hot spring emerged. Now the spring is pleasant to observe and dead trees trunks remind you how nature can suddenly completely change an area.

Cooking Hillside

Cooking Hillside

Thermal spring at Mud Volcano area

Thermal spring at Mud Volcano area

A second neat feature was called Dragon’s Breath. Out of a cavern, noisy steam erupts above a pool of water. Reminds one of the dragon (Smaug) in the Hobbit. We are seeing some people again on the hikes, it is almost old home week as we greet one another.

We traveled from the south central part of the park to the northwest corner for our lodging in the town of Gardiner, MT. Actually this B and B is outside of the town, along the banks of the Yellowstone River. The route takes us through Hayden Valley, a highly recommended site to view wildlife. We are finding that Grand Teton, so far, was a better place to observe wildlife. We did get our first close up shot of an elk.



Dragon's Breath at Mud  Volcano area

Dragon’s Breath at Mud Volcano area

After Hayden Valley we head further north into mountains, rivers, and high plains. Snow, while not prominent, is lying along many roadsides. Great vistas are all around without any steam features noticeable. Road construction slows us down on one portion, less so than slow drivers though. I tremble to think of driving here in July and August.

We arrive at the B and B without incident and started planning for Wednesday’s activities.

Ed and Chris June 5 10 pm

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