Sometimes the documentation of having fun takes more time than the actual fun. In that case, it’s time scale back. We have taken so many pictures over the past three days that I haven’t had time to select any for the web. When we get to Samish Island and are holding still for a few days, I’ll add some images. Also, we haven’t had internet access for three days, so this post and the previous two are actually being posted on 6-17-04. On to the journey…
It was cold last night, getting down to the upper 30s. This morning was cloudy, and it looked like it had just rained. We had a huge breakfast in town, then headed into the park, this time with the roof up and Laura at the wheel. Our plan for today was to avoid the Old Faithful traffic an cover the north part of the park, where there might be more wildlife. It looked like the mountains had a fresh dusting of snow.
Our first scenic stop were the Artists Paintpots. The hike up was marred by noisy Germans, who talked loudly the entire entire trail. Europeans complain about rude Americans, but it apparently goes both ways. We saw a couple of gurgling hot springs, then headed back to the car.
A couple more stops for animals and geysers, and we continued north. Soon, light snowflakes and ice pellets began to hit the car. At one point, we came to a traffic jam – a “bearjam”, as Laura called it. People are idiots. A poor black bear was cornered in a tree, and these boneheads were leaving their cars in the middle of the road to chase it with cameras. I asked Laura if every bear sighting was going to be like this, and her answer was, “Most likely.”
Strange how after a few times looking at bison and elk, and we stop counting them. We were in the market for larger things – grizzlies, moose, and anything else we hadn’t seen. On the stretch between Norris and Mammoth, we hit an area very similar to Windy Gap in Tucson Rock formations were stacked precariously.
At Mammoth Hot Springs, we took time to view the hot spring terraces. As the water bubbles up, it carries dissolved traverine crystals to the edge of the pool and deposits it around the edge of the pool, forming terraces. The active pools were blue on top, with multi-colored crystals around the pool. According to overheard conversations from people who seemed to know, the pools aren’t as active as they had been prior to an earthquake sometime in the 70s or 80s. However, they seemed to be making a comeback. The hike was a bit strenuous, but we made it back to the car in one piece.
From Mammoth Hot Springs we headed west. We stopped at on dramatic waterfall,then stopped for our picnic by a peaceful stream. This was quite a change from the madness at the cafe where we were yesterday. We watched the birds flit and regretted not bringing our binoculars.
A couple of miles along, we came to a small lake and saw a couple staring off into the trees. We thought we had another bearjam, but instead, recognized the two as birders. Where there are birders,there has to be something interesting to see. They were kind enough to point out sandhill cranes, yellow-head blackbirds, and avocets – a multi-colored waterfowl that was quite impressive. We spent some time looking through our binoculars and their spotting scopes,thanked our hosts, and headed on.
There was one more bearjam, then we came to a turn out for a petrified tree. That’s exactly what it appeared to be – a petrified tree standing by itself on a hill. We drove by, but didn’t stop. At another stop, a ranger pointed out an osprey nest over a gorge lined with hexagonal columns just like the ones at Devils Tower.
Our last stop was Tower Falls, so named for the rock formations flanking the entrance to the falls. It was spectacular, as were most of the falls I have seen so far.
Since we were suffering from altitude sickness, we took as direct route back as we could,ignoring wildlife along the way,unless it was something really special. Two days in the park and we’re already jaded. We did stop at the Norris Geyser Basin to see – you guessed it! More geysers! These are really fascinating. We watched Steamboat Geyser erupt several times, and saw lots of stinking steamy things. Laura’s comment was that if her lab smelled like this, the EPA would shut her down. The smells started to get to us, so it was time to head back.
A quick dinner downtown, and we turned in early for an early start tomorrow.