We came into Yellowstone at the North Entrance, just on the outskirts of Gardiner. The first stop was Mammoth Hot Springs. The park headquarters are here, but the attraction are the Terraces.
Hot water laden with minerals oozes out of the ground, and as it cools the minerals settle and build on those that went before them, wiping out anything that is in the way. Think of the terraces as erupting lava, only liquid, not as hot, but just as relentless.
New scaffolds are build as the old ones succumb to the expanding terraces. You can get very close to the on-going layering, and the details are amazing. I will be using that word a lot . . . amazing, simply amazing, just amazing, etc.
The terraces are an ever changing feature, as new deposits help grow them up and out. As I said, everything in their path will get engulfed, and there are older fields with remnants of trees smothered long ago . . . and there are fresher kills.
The warm water promotes algae growth, and combined with the coloration from the minerals, it makes for a pleasant living sculpture.
Looking at these terraces first hand makes you want to go wade in them . . . they frown on that.
We leave the park and head down the Western leg of the upper loop, toward Norris Basin. We go through an area called Silver Gate.
Very scenic area, and we’ll pass by here again when heading back to the motel. Those pictures are further down the post, and show off the colors of the rocks a lot better because of the lower angle of the sun. This is also where I photograph the first of the many falls we encounter, Rustic Falls.
Because of the geography and their relation to the sun, many of the falls are in the shade but the surrounding areas are lit up, making it difficult to shoot well. It’s much easier to shoot with the sun at one’s back, and the combination of water flowing among evergreens and fall foliage is hard to resist.
Norris Basin is our first exposure to a familiar Yellowstone feature . . . white fields surrounding limpid blue pools of hot water.
If it weren’t for the whole “being cooked alive” bit, the various pools of hot water look otherwise inviting as a swimming hole.
As promised, a shot from the Silver Gate area. Yes, that’s my trusty ride keeping what is most dear to me safe, and patiently awaiting my return so it can carry us both to our overnight shelter.
I walked a ways from the ‘Burb to get this next shot (there was not a safe place to park near where I wanted to snap this photo).
We drove back through Mammoth Hot Springs on our way to Gardiner, and saw a number of animals. These were not included in the Yellowstone Fauna post.
At one point they really started hauling down the mountain, and because there was a small hill between them and us, I lost most of them. The only good picture of them running on loose rock, jumping from boulder to boulder, is the one above. The guy is setting up for a long jump onto loose rock. He made it, and disappeared behind the trees.
The next day saw us going through Mammoth Springs again, and head East toward Tower-Roosevelt, the Blacktail Deer Plateau offering up panoramas for our enjoyment. The first pictures were of Undine Falls. Not super as far as pictures go, but I will point out they were in deep shadow, the early morning sun still low in the sky.
This next picture from where I decided to shoot a panorama of the landscape. The panorama is in the SmugMug album, but it’s one of the panoramas I show in the post I wrote about Panoramas.
We headed off the main road (as I am wont to do), and took the Blacktail Plateau Drive, a one way road that cuts a corner of the main road to the Tower-Roosevelt Junction. These are a few pictures from that drive.
Back on the main park road, and seeing places I want to capture on my digital canvas. The thing is, there are thousands of places, and I don’t have that much digital canvas.
As far as settings go, this next one of my favorites. Makes me want to build a house there, add a septic tank, bring in electricity, damn the river to make a small lake, build a garage and a workshop, and just sit here and enjoy the pristine nature.
We blew by the Tower-Roosevelt area and headed into the Lamar Valley. The hike to Trout Lake was our next target.
The first photo manipulation I ever tried was to take this shot, merge in my father-in-law from another shot, and add a few embellishments. I was still learning Photoshop (as I am now), but I thought it was pretty good for a first effort.
We had both been snapping photos; I mixed this in with the others I printed, and then asked him if the picture he took had come out.
This next shot is also part of one of the panoramas I mention above.
I did not notice the two people fishing off the bridge until after I was home and looking at the pictures for the panorama.
The path down to Tower Falls was not easy because of the elevation change. back then we were living in Michigan. Now we live in Colorado, at an altitude of 7,300 feet . . . when we went back, it was a snap. In fact, our neighborhood walks offer more of a challenge.
The picture looks crooked, but trust me, it’s an illusion from the rocks that overhang the area.
One of the things you see all over the park is the evidence of old fires. With those you have the new growth providing contrast to the conflagration that was.
The next day we went straight to the Old Faithful area. There are a couple of basins around there, and walkways that take you around them. The Upper Basin loop affords a good view of the Old Faithful arena.
And here is Old Faithful itself on a moderate eruption. I estimate 150 feet or so, although they claim sometime it reaches 300 feet in height.
The surrounding basins offer views of less famous, but nonetheless interesting geysers. This one was into fractals.
The SmugMug album has more pictures and more writing, but here are a few of the remaining highlights.
With Yellowstone Lake as a background, the distant snow-capped mountains breaking up the horizon, the pools at the West Thumb Geyser Basin shined as little jewels in the parched and cracked ground.
This area was a major disappointment during my 2007 visit. Many of the pools had become inactive, and were little more than muddy holes. The ground looked cracked and dessicated, and vegetation in many places was trying to make a comeback, messing up the clean look surrounding the holes.
We had to cut our visit short. A snow storm was due to hit the next day, and they were predicting the closure of the Eastern and Southern exits. That last evening I literally ran to hit a couple of the lookouts to Yellowstone Canyon . . . and literally swore out loud!
Even with cloud cover, falling light, the view was incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring . . . and more. We should have come here first! We should have come here a couple of times to catch different angles of the sun.
When we visited in 2007 this was our first stop . . . except that this side of the rim was closed to the public because the road (Uncle Tom’s Trail) was undergoing repairs. Only the rim to the right was open, and while still very nice, this is the view I still want to photograph the shit out of.
No matter . . . our time here was done, and the next day we literally raced the snowstorm out of the park. The East entrance is 27 miles away from Lake Village, and the snow had not hit there yet. We said goodbye by posing with the sign, and then headed out toward Cody, WY, and home.
The SmugMug album has additional photographs from the road to Cody for those who are interested.
Thanks for reading.
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