Tetons

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After Yellowstone we went to Bozeman for some R&R – Refresh and Restock. Nice little town, we washed clothes and the bus, filled RX and cupboards and had the best sushi we have had in a long time. We haven’t had sushi in a while, but this was really really good.

Since we will not be going to Glacier, due to fire closures, weather closures and personal matters we headed south on the Montana/Wyoming border to Idaho and found a nice little campground in Swan Valley-Sleepy Bear about an hour outside the Grand Tetons.  Basically someones front yard, but OK and cheap.

Weather was not great while we were there, the clouds made some pretty awesome formations and moved really quick it was beautiful, but too iffy to commit to a hike.   Beautiful awesome wonderful place will be coming back!

 

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We saw our first glaciers. I thought that they would be larger, and I guess they were once upon a time. This is what is left of the Teton Glaciers!!! They are disappearing and probably will not be here in 100 years. Global warming or just natural weather cycles, we don’t really know, but feel very lucky to have seen them!!!

Jackson Hole – The large valley next to the Teton Mountain range. Very large formed by glaciers over thousands if not millions of years. It is not just the town.  .

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Lessons – We left Swan Valley because we were socked in with clouds and rain and the view would not be great in the Tetons so might as well move on. Not a great idea unless you are sure to get a substantial amount of rain, sprinkles and road dirt make for a really dirty coach when Randy had just washed it so nicely in Bozeman!!! Live and Learn.

Peace and Love

 

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Norris Basin and Others

 

 

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Norris Basin is one of the hottest and most acidic of YS hydrothermal areas. This is sitting on one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. Water fluctuation and seismic activity often changes features. The intricate plumbing system and unreliability of stable ground i.e. earthquaky seismology pipes get broken and others are formed.

It is completely unpredictable, clear springs may become muddy and boil violently and some may temporarily become geysers. Geysers cease erupting or have altered cycles. New features appear. This is called “thermal disturbance” and can last a few days or more than a week, things eventually return to “normal.”

 

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The porcelain spring is CRAZY and CRAZILY BEAUTIFUL. Named for the almost milky blue-white that looks like porcelain. It is an ever-changing area that may be full of water from new springs or geysers or it could be dry and quiet. While we were there it looked like the entire surface was bubbling, steaming and moving in some form or fashion.

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Pork chop Geyser is rather famous in this basin.   It was a small hot spring that erupted occasionally until 1985 when it began spouting continuously. Then with visitors watching it exploded in 1989 throwing rocks and debris more than 200 ft, luckily no one was hurt in this explosion. It has since become a gently roiling hot spring.

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Vixen Geyser is usually a slightly steaming hole in the ground, but while we were there it erupted several times and ended up in almost constant eruption. It was a narrow and tall eruption.

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The different colors of Thermophiles (heat-loving microorganisms) in this area are quite dramatic. The color changes are due to different temperatures in the springs. Here you see yellow, red and green each flowing from a different spring.

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Steamboat geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser. It throws water more than 300 ft high showering viewers and drenching the walkways. It has not had a major eruption since 2014, but seems to constantly steam, bubble and gurgle.

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Peace and Love

 

Midway and Lower Geyser Basin

Grand prismatic spring is the largest hot spring in the US and the third largest in the world. It is 370 feet diameter, 160 feet deep and discharges ~ 560 gallons of water per minute. I guess for largest they mean in surface area. It is so large that from the main area where there are boardwalks around you can’t get a view of the entire spring, only small sections at a time.

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Excelsior right next to Grand Prismatic was once a large and reliable geyser that was known to reach up to 300 feet high and 300 feet wide. It is not active these days as a geyser, but is a very productive hot spring discharging between 4,000 and 4,500 gallons of 200 degree water per MINUTE into the Firehole River. Not only was the bubbling impressive, so was the runoff into the river.

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Relative early morning arrival at the Fountain Paint Pots, Lower geyser basin showed the steam rising from multiple orifices. It is amazing that with such thermal (volcanic) activity you are allowed to be here. But I guess it hasn’t had a large eruption in 600,000 years, wonder if it is due??

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Speaking of time of day, the roaring mountain definitely shows a difference in am and pm. Probably just this time of year, in the morning you can see a lot of steam vents, but with the warmth of the afternoon sun there are only a couple visible. Would be really interesting to see all of these hot geysers and springs in the winter with snow???

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Clepsydra Geyser erupts almost constantly, and splashes from multiple vents. Not high splashes while we were there maybe 25 ft??

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Fountain Paint Pots (mud pots) change by season and availability of water. They range from thin watery pools to very thick almost dry plots that can splash mud onto the walkway. They were extremely dry when we were there. Much of the area was completely dried out with cracked and hardened mud…

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As mentioned above Grand Prismatic spring was hard to see from ground level. So, we took the hike behind and above for a bird’s eye view. Wow just wow… Can’t help repeating the phrase but don’t know what else to say… This view has been accessible to visitors that ventured off the path to Fairy Falls. It had been used so much that in 2016 the park made it an official trail with viewing platform.   Most springs have run off concentrated on one side and therefore the colorful thermophile only on one side, note how Grand Prismatic has the colorful runoff in almost 360 degrees. Must have a very flat rim.

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A couple of things you might notice or have already noticed from pictures. “Bobby Socks” Lodgepole pines drowned in the super-heated water of shifting thermal activity. Silica penetrates the trees and harden their bases. The white silicified portions of the dead trees resemble the 1950s bobby socks.

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Peace and Love

 

Canyon – Yellowstone NP

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Called the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the Yellowstone (YS) River has cut a large canyon thru the rock that is softer than the volcanic rhyolite due to geothermal exposure and various other issues.   There are two major water falls on the river within the park. The upper falls and the lower falls.

The main over looks for the upper falls were closed, and the pictures I have are not great because we did not get a great view.  But here is a picture from the brink looking over use your imagination.  The upper falls is 110 feet high.

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The lower falls, fall an impressive 310 feet.  The best place to view the lower fall is from Artist Point. At the end of the south rim.

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But there is a closer view from the north rim.

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The canyon itself is absolutely stunning, you can see the early morning mist over the river and hot springs steaming and flowing into the river.

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Mostly it is just a beautiful canyon with wild river running thru it. It is amazing how different the walls can look from one place to another, how the river seems very peaceful in places and raging in others and the good news is that it is still changing and growing every day!!!

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Peace and Love….

 

Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone

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Mammoth is different than most of the hot springs we have shown so far. The ones we have been seeing are on basically flat ground and some develop a hardened rim to the pool and ripples in the run off field. But in Mammoth, the springs are on the side of a mountain and as they run, they form travertine terraces. This concentration of hot springs is not in the volcanic crater of Yellowstone like most of the others so the volcanic heat source is somewhat of a mystery. Either the water is heated from the further away large magma chamber underlying the Yellowstone caldera or perhaps there is a smaller source closer to mammoth.

These hot springs are created the same as others, the difference is being on a base of limestone. The hot water with dissolved carbon dioxide makes a solution of weak carbonic acid. This solution dissolves calcium carbonate, the primary compound in limestone. On the surface, this calcium carbonate is deposited in the form of travertine and forms the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

Mound and Jupiter Terrace

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Palette Spring

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Canary Spring

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Other springs on flatter ground still product terraces, but on a lower grade. Grassy Spring

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The springs are very volatile and move sometimes on a daily basis?? The flow is also effected by the season and rainfall. The same chemicals that create the terraces build up and constrict the plumbing that the hot water flows thru. As this happens the water flows to the place of lease resistance which changes the pattern of flow. You see lots of dry areas some due to moved springs and others just due to lack of water.

Pretty cool the textures within the terraces. I know the hardened structure is the travertine and the color is Thermophiles (microorganisms). But not sure what makes these little villages in the pools. They are colorful under water and still there and hard when dry??

DSCF1198 (2)DSCF1199 (2)DSCF1235 (2)One of the coolest things is that these hot springs somehow flow under our campground and end up emptying into the Gardner River about 1-2 miles north of us. It is called the boiling river. The mega hot spring water mixes with the frigid river water and you get a pleasant hot tub effect. Small movements either way really changes the water temp very cold vs very hot!!! The elk must also enjoy it as we have seen them down river from here a couple of times.

Peace and love from the oldest national park in the nation!!!

 

Upper Geyser Basin

Drive straight from Cody to Old Faithful, 3 hours and 100 miles one way.

OK, so remember I told you that Yellowstone is basically a volcano crater. You would think it is inactive since the last large eruption was over 600 thousand years ago, but walking around these basins is proof enough that it is still very much alive. Bubbling, hissing, boiling, spouting, spitting, roaring, steaming, etc.  All this activity is called hydrothermal activity.

This is created by heat (partially molten magma) as close as 5 miles underground, water (rain/snow) and plumbing (vents thru the rock). Water drains to the magma, heats up and boils upward thru the plumbing creating hot springs and geysers. The water is extremely hot as much as 200 degrees and some is so acidic that it would burn your skin.

Geysers blow steam, water and air out of its vent due to constriction in the plumbing creating pressure on heating water until it literally blows its top. Some are predictable but many are not. Some erupt ever few minutes and others haven’t in decades.   Some blow a few feet and others up to hundreds of feet. Fountain type geysers shoot water out in various directions from a pool while cone type geysers erupt in a concentrated jet of water, usually from a cone formation.

Pictures of geysers

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Old Faithful, most regular and still going since at least 1870s.

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Giant Geyser was bubbling for us, but I think it does that a lot. It became dormant in 1955 but is slowly waking up.

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Grotto Geyser was going off the entire time we were in the area, a couple of hours. They say the eruption can last anywhere from 1.5 hours to 24 hrs.

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Castle Geyser

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Spasmatic Geyser

Hot springs are the same as a geyser except the heated water is not under pressure so it does not blow its top. It has water flow sometimes constant others in spurts they may be bubbling or just slowly stirring. These formations are most likely to have colorful thermophiles living in them and are therefore the most colorful.

Pic of Hot Springs

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Beach springs – varied from still to bubbling like a carbonated soda.

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Heart springs

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Doublet Pool

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Morning Glory

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There are two more hydrothermal features that we will have pictures of later, but just so you know they are:

Fumaroles are the hottest surface features and emit mostly steam. They work the same, but have less water and when water does enter, the feature is so hot that the water instantly turns to steam.

Mudpots are more acidic and turn the surrounding rock into a clayey mud. They vary thru the seasons depending on water availability. In the spring and early summer (with snow melts and spring rain) they are mostly muddy hot springs while in the fall and winter it is drier and they turn in to thick mud and sometimes dry completely. You will see much dry cracked earth around the mudpots we saw because it is fall and it has been extremely dry!!!

At times it feels like walking thru a volcano – completely unstable. There are warning signs everywhere, but it seems that people push their luck to extremes some times and want to soak in 200 degree water with enough acidity to burn your skin and try it. Either the ground gives way to boiling water and cooks the idiot or they reach the pool climb in to relax and get eating alive by the acid??

Peace and Love

Yellowstone National Park – Part 1

Our first adventure into Yellowstone National Park, the oldest national park. We really did not know a lot about Yellowstone except that Yogi and Boo Boo are notorious for stealing picnic baskets in Jellystone. Don’t worry ranger Smith has them under control.

The major portion of YS was created by a very large volcano, which erupted approximately 630,000 years ago. The remaining crater is about 30 by 50 MILES. And in the middle of this huge crater is a very large lake. This lake is at 7,700 ft. above sea level and is so large you can hardly see the other side (~131 sq miles of surface area). Keep in mind that we are here in very smoky conditions so maybe other times you can see the other side?? The lake was not created by a dam as many are, it is completely natural and is over 400 ft. deep at its deepest point.

 

Another major (albeit recent) event that has marked the landscape here was a wildfire in 1988 that engulfed about 1/3 of the 2.2 million acre park. This fire started on May 24 from a lightning strike and burned until the first snow fall on September 11. Parts continued to smolder until late in November. You see marks left by this and other (less severe) fires all over the park, fire is a part of the natural cycle in the woods. That fire was about 30 years ago, and the forest is still far from recovered.

From Cody you travel over an hour thru the amazing Absaroka Mountain range before reaching Yellowstone,

P1110397 (2)And then another hour and a half thru beautiful mountains, some badly burned forest and around the lake before you reach the attractions of YS.

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Our first big adventure was at the West Thumb of YS Lake and the hot springs/geysers there.   The west thumb is a Caldera (volcano crater) inside of a Caldera. A powerful volcanic eruption approximately 174,000 years ago caused the earth’s crust to collapse creating the West Thumb caldera which later filled with water to become a large bay on YS Lake. There are mostly hot springs remaining in this area, some are called Geysers and we were impressed (until we saw a real geyser that is).

They range from this small mud pot

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To this large bottomless hole. This run off from this spring was our first experience with thermophiles. Thermophiles are brightly colored algae that thrive in conditions of hot springs. Their color depends somewhat on the temperature of the spring.

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This final geyser “fishing cone” comes with a history. Mountain men told of a geyser along an alpine lake where one could catch a trout, swing the pole around, dip it into the boiling pool and cook the fish without taking it off the line. This is that former boiling pool.

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From here we crossed the continental divide

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twice on the way to – drum roll please – Old Faithful.

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We had Nellie with us so only had lunch at Old Faithful and watched the excitement. Will return to this area, but time to keep going now.

Firehole lake drive was a nice 2.5 mile off the main loop road with stops at several geysers and hot springs.

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Great Fountain Geyser – this one follows a relative regular schedule, but we were in too much of a hurry to wait… I think the second pic is it going off from across the lake, see what happens when you rush things.

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White Dome Geyser

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And Black Warrior Lake with steady geyser

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From here we continued the lower park loop. The park is arranged like a figure 8 with several spikes leading out to the real world. We completed the lower circle of the figure 8 on our first day. Very LOOOONG day it was.

We visited the Firehole river canyon and waterfall.

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The Gibbon River Falls

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And the brink of the upper falls at the Grand Canyon of YS before heading home for the night.

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Wheew, Peace and Love for the night!!!