Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yellowstone National Park: North Loop

I was still recovering from a cold, and that, combined with the altitude, made me feel pretty weak and weary during our time in Yellowstone. While we were exploring the Mammoth Hot Springs area, Erik and the kids decided to walk along the boardwalk trail from the upper terraces down to the lower area. I didn't feel up to joining them, so Pearl and I drove down to meet them. I hadn't realized that the parking lot was the beginning of a one way driving loop so we got to take the scenic route back down. Erik had my camera, so I snapped this picture with the ipad. The landscape, together with the sky, was stunning. At some point silica from the hot water killed these trees and created a new landscape.
Yeah, just another buffalo. It was so fun to see them roaming, singly and in herds, throughout the park. We just finished reading a book called Om-Kas-toe, about a Blackfeet Indian boy and his people, that was set in western Montana. At one point in the story the boy actually found himself at Mammoth Hot Springs, and from its description, we knew exactly what place he'd found! It was easy to picture the valleys and mountains and rivers where the Blackfeet roamed as we explored this area, and to imagine their buffalo hunts in valleys such as this. I bought many historical fiction books that we're reading together as we travel and learn about the story of the United States.
These next several pictures are all part of the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.  Magma deep below  heats water and the pressure forces it to the earth's surface. The many geothermal areas are what makes Yellowstone such a unique and incredible place.
The terraces have been formed as silica and other minerals build up.  There are four different types of geothermal areas in the park: geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles. I knew very little about the area before visiting, and it was fun to learn as we explored. The Junior Ranger program the kids participated in helped us to make sense of what we were seeing, and helped the kids connect with and take a real interest in learning.
I was in awe of the many different types of formations, as well as the varied colors, which are caused by thermophilic (heat loving) organisms and bacteria.

It's an ever changing landscape! Erik took several of these photos, as we were sharing a camera. I love how the sky is reflected in the little terrace pools in this picture, as well as the many colors.
These are the lower terraces. Hot water is pouring over the top, creating mineral "icicles", and then trickling down to create this phenomenal scene. I have never seen anything like it.
Thank you to the man who snapped this for us! 
You can see the little pools of water in the lower left are starting to form a crust. I wonder how long until it hardens and the water has to change its course, creating new pathways and pools.
When the sun came out and caught the water running down, it was brilliant!
This is Liberty Cap, a dormant geyser near Mammoth Hot Springs.
Our first day out exploring, we drove around the north loop, through valleys and over high ridges and passes. You have to wonder: where does all this water come from?
This is a petrified redwood tree! I was surprised that there were ever redwoods this far north and at such an elevation, but there were.
Okay, this isn't the best picture, but there are two black bears down there! It was quite exciting to watch them rambling along. On a nearby hillside there were two deer fawns nestled in the tall grasses. Their mama was in the bushes, keeping an eye on these two. I was really glad we spotted some bears, and they were way down a hillside from us, so it felt safe. There was also a ranger nearby, equipped with bear spray! When we were done watching the bears, it began to sprinkle, and we were on our way down a trail to view Tower Falls. We decided to go for it, and got utterly soaked! All the sensible people sought cover, but we figured we're from Oregon; a little rain won't melt us! Ha! We caught a glimpse of the waterfall and ran back to our vehicle, soaked to the skin!
I think this will be our next family vehicle. With a rooftop tent, what more could we need? We'd have plenty of seating and room for stuff in the back. Classy!
Here the river rushes into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We were running out of  energy and time, so we didn't explore this area much, but I was glad to stand at the overlook for a few moments and drink in its beauty. It almost looks like a watercolor painting.
This view is looking down the Canyon the other direction. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you and try to respond to your comments here on the page.