Yellowstone National Park

May 28, 2009 2:48 pm

 Day Nine. Yellowstone National Park.

We awoke to a very weird sound this morning… Or lack of sound. As we emerged from our tent, we were delighted to find clear sunny skies over our head – No rain! After briefly clearing up our tent area and packing for the day, we headed out on the main Southern loop of Yellowstone. Despite the fact that we were covering some ground that we already had the day before, we felt confident that we could still find an adventure and cause some trouble.  (<- Matt’s words)

Our first stop turned out to be directly outside of our campground – Norris Basin.

Well, actually, before we reached our first stop, we discovered that Matt devours bagels by the bagful. We don’t know what the scoop is, but we are going to keep a better eye on the bagel department tomorrow morning… stay tuned for an update. As a side-side note – Peter eats his tuna without mayo and Ben hates crunchy peanut butter… who are these nuts? (no pun intended)

Anyway – Back to Norris Basin.

Norris Basin

Norris Basin

This little area was somewhat anything we had ever seen. Unlike the massive, green, healthy valleys we had been seeing before, we were confronted with the stark contrast of a land that almost seemed mars like at some points. Huge billows of steam rushed into the air from the ground… The soil was claylike and seemingly dead from a distance. Massive holes filled with boiling water dotted the area while our senses were confronted with the unmistakable smell of sulfur. It was almost like we had stepped onto a really poor special effects scene of mars or Venus.

 

Norris Basin looking back

Norris Basin looking back

 

As we walked closer and explored the area however, (both there and throughout the day as we encountered this type of scenery) we found the area just as alive as anywhere else, just very different. Each pool had a different color to it, ranging from deep blue and green to bright orange. This change in color was caused by different types of bacteria – which in turn, were effected by the temperature range of the water (anywhere from boiling to a warm 120F degrees). The water itself also caused changes in landscape – each drop carried with it a minuscule amount of mineral base, causing little plateaus of different colors around each pool. The end result was a full rainbow effect of large pools – each with its intricate set of plateaus (such as the Grand Prismatic Spring). The beauty of the water was not to be messed with however – as some of the springs were incredibly acidic (just less than battery acid).

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Colorful Bacteria

Colorful Bacteria

The geysers were also very interesting. Although there are a lot of inactive ones at Yellowstone, we were able to see a couple minor eruptions from some of the outlying areas. We were also able to see the regularly scheduled eruption of Old Faithful – one of the few geysers in the park that erupts on a semi-predicable timetable. Although it took a little bit of waiting, Old Faithful lived up to its name, shooting boiling water over eighty feet into the air. The inactive geysers were also interesting to learn about, as some of them had launched water and mud hundreds of feet into the air – only to remain silent for long periods of time – sometimes decades.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

While we were visiting these areas, we got the distinct impression of the fluidity of Yellowstone. Geysers would move hundreds of feet over a short period of time – hills would appear and disappear – even huge eruption sites would sink into the ground or send earth shooting skyward – all based on volcanic activity from year to year. We also found out the cause of some of the tree deaths in Yellowstone. After a particularly hard quake one year, the underground activity caused an entire hill to heat up to two hundred degrees…. Cooking the tree roots from underneath!

Boiling, Churning, Water

Boiling, Churning, Water

Huge boiling death traps didn’t consume our entire day however; we still had plenty to see some of the other beautiful sites the Yellowstone had to offer. We saw hosts of wildlife… buffalo – huge animals that are said to way a ton (and we believe it after seeing them), hares… caribou…. and of course, the ever present mule deer. The wildlife in this area is incredible – and we have only seen a piece of it. As we are writing this blog, there are coyotes and wolfs sounding off in the distance (we are perfectly safe however).

Buffalo!

Buffalo!

We also saw the grand canyon of Yellowstone…. While it didn’t compare to the actual Grand Canyon in size or majesty – it was unique in its own way. A huge (+100 ft) waterfall entered a gorge that was built of yellow rock. (hence the name – Yellowstone :-)) It was a truly cool sight to see… especially considering that this place is known for its wildlife.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Finally, we finished off the day with a wonderful dinner of beef stew mixed with rice pilaf… a delicious and filling meal. Ben and Matt snuck off to gather some firewood and Matt is currently preparing to make his treasured nightly hot chocolate.

General housecleaning for the day… Ben’s car got its little reward… a fresh helping of oil. Poor car has been doing great… already halfway done. Speaking of which… our currently plan is to arrive back at home Wednesday night.

In closing, our stuff is actually dry and warm… a weird feeling for us so far on this trip.  Matt would also like to add the random tidbit that: ‘by the way, the stars are incredibly bright here.’  

Our Yellowstone Campsite

Our Yellowstone Campsite

Hope you guys are doing great! – The Lost Boys.

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