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Yellowstone 2

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 11 October 2015 | Views [183]


An even lazier start to the day..... Clouds were rolling in from the west, as forecast, and showers were expected, so we decided to see what Mammoth Hot Springs had to offer.

We drove to the top of the Terraces and followed the trail around the Upper Terraces. The Terraces were and are being built up from water pushed up from deep down close to plumes of magma, along the way the water dissolves limestone and emerges on the surface as springs laden with calcium carbonate or travertine which is deposited on the surface. This process has been going on for millions of years and dome of the deposits are several hundred feet high. Many of the springs have dried up but new springs appear from time to time. Whilst travertine is glistening white, some of the 'flows' are coloured by microorganism which turns the travertine orange/yellow.

A fascinating walk, during which we saw many steaming springs, bubbling pools, terraced pools (in caving we call them gours) and great stretches of travertine terraces, some a brilliant white while others were yellow to orange. We walked down to see the Liberty Cap, an ancient vent, 11 metres tall, now exposed as the softer materials around it have eroded.

Back to the Hotel Grill for lunch, just a simple sandwich we thought and then Ruth mentioned ice cream. Well, we ordered two scoops each, thinking in British terms, but they were enormous, each scoop the size of a good orange! Still the job had to be done and whilst Ruth faded at the end I managed to finish mine...and hers.

We needed a walk after that, so we followed the trail around Yellowstone Fort. The park was established in 1872, but no funds to run it, so poaching and souvenir hunting became a serious threat. The Park asked in the US Army to help and in 1886 the 1st US Cavalry set up camp to patrol and protect the park. They built houses for the officers and barracks for the troopers, but no perimeter walls or 'defensive' fort as such as it was only for 'civilian' duties. The buildings are all now used for Park employee dwellings or offices.

One building, now called The Albright Centre, is used by the Yellowstone Association, a fund raising body for the Park and producers of excellent little guidebooks of local features. The building contains really good presentations on many aspects of the park, including a very well done exhibit of the Park's wildlife. Also offered free wifi, but I couldn't get it to work! (Wifi is only available at the Hotel by payment)

Back to our room for a rest then off once again to the Lamar Valley as we had been told it was a good place to spot wolf and bear. A slow drive down, enjoying the colours of the late afternoon sun on the mountains and meadows, we did see elk and bison. Finally as the sun was setting we saw two pronghorn deer, very pretty creatures, they are the fastest animals on the North American continent.

So no bear and no wolves but on the drive back Ruth spotted a red fox and we saw an owl, so all was not lost. On through the village and down the hill to Gardiner, back to the Raven for dinner. Good food, Ruth had Alaskan salmon and I the bison ragout, both delicious. We decided during dinner to stop at Bryce Canyon on the way to Las Vegas, so as the internet connection was good we booked.


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