My first trip out west – 2002 – Yellowstone, The Park

We came into Yellowstone at the North Entrance, just on the outskirts of Gardiner.   The first stop was Mammoth Hot Springs. The park headquarters are here, but the attraction are the Terraces.

Beautiful patterns from stuff oozing out of the ground
Beautiful patterns from stuff oozing out of the ground

Hot water laden with minerals oozes out of the ground, and as it cools the minerals settle and build on those that went before them, wiping out anything that is in the way.   Think of the terraces as erupting lava, only liquid, not as hot, but just as relentless.

Boardwalks allow visitors (like my father-in-law) to safely examine the terraces
Boardwalks allow visitors (like my father-in-law) to safely examine the terraces

New scaffolds are build as the old ones succumb to the expanding terraces.  You can get very close to the on-going layering, and the details are amazing.  I will be using that word a lot . . . amazing, simply amazing, just amazing, etc.

Looks man-made, but only because man copies nature's designs
Looks man-made, but only because man copies nature’s designs
At the top, one of the vents responsible for all the construction
At the top, one of the vents responsible for all the construction

The terraces are an ever changing feature, as new deposits help grow them up and out.  As I said, everything in their path will get engulfed, and there are older fields with remnants of trees smothered long ago . . . and there are fresher kills.

Still lots of dead foliage visible . . . eventually just the trunk and a few branches will remain
Still lots of dead foliage visible . . . eventually just the trunk and a few branches will remain
A slightly older kill . . . water flows over colorful ledges
A slightly older kill . . . water flows over colorful ledges

The warm water promotes algae growth, and combined with the coloration from the minerals, it makes for a pleasant living sculpture.

There is a lot of beauty in the details
There is a lot of beauty in the details

Looking at these terraces first hand makes you want to go wade in them . . . they frown on that.

Quite the departure from the surrounding terrain
Quite the departure from the surrounding terrain

We leave the park and head down the Western leg of the upper loop, toward Norris Basin.  We go through an area called Silver Gate.

Silver Gate area
Silver Gate area

Very scenic area, and we’ll pass by here again when heading back to the motel.  Those pictures are further down the post, and show off the colors of the rocks a lot better because of the lower angle of the sun.  This is also where I photograph the first of the many falls we encounter, Rustic Falls.

Rustic Falls, in the Silver Gate area.
Rustic Falls, in the Silver Gate area.

Because of the geography and their relation to the sun, many of the falls are in the shade but the surrounding areas are lit up, making it difficult to shoot well.  It’s much easier to shoot with the sun at one’s back, and the combination of water flowing among evergreens and fall foliage is hard to resist.

These kind of photo opportunities are found all over the park
These kind of photo opportunities are found all over the park

Norris Basin is our first exposure to a familiar Yellowstone feature . . . white fields surrounding limpid blue pools of hot water.

Norris Basin - a great area with a couple of very nice loops for exploring these interesting features
Norris Basin – a great area with a couple of very nice loops for exploring these interesting features

If it weren’t for the whole “being cooked alive” bit, the various pools of hot water look otherwise inviting as a swimming hole.

Inviting, isn't it?
Inviting, isn’t it?

As promised, a shot from the Silver Gate area.  Yes, that’s my trusty ride keeping what is most dear to me safe, and patiently awaiting my return so it can carry us both to our overnight shelter.

Silver Gate area lit by the setting sun
Silver Gate area lit by the setting sun

I walked a ways from the ‘Burb to get this next shot (there was not a safe place to park near where I wanted to snap this photo).

I'm pretty sure, but not certain, this feed Rustic Falls.
I’m pretty sure, but not certain, this feeds Rustic Falls.

We drove back through Mammoth Hot Springs on our way to Gardiner, and saw a number of animals.  These were not included in the Yellowstone Fauna post.

A small herd of Elk sitting on the grass in the middle of town. This guy was impressive, if disdainful of my presence.
A small herd of Elk sitting on the grass in the middle of town. This guy was impressive, if disdainful of my presence.
These were by the side of the road just outside Mammoth Springs.
These were by the side of the road just outside Mammoth Springs.
The last thing we saw that first day were these sheep. They are not Mountain Goats (they are white), so by process of elimination, they are Bighorn Sheep.
The last thing we saw that first day were these sheep. These are not Mountain Goats (they are white), so by process of elimination, they are Bighorn Sheep.
This guy is taking big leaps on loose rock
This guy is taking big leaps on loose rock

At one point they really started hauling down the mountain, and because there was a small hill between them and us, I lost most of them. The only good picture of them running on loose rock, jumping from boulder to boulder, is the one above. The guy is setting up for a long jump onto loose rock. He made it, and disappeared behind the trees.

The next day saw us going through Mammoth Springs again, and head East toward Tower-Roosevelt, the Blacktail Deer Plateau offering up panoramas for our enjoyment. The first pictures were of Undine Falls. Not super as far as pictures go, but I will point out they were in deep shadow, the early morning sun still low in the sky.

Undine Falls - just before the Blacktail Deer Plateau area
Undine Falls – just before the Blacktail Deer Plateau area

This next picture from where I decided to shoot a panorama of the landscape.  The panorama is in the SmugMug album, but it’s one of the panoramas I show in the post I wrote about Panoramas.

The "look" of Blacktail Deer Plateau
The “look” of Blacktail Deer Plateau

We headed off the main road (as I am wont to do), and took the Blacktail Plateau Drive, a one way road that cuts a corner of the main road to the Tower-Roosevelt Junction.  These are a few pictures from that drive.

I am a sucker for Aspens in color
I am a sucker for Aspens in color
The eyes play a trick on you when you see the moon at a low angle. It looks BIG.   "Wow!" you say. "I need to shoot that thing!!" Of course, the camera is not fooled. The moon is the same regular size it always is.
The eyes play a trick on you when you see the moon at a low angle. It looks BIG. “Wow!” you say. “I need to shoot that thing!!” Of course, the camera is not fooled. The moon is the same size it always is.
Here I tried to play with depth of field to make it look like a miniature tree was growing right out of the rock.   It looked good on the small display of the D100, but once at home, I saw I should have snapped more pictures
Here I tried to play with depth of field to make it look like a miniature tree was growing right out of the rock. It looked good on the small display of the D100, but once at home, I saw I should have snapped more pictures

Back on the main park road, and seeing places I want to capture on my digital canvas. The thing is, there are thousands of places, and I don’t have that much digital canvas.

Pretty neat, uh?
Pretty neat, uh?

As far as settings go, this next one of my favorites. Makes me want to build a house there, add a septic tank, bring in electricity, damn the river to make a small lake, build a garage and a workshop, and just sit here and enjoy the pristine nature.

I keep meaning to play with this to turn it into a painting
I keep meaning to play with this to turn it into a painting

We blew by the Tower-Roosevelt area and headed into the Lamar Valley.  The hike to Trout Lake was our next target.

View of part of the Lamar Valley from the path to Trout Lake
View of part of the Lamar Valley from the path to Trout Lake

The first photo manipulation I ever tried was to take this shot, merge in my father-in-law from another shot, and add a few embellishments.  I was still learning Photoshop (as I am now), but I thought it was pretty good for a first effort.

Quite the photo-op
Quite the photo-op

We had both been snapping photos; I mixed this in with the others I printed, and then asked him if the picture he took had come out.

This next shot is also part of one of the panoramas I mention above.

Part of the Lamar Valley panorama in the SmugMug gallery
Part of the Lamar Valley panorama in the SmugMug gallery

I did not notice the two people fishing off the bridge until after I was home and looking at the pictures for the panorama.

This is now south of Tower-Roosevelt , on our way to see Tower Falls
This is now south of Tower-Roosevelt , on our way to see Tower Falls

The path down to Tower Falls was not easy because of the elevation change.  back then we were living in Michigan.  Now we live in Colorado, at an altitude of 7,300 feet . . . when we went back, it was a snap.  In fact, our neighborhood walks offer more of a challenge.

And here is the "slow water" shot. That's what I call them. Maybe it should be "fuzzy water" shot
And here is the “slow water” shot. That’s what I call them. Maybe it should be “fuzzy water” shot

The picture looks crooked, but trust me, it’s an illusion from the rocks that overhang the area.

One of the things you see all over the park is the evidence of old fires.  With those you have the new growth providing contrast to the conflagration that was.

I like the proximity and contrast of the two
I like the proximity and contrast of the two

The next day we went straight to the Old Faithful area.  There are a couple of basins around there, and walkways that take you around them. The Upper Basin loop affords a good view of the Old Faithful arena.

Overlooking the Old Faithful area (OF itself is "smoking" in the wide-open area
Overlooking the Old Faithful area (OF itself is “smoking” in the wide-open area

And here is Old Faithful itself on a moderate eruption.  I estimate 150 feet or so, although they claim sometime it reaches 300 feet in height.

Old Faithful doing its thing
Old Faithful doing its thing

 The surrounding basins offer views of less famous, but nonetheless interesting geysers. This one was into fractals.

. . . who says there is no practical uses for math?  This geyser is using math to shape their boundaries.
. . . who says there is no practical uses for math? This geyser is using math to shape their boundaries.
The intrepid travelers crossing the Continental Divide
The intrepid travelers crossing the Continental Divide

The SmugMug album has more pictures and more writing, but here are a few of the remaining highlights.

Another attempt at a "slow water" or "fuzzy water" shot.
Another attempt at a “slow water” or “fuzzy water” shot.
The West Thumb Geyser Basin had the best setting to show off its deep blue pools and surrounding mineral deposits.
The West Thumb Geyser Basin had the best setting to show off its deep blue pools and surrounding mineral deposits.

With Yellowstone Lake as a background, the distant snow-capped mountains breaking up the horizon, the pools at the West Thumb Geyser Basin shined as little jewels in the parched and cracked ground.

This area was a major disappointment during my 2007 visit. Many of the pools had become inactive, and were little more than muddy holes. The ground looked cracked and dessicated, and vegetation in many places was trying to make a comeback, messing up the clean look surrounding the holes.

I named this the Hitchcock pond because one of the algae looks as if sporting the famous profile
I named this the Hitchcock pond because one of the algae looks as if sporting the famous profile
One of my favorite places - Hayden Valley
One of my favorite places – Hayden Valley

We had to cut our visit short.  A snow storm was due to hit the next day, and they were predicting the closure of the Eastern and Southern exits.   That last evening I literally ran to hit a couple of the lookouts to Yellowstone Canyon . . . and literally swore out loud!

Yellowstone Canyon Lower Falls - Artist Point
Yellowstone Canyon Lower Falls – Artist Point

Even with cloud cover, falling light, the view was incredible, amazing, awe-inspiring . . . and more.  We should have come here first!  We should have come here a couple of times to catch different angles of the sun.

Yellowstone Canyon Lower Falls - Artist Point
Yellowstone Canyon Lower Falls – Artist Point

When we visited in 2007 this was our first stop . . . except that this side of the rim was closed to the public because the road (Uncle Tom’s Trail) was undergoing repairs.  Only the rim to the right was open, and while still very nice, this is the view I still want to photograph the shit out of.

The canyon itself is an amazing setting for various colors to play on the faces of the slopes and rocky outcrops
The canyon itself is an amazing setting for various colors to play on the faces of the slopes and rocky outcrops

No matter . . . our time here was done, and the next day we literally raced the snowstorm out of the park.  The East entrance is 27 miles away from Lake Village, and the snow had not hit there yet. We said goodbye by posing with the sign, and then headed out toward Cody, WY, and home.

Our last Yellowstone Park 2002 photograph
Our last Yellowstone Park 2002 photograph

The SmugMug album has additional photographs from the road to Cody for those who are interested.

Thanks for reading.

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Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not personally hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.  

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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8 Responses to My first trip out west – 2002 – Yellowstone, The Park

  1. Matt says:

    Awesome photos. I particularly love the Mammoth region of Yellowstone, having spent a few days hiking in that area last summer.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      One of the reasons for posting these pictures from 2002 is to later compare them to those taken during our 2007 visit. Some of these shots were then impossible. The growing sculpture had overrun the places where the boardwalks had been in 2002, and the upper surface was no longer accessible. That may have changed since then since there was a lot of construction going on of new paths and boardwalks.

      It’s likely what you saw last summer differed significantly from what I saw as early as 2007, and definitively in 2002.

      Like

  2. Do you believe in the super volcano and the the land is in the process of rising? Is this something you see in your photos?

    Like

  3. disperser says:

    Not a question of “belief” . . . it is in fact a supervolcano, one a number around the world. We have the technology to “image” what’s underground, and it’s big.

    We also have GPS technology that can measure ground movement pretty accurately.

    All the data I have heard about says two things . . . it will eventually blow, and we don’t have a way to predict when.

    Last I read anything about it was here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110119-yellowstone-park-supervolcano-eruption-magma-science/

    There may be more recent thoughts on the matter. Personally, I hope that when it blows I am either on the other side of the world, or sitting right on top of it. I would hate to be in the US in a post-Yellowstone-blowing-up scenario. Actually, North America, not just the US.

    But, I have more important things to worry about right now . . . like the huge meteor with our name on it that is as we speak hurdling toward Earth. And of course, who will win Dancing With the Stars (I kid about the last one . . . ).

    Like

  4. AnnMarie says:

    I’ve just finished with your post and went to visit SmugMug . . . oh, dear, that will take me some time to get through (I love to get close up and check out the details). I did see one very interesting picture so far (#136 green patches of grass amid muddy puddles with bubbles) that immediately reminded me of the Dead Marshes in LOTR . . . all those eyes staring back. Can’t wait to check out all the others!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      There are . . . what’s the correct term? oh, yeah . . . a shit-load of pictures on SmugMug of all sorts of things.

      The sad part is they are but a small fraction of all the stuff I have.

      Like

  5. AnnMarie says:

    A more suitable term is treasure trove.

    Like

  6. Luisella says:

    These pictures are so beautiful. I feel like I was right there, even though I know I’m still sitting in front of my computer. Beautiful “slow water” shot.

    Like

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