wildlyrandom

Our camping trip in British Columbia, Canada, including a drop down to Yellowstone National Park.

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It was only when Galen mentioned that it was September 11th that we realised what day it was and why many flags were flying half-mast. Technology had brought the horror of events as they unfolded that day, right into our living rooms even in South Africa, thousands of miles away. It’s not that similar events around the rest of the world are less horrific, but this day we watched them live; the feelings of helplessness are indescribable!

Even so, life moves on… and our stomachs were growling.

Time for brunch.

It’s the small things in life, you see, that make the big things bearable.

…and this meal had our taste buds in for a treat par excellence!

We were on the road again…

…back across the border; B&G had a plane to catch. It was a late night plane, so we stopped off at the campgrounds where H&I would spend the night. There were sites a plenty available under the massive trees in the Moyie Lake Provincial Park, so we set up camp, took a stroll down to the water, and then headed out again with another quick stop for a flight of a different kind.

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It was with a heavy heart that finally there was no denying that the time had come to head for the airport just north of Cranbrook. H&I had to continue our trip on our own now, into the unknown, just the 2 of us, on the right side of the road. We would miss those 2, their company, the excitement of a catch on the fly, the trouble they took over meals both in and out, and their navigation!

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May your days in the office be stimulating!

Banff, here we come, ready or not…

 

trout bums

[September 9th]

On the road again we head north once more, but not back into Canada yet; B&G are taking us a little off the beaten track again for the last 2 days of fishing before they have to return to their offices.

Along the way, we stop to stock up on provisions and to enjoy brunch at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. America is not complete without another stop at Starbucks for none other than the super sweet pumpkin spice latte (you have to try it, they say!) – Thanksgiving is coming up.

B&G navigate their way comfortably through the Montana countryside, and before too long we turn off in search of Trout Bums where we will be spending 2 nights in a cabin.
It is a surprise it turns out because said cabin, named Trouthaus, glows with warmth and solid luxury.
I love camping more than anything else in this world, but I have to admit there does come a time when a bath to soak in and a toilet for just the 4 of us, is a very welcome sight indeed!

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Hugo is the lucky recipient of a fishing licence for this area, a Father’s Day gift, so while they head down to the river at the bottom of the property, I partake of the hot water on tap. My head of hair most especially enjoys being submerged under water for a good long soak, after which I stretch out on the deck surrounded by the bliss of the forest and the birds that frequent it.

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When there is no longer a single ray of light left to squeeze out of the day, the 3 fishermen return; Hugo lights the fire, I load the washing machine (which we were thrilled to find, as H&I head straight on to our next 2 weeks of camping after this) and B&G busy themselves in the kitchen.
Once again we are served a scrumptious meal which we devour in front of the crackling fire before retiring to grandma’s feather beds for the night.

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From the cabin, the track runs all along Rock Creek, so into our trusty auto we bundle to find a spot to fish. There are spots by the dozen but everybody has beaten us to the best already. After a good couple of kilometres, we emerge into the sunlight and finally a great spot with no takers.

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When hunger beckons we head back to find a suitable place to prepare lunch. While the pot boils, the men cast a few more lines… and no, the bush has not returned us to our roots, nor have we forgotten our table manners; we simply forgot to pack eating utensils.

And so, all good things have to come to an end…

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…but there is always the next leg with fresh ones just waiting to be discovered…

 

Thought for the day:
“Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, ‘When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.'”
~ Sufi quote [Centre for Applied Jungian Studies]

 

boiling river

[September 8th]

Galen is passionate about fly-fishing which leads us off the beaten track many a time to glorious rivers in glorious places. Today it is the turn of the Lava River, which they are going to walk from its single entry point. After a wonderful brunch on the river bank, they set off on foot while we head out on wheels to explore the rest of the main terrace as well as the upper terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is just a hop away, from the eastern entrance this time.

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Lava River

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Mammoth Hot Springs from the main terrace

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Cupid Spring

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Canary Spring

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Travertine Occupants

Feasting on Chemicals
Filamentous Bacteria

Thread-like filamentous bacteria link together, creating chains that can spread into aprons.  They live on hydrogen sulfide gas rising through vents.

Living on Sunshine
Cyanobacteria

Like flowering plants, colorful cyanobacteria use light for energy, or photosynthesize.  If other microorganisms did not consume hydrogen sulfide gas near the vents, these sun-loving microbes would be poisoned. 

~ taken from an info board on site

Back on wheels we do the loop around the upper terrace, pass back through Mammoth Springs and pull in at the picnic spot on the Lava River, just as B&G emerge from under the bridge:

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Orange Spring Mound

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which reads:

Orange Spring Mound

1  Yellowstone’s volcano heats water deep underground.

2  Under great pressure, the water percolates upward through buried limestone, dissolving a mineral called calcium carbonate.

3  Above the ground, the water begins to cool and evaporate.  Gases are released and water pressure decreases.  Orange Spring Mound gradually grows as water flows over it, depositing calcium carbonate which hardens into travertine.

Heat dwelling bacteria and algae grow abundantly in Orange Spring Mound’s water creating tapestries of “living color.”

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Angel Terrace

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After all the geyser viewing, I had only one more request: Boiling River Trail and its destination which for some reason took on proportions of mysterious wonder in my mind. It did involve soaking in hot:cold water in a river out in the wilderness, which is surely the most favourite thing I could possibly dream of doing. Its destination alone was mysterious (most probably due to my habit of never reading instructions properly until it is absolutely necessary) and so it was, then, that, not minutes after entering the park at the north entrance a whole week back, we drove right on by it for a good kilometre without the slightest hint of its being there.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about actually doing what I so longed to do, not least of all due to all the bacteria warnings, but also due to the presence of other people in front of whom I would have to appear semi-naked (and that was before I knew how difficult it was to keep one’s balance over slippery rocks trying to reach a soaking spot)!
Still, I wasn’t going to miss out!

We found the parking easily, and the stroll along the sparkling Gardner River was indeed fit for slops.

 

Steam clouds appear.

Nervous excitement.

Scorching streams bubbling their way along; thrilling to bewitching proportions (yes, it takes very little for some of us to gain the same elevations that others find riding gigantic waves on a tiny board).

Everybody has stumbled out into the river where the arrow directed, but yours truly has seen stairs going down into the crystal clear water a little further back and I am not going to budge an inch from there.
H&I have the nook to ourselves and can wallow just inches from the steaming waters spilling into the icy pool, the main river rushing past just beyond the shelter of gathered rocks. Heaven is…!
H does attempt to join the crowd later but succumbs to lack of balance at the first opportunity. He is clearly enjoying it there, but cannot entice me in. B&G are undoubtedly having the best time of all, the scramble having been worth every minute.

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scorching temperatures

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spot H and B&G further back

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yep, all fours

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B&G wobble their way out

An underground discharge of water from a mysterious source beneath nearby hydrothermal terraces flows out of the ground at over 100 degrees. The channel joins the otherwise cold waters of the Gardner River, creating a blended pool that is too good to pass up.

~ taken from http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/boiling-river-hike-yellowstone/

What an awesome afternoon, but the day is not yet done.

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mule deer en route back to camp

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B&G leave us behind back at camp from where we will walk down to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone while they head out in search of another catch.
It is a lovely stroll down beside Tower Creek to the Tower Falls and all the way down to the Yellowstone River, and then back up, with hopes for a short ice cream break dashed as we came face to face with doors firmly shut for the day.

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the path down to the creek

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Yellowstone Canyon

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The day ends with a spectacular display; the heavens too, are on fire.

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Thought for the day:
“I was so worried about getting approval that I forgot what I liked. I forgot how to be myself”
~ Amy Pearson

where the wildlife roams

[September 7th] and it is time to pack up and move on. The Lamar Valley in the northeast corner of the park beckons. We are off to look for wildlife while B&G do some serious fishing.

It is an enjoyable drive and it is not long before Galen’s sharp eye spots an owl perched on top of a sapling in the middle of nowhere. Further on there are cars pulled to the side of the road, and where there are park wardens something is going on. We drive by slowly, spotting nothing when just by chance I turn around and there it is the little bear trundling up the rocky gorge.

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We have attempted to leave early, as the campsite for the next few nights works on a first come, first serve basis. Our first choice of camp is closed to campers due to fires in the area, which means we have only this one chance. We make it by the skin of our teeth with only one site big enough for 2 tents still available. Britt jumps out to declare it taken!

We register, pack out into our very own bear box this time, and then set out in search of fish. After a peaceful brunch beside the river, B&G choose a spot where they will test the waters for an hour.

We take a drive.
They decide to stick to their spot on the Soda Butte Creek. Bison graze not too far off and Canada geese enjoy the meandering waters. We passed many fishermen along the way, so hopes are high today; it must be a good river.
We leave them to do their thing and drive out again in the opposite direction to see what we can see.
The bear season is over; bears have had their fill and are preparing for the winter, but bison are out in numbers, as are the pronghorns, a couple of bighorns and later another crowd draws us in…

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Canada geese

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Bighorn sheep

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Pronghorn

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Bison beaut!

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On the way back to meet up with B&G, a traffic jam has us worried that we will keep them waiting yet again. There is a motorbike up front on a bend and he is not moving an inch. A string of cars has bunched up behind him, but the holdup remains a mystery. Finally, we spot some movement. Bison. Bison ambling around right there in the middle of the road and going nowhere fast despite enticing fields in every direction. Eventually, one of the vehicles from the opposite side can stand it no longer and makes a dash for it. He is lucky, and with him, a few cars get by quickly. Suddenly, though, we watch as a little calf runs into the road and behind him the rest of the herd. They stop dead, right there in the middle of the road, again.
Where are the wardens when one needs them most?

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Anywhere else coming upon a sight such as the one in the photo below would be a sure sign that a rare bird has been spotted. We waste no time pulling over to join the crowd on the mound. There are 2 people with scopes.

Wolves they say!

They are very far away, and really very small, but still, they are wolves; scopes do not lie. A most unexpected bonus to our day to be sure!

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Back at Tower Falls, we set up camp, pull out the beers and light the fire.

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And so ends another great day in Yellowstone!

More about the wolves:
“Your wolf may be like this one – a split second gasp, a fragment shared between naked eye and mythic mammal. Or, if you are lucky, perhaps you will have a longer moment, even long enough to note wolf behavior in your journal, to jot notes down in the diary at night about how your wolf did this or that. Perhaps your wolf will be seen with the aid of a long lens set upon a sturdy tripod at the edge of the Lamar Valley, a zoomed-in close-up and intimate look at this amazing creature. Whatever form your wolf takes, you can be sure that your wolf will live with you. He will give you the kind of image that cannot be rubbed out or faded by the years. That vision will last.”
~taken from Changes Seen a Decade After Yellowstone’s Wolf Reintroduction

morning glory

[September 6th] dawned cold after a night through which I never warmed up ever! I was snug as a bug when I slid into my sleeping back, which is fit for temperatures a good dollop below zero, but then from my core the cold spread and settled in.

Warm bagels were served, the windscreen scraped, and with the dial recording a cool zero degrees C, we set out to explore the Upper Geyser Basin… in the mist!
But the mist lifted and the sun popped out warm and welcoming on cue as we pulled into the parking lot in anticipation.

Old Faithful was waiting…

We were waiting…

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Old Faithful was still building up steam…

In the meantime, B&G went for coffee while H&I wandered around Geyser Hill. Soon enough people began to gather as eruption time neared…

We waited some more; Old Faithful puffed and gurgled and lurched a little, and just as we wondered if the show was a no show…

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Old Faithful simmering

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…there she blows!

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all over in a puff of smoke

We wandered off then to explore what for me was sheer magic; magical textures, shapes, colours, gurgles, jets, warm steam and neverending activity.

The sawmill geyser and the spasmodic geyser had me spellbound; I could have hung around close to indefinitely… a jolly good thing the others hurried me on as there was much more to see.

A film crew had gathered around Castle Geyser which was due to blow anytime soon-ish, but we didn’t linger. B&G were lucky to bump into it in full throttle, though, on their way back to fetch the car later when H&I ambled on to the Black Sand Basin on foot. They passed the Sawmill Geyser again too, on their way back, showing no sign of activity at all. I count myself lucky to have seen as many as we did in action!

And then there was the Grotto Geyser blasting forth in all directions… and later, nothing but a puff of smoke.

Perhaps the crowning two sights in the Upper Geyser Basin was that of the Riverside Geyser and the Morning Glory Pool. Words fail me…

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Riverside geyser simmering…

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and then with a roar announcing its presence…

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what a spectacular sight!

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Morning Glory Pool

Yes, this pool was named after the flower and this is why:
“Long a favored destination for park visitors, Morning Glory Pool was named in the 1880s for its remarkable likeness to its namesake flower. However, this beautiful pool has fallen victim to vandalism. People have thrown literally tons of coins, trash, rocks, and logs into the pool. Much of the debris subsequently became embedded in the sides and vent of the spring, affecting water circulation and accelerating the loss of thermal energy. Through the years Morning Glory’s appearance has changed as its temperature dropped. Orange and yellow bacteria that formerly colored only the periphery of the spring now spread toward its center.”
~ taken from https://www.nps.gov/features/yell/tours/oldfaithful/mrngglry.htm
…where you will find a photo of its morning glory days.

En route to the Black Sand Basin, we passed the Punch Bowl Spring, the Black Sand Pool and the Daisy Geyser looking nothing like a daisy at all as it lay there quiet as a mouse – we can’t be lucky all the time!

It was a good walk through some wetland and forest to the Black Sand Basin that didn’t disappoint. B&G caught up with us there, seen here through the blue haze of the Sunset Lake.

Lunch beside the river in the sun and then on to the Midway Geyser Basin and the long-awaited Grand Prismatic Spring:

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Grand Prismatic Spring

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“The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica.
Grand Prismatic Spring was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration. Its colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
The vivid colors in the spring are the result of microbial mats around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The mats produce colors ranging from green to red; the amount of color in the microbial mats depends on the ratio of chlorophyll to carotenoids and on the temperature gradient in the runoff. In the summer, the mats tend to be orange and red, whereas in the winter the mats are usually dark green. The center of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat.
The deep blue color of the water in the center of the pool results from the scattering of blue light by particles suspended in the water. This effect is particularly visible in the center of the spring due to the lack of archaea that live in the center and the depth of the water.
~taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Prismatic_Spring
see also: The Science Behind Yellowstone’s Rainbow Hot Spring

And so the item at the top of my bucket list can be ticked off, or perhaps moved down in the hope of being able to pop in again sometime.

We head back to camp via the Hayden Valley and bison in their dozens.

It has been a GOOD day!

 

Thought for today:
Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.
~ Peter T. Mcintyre.

pork chops and biscuits

[september 5th]

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Undaunted by the rain, B and G have planned to fish the Firehole River while we head back up to Norris Geyser Basin to explore the back basin.
They choose a point of entry and will walk the river. We will meet them on the road again at a given time. Unfortunately we don’t have cell reception to coordinate times, so they end up waiting for us for a good half hour. I imagine they hated the thought of the fish they might very well have caught in that time.

0011bAt some point they came upon a hot spot fed by a stream, similar to the one below, for some relief from the cold. Wonderland indeed!0011c

We head off, bumping into the White Dome Geyser along the way… we are about to head back to the car, our backs turned on the geyser already when another car pulls up, its inhabitants pointing vigorously. We nearly missed it! White Dome puts on a glorious display against the stormy sky:

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Engulfed by the warm steam0011g

Back at Norris Geyser Basin we find its most famous geyser which was not about to erupt on this day – some facts to try to illustrate the extraordinariness of this park:

“Steamboat Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park’s Norris Geyser Basin, is the world’s tallest currently-active geyser. During major eruptions, water may be thrown more than 300 feet (91.44 m) into the air.

Steamboat’s major eruptions last from 3 to 40 minutes and are followed by powerful jets of steam. Steamboat does not erupt on a predictable schedule, with recorded intervals between major eruptions ranging from four days to fifty years. The geyser was dormant from 1911 to 1961. Minor eruptions of 10 to 15 feet (3–5 m) are much more frequent. After an eruption, the geyser often vents large amounts of steam for up to 48 hours. Cistern Spring, located nearby, will drain completely during a major eruption of the geyser; the spring refills within a few days.

The last eruption of Steamboat Geyser occurred on 3 September 2014.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboat_Geyser

My snapshots of the back basin this day:

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Pork Chops Geyser surrounded by the exploded rocks

The Porkchop Geyser is relatively new as far as geysers go. It was a rather quiet, erratic geyser until 1985 with occasional eruptions between 15 and 20 feet high. In 1985 though, it began to erupt continuously spouting 30 feet high from its 3-inch diameter vent. The burst was especially surprising because of its 100°F temperature, which is well below boiling. Also, the water was full of silica. The geyser’s spray built up into a large ice cone nearly 8 feet high. It was draped with translucent silica gel. Then, on September 5, 1989 in full view of visitors, Porkchop exploded. Rock and debris were launched up to 220 feet away. Now it’s only a bubbling, seething pool with temperatures reaching between 98 and 162°F and a depth of 2.5 feet. The geyser measures 13×18 feet and was named in 1961 by geologist Don White because of its porkchop-shaped crater.
http://www.yellowstonepark.com/norris-back-basin-geysers/

0011lVixen Geyser resting after a bout of spitting

The Vixen Geyser is known for its temperamental, spit-fire disposition. In fact, that’s why Yellowstone National Park’s second superintendent P.W. Norris named this feature “vixen.” The geyser’s temperature rises to 195°F, yet its eruption schedule is erratic to say the least. Intervals can last from minutes to hours; its eruption duration can go for seconds to 50 minutes and the height of its stream can soar anywhere between 5 and 30 feet. Researchers have noted two “typical” kinds of eruptions. One displays minor activity every few seconds with occasional splashing and spouting up to 15 feet high mixed in. Major eruptions are rare and unpredictable, but when they do occur they can last up to an hour with water shooting up to 30 feet. After either type of eruption, the crater drains, leaving a gurgling sound in its wake. Vixen erupts from a round, cylindrical vent stained a pinkish color by iron oxides deposited with silica.
http://www.yellowstonepark.com/norris-back-basin-geysers/

After meeting up with B and G again, we popped in at Biscuit Basin a little further up on Firehole River. Biscuit Basin forms part of Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful, but has its own parking. It would have been a hearty walk up from Old Faithful itself.

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Sapphire Pool – the colour is out of this world and I can hardly believe my eyes!

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Shell Geyser

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As we approach the bridge over the river, where B and G are waiting patiently for us – and a jolly good thing they had to wait too – along came trotting…

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… a coyote! It paused at the bridge (spot B and G) and then toddled off crossing the river a little further on. Clearly those humans on the bridge were not to be trusted!

Feeling satisfied after that sighting, we drove into West Yellowstone, the little town at the west entrance, for supplies and lunch.
The day ended with a spot of fishing at the campsite for B and G and our first sighting of a blue bird.

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Will day 3 bring sunshine as promised…

Thought for the day… a beautiful video about the wolves in Yellowstone NP:

How Wolves Change Rivers

 

porcelain

[September 4th]

It dawned a miserable day as far as sunshine was concerned this day, and I had read that it was best to view the geysers on a sunny day to experience their colours to the full. We opted, thus, if somewhat reluctantly, to leave Old Faithful and its surrounds for the fine day promised two days ahead and drive up to the Norris Geyser Basin instead.

Yellowstone NP boasts the most extraordinary collection of hot springs, geysers, mudpots and fumaroles to be found on mother earth. More than 10,000 hydrothermal features are found in Yellowstone, of which more than 500 are geysers.
for more see: Hydrothermal Features

Beryl Spring was certainly one of the highlights for me along the way. Possibly due to the cold conditions, Beryl was puffing out steam in billowing clouds and revealed her beauty only when the breeze momentarily gusted the steam away from its source. Sadly her beauty was not as dazzling as it could be due to the miserable day, but the warm steam compensated admirably.

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Artist Paint Pots at the next stop bubbled and brewed.

The hydrothermal system at Artist’s Paintpots operates somewhat like a double-boiler in your kitchen. Just as the bottom pot of the double boiler holds boiling water, underneath the ground here is a hot water system with hot acidic steam. This super-heated acidic steam heats the ground above it causing the rocks to dissolve into clay. The hot clay receives water from rainwater and snowmelt. This causes mudpot consistency and activity to vary with the season and amount of precipitation.
~ taken from an info board on site.

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Next stop…

…we took one look at the string of cars waiting to reach Norris Basin, did a u-turn and headed for Canyon Falls instead. Some of us had been to the Grand Canyon which meant that this little canyon did not exactly wow, however, Uncle Tom did, at one time, run a little business taking visitors down into the canyon at the lower falls.

In the early 1900s, his trail had 528 steps and rope ladders!

It now descends 328 steps to about ¾ of the way down into the Canyon for an excellent view of the lower falls.

One of us did not get very far down the stairs; that one, thus, has photos only this far:

We had not planned to go back to Norris Basin, but when we looked again, there we were in the parking lot. When a car pulled out right at the start of the trail, that was our cue to stay.

Little did we know what an awesome sight awaited us
in the Porcelain Basin section of Norris.

The milky colour of the mineral deposited here inspired the naming of Porcelain Bowl. Siliceous sinter is brought to the surface by hot water and forms a sinter “sheet” over this flat area as the water flows across the ground and the mineral settles out.
This is the fastest changing area on Norris Geyser Basin and siliceous sinter is one of the agents of change. If the mineral seals off a hot spring or geyser by accumulating in its vent, the hot pressurized water may flow underground to another weak area and blow through it.
~ taken from an info board on site.

Breathtaking MAGIC!

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And then there are the colours!

Microorganisms called thermophiles, or heat lovers, make their homes in the hydrothermal features of Yellowstone. Although individually they are too small to be seen with the naked eye, so many are grouped together in the park’s hydrothermal features—trillions!—that they often appear as masses of color. Many of these microorganisms are also called extremophiles because they inhabit environments that are extreme to human life. Imagine living in near-boiling temperatures, in hydrothermal features with the alkalinity of baking soda, or in water so acidic that it can burn holes in clothing; microorganisms in Yellowstone not only exist in such conditions but require these extremes to thrive.
taken from Hydrothermal Features

This pdf says it all if you are curious to know more: Life in Extreme Heat

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Finally, we did head for camp…

or maybe not quite!

Our very first bison, spotted grazing as though he could never hurt a fly!

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And so ended another awesome day on the road.

 

Thought for today:
And so too, it can happen that our dreams and expectations can become so vital in our minds that they can come face to face with conflict; a conflict of interests equally important to other. Compromise, I hear you say… compromise with grace. Grace is not our first line of defense.
I read the following in the week; it explains so well why we fall head over heels into defensiveness despite our best intentions:

“No one plans to be defensive, but sometimes you feel like your toes are being stepped on. Cortisol makes it feel urgent. Cortisol does its job by making you feel like you will die if you don’t make a bad feeling stop. Cortisol works by commanding your attention so you focus entirely on the threat signals. A big cortex can find a lot of threat signals because it can anticipate the future and generate abstractions that are not currently reaching your sense. A big cortex can make a big deal out of every social disappointment. When you know how your cortisol works, you can protect your toes with less conflict.”

Read the full article here:
Defensiveness is Draining by Loretta Grazian Breuning, PhD

 

mammoth hot springs

[September 3rd]

Yellowstone NP has been a magical place of untold wonders in my mind for as long as I can remember. It was on top of my seemingly unattainable bucket list of course; it feels good, you see, to have hopes and dreams, plans and goals, whether they come to fruition or not.

And then we booked that very long flight via Dallas to visit our children in Vancouver – you do know that you need a visa to pass through Dallas, Britt queried. OH NO!

A blessing in disguise it turned out to be, then, when Britt suggested we take the second week of our vacation away together to Yellowstone which is a mere hop away from Fernie where we were heading to fish for the first week.

And so it was that we passed through the enormous stone gate this day.

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0009eLooking back after entering Yellowstone NP at the north gate.

I arrive with expectations and mysteries to solve. Immediately, expectations are transformed and mysteries pass right under my nose, veiled.
We climb ever higher and higher, flanked by forests of trees, and suddenly there it is, Mammoth Hot Springs.
I am always implausibly disorientated upon finding myself amidst any new collection of structures, but I am in good hands which means I can sit back and relax. B and G always figure out masterfully where we need to be.

Mammoth hot springs! Could it be!
So much more, at least for me!
Once again, photos simply cannot do justice to what to me feels like a fantastical dream, so this is just a taste!

We stopped off to explore the lower terrace before heading on to Madison Campground where we were to be based for the first couple of nights.

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Liberty Cap (11m) so named in 1871 because of its resemblance to the peaked knit caps symbolizing freedom and liberty during the French Revolution [pink 1 on map]

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Palette Spring [pink 2 on the map]

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Palette Spring from above [pink 3 on the map] [photo by Hugo]

As we wander further afield we find ourselves surrounded by more of a moonscape. Activity on these terraces fluctuates considerably over the years. Minerva Terrace is dry right now. Mound Terrace was dormant for decades but recently started flowing again. In the 1980s Jupiter Terrace flowed heavily, overtaking boardwalks several times.

Missing in the photos is the trickle of crystal clear waters and the activity of thermophiles, the smell of sulphur and welcoming warm steam on a cool day.

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Fauna at the Springs

Time is marching on with some distance yet to cover, at 40kms/hr, to our campsite; the main and upper terraces will have to wait…

Excitement along the way, albeit not much more than a speck, down, down in the valley. Still, people have gathered and binoculars are out:

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It’s a GRIZZLY!

Next stop, camp! The board announces that the campground is full but thankfully we had reserved a site, so we sail on by.
In double quick time, the tents are up and supper is on the horizon.

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Rain is in the air…

Thought for today:
The most miserable pettifogging in the world is that of a man in the court of his own conscience. -Henry Ward Beecher, preacher and writer (1813-1887)

a river runs through it

[September 2nd]

Today B and G will be fishing on the Blackfoot River, and more specifically the section of the river known as the Blackfoot River Corridor, which is where we are camping. This corridor is a cooperative land agreement between FWP and the private landowners along the river, which allows for excellent access to the river while reducing the impact from its heavy use.

It has the best trout fishing.

The Blackfoot River was made famous by Norman Maclean’s novel “A River Runs Through It” and of course, by the movie of the same name.

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map source
We came down the 93 to Missoula and then branched off to find the Blackfoot River Corridor between Johnsrud Park and Russell Gates Memorial. Our campsite is at Corrick’s River Bend, right on the river.

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Early morning finds B and G testing the river at the campsite; it is a little too shallow so we set off to find deeper eddies, after which we head into civilisation for sustenance.

0008cCan you spot the fly-fisher-people in the water – the rivers are huge!

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Lodgepole pines and lumberjacks of old

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Beautiful forests of Ponderosa pines come right down to the river bank

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B and G find the most interesting places to eat with the help of their trusty cellphones.0008hI first came upon the term ‘pulled pork’ through my favourite blogger at Corvabella so pulled pork was my choice for sure, with applesauce and slaw as well as tastes of all the other sides ordered by our table – the mix and match thing. I’m sure my pork was not a heritage breed, but it was delicious nevertheless.

Back to the river before winding down around the campfire. It must have been a good day; we are in great spirits.

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NICE loop Britt!0008n0008o0008p0008q0008r

Yellowstone here we come…

Thought for today:
“…while the work may not matter from some universal perspective, the doing of it may nevertheless keep us healthy.”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rethinking-psychology/201308/art-and-genetic-happiness

montana

[september 1st]

We are heading for Yellowstone National Park. I am not too proud to admit that we are giving Glacier National Park a miss because I read about its road and lost my nerve ahead of time. Instead, we will stop in Missoula where ‘A River Runs Through It’, yes, the very one.

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We have allowed plenty of time to get through the border, but to our surprise, a few questions at the checkpoint and a wave of the hand sends us off into the country. Galen and Britt cannot believe our good fortune… but, stay tuned for the next border episode into the States.
A coffee and wifi stop can now be enjoyed in peace, followed by lunch from the drive-thru at none other than the huge M

0007aThese RVs are SO out of our experience as South Africans, that we never quite become accustomed to their size, and quantity, on the road!

Definitely not my heart’s desire though – I’m a simple life girl…

0007c…this simple: a lone camp site on Flathead Lake – heaven IS!

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0007iM is for Missoula – note the zig-zag path up. Fortunately there is NO time to linger!

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After the Fly Shop Stop and stocking up on beer, we drive out to our campground for the next 2 nights. Britt is checking to see whether the yellow self-registration slip for this our most desirable choice of campsite, dwarfed by these massive Lodgepole Pines (I think), has expired. It has indeed!

No one else experiences the strange screeching during the night, screeching that flits around in what sounds like the treetops. I finally hit upon the idea that it must be owls, screeching owls. Imagine my joy when I find that there are indeed owls by that name to be found in the area. I cannot be sure, though, that the sounds recorded match the sounds I remember. Why that desperate need to label anyhow?

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