August 1 – 5
We decided on duplicating a hike that Irene had done during an earlier visit, starting out of the Lodge we passed by folks waiting for Old Faithful and headed up the Observation Point trail for a brisk ½ mile ascent to the summit and its commanding views of the valley below with its plethora of geyser activity.
We continued on past a number of geysers, so many that I couldn’t keep track of which ones they were. Throughout the next part of this post, I’ve loaded pictures that reflect the diversity of their nature, some that spurted, some with incredible color combinations, and others that had both.
We descended and walked out on the Upper Geyser Basin Trail paralleling the Firehole River
which took us past Grand Geyser and the Morning Glory Pool,
then further up to the Cascade Group and the Artemisia Geyser.
We crossed the park road to enter Biscuit Basin to encounter the Sapphire Pool.
The series of geysers in this area are accessed by walking a loop on an elevated wood walkway. We stopped for a few moments to watch the Black Pearl Geyser erupt and then retraced our steps, crossing the park road and working our way back to where we started.
Noticing a large crowd gathered at the Spiteful Geyser, we stopped to check out the situation. Apparently, this geyser doesn’t erupt frequently or on any kind of a schedule. What I found of interest were a number of individuals, who may or may not have been associated with the park itself, who I will refer to as geyser geeks. A couple of them had walkie-talkies and were continuously broadcasting updates about the geyser, which they seemed to feel was going to go off at any moment.
One animated fellow stood on a rock in front of the crowd constantly gesturing with his arms and maintaining a running dialogue about each rumble or puff of steam. After about fifteen minutes of waiting the geeks came to the conclusion that the geyser wasn’t going to blow, and the show ended. I can only imagine how many times and at how many places these folks congregate to wait for the big moment that usually doesn’t come.
From there we walked on a wide paved path, passing by Castle Geyser, which continuously emits steam and spray and finally arrived at the Old Faithful Inn, determining that we had hiked a total of almost seven miles. With its log and limb lobby and massive (500-ton, 85-foot) stone fireplace, the Inn is an example of the golden age of rustic resort architecture, a style which is also known as National Park Service Rustic.
Initial construction was carried out over the winter of 1903–1904, largely using locally obtained materials including lodgepole pine and rhyolite stone. When it first opened in the spring of 1904, it boasted electric lights and steam heat. The structure is the largest log hotel in the world; possibly even the largest log building in the world and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
By now hungry and thirsty, we dropped into the Bear Pit Lounge, ordered a round of beers for all and for Joanna and me, the bison burger to split. It was tasty, not as moist as regular hamburger but better for you from a fat and cholesterol perspective.
We finished up in the bar and with Irene and Ric needing to move on to their lodging for the night in West Yellowstone, we bade each other farewell and returned to camp for the evening, making dinner out of two cans of stew we’d been carrying with us for a while and a bagged salad we picked up at the market.
It was cold the next morning, and would get colder each succeeding day, with morning lows in the mid-30’s when we’d rise. Our plan for the day would be to drive towards Bridge Bay and Lake Village and stop in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to view Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls. And that is what we did, stopping at pull outs to hike short trails to viewpoints, our first stop the parking lot for the Mud Volcano Area.
We would end up spending more time here than originally anticipated as we hooked up with a guided tour by a park ranger that would last more than an hour. We started out by the parking lot at the Mud Caldron where he gave us an overview of the area and the park itself, focusing on the geologic conditions that make it unique, particularly as it sits on top of a caldera.
From there we hiked up Cooking Hillside, stopping first at Sizzling Basin and then Churning Caldron for more discussion on seismic activity and its impact on the geysers, an earthquake often altering the frequency (more or less) of their eruptions. As we stood there a lone bison caught our eye, peacefully laying down, not concerned with us at all.
We topped out at Sour Lake, named for its acidic or “sour” water, which can burn your skin like battery acid. Most of its acid comes from microorganisms that create sulfuric acid as they consume sulfur. These microorganisms also give the lake its color.
As we descended, we passed Mud Volcano
stopping briefly to also take a picture of Dragon’s Mouth Spring,
finishing up and returning to the car to resume our drive. We’ll cover the rest of the day in our next post.
Old Faithful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Faithful
Morning Glory Pool: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morning_Glory_Pool
Castle Geyser: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Geyser