|Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace|
|Yellowstone National Park|
Carol writes: With the threat of snow on the horizon, we knew we needed to press to see as much of Yellowstone as we could. Geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots would serve as our entertainment over the next three days as we ventured further into the park before those dark clouds on the horizon delivered the snow that was promised.
White Dome Geyser,
Fountain Paint Pots,
and the absolute glory of Grand Prismatic Spring
definitely delivered some of the highlights of Yellowstone that make it such a unique place on planet Earth.
Our life on the road living full-time in a motorhome is by no means as perfect as my travel blogs would indicate, for our modern big metal box is filled with technology that periodically provides challenges. This time it was trouble with the Aqua-Hot, our coach’s heating system and hot water provider. As bad luck would have it, the severity of our problem really became evident the morning we woke up to a dusting of snow in the campground. We ended up driving 70 miles to tiny Ennis, Montana, to obtain more Aqua-Hot antifreeze solution. It was our hope that simply topping off the Aqua-Hot antifreeze reservoir would solve our problem… And it did!
Our drive to Ennis took us past the Hebgen Lake area which was ground zero for the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that occurred on August 17, 1959. The recent snowfall exposed most dramatically where the giant landslide broke off and slid across the canyon through which the Madison River flowed.
In a matter of seconds, 28 campers lost their lives and the canyon was totally blocked, creating a new lake upstream within a matter of days.
Gazing at what is now called Earthquake Lake, I stood beside a giant dolomite boulder that was hurled across the canyon in the landslide. The steely gray skies above a dusting of snow painted a somber picture of the horrific events that happened at Hebgen Lake 58 years ago.
As often happens in the mountains after a dusting of snow, the next day’s skies were clear and blue, so we headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs for a visit that was sure to reawaken unforgettable memories of our family visit in 1989…
September 21, 1989 Family Journal Entry:
“… we had about an hour and a half of enjoyment watching the elk. We observed the bull warn off other bulls and go from one female to another to get some action. None of the females were interested and the bull would let off a huge bellow every time he was rejected. I guess the females had a headache. Jason said he hoped he wouldn’t have so much trouble getting a girlfriend.”
On another September day 28 years later, as we pulled into Mammoth Hot Springs, we were delighted to discover that the elk had once again taken over the village. The bulls were bugling and were as fascinating and magnificent as ever!
Park rangers were doing a heroic job of protecting the bull, along with his harem of ladies, from the tourists. Thanks to great telescopic sights on the cameras of today, we were able to take advantage of plenty of opportunities for superior pics of the bull
on the greens of the historic Army housing.
However, it was the constantly changing sculpture of the travertine-depositing hot springs that was the main event at Mammoth Hot Springs.
A complex series of boardwalks led all around Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. The view of the village and surrounding mountains from above was like a slice of Shangri-La.
Yet, the close-up lacework of crystal formation was likewise entrancing.
Minerva Terraces was certainly thought-provoking…
The heat-loving bacteria and algae at Orange Spring Mound revealed to us a canvas of living color.
The sensational drive back from Mammoth Hot Springs was filled with another bison sighting along the road,
in a snowy landscape that told the story of recovery from Yellowstone’s devastating 1988 fire that burned 36% of the park’s acreage.
We had planned our final stop of the day at the Mud Volcano Area. A relatively steep climb to the top of the boardwalk brought us to Churning Caldron where we saw nonstop explosive action like nothing we had ever seen before.
To date, we had been in Yellowstone for almost 2 weeks; yet, in all that time we had not seen the elusive grizzly bear. At the conclusion of our last few hours in the park, a large animal jam teeming with photographers and tripods
suggested we might want to pull over and see what this gathering was all about.
Oh, my goodness! Across the river was a grizzly chowing down on an elk carcass!
That grizzly sighting was plainly animal life at its rawest in Yellowstone. (In the future, we might want to think about a small portable tripod…)
This visit to Yellowstone had certainly reawakened sweet memories of a family visit to Yellowstone a long time ago. We were reassured to note that the Park Service has indeed been a good steward of this precious world marvel and has done its best to reconcile the desires of humans with the needs of animals.
Even though we had to deal with late-summer snows, we were enthralled with the beauty of Yellowstone through the winter lens of our camera. We were ever grateful that our visit had dovetailed nicely with the end of the tourist season and the bugling of the elk.