Day 16 – Where the Wild Things Are

I awoke this morning to an amazing sunrise. Excited to explore the park, I started the descent from my overnight stay early, occasionally stopping to admire the view.

The trek down was only about six miles, but it was so rough that it took nearly 40 minutes. Along the way I ran into the breakfast club.

I entered the park a few minutes after 7am. I highly recommend arriving very early, leaving mid to late morning, and coming back in the evening. All the other times are too hot (in July at least) and too busy! Seeing the park in the evening is a game changer.

I entered from the north gate, so the first place I explored was Mammoth Hot Springs.

The ground in this area is unstable. There are warning signs everywhere to stay on the elevated or paved walkways.

Despite the dangers, some folks tempted fate. Sigh…

The water in some of the spots was incredibly clear despite being rather deep, yet in others it was opaque.

After leaving Mammoth Hot Springs I headed toward Norris Basin. Along the way I encountered this guy who held things up at least five miles back and apparently he made national news for his shenanigans! He clearly had zero cares to give about the situation.

Norris Basin looked like something out of a B rated sci-fi film.

There were several different hydrothermal features at this site, all fed by a supervolcano that last erupted around 631,000 years ago.

This site, like Mammoth Hot Springs, had both super clear and super murky areas. The various colors are contributed by the microorganisms that live in the waters.

The wildfires weren’t near Yellowstone, but they have previously left their mark on the landscape. As I mentioned in my previous post, fire is an important part of the forest ecosystem. The excerpt below is from the park newspaper I received when entering.

The thing I found so interesting is that they allow fires to burn as long as they don’t threaten the 2% of the park that is developed.

It is amazing just how many acres of burned forest you’ll see in Yellowstone. If you look closely you can see the rebirth taking place in the form of baby pines and wildflowers.

I tried to visit Old Faithful in the afternoon, but there was no way I was battling both the heat and the crowds. My mood was far too good for that so instead I drove on down to the Grand Teton National Park.

In returning to Yellowstone I decided to give Old Faithful another try, and for my patience I was rewarded with a great conversation with a Navy family and an extra geyser! I don’t know the name of the smaller one, but it was definitely a nice extra treat (first image, others are Old Faithful)!

After exploring for nearly 14 hours, I called it a night down a forest access road outside of the west entrance. I moved to the west gate because I had several Zoom meetings to attend in the morning, and I could get somewhat of a signal there.

7/18/2021

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