Saturday, December 11, 2010

Western Vacation 2010 Day Six: September 8

This is the log of my western vacation in September 2010. Some of my own photographs are included and some from Wikipedia.

Dad and I started the day by fishing in the Lower Gardner at the "Chinaman's Garden". The fishing was absolutely dead until the sun made it up into the canyon, when I caught a 4" brown, a 5" brown, and a 6" rainbow, all on nymphs (mostly pheasant tails). Dad didn't catch anything. We saw some deer at the water's edge.

We all walked the boardwalks at Mammoth Hot Springs and heard the ranger's talk called the "Tales of the Travertine". The terraces, pools, cones and flowing water are the highlights.

We ate our lunch in the car and drove to Norris Junction, then Madison and on to West Thumb. Along the way, we stopped at Roaring Mountain, and listened. It does indeed roar, or at least murmur.

Then we stopped at the Norris Geyser Basin, our first trip through the thermal features. There are many pools, steam vents, inactive geysers, and boiling springs. Some vents roar. Some are green or blue. Some have so much steam you cannot see the water. We saw the inactive Steamboat Geyser.

Next stop was at the Artist Paint Pots. There was a hike involved which Danny did not make, and it started to rain during. There wasn't much to see here, except some gorgeous western thunderheads.

To the Lower Geyser Basin- here we saw our first geysers. The big one was the Fountain Geyser, which looked like four different geysers all going at once (and all going continuously). We saw a big roaring steam vent that was created by an earthquake in 1959. And we saw the Fountain Paint Pots.

Next up is the Midway Geyser Basin. We came for the main features, which are the Excelsior Geyser Crater and the Grand Prismatic Spring. We could see the hole around Excelsior (probably 4 feet deep), but there was too much steam to appreciate either feature. The Firehole River goes right through this thermal area, and there was a fisherman fishing unsuccessfully in the hot water near the bridge.

We stopped at Old Faithful to buy some souvenirs, then went on through West Thumb east along the lake. We ate at a very good cafeteria at Lake Village.

To get back to camp, we went north through the Hayden Valley, and it was all it's cracked up to be. We saw a field full of elk and bison. In the next field we saw several wolves through someone's spotting scope. And then in the next field we saw a mother grizzly with three cubs, our first of the trip. Distance to the bears was probably 600 yards.

We made a stop at Canyon Village so Dad could buy some new shoes. Then I drove us back to Mammoth via Dunraven Pass and Tower Junction. That's a long road in the dark. We saw some lightning in the far distance.